social media marketing
Social media marketing on a budget
If you think small business can’t compete with the big budgeted business in term of social media marketing, think again. This article will show you how to get leverages for your small business social media marketing campaign on a budget (including approximate costs related to them.)

1. Build a business blog and start blogging

Cost: $10 for domain name only if you DIY the rest.

A business blog is a great tool to buzz your brand, as well as your expertise. Writing great blog posts – especially those coming from your experience – will attract visitors, including prospects.

Of course, you should have your own domain name, instead of blogging on WordPress.com or BlogSpot.com – for branding and credibility boost. I recommend you to use WordPress as it’s friendly to all levels of techie… just install a great-looking free theme and you can blog right away.

So, start blogging now!

2. Establish social media profile and go social

Cost: $0

Open a Twitter and a Facebook account – they are a must! Start posting interesting things (or just promote your small business products/services, brand names, and blog posts.) Then you can start signing up with LinkedIn, BusinessWeek BX, StumbleUpon and the rest.

The key here is to present value to the social media sites you join. Offer insights, tips, rants and raves… and be sure you respond to reactions or comments.

3. Hire a freelancer from freelance marketplaces

Cost: $5 on Fiverr.com, $30-$100 (or more) on Freelancer.com – depending on your budget

If you really want to bootstrap, I recommend you to join Fiverr.com, Freelancer.com, and/or any other outsourcing marketplaces, instead of hiring a social media firm (unless you have the budget for it!)

On the marketplaces you can hire freelancers that can do social media marketing for you. You can also hire freelancers who happen to own active social media accounts – pay them to tweet, “like” or buzz your marketing messages. How about doing YouTube video campaign hiring freelancers?

To give you an idea of the opportunity presented by freelancers: The latest deal I have involve $5 for 5 tweets on a partner’s Twitter account with 6,000 quality followers – a great deal, I must say!

4. Join webmaster forums and hire forum members

Cost: Varies – depending on your budget

In typical webmaster forums, there is usually a forum for buy, sell or trade services. From the forums, you can hire other forum members to do social media marketing via article marketing, press release submission,etc.

Be sure to join popular ones, such as Warrior Forum and DigitalPoint Forums.

5. Barter services with buzz makers

Cost: $0

How about doing a service exchange? Try to approach a couple of buzz makers on their own blogs, Twitter and/or Facebook and pitch for a partnership (read: Bartering.)

You can offer some perks in exchange for getting your words out on the social world. This way, you can preserve your budget.

6. Pay with a Twitter tweet or Facebook like

Cost: $0

PayWithATweet.com is a great free service that actually works wonder in getting the words out about your business. It is a social payment system allowing people to “buy” by posting a tweet or Facebook like on their accounts.

How it works: You create an eBook (with links to your blogs, business sites, social media profiles, etc.) and link it with PayWithATweet button – place the button on your website, or just tweet about it in your Twitter account. When someone is interested in your ebook, he/she will need to click the button to access the ebook. The button will automatically tweet or “like” about the eBook in his/her account.

So yes, PayWithATweet.com is a powerful viral marketing tool.

7. Publish press releases for free

Cost: $0

News sites and blogs are often looking for updates from Google News, press release sites, and other news sites. Getting your press release picked up by authority sites and blogs will get your small business a much needed buzz – remember, those sites and blogs are likely to go social, too… so expect your press releases get exposure in social media.

Instead of spending hundreds, if not thousands of dollar hiring premium press release distribution companies (again, it’s recommended if you have the budget…) why not try free press release distribution sites, such as Free-Press-Release.com and i-Newswire.com.

8. Guest blogging

Cost: $0

Publish your article on other blogs is a powerful way in getting your products, services and brands buzzed on the blogosphere.

Be sure you partner with authoritative ones; they usually publish updates on their social accounts, so – again – expect your blog post links retweeted and liked many times.

9. Do cross-promotion

Cost: $0

Exchanging Twitter tweets and Facebook likes can help your social network grow. However, take heed – “I tweet you if you tweet me,” “I like you if you like me,” “I follow you if you follow me,” and such is not that well-accepted.

Please do this at your own discretion.

Alternatively, you can opt for ad banner and link exchanges – they are still effective today to get better exposure from site visitors and the search engines.

10. Do off line promotions (and mobile marketing)

Cost: Varies – depending on your budget

Getting your Facebook account alias as bumper stickers, distributing flyers in your target market containing links to your sites or social media profiles to redeem coupons, distributing stickers with your QR code printed containing special discount coupons, etc. – those off line promotion still works wonder.

So, there you go – 10 tips to get your small business social media campaign up and running immediately on a budget. Indeed, you CAN compete with the big guys!

Ivan Widjaya
Social media marketing on a budget