How To Engage Your Social Following on a Low Budget

In the competitive world of social media, brands increasingly rely on promoting their posts in order to achieve high engagement through boosting and ads. Changes to the way social feeds and timelines are organised over recent years, across various social networks, has made it much more difficult for brands to put their posts in front of their social following. But if you don’t have access to the kind of budget your competitors are using on a daily basis, reaching and engaging much of your following can seem very difficult. There are, however, things you can do to compete.

Here’s how to engage your social following on a low budget:

Post Structure

The first thing to make sure of, is that your posts are structured in the best way, to attract as much engagement as possible and stand out in the timeline.

You should be using images with every post if possible. Posts with images receive an 87% interaction rate on Facebook and can boost re-tweets by 35% on Twitter. Whilst using images will make your posts stand out, they are used so widely on social media now, that you’re at a huge disadvantage if you don’t use them. Be aware that although posts with images gain better interaction stats, they can reduce your reach on Facebook when not used correctly. If you’re sending traffic to your website, you should be using a ‘link post’, but if you want to share visual content, then an image is perfect.

Post structure

See how this post from Econsultancy poses a question to the reader. It provides enough information to inform readers of what the article is about, but alludes to something more interesting that you’ll have to click through to find.

Beyond using images, you should also make sure that the copy of your post is structured in an engaging way. Be sure to use questions and call to actions in your posts. For example, “Need a new car? Take a look at our amazing new hatchback!” is much more engaging than “We have released a new car.” You only have a small space to peak the reader’s attention, especially on Twitter, so write something that interests them and also leaves them wanting more.

Be Smart with Competitions

Competitions are a fantastic way of engaging your social following; after all, nobody can resist the chance to get something for free. But running a competition means you have to offer a prize - and prizes cost money. If you only have a small social budget, or none at all, running competitions like this could be out of your reach.

However, if you’re smart about how you run a competition, you can offer something that doesn’t require a huge investment on your part. For example, you could offer vouchers for money off when you spend over a certain amount. If this attracts a winner who wouldn’t otherwise have spent money at your store, you’re gaining revenue rather than losing it. You could even get creative and couple this with something more unusual like a tour of your factory, if this would be something your customers might be interested in.

If these aren’t really suitable, you could partner with another brand and offer something together to half the cost of the prize. Brand partnerships can be incredibly powerful tools for raising the value of your brand and reaching new audiences that may be interested in your business. You may even be able to get a brand partner to contribute the whole prize. Remember that your social following could provide benefits to them as well. If you build good relationships with other brands, they may be more willing to contribute prizes free of charge.

Produce Quality Content

Just as important as anything else is the quality of the content that your posts take readers to. You should be producing regular, original blog posts for your site, so make them interesting and engaging. Think about what your target customers are interested in and write in an insightful way to keep them coming back for more. If your social media accounts gain a reputation for good quality and engaging content, you’ll be able to retain followers much more easily and keep them interacting with you.

When operating with a small budget, having high quality content can help improve your posts’ relevance and have it shown to more users as a result. Facebook displays a relevance score to advertisers to help them create ads that should connect with users. Facebook wants its users to see ads that are as relevant to them as possible, so produce high quality content and take advantage of your small budget.

As well as producing blog posts, other forms of content such as producing infographics and other shareable content are great ways of engaging your following. Consider what kinds of content your followers are likely to want to share. It’s doesn’t even have to be related to your products, as long as it still fits with your brand. For example, as you can see below, Audi post race results on their Twitter page - something that their followers are likely to be interested in, but that isn’t directly related to their product. It’s creates value for their social media accounts and helps engage customers.

Quality content

Respond Quickly

Respond quicklyWhen interacting with your customers on social media, your followers will expect a quick response. The more prompt you are with your interactions, the more likely they are to use social media as a point of contact again in the future. If social media users know that you are likely to respond quickly and with relevant answers, they’ll come to you with their product queries, rather than a competitor.

If you’re not boosting your posts, you need to be as professional as possible to get your brand across to users and act with best practice in mind at all times.

Share 3rd Party Content

Sharing content from 3rd parties is a great way of increasing the reach of your posts, without having to promote them. It’s a good idea to build up a list of accounts that produce posts that are relevant to your brand and would be good for sharing on your own social feeds. Look at other accounts that fit in with your brand image and keep checking them for interesting content that your followers may be interested in.

When sharing these posts on your own social media accounts, be sure to tag the original producer of the content. You want to ensure that the posts are correctly attributed to the creator, but also want to create the opportunity for them to interact with the post, retweet or share, and become aware of your social media accounts, possibly even reciprocating in future by sharing your content.

Building up good relationships with other social pages and influencers is essential if you’re not going to be paying to promote your posts. You need to compensate for the head start this gives brands that do promote by spreading your posts to as wide an audience as possible.

Time Your Posts Well

Post timing is very important for capturing as much of your audience as possible with a post. Social network analytics features offer great insight into what times of day your followers are most likely to be online, and even when they are most likely to interact with your posts. Networks like Facebook and Twitter offer their own analytics tools, free for users, that allow you to gain these insights, along with a lot more data.

Time your posts

Start experimenting with posting at different times of day and look at how this effects your post interaction. You should be able to build up a good picture of when is the best time of day to post, as well as which days of the week achieve the most engagement.

Scheduling features offered by social media management applications like Sprout Social and Hootsuite will allow your to plan your social media posts ahead of time and make sure that they land on your feeds at the most opportune moments.

Vary Your Content

If your content is stale and repetitive, your followers will quickly go elsewhere. Make sure that you’re not posting the same kind of content every day. You’ll want to promote your product or service, but also mix in blog posts, 3rd party content and anything else you feel your customers will be interested in. While you want visitors arriving at your pages expecting quality content, you also want to surprise them with unexpected content if you are to engage them.

Different segments of your target market will react well to different styles of post and different types of content. So if you’re not promoting your posts, having this variation in your social media activity is important for ensuring that you are able to reach all of these different market segments.

In Summary…

For a small or growing business, the option to invest a large amount into your social media budget might not be there. But if you make sure to post high quality, varied and well timed content, you can still reach and engage your target market with limited investment.

However, we do recommend that you invest something into social advertising if possible as you are much more likely to get a return on your investment and gain more traction. Investing as little as £5.00 for a post can be enough to really launch your posts to a wider audience.

Have you been operating your social media accounts with little or no budget? Get in touch with us on Facebook or Twitter and let us know what techniques have been helpful for engaging your followers.

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