Social advertising strategies on a shoestring budget

If there were coupons for social media advertising, I’d be sharpening my scissors ready to clip away. Unfortunately, the world of online advertising doesn’t have the same perks as other sectors of commerce, so being a good steward of your organization’s ad budget is important. That means designing a plan that balances your organization’s budget and goals.

To give yourself the best chance at achieving your objectives, lay your advertising plan over your editorial strategy. Doing so will ensure that you’re spending your dollars at the most optimal times.  Take a look at your calendar and figure out when and where it makes sense to spend. Maybe you’re a higher education institute and you use social for recruitment, maybe you spend your ad dollars during peak application months on Instagram. Or maybe you’re a tax company targeting entrepreneurs, you may want to spend after the first of the year on LinkedIn. You don’t have to spend money every day to help move the needle.

Spending decisions also are informed by your objectives.  If you are looking to drive up the number of Facebook fans, then you’ll want to stick with a follower campaign. That means focusing your spend on advertisements that promote your page with a call to action of “Liking” your organization.  On the other hand, if your strategy puts more of a priority on engagement or clicks to your website, boosting your content with ad dollars is likely a smarter way to spend.

Once you have a rhythm going, take some time to do A/B testing to ensure you’re getting the lowest costs possible (and if you’re a one-person band, apply your findings elsewhere). Tweak an ad’s image or a headline and run the original and edited versions at the same time. If one is performing better, swap it out.

We can throw out advice all day, but if you’re like me, you’re looking for the actual dollar signs in this post. Brian Carter of The Carter Group has stated that spending $1/day on Facebook could get you in front of 4,000 people that wouldn’t have otherwise seen your content. That’s $30 a month. If you have a little more in the bank, Buffer put out a post about different ways of spending $100 for social media advertising; skip down to Plan C and adjust for where your audience is.

No matter what your budget is, if you’ve got money to allocate towards social media, you’re putting yourself that much higher in the feeds of your fans, followers and future friends.

Casey Prentice

A self-proclaimed organizational junkie and data geek who confesses to a secret desire to be a professional organizer, Casey enjoys account management, writing, editing and digital content strategy. Her agency work has helped clients like Virginia’s Community Colleges, VCUarts and Swedish Match.

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