Social Media can be hard to navigate, especially for small businesses that may not have the capital to invest in a consultant. But with 45% of the world’s population active on social media, it’s worth investing some extra time. The advent of social media changed the way we communicate with our friends, family, and, especially, customers. Small Businesses are in a unique position to leverage their scale to make real connections with customers through social media, at little-to-no monetary cost. Here are 5 tips for tackling social media that won’t cost you much time or money.

Social media network

1. Evaluate your goals

Before investing the time and money into creating a social media presence, it’s important to reflect on your business goals. What are your marketing objectives and how can social media help you to achieve them

Once you’ve determined that a social media endeavor is the right strategy to achieve your goals, define the key metrics to measure the success of this venture.  Are you generating brand awareness? Consider tracking metrics like shares and re-posts. Is your goal to generate leads? Make sure to have a plan to track the leads you get back to social media, either on your website or through a customer survey. For insights and inspiration, look to blogs by Orlando agencies Findsome & WinmoreDesignzillas and Gravitational Marketing, which are full of social media tips, tricks and tactics.

2. Strive for thought leadership

Running a business means you are an expert in your field – and social media is a great way to build your credibility. Provide your audience with valuable and relevant information they typically wouldn’t know where to find. Focus on creating posts and content that your audience cares about, even if it is not directly related to your product or services.

Some brands also do a great job of providing customer service on social media. For example, the official Twitter account of Orlando International Airport (MCO) provides flight and weather updates, travel tips and responds to customers in real time. Think about how you can use social media to add an extra layer of customer service to your business.

3. Show, don’t tell

The old idiom “a picture is worth 1000 words” is even more true on social media. That’s why platforms like Instagram and Snapchat are so popular. Use the platforms to showcase photography that represents your brand.

For a well-curated Instagram account, check out The Ravenous Pig and Gideon’s Bakehouse on Instagram. Apps like Layout for Instagram can be helpful when curating a visually pleasing Instagram feed.

4. Reach out to influencers Reach out to influencers

Social media influencers harness the public’s interest in their personal lives to become a new form of salesperson. The trust they develop with their followers lends weight to their endorsements. It’s like celebrity endorsement, but generally cheaper and more effective.

Reach out to influencers in your industry or local community by offering them a free service or trial of your product to get their support for your business. Check out local businesses Statusphere and IZEA that help brands partner with appropriate influencers.

5. Empower employee advocacy

Every employee can be an ambassador for your brand. If you sum the social media following of all your employees, it is probably greater than the following of your company pages. Encourage employees to use their platforms to share company news and information with their audiences. You can even incentivize employees who participate with gift vouchers to local restaurants or attractions.

Platforms such as Social Reacher efficiently disseminate information, and track activities towards incentive programs for no cost to organizations with fewer than 50 participants.

Establishing your social media presence doesn’t have to be a dauting task. These tips will help small business owners tackle social media strategically. Take advantage of your scale and get creative with how and where you present your brand and engage with your customers.