The Science Behind Cheap Advertising Through Social Media

Advertising through social media is a vital part of the success of every business. However, there is a big difference between big corporations and startups when it comes to advertising. Big companies have huge marketing budgets that let them advertise aggressively. In the same time small businesses have shrunken budgets and cannot afford massive advertising campaigns.

However, having a smaller budget doesn’t mean that you cannot advertise at all and that you cannot do it effectively. In fact, there are plenty of example of successful advertising campaigns from with little or no money at all.

Let’s see how you can also do it.

Find the right opportunity to advertise


The key to successful social media marketing campaign with a small budget is planning. Before you start launching ads, building a community or everything else you need to be prepared.

The first thing you need to consider is when to advertise. This is relevant only for paid advertisement as with a small budget you cannot afford to massively advertise all the time. A good idea is to set up small, but highly engaging ads when you launch a new product or service, a discount for your clients or on any other location when you want to grab your audience attention.

That partly answers the next question – what to advertise through social media. As you want to be as effective as possible your ads should be launched only on special occasions for your business.

Last, but not least, you need to figure out where to advertise. Different advertising channels have different audiences and there you can reach different potential clients. As we are focusing mainly on advertising on a budget in this article, let’s take social media.

Each platform has a specific type of users. That means that one type of content will be successful on one network, but will probably fail on another. The key is to make a plan – what you want to achieve with your ad, are you willing to spend money and what type of customer will your product or service appeal to. Then you can decide where to advertise based on the specifics of each social media.

According to BI Intelligence report, most users of Facebook are young people, which makes it a good place for advertising consumer goods instead of high-end luxury goods. In the same time Twitter is mainly consumed for news reading and LinkedIn tends to attract mainly high-educated users.

Build a social media community

advertising through social media

Nowadays, it’s very hard to think of a successful business that is not advertising through social media and there are reasons for that – it’s effective and it’s cheaper than traditional advertising. That means that social media networks are a perfect opportunity for small businesses to advertise themselves with a little or no budget at all.

But creating a meaningful social media campaign is far different from just posting in Facebook or Twitter. You will need a strategy where you put your goals, identify the ways to achieve it and analyze the results. You can check out this guide from The Next Web for the purpose.

A lot of experts say that social media marketing cannot be successful without a budget, but that is not entirely true. You can achieve great results, but you will need to put more effort into it.

The key is not just to promote yourself, but to build a community that is passionate about what you do and what content you share. In its guide on how to build a community on social media Social Media Examiner identifies 4 essential steps to undertake

  1. Finding brand advocates – those are the fans who will always like, share and comment your status updates. It’s a good idea to get in touch with them and keep a good relationship.
  2. Engage in a conversation with your fans – people like companies with human face. And the easiest way to show you’re such a business is by getting into conversation with your fans whenever possible.
  3. Provide incentives for fans – Another thing fans like is receiving presents. If you want to boost likes, shares and comments on your posts, you can start a giveaway. Give a little present to your most loyal fans and you will most definitely enjoy good results.
  4. Let your fans share their opinion – The final step is to let your community members share their opinion. Providing such opportunity for your fans will show them that you value them and will surely boost their loyalty.

Finally, if you want to make your social media efforts more effective, it’s a good idea to start using a tool that helps you manage your campaigns. Posting in various social networks is time-consuming and besides Facebook other popular platforms don’t offer scheduling options. That is why it is highly recommended to use a social media management tool.

The cheapest option is Hootsuite. They offer a free subscription that lets you manage your company’s social media accounts in all the major social medias besides Pinterest. Every user is allowed to add up to three accounts and even generate some basic reports. And if that is not enough there is the Pro plan that starts from $9.99 monthly.

Another popular tool to mention is Buffer. Its only disadvantage is the lack of a free plan which makes it a not so good opportunity for small businesses with no budget for social media marketing. It’s prices start from $50 monthly, but for that money you get some really great features and you will surely not regret your decision to use it.


advertising through social media

Besides from that, social media ads are also a good opportunity to gain more exposure and to reach more potential clients. With a modest budget of $50 – $100 monthly you can achieve some good results.

But if you want to stick to a strict budget and still be effective you need to master the science of ad targeting. Social media platforms offers the great feature to target your content to reach the right audience. That is great opportunity and an advantage you cannot enjoy with traditional advertising.

The biggest and most popular social media Facebook offers targeting based on location, demographics, interests, behaviours, as well as the option to set custom audiences.

  • Location-based targeting – you can use this option to target customers based on their country, state or province, city or postal code.
  • Demographics-based targeting – with this option you can set your audience to fit into certain criteria in terms of gender, age, relationship status, work, education and more.
  • Interest-based targeting – you can filter your audience based on their interests, including hobbies, pages they like on Facebook, etc.
  • Behaviour-based targeting – this option is useful as it lets you target audiences based on various behaviours, such as device they use, purchasing behaviours and much more.
  • Custom audiences – you can upload data about users you want to target on Facebook. This data could be email list, users of your site or mobile app, visitors, etc.

In the same time, Twitter also offers some interesting targeting options, such as keyword targeting, targeting based on interests and followers and television targeting. Just like the Custom audiences in Facebook, Twitter offers the Tailored Audiences.

  • Keyword targeting – this option lets you set different keywords and then pop up in the feed of users whose tweets include one of these words or that engage with tweets that include them.
  • Interests & Followers – you can set up you audience based on certain interests or you can directly target the follower base of an account (i.e your competitors).
  • Television targeting – a new option Twitter announced a while ago that is still not available for all countries. How it works – you enter the Twitter accounts of TV shows and then your promoted tweet will be displayed in the feed of user who mention that show.
  • Tailored audiences – if you want to target a tailored audience, you need to first upload it to Twitter. It can be an email list, other data from your CRM system, data about your website visitors, etc.

A nice set of targeting options can be also found on LinkedIn. The biggest professional social networks offers a targeting feature for ads and sponsor updates based on location, company, job title, education, skills, LinkedIn groups, gender, age and other.

In the recent months Pinterest also got more serious about advertising and continuously introduces new targeting categories, such as food & drink, sports, outdoor activities and much more.

Google+ offer the +Post ads. That is their version of promoted post, but it has certain limitation. For example, you cannot use it unless you have at least 1,000 followers on your page. In terms of targeting, you can use all options that are provided by the Google Adwords Display Network.


advertising through social media

The truth is that if you want your marketing campaigns on a strict budget to succeed, you need to be as effective as possible. And the only way to be effective is by understanding what works for you and what doesn’t. You can only do that by analyzing the results of your marketing campaigns.

There are a lot of metrics you can analyze and they vary from platform to platform, but the most important ones are as follow:


  • Reach – that is the number of users that has seen any of your posts. You can view both organic and paid reach. You can check it out in Insights – Reach. This is one of the most important statistics as it really shows if your social media efforts are worth it. The bigger the reach percentage, the better.
  • Engagement – according to Facebook that is the number of people that have clicked on your Facebook post. This includes not only clicks, but also likes, comments and shares. You can view it in the Overview section of your Facebook Insights. This statistic is important as it shows you what type of content is preferred by your audience. Of course, it depends on other factors, such as day and time of posting.
  • Click–through rate (CTR) – the CTR is one of the most important metrics in the marketing world. It’s essential to analyze it as It shows you how effective each marketing campaign is. In Facebook the CTR is the number of clicks on your content divided by the number of impressions.


  • Impressions – just like the reach on Facebook, that is the number of people who have seen your tweet in their feed. You can view it for all your tweets on the Tweets section in Twitter Analytics.
  • Engagement – another metric that is the same here. You can view how many users have interacted with your tweets also from the Tweets section in Twitter Analytics
  • Engagement rate – When you divide the number of engagements by the number of impressions, you get the engagement rate. Twitter provides this metric for you at the same place as the previous two.


  • Engagement – in LinkedIn that is the number of interactions, clicks and followers acquired divided by the number of impression for each post. You can view it in the LinkedIn Analytics section of your Company page.
  • Followers acquired – this is a unique statistic for LinkedIn. It represents the number of followers that you have acquired with your update. It’s only available for sponsored updates.


  • Engagement – Just like all other social other you can measure how many people have interacted with each of your posts. You can view it in the Statistic sections of your Google+ page.

Another important metric you need to follow is the referral traffic to your website. That is the number of people that have landed on your website from different social networks. You can view this statistic through Google Analytics.

(Check also: How to Measure Your Website’s Success)

Make conclusions and repeat until you succeed

advertising through social media

The importance of measuring your social media performance is that you can see what works for you and build on that. Probably your social media marketing campaigns won’t be very successful, but that doesn’t mean you should give up.

The right way to do things is to learn from your mistakes. And when you know what works for you, repeat it and you will be able to fully benefit from social media marketing without spending a lot.