Eleanna Sbokou
Eleanna Sbokou 22 June 2015

Social On A Shoestring: Doing Big Content On A Small Budget

5 tips to help you build a great social presence for your organisation without spending the GDP of a small country.

Author: Allegra Chapman, Social Media Manager at Blonde.

There are some truly incredible, groundbreaking social media campaigns happening right now. Interactive content, seamless connections between desktop and mobile design, and a user experience that crosses devices and platforms.

For some organisations, with limited budgets, these campaigns can be a little intimidating.

Smirnoff’s 2013 #YoursForTheMaking campaign involved, amongst other things, collaborating with fans to design nightlife experiences, and using an EEG device to turn brain activity into music. It was epic. It brought Smirnoff 1 million Facebook fans. And it reportedly cost £7 million to deliver.

Few organisations have £7 million to spend on a single social media campaign. Some of you reading this may want to weep at the thought of having a budget a tenth of the size. So you don’t get to play with the fancy EEG devices.

But don’t let that deter you from entering social media spaces. You may not be making quite so many headlines on the frontiers of digital discovery, but there are all manner of ways to generate content that will help you draw followers and build a lasting relationship with them, without spending the GDP of a small country.

Curated Content
I’ve written before about the importance of not simply banging on about what your brand wants to say, and finding the point of overlap between the subjects that are relevant to you and those that are important to your audience so that you can deliver content that is of value to them.

Curated content is one of the simplest and most effective ways to exploit that overlap. Social media is all about sharing information, and by sharing links and images from around the web (all properly credited to their original creators, of course!) you can become a valuable source of information for your followers, and they will come to see you as an authority on the subject in question.

An Example

Let’s say you’re a make-up brand, wanting to talk to women in their early 20s about using your product to get ready for a night out. Rather than simply endlessly telling them about how great your product is for doing their make-up before they go out, how about sharing cocktail recipes, music playlists, games to play with their friends as they get ready, the latest trends in fashion and hair – everything that makes you the personification of the image they’re hoping their make-up, and their social media activity, will project. People will follow you to get the latest information, and to show their friends how cool and fun and in-the-know they are.

At the same time, crediting your sources by publicly tagging them, particularly when they are independent bloggers or up-and-coming online publications, can help you build a relationship with that source, possibly laying the foundation for them to write about you or share information about you in the future. If they retweet your tweet or link to your Facebook post to enhance their own reputation, they’ve also brought your account to the attention of all their followers.

Repurposed Content
Ok, so your digital marketing budget wouldn’t buy a round of drinks in a central London bar. But there isn’t a company in the world – surely?! – that is entirely ignorant of the importance of marketing. Someone has the budget. And you can either spend your days making voodoo dolls of the PR team or daydreaming about tripping up the Advertising Exec in the halls, or you can accept that they’ve got the money to make the exciting content and do the decent thing – steal it.

You can post that new TV ad on YouTube.

You can take quotes from that press release that just went out and turn them into Facebook posts.

You can take that gorgeous imagery from the website and put it on Instagram. You can break that interview your CEO did with a newspaper into tweets.

Are the PR team doing a new photoshoot? Ask if you can go along to take some behind-the-scenes photos. Is your CEO doing another interview? See if you can record parts of it for use as a podcast.

Building relationships and keeping up-to-date with other teams, and finding out about activities across the whole organisation, can provide you with a steady stream of valuable content.

User Generated Content
47% of global consumers discover new products through friends’ recommendations, and 92% of consumers trust recommendations from friends and family, whereas only 10% trust brands. If your followers are tweeting about you, that is likely to have more impact on their friends than you talking in a vacuum.

By extension, content produced by genuine, actual humans is perceived to be much more trustworthy – and social – than a cold, faceless corporate machine talking about itself.

So let your followers do the work for you! If you have so far produced a product, and content, that they are appreciative of, are inspired by, and makes the sort of statement they want to make about themselves on social media, then they will already want to talk about you. Get involved in that process and reap the benefits.

Another example
Our make-up brand can ask their followers to show off their own unique style using their products (some sort of prize incentive wouldn’t go amiss here, even a small one, although sometimes fame can be its own reward). You’ve not only encouraged your followers to show their own networks how great the product is, but they’ve given you some lovely pieces of content that you can use across your channels. You’re welcome.

Incentivised Content

I mentioned earlier that forging relationships with online influencers can help you reach a wider audience. That blogger with 5,000 Twitter followers, and the YouTuber with 20,000 subscribers? That’s 25,000 people who may never have thought too much about your product, but if the writer/vlogger they like starts talking about you, they may take notice.

Some bloggers and vloggers, especially the more well-known with the particularly drool-inducing followings, command hefty fees for producing content for a sponsor. But smaller up-and-coming talents might be willing to work with you simply for some free products and the exposure your brand can give them. Particularly if you come to them with a concept that has depth and will be a valuable platform for them. Make sure that it’s relevant to their style and their audience.

Yet another example - we spoil you!
For example, our make-up brand could send out free samples to lots of beauty bloggers and hope that one or two of them will write about how great it was. Or, they could reach out to a selection of bloggers/vloggers with an unusual style, and talk to them about how they want to make a series of pieces where each person talks about the story behind their unique look, how the way they express themselves reflects who they are and their life experiences. Surely that’s more attractive to everyone?

A word of warning: you MUST make it clear when you put this content out there that it has been sponsored by your brand. Even if you haven’t paid anyone to take part, the fact that you have given them any incentive – free product, publicity, even the fact that you’ve asked them to do it – means that you need to disclose that, and you need to make sure that the bloggers and vloggers include clear mention of that in their blog post or video. Otherwise the ASA will be all over you

Do-It-Yourself Content
Sooner or later, you’re going to have to produce some content yourself, and we all know by now that images and video travel a lot further in digital space than pure text. Beautiful, bespoke content can cost a serious amount of money, with creative, design and developer expertise being expensive commodities. But there are a variety of tools that will help you produce simple content that will still get your message across without breaking the bank. Here are a few to get you started:

Canva has a range of images, backgrounds, text banners and other elements that you can use for free or rock bottom prices to construct imagery. Like the one that I made for this post:

Vine has made everyone into an animator. Stop animation is now as easy as 1, 2, 3 (4, 5, 6).

Giphy (link: has a GIF for every occasion, allowing you to communicate any and all of the feels.

Infogram (link: allows you to create infographics or other data visualisations. And it’s compatible with Excel!

So don’t let the big boys with their big wallets intimidate you. Go forth and make extraordinary conversations happen!

Follow Allegra on Twitter

Original article

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