Businesses that want to have a strong online presence, as well as a solid offline marketing strategy, often find that it takes plenty of resources to do both well. And for new businesses, or small businesses, or simply businesses that are going through a tough time, those kinds of resources might not be available. But there’s still plenty of things that can be done without having to spend too much money. Yes, you would probably need to spend more time, and you might not have access to state-of-the-art tools. But in some areas, and especially in social media, a shoestring budget isn’t necessarily a constraint.

Have a Goal

You don’t need any money to create a goal for a social media campaign, and you can’t have a campaign without a goal. There should be a clearly understandable goal behind every single action you take on part of your business on social media, as well as an overarching, campaign-wide goal. Creating a goal is usually the first step on the way to building a social media campaign, so that’s where you should start.

Take It One Social Network at a Time

You need to understand that every social network is special. Actually, they’re not that special, but they are different and that makes them better suited for different goals. Facebook is the ubiquitous social network every business needs to be on. Twitter might be great for having real contact with customers. YouTube is the social network for you if you’re using a lot of video content. Snapchat is the social network to use if you have a young audience. The list goes on. The takeaway is that you need to understand what makes every social network different, and how to use that to your advantage. And then you need to use only the social networks that matter to you and your audience. You don’t need to juggle all of them at once.

Arm Yourself with the Right Tools

Social networks will usually give you some kinds of tools that allow you analysis of your presence there and the interactions you’re having with your customers. They either come free, or they are complementary to paying customers — people or businesses that advertise on the social network — but the rule of thumb is that you should use as much as you can of everything that’s free or complimentary.

Apart from those tools, you should look on the web for different social marketing tools that are either free to use or affordable. If it turns out that the majority of your budget has to go towards paying for a tool, make sure you pick the one that offers you functionalities you couldn’t get otherwise.

Learn the Ropes and Go for It!

Because every social network or social media platform is different, they also have different rules for how to use them the best. Your audience will probably spend different amounts of time on different social networks. They might be more willing to engage in some social networks than others. Every social network is a beast of its own, at least when trying to plan for interaction with users.

And that’s where doing your own social media on a shoestring budget becomes difficult. It takes precious time to learn what works on each social network, and what doesn’t. It takes even more time to optimize and set the whole machinery running. Monitoring progress, analyzing the results, and tweaking the campaign based on the analysis is not something you can do during your lunch break, either.

But what you can and should do are is follow the basics at least. You can learn about things like hashtags and how they’re used on different social networks, understand that the timing of your posts is important and learn how to optimize it. You should know how important it is to post with some regularity and look into ad targeting. The basics will get the ball rolling easily. As you go along, and your business picks up, you can continue learning new things you can do on your own, or set aside a larger budget to get some people to help you.