Social media. It's the cheapest, easiest form of marketing out there. If you're a business owner, a blogger, or both, you've probably been taking full advantage of several platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, and Google+, to name a few. And why would't you? It's an easy way to reach your followers without paying a dime.
But you may have noticed a slight shift in these platforms lately, especially Facebook. I'm no conspiracy theorist, but I do have some thoughts and opinions on the future of social media.
The run down
If you have a Facebook fan page, you've probably noticed that your posts have only been reaching around 10-25% of your total number of followers. But if you pay to promote your posts, there's a greater chance that they will be seen by followers, friends of followers, and Facebook users similar to your followers. What was once known as a free marketing tool is now not so free and oh so frustrating.
The scary part? Facebook is the industry leader and has been known to set the standard for other social media platforms. Take Instagram, for example. Sponsored posts were few and far between just a few months ago, but they've seemed to increase in the recent weeks (not to mention their parent company is Facebook). Instagram now has more users than Twitter, and it wouldn't be surprising if they follow suit and use a pay-to-promote feature sometime in the near future.
So what does this mean for you? How can you beat the system, save money, and keep from putting all of your marketing eggs in one basket? Here are my thoughts.
3 free marketing alternatives
Blogging consistently with quality content
Posting high quality content to your blog consistently brings people into your business on a daily basis much more than any social media platform. Social media followers have to click a link to get to your site, whereas blogging brings potential customers directly into your online place of business. Chances are, blog followers have clicked around to learn more about you and what you have to offer because it's all right there on one site.
And if your content is high quality and your posting schedule is reliable, you'll gain more blog followers (who could easily become potential customers). Don't just take it from me. Here's what Google itself says about boosting your ranking and number of visitors in their SEO starter guide: "Organic or word-of-mouth buzz is what helps build your site's reputation with both users and Google, and it rarely comes without quality content."
Marketing experts still agree that email marketing is one of the most effective marketing tools for a business. Email marketing has several benefits: emails are guaranteed to appear in followers' inboxes (whether they open them or not) and it's extremely cost-effective. Free sites like MailChimp make email marketing a breeze.
Word of mouth and positive testimonials are some of the greatest ways to build trust with potential customers; shoutouts from other industry professionals are great marketing tools for your business. Partner with other entrepreneurs on projects, ask them to help you promote a new product or service, and be sure to do the same for them in return.
It's smart to take full advantage of free social media platforms while you can and spread your reach over all of them instead of putting all of your eggs in one basket.