Small-Budget Social Media Marketing: How to Do More With Less



Follower count is overrated and quality is key when looking to optimize your social media budgets according to’s Dino Kuckovic and Leora Novick.


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For small businesses online, sometimes it feels impossible to outbid the big guys.‘s Dino Kuckovic and Leora Novick — two minds that have changed the game in small-budget social media marketing — are the true groundbreakers when it comes to small-budget media marketing, and they shared their best insights on the topic during #SMWONE.

Here are the primary insights and takeaways:

  • Know what to outsource and what to keep in house
  • Creative ideas don’t need to break the bank
  • Setting goals and benchmarks are fundamental to optimizing budgets

They kicked off the conversation by dispelling one of our most misunderstood notions: “if you have a huge number of social media followers you’re obviously doing it right.” Brands often get confused by spitting out too much content and forget that quality is the key to success. But if follower count is overrated, what else don’t we understand?

Optimization is pivotal

Brands now have to be smarter about where their dollars are being spent, to ensure all marketing budgets are being worked to their fullest. There are a number of different approaches as to how to optimize media budgets which Novick outlined through several examples. Repurposing existing creative assets, leveraging partnerships, thinking outside the box for how internal team members can be used, stretching limited budgets, and being smarter about maximizing an investment are but a few of the ways to optimize at scale.

What this all boils down to is prioritization. Think hard about where you absolutely need to outsource and what you already have at your disposal in house. Kuckovik echoed this insight with a slightly more data-centric approach. Specifically, having a measurable approach and setting tangible goals and benchmarks. Both agreed and emphasized that there are plenty of ways to optimize budgets and that it’s not always about quantity.

Who wants to be friends?

A major strategy for smarter media budgets is strategic partnerships and collaborations. Creative ideas do not need to break the bank. Some of the best ideas are the simplest and least expected. Who’s to say you need a fancy photoshoot in Dubai with the most famous models to send a message? You do not need a familiar face! Novick reiterated this point with the reminder that despite there being a dominant and traditional sense of the word “influencer,” there are numerous categories of these creators including macro (500k-1M followers), mid-tier (50-500k followers), micro (10-50k followers), and nano (1-10k followers).

What your brand may need doesn’t necessarily have to fall under the umbrella of what every major influencer is following. Think outside the box and emphasize the “fit” factor when gauging whether the person will be relevant for your brand. To help answer this question, refer back to your mission and determine whether the message will map onto this in the way you intend.

Another pro-tip: utilize the talent you already have in your office to help maximize your budgets. The key is to be resourceful with what you already own. “Send out the bat signal,” said Novick, “raid houses and bring back what you have.” It does not always take much to be creative! More often than not the most engaging messages are those that are simple and genuine in nature.

Are you being smart about your social media budget?

Social media is typically the largest part of small business media campaigns. As a result, outsourcing is not as cost-effective as many may think. To address this, consider hiring part-time specialists as opposed to a full-time staff. Be diligent about setting SMART goals and benchmarks so you can hold yourself accountable when establishing and optimizing budgets.

Determine whether social pays off for your business begins with measuring ROI. Check your metrics daily and if a tactic is not working, you will have time to adapt your approach over time and apply the learning lessons. But what does it really mean to measure ROI? For small businesses especially it comes down to having the right tech stack at your disposal. Among the tools in their arsenal, Kuckovic and Novick mentioned their very own Falcon, Native Insights, Google Analytics, Facebook, and UTM tracking, particularly for gauging attribution.

ROI remains one of the most the-most debated topics but with a few simple steps, you can establish a framework for justifying your social media budget year-on-year. Among the primary steps to focus on when reporting social media ROI include:

  • Using templates
  • Using plain language
  • Checking metrics daily
  • Set a timeframe and stick to it
  • Build your case with third-party insights
  • Propose a low-risk pilot

“Marketing doesn’t have to be expensive. You don’t have to operate in the dark,” Kuckovic offered in a closing remark.

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