(Social media means small businesses can connect effortlessly with customers. Image).

Finding low-cost, effective marketing solutions that will get your company name known while not requiring large advertising budgets is the holy grail. But what can time-poor, cash-flow-poorer small enterprises do to make a splash? The good news is that social marketing has revolutionized the game and, in fact, often works in favor of the smaller players. Authenticity is so crucial to your efforts – something that big blue-chip companies struggle with. Anyone can get involved on social media. Here’s how.

Find out who your customers are

The lifeblood of a successful business, of any scale, is being able to articulate exactly who its customer base is and knowing how its products or services benefit. Large companies spend hundreds of thousands trying to understand, but you can learn directly by going where your customers are on social media.

The advent of the web means that geography is no longer a barrier to gaining direct contact. You can find out who and where your customers are, how they feel about various topics, what they like and what challenges they face – all with the smartphone in your hand. Join the discussion, put yourself where they are, and you could gain priceless insight to inform your strategy.

It’s on the rise

Initially easy to dismiss as a fad, it’s apparent by now that social media isn’t going anywhere – in fact, it’s only growing. Facebook has over 500 million active users – and that number is on the rise. Work in business to business? LinkedIn has 75 million plus members – and these numbers are on an upward trajectory. Your audience is out there – you just need to find the best platform to speak to them. Consider using the services of an ethical SEO company to make sure that your site is pitch-perfect to drive people to once you find them on social channels.

Ditch traditional sales tactics

Another thing that the dominance of social media has produced is a move away from hard sales tactics. Things are more about building relationships organically, earning word of mouth recommendations and providing smart solutions that people want to share. Being on someone’s social feed is a little like being in their house – you have to play by their rules. Women tend to excel at this kind of approach, so use the chance to build rapport. This will also help you gain the trust of your customers and lead to higher retention rates.

Create shareable content

This brave, new world is transparent, so instead of plotting out an expensive marketing strategy, here’s where you should focus. First, make sure that your website is fully optimized, and that you provide a smooth, easy experience for your customers when they land. Second, focus on creating shareable content to raise brand awareness rather than traditional marketing. The aim is to get people to share, so really think about where you can add value. It all depends on what you do – a fashion business could offer free styling advice or a virtual PA firm tips on time management. Use infographics, video content and handy tips shared on social media to encourage people to pass on to their friends. Unique content will drive more visitors to your website and if it’s well presented, convert them into customers.