By 10 am this morning, chances are you saw a digital advertisement for something you merely thought about over breakfast. Ads are everywhere; especially on the many devices that keep us connected. It’s no surprise that, as digital advertising gets more savvy, brands across the globe are spending record amounts of money to reach customers online – surpassing historical spends in more traditional mediums like TV and print.

True, digital advertising is effective, and for those with the budget, it’s usually worth the spend. But as online influencing and selling increasingly become a pay-to-play game, how do businesses with smaller budgets keep up? We’ve put together 4 budget-friendly tactics to help your messages stand out between the ads:

  • Keep a schedule – A sporadic approach to content-sharing never helps anyone. Followers are more likely to stick around when there’s regular, interesting content they’ve grown to appreciate. Content themes can and should change on a week-to-week basis, but the frequency and types of posts – outside of limited-time and rare major promotions or events – should stay consistent.
  • Remember, it takes two – Brands should strive to establish and maintain a two-way relationship with audiences online. That means making a concerted effort to listen, not just feed content. So whether it’s opening your page for a contest asking for feedback submission, hosting Q&As, or simply breaking the “sell” cycle with a feel-good message before the weekend, be creative and always seek new ways to invite followers in.
  • Keep it real – Stock images should always be a last resort. Many of the most successful paid digital ads lead the way with a compelling image that tells either a relatable or aspirational story; the same standard should apply to unpaid content on your owned channels. Whether it’s a storytelling infographic that educates and motivates action on your issue, or a photo of a real customer enjoying your product, these images convey authenticity. Keep them coming.
  • Leverage suspense and surprise – Building momentum is a great way to keep current followers engaged and attract new ones. Have a big announcement to roll out, but don’t have the dollars to promote a big-splash campaign? Use your social feeds to tease the news in a series of posts that feature succinct captions and cryptic, playful images that gel with your brand. Invite followers to tag their friends on the posts so they don’t miss out, too.

The moral of the story here: Quality content can still compete with high quantities of ads paying for customers’ attention. Don’t let intimidation by the big shiny campaigns hold your brand down! Along with proper attention, listening skills, and creativity, following these guidelines over time will enable you to cultivate a loyal followership, while spending less.

Who knows? In no time, your followers might just start thinking about you over breakfast, too.