The cost of paid advertising on social media continues to grow after iOS privacy updates, Google phasing out third-party cookies, and increasing competition.
This is where free advertising ideas for your business come into play.
Whether you’re a small business owner with limited funds or frustrated with the growing ad cost, here are 30 free advertising ideas you can implement without spending money. You can DIY these ideas and get your business off the ground in the initial stages.
1. Google Business Profile and other free business listings
The first thing you should do to promote your business is to create your Google Business Profile.
Formerly known as Google My Business, it’s a free and effective way to have an online presence where users are constantly searching for and evaluating local businesses.
Google Business Profile lets you claim free real estate on Google Search and Google Maps.
Whenever users search for your services, you’re likely to feature in the results if you’ve optimized your profile well. This includes keeping your profile updated with your latest contact information, products and services, and a link to your website.
Also, you should claim your free business listings on sites like Yelp, Facebook, and others.
2. Free ad promo credits
Running online ads has become costly over the years, no matter which platform you choose. The global cost-per-click (CPC) on search engines alone has grown more than 19% from 2021 to 2022.
Paid advertising on Google, Instagram, Facebook, and others is getting costlier every quarter. But, there’s still a way for you to run free advertising on these platforms.
Each of these platforms offers free ad credits to new users and even runs regular discounts for repeat users. You can take advantage of these credits to get a few high-quality ads off the ground.
Granted, you’ll not get thousands of dollars in free credits but you can still get the word out there and get an instant boost to your brand awareness.
3. Social media presence
It’s a no-brainer that a strong social media presence is indispensable in today’s always-online world. People spend 2 hours and 25 minutes on social media on average every day. And your brand needs to be present and engaging on all social media platforms.
Identify your target audience and choose the platforms they’re most active on. Then, create a social media content plan for each of those platforms and publish highly relevant and engaging content regularly.
Create an authentic and active dialogue with your followers and see your brand value and revenues skyrocket.
4. Social media contests
Social media contests like giveaways, sweepstakes, and more are a great way to grow your following and translate that into new customers, increased engagement, and better brand recall.
It doesn’t cost you much compared to the potential ROI you’re targeting and your followers are incentivized to engage with your brand without spending a dime.
There are a variety of social media contest tools available. If you want to know the best free as well as paid options, check out our post on the best social media contest tools.
5. User-generated content
User-generated content or UGC represents a treasure trove of content you already have – contributed by your loyal customers.
Across your social media channels, your customers interact and engage with your content in meaningful ways like leaving reviews, posting comments, retweeting tweets, and sharing Instagram stories.
You simply need to compile this invaluable content into attractive posts that reach thousands of potential customers and become free advertising for your products and your brand. The beautiful thing about UGC is that not only it’s free, but it’s also self-sustaining.
Once your customers see their posts getting traction, they’ll be incentivized to create and share more engaging content. And the success of the content is likely to spur people in their network to join in on the trend, multiplying your potential customer base.
6. Instagram reels
Instagram reels have exploded into a social media frenzy in the last two years.
According to a Hootsuite report, 91% of Instagram users watch videos on the app at least once a week. Moreover, reels get more engagement compared to IG videos.
As a business, Instagram reels represent an in-vogue, highly shareable, and extremely engaging channel to grow your followers and sales.
It’s a free advertising tool that combines good ol’ social media fun with effective marketing to create a win-win proposition for both brands and consumers.
Instagram has evolved into a highly sophisticated platform where every aspect of your videos needs to be carefully thought out. This list of the best Instagram tools can help your brand transform into an IG powerhouse much faster.
7. TikTok trends
Every trend you see on Instagram probably originated from TikTok. The incredibly popular short-form video platform boasts an average engagement rate of 5.96% versus 0.83% for Instagram and 0.13% for Facebook.
By leveraging the latest TikTok trends, you can easily capture the mindshare of your target audience and promote your brand without spending thousands on paid advertising.
TikTok’s algorithm shows highly relevant videos to users, hence successfully capturing even a small audience on the platform can net you a highly engaged viewer base.
8. Quora answers
Quora is a free platform for anyone to post a query and answer the ones shared by others. For brands, it represents an ingenious way to intelligently advertise their services to users already looking for answers to highly pointed queries.
Quora gets more than 300 million unique visitors every month. With an audience this size, you can’t ignore Quora as a free advertising tool.
But make sure your answers don’t come across as too ‘salesy’ and filled with unnecessary links or they could be marked as spam. Simply share specific answers providing value to users and you’ll soon build a sizable following.
9. LinkedIn content
You might think that LinkedIn exists solely for leveraging your professional connections. But the truth is that by posting on LinkedIn, you can gain exposure to a whole new set of potential customers.
It’s no wonder then that 61% of B2B marketers use LinkedIn. Facebook and Instagram are still the most preferred marketing platforms but LinkedIn is fast increasing in popularity.
Publishing on LinkedIn needs a few tweaks to your existing content before you can start promoting your brand and products to new customers.
Ensure that your posts add value to users in a more professional sense. Stay on top of the industry trends and offer your unique take on new technologies and business ideas.
10. Twitter chats
Twitter as a platform has long been known as a source of up-to-date news. People also use Twitter to establish deep engagement with other people and celebrities they look up to.
Lately, brands have started to leverage this unique nature of the microblogging site to build momentum around their products and services.
Twitter chats are great avenues to get your brand directly in front of your audience. With 368 monthly active users, you have a huge highly-active and clued-in audience who’s looking to engage with witty and in-vogue brands in their Twitter chats.
11. Reddit communities
Reddit sits at a unique intersection among social media platforms. Its subreddits represent every kind of community under the sun. Be it fans of an obscure gadget, the latest Hollywood blockbuster, or a programming language.
Your brand can tap into these extremely targeted communities and promote its products and services.
Be careful not to come across as salesy. Your comments and posts should have an air of authenticity that signals your genuine interest in the topic being discussed. You’ll never want new users to promote to, as Reddit is one of the most-visited websites online.
12. Pinterest page
Pinterest is a visual-heavy medium that lets users pin images they like to specific boards on different topics.
As a brand marketer, you can also make use of this platform by pinning an enticing image to redirect users to your website. Or you can upload images to Pinterest boards and then link them to your website or other social media posts.
The key to using Pinterest for brand advertising is to go beyond simply promoting yourself. Make an effort to engage with other users’ boards and share the inspiration behind your own content.
13. Customer referral program
Referrals by your customers are a sure-shot way of boosting your social proof and bringing in new customers.
People trust the buying habits of those in their close circle and network. Hence, incentivizing your existing customers to refer you to others is a free advertising tool for small business owners or large brands alike.
You can institute a rewards program wherein you reward your most vocal customers with a free product, discount coupon, or recognition by your brand.
Referrals have the power to grow your customers by a huge margin in a short period of time. So take the bull by the horns and create a rewards program today if you don’t have one.
14. Customer reviews
93% of people trust friends and family more than celebrity endorsers or paid ads. Online reviews are highly instrumental in gaining new business and you should start leveraging this free advertising tool today.
Depending on your business, you can cultivate reviews on your online profiles like your Google Business Profile, Facebook page, Yelp listing, and other platforms.
Don’t forget to respond instantly to negative reviews. Mistakes are unavoidable but how you respond to disgruntled customers will affect your brand perception among your larger customer base.
15. Tutorial and promotional videos
Promoting your brand doesn’t always have to feel like an ad. You can instead create tutorial videos explaining your product or service and how it can make life easier for potential customers.
Promotional videos where you share your brand’s story or collaborate with another brand or local business can also work equally well.
If you’re able to feature some of your customers in tutorial videos, you can further increase the engagement potential of your content. Your customers will then become your brand ambassadors and promote your brand for free.
16. Webinars and podcasts
Hosting webinars and podcasts with a peer in your space or getting featured in one hosted by other brands is a great way to get some free advertising for your brand.
Webinars work extremely well to establish yourself as a thought leader in your space. You can translate your standing as an expert into more sales for your products.
Reach out to social media influencers who have used your product and invite them to be part of your webinar or podcast. You can also choose to discuss a relevant industry topic with a non-competitive but related business in your industry.
There’s no dearth of great webinar platforms today. You can also glance at the 8 best webinar software platforms to narrow down your search.
17. Forums and networking events
Participating in relevant offline and online networking events brings you exposure to a highly tuned-in audience. The people attending industry forums and networking events are already interested in your industry and products.
You simply need to have your presence there and gain free advertising for your brand.
Being part of offline events can work incredibly well for local businesses as they can increase awareness and build their industry standing simultaneously.
18. Blogging and guest posting
Blogging has always been a free and powerful tool to bring organic traffic to your website and social media channels. It remains one of the best returns on investment for businesses.
According to studies, 70% of consumers prefer blog posts to ads and you can increase website traffic by 55% by starting a brand blog.
Blogging not only increases your organic online presence but creates top-of-the-mind recall in the minds of potential customers. You should also explore guest posting on other prominent blogs and websites to get in front of their audience.
Blogging and guest posting can work wonders for your SEO as well, increasing your website’s authority online. To help you through the process, you can refer to the best content writing tools for SEO.
19. Commenting on other blogs
Besides publishing blog posts, you can also find non-competitive blogs by other businesses in your industry and comment on them with your perspective. This engagement with thought leaders in your industry will allow you to organically share some of their audience.
Users are likely to Google your brand if you genuinely engage on blogs that they’re regular readers of.
20. Content marketing
Content marketing involves a comprehensive content presence across all major platforms to promote organic traffic to your website and translate that into sales.
This includes publishing YouTube videos, LinkedIn articles, guest posts, and anything else that establishes your brand as a thought leader in the industry.
Search engines value content that users find useful and engaging. If you’re able to publish such content regularly, you will see your SEO rankings climb new heights.
You don’t need to limit yourself to conventional content formats.
Showcase your brand’s behind-the-scenes videos, connect your messaging to important and trending topics, publish infographics that both educate and entertain, and publish e-books that deep dive into a specific industry issue.
Learn more in our roundup of content marketing statistics.
21. Email marketing
Email is still king when it comes to CTR and customer acquisition effectiveness. People are far less likely to ignore a well-crafted email than a search ad or social media post. Hence, email marketing should be an integral part of your advertising and marketing plan.
Before sending out any email to your existing or potential customers, make sure what you’re offering is crystal clear.
Your subject line is possibly the most important part of the email and needs to be punchy without being clickbait. You should also perform A/B testing to identify your best-performing copy.
Emails can double up as a lead nurturing, promotional, and business development tool for your business. You can make your email marketing journey even more rewarding with the best email marketing software.
22. Email signature
Your email signature can be a place for more than just sharing contact information. You can use this valuable and high-visibility space to share links to your social media channels, website, and even active promotions.
Email signatures are often overlooked but can be a valuable part of your online advertising strategy.
23. Cold emails
Cold emails are an invaluable source of establishing invaluable connections with potential partners and generating additional business.
If you can master the art of sending an email that’s not run-of-the-mill, grabs your target’s attention, and offers a concrete CTA, you can build a highly lucrative pipeline for expanding the scope of your business.
Make sure your cold emails are not too spammy or you risk getting ignored.
24. Repurposing old content
Your content, once published on one of your platforms, can always be repurposed and published on another of your platforms.
For instance, you can convert a high-converting blog post into an Instagram carousel post, a popular YouTube video into short clips on LinkedIn, or a solid LinkedIn post into multiple tweets.
The key is to modify your existing content according to the needs of the new platform, instead of just copy-pasting it.
Craigslist receives anywhere from 180-200 million visits every month. The online classifieds site is a great place for you to post humorous or informative content to generate some free advertising for your brand.
Even posting ads about your products and services is sure to generate impressions and redirect traffic to your website.
26. Chambers of Commerce
The US Chamber of Commerce has a local entity in every major US city. It’s one of the largest business organizations worldwide and provides entrepreneurs with a great source of referrals.
Your business can become a member of the local chamber of commerce and gain access to free advertising, networking events, and periodic communications with thousands of contacts.
Even if you do very little after becoming a member, you stand to gain a lot from the huge audience the chamber already has access to. It can quickly become one of your business’ most economical referral channels and advertising solutions.
27. Business awards
Getting awarded by industry-recognized organizations can be a shot in the arm for your business. Almost every industry has business awards to recognize the best companies in the space.
You can flaunt your award on your website and social media channels to boost your brand’s credibility and increase sales.
You should apply for prominent awards in your industry and even try to host your own awards in collaboration with your peers. Hosting your own business awards will inevitably add to your influence and promote your brand.
28. Publishing infographics
Infographics are nifty ways of publishing informative and engaging content in a visually striking and highly shareable format.
In contrast to many other types of content, infographics come across as easily digestible nuggets that can be shared across multiple platforms like Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, or even Pinterest.
You can even repurpose your viral infographics into video content and generate even more value from them.
29. Partnerships with other businesses
Partnerships with other non-competitive businesses in your industry can generate long-lasting repeat business for both you and your partners. By referring your customers to each other, you can build your credibility as well as generate additional revenue.
Providing supplementary services to your customers creates free word-of-mouth advertising and paves the way for you to become a leader in your industry.
30. Volunteering for events
By volunteering your time or products/services to local events and charities, you can not only generate goodwill in the community but also raise awareness for your brand. Potential customers are bound to associate your business with positive feelings.
This is a cheap and effective way for your brand to get the name out there.
Which free advertising idea is best for your business?
From the list of 30 free advertising ideas, you can pick and choose and implement what seems the easiest to start with. It’s a trial-and-error process.
But once you find out what’s working best for you based on the results, you can double down on that method and continue to grow.
Remember: don’t let the list of ideas overwhelm you. You can start with the first step – create your Google Business profile and go step by step from there.