Perhaps the most unexpected part of starting my own business was how much time I would have to sink into social media. I’m not sure what marketing and media looked like before the world obsession with Facebook and Instagram, but I’m guessing it looked a little like creating an image and having it printed in a local periodical of some sort, or maybe buying a short ad on the radio. These days, entrepreneurs like you and me are having to spend a healthy fraction of our existence tied to our phones/computers commenting, liking, begging people to pay attention to us.
Unsure how to rock the social media requirement of a small business? It’s EASY!
Once you have your account created, you simply figure out what to post to it. Be sure to use a consistent and authentic voice. Use professional/visually appealing imagery. Definitely use a consistent filter so that all your photos look the same in your feed, but DON’T alter the edit on any photo that you didn’t take because that work belongs to the photographer. Don’t forget to spend at least 15 minutes before posting and 15 minutes after posting to engage with other accounts so that Instagram boosts your own post. Don’t forget to change your captions for Facebook when crossposting because people look for different things on Facebook then they do Instagram. Post every day, or at least every other day, because out of sight is out of mind. Oh! And don’t forget stories! This is where you can be more informal, let your followers join in on the behind-the-scenes joy of running your business! You have to do this every day MULTIPLE times a day…
Holy shit guys, forget whatever you WANTED to do with your business, what you’re ACTUALLY doing is full-time social media.
If it feels like too much, hire a social media assistant. What? Your spanking new little business can’t afford $1k a month to pay that new college grad to do all of that or you?
I FEEL YOU!
I have no magic answers for you here. The truth of it is that you just have to do it or pay someone else to do it. Once you are established and start pulling more business from referrals and other connections it’s entirely possible that you can lighten up on your social media load, but when you’re first getting started playing the social media game will give you a major boost in establishing yourself in your market.
What I DO have, is a list of tools and some best practices that I found helped me to better wrap my head around the task without getting overwhelmed.
1. Plan ahead.
One of the first resources that I created for the MB.P membership site is our Social Media Planner. I used my years of social media history, paid a social media consultant for their time/advice, and added in a ton of research to narrow down the 17 most engaging types of posts for mobile bars, and then created a workbook to help our members structure and batch out their posts.
Batching content helps prevent you from sitting there at 9 pm each night trying to decide what to post for the day. Once you fill out the worksheet it’s as easy as picking a picture, adding a pre-drafted caption, tagging it and either posting.
2. Find a system that allows you to schedule out in advance.
There are lots of options out there for this, some cheaper than others, some with more functionality than others. Find which one works for you. I personally use Planoly. It’s only for Instagram, but that’s where my focus mainly is anyways. I can save a bunch of hashtag groups, which I customize based on the type of post, and rearrange the grid prior to posting to make sure I like the way it’ll look in my feed. I then schedule them out.
3. Stop using Instagram’s filters.
Seriously. It’s like they aren’t even trying anymore! When was the last time they introduced a new one? It was forever ago! Trying to figure out which of the outdated and overused filters to use from their built-in selection is futile. Just stop trying.
There are lots of new apps out there that will let you download/create filters that work best to fit your brand. Feed your images through these and finish out your editing before it even hits Instagram. I use ColorStory and really love all the filters that they offer. Remember not to edit images that belong to someone other than you.
4. Get better at taking your own photos.
I’m no photographer, but I know the quickest and easiest way to get content for your own social media, is to take those photos yourself. It’s such a stressor to constantly be hustling for professional photos and then to make sure you’ve tagged all the proper people in every picture. I’ve started taking photos with my Nikon and then using this thing to funnel them right into my phone. Then I pump them into ColorStory and edit away.
Alternatively, I use my cell phone on portrait mode and do the same thing. For tips on taking better pictures, visit our post about taking great cellphone photos.
5. Organize your photo storage.
There is little that I find more frustrating than scrolling through the past 18 months worth of photos looking for a photo of that cocktail or bar setup in the midst of all the kids/dogs/nature shots. I suggest getting in the habit of relocating or sharing these photos to a specific folder or photo stream reserved for bar photos. I have a folder on my google drive where I specifically send all my bar pictures. I also share them with a Shared Album on my iPhone that just includes bar pics so that they’re accessible. This ensures I can access all my bar/cocktail related photos quickly and all in one place, which greatly reduces time spent.
Ultimately, the social media aspect of running a business is largely a necessary evil. You may not be able to avoid it, but small changes to your process may help make it more bearable. Now, stop reading this and get posting/engaging/living your life on social media. Be sure to follow @mobilebevpros. We follow back all mobile bars!