SOCIAL MEDIA BASICS
Written By Ethan Gaskill / Insight Creative Marketing
Hi! My name is Ethan Gaskill and I am the Owner and Creative Director of Insight Creative Marketing, a boutique marketing agency located in Wilmington, North Carolina.
In my past working life, I spent six years as a photographer in both the wedding and fashion photography industry. Throughout my time as a photographer, I developed unique ways to market my services, stand out from the crowd, and really refine my creative palette. At one point, a few friends of mine that owned businesses approached me to manage their social media for them, so I decided to give it a go.
I immediately fell in love and started coming up with tons of new and innovative ways to market their business, grow their customer/fan base, and overall enhance the aesthetics of their businesses’ online presence (i.e. I made their Instagram pretty).
Today, Insight Creative Marketing services an array of lifestyle businesses in both North Carolina as well as New York City. Even though our services take time, effort, and a whole lotta trial and error, you can implement these concepts into your own business to help market yourself more effectively! So, get your pen and paper out and let’s get started…
“When you fail to plan, you plan to fail.”
As a creative person, I think we can all agree that it's easy for us to fall into the trap of just “wingin’ it” with a lot of things. However, most really amazing things didn’t just happen by accident or happenstance. When you take the time to plan a content calendar for yourself, you’ll find that keeping up with your social media presence is actually quite simple. I am going to list out a three-step process that goes over how you can effortlessly plan your content out, keep things interesting, and make your page’s content cohesive.
1. Do Your Research
If I were to ask you to stand up right now and give me a detailed speech on Facebook Ad strategy, how to properly set up an ad campaign, and how we could most effectively monitor our results - you’d probably need to check Google or YouTube real fast for some answers. The same applies to social media. When you’re trying to strategize on how to market your business, you want to make sure that the content you're putting out follows best practices, looks good, and resonates with your audience.
How do we go about this? Research the competition. I’m not saying you should copy what others are doing, but by observing the success and failures of others, you can avoid making sloppy mistakes or harming the reputation of your brand. Any time our business signs a new client, we ask them who their top 3 Instagram page “goals” are. This allows us to get an idea for what the market is like, what people are responding to, and how we can approach the social media strategy for our client. With sufficient research, you're going to find what you like and (more importantly) what you don't like, so that you can get a bearing on how to even begin.
A lot of business owners get stuck in “perfection paralysis,” and hesitate to ever move forward. When you observe what others are doing, don't just take everything at face value. If someone has a page that checks all the boxes for “what to do right” i.e., abundance of Followers, engagement to match their number of Followers, and a very “put together” page… pause for a moment and look deeper into this account. What makes them stand out? Is it the color tone of their images? Are they doing an amazing job of connecting with their audience by replying to every comment sincerely? Are they using interesting and consistently fresh content?
Doing this research helps to eliminate doubt and get clear on how you can start sourcing/creating content.
2. Source/Create Your Content
In regard to social media, I think the biggest issue for any business owner (or person for that matter) is that we reach a point where we run out of ideas of what to post. That ends today. One formula we use for our clients is this…
33% Our Work/Craft
33% Personal/Unique stuff about the client and/or their staff (aka the person/people behind the page)
33% Inspiration, Tips, or Something to add value to a Follower’s life. It can even be something funny relating to your field. Try to tap into issues that photographers face. Answer or relate to their issues by posting content that resonates with them.
This means for every month of sourcing your content we need 10 photos of your work/craft, 10 photos of you/your team/something fun to help people feel a connection to you, and 10 photos/graphics that either inspire/give a tip/make someone laugh/add value to their life.
The one advantage we as photographers have over other business owners? Our camera, or more specifically… our eye!
For a lot of you, you’ll find that most of what you’re interested in posting will probably be your photography. We, as photographers, have such a huge edge on other business owners because we can literally create anything. Think of your camera as your superpower. While some business owners spend hours looking for the perfect photo on Pinterest of a skyline or chic cafe, you can just go out and make it.
Your vision and creativity will allow you to stand out and make an impact on your following more than anything else will. You can have all of the proper strategy in the world, stay super consistent, etc… but if you aren’t putting out fresh and engaging content that's valuable to or resonating with your audience, it’ll most likely flop.
Aside from using your camera to produce content, we love to use the app OVER to create beautiful text posts and graphics for our clients’ Instagram Story and Feed.
At this point you may think “Ok, but how do I know what content will work or look cohesive for my Instagram feed?” That is a valid and very important point! I have a couple solutions…
A. Follow a defined color palette, i.e., only look for/create images and graphics with heavy blue tones or pink tones. When you get bored with one color, move on to a different one to keep things fresh!
B. Use the “Color/B+W” combo so it creates a bit of a pattern on your feed, therefore making it look more cohesive. I use this for my personal Instagram page @ethangaskill and it works well!
C. Use the same filter or preset. If you’re reading this article, you’re more than likely using Tribe Archipelago’s diverse range of presets for Lightroom and Photoshop. One advantage to using Tribe’s presets on Lightroom is the ability to use the Lightroom Mobile App for iPhone. The same presets you use to help build consistency with your desktop work will seamlessly transfer to your iPhone so that you can keep your aesthetic consistent on the go!
Following these patterns or rules will help you from feeling overwhelmed by creating a sense of predictability!
3. Plan It Out
After you’ve completed steps one and two, your final step is to plan your content and lay it all out. At Insight, we use the program Planoly to lay out our content because it’s easy to use, has a bunch of unique features, and works on both desktop and mobile.
Planoly is an awesome tool for managing your Instagram page because it allows you to plan everything out in advance and see content arranged in the same way it would appear on an Instagram profile. By seeing everything side by side, you can ensure that the aesthetic is cohesive and consistent from one day to the next.
The auto-post feature is useful for those who can’t access their accounts at a specific time each day to post. If you notice there are specific times that receive the most feedback from your audience, you can use the Planoly auto-post feature to schedule your photos to post to Instagram at one of those key times.
Having the ability to plan things in advance will give you so much peace of mind.
This program is an absolute must-have for our business.
I hope these tips have helped to clear some of the fog surrounding social media for you. Managing all of this can be a full-time job, and having these resources, tips, and apps to help the process makes everything so much more digestible. If you’re interested in having your social media presence managed for you, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org, follow us at @insightcreativemarketing, or visit us online at insightcreativemarketing.com