Once the busy season hits, there is barely space to take a breath. Events stack up and many caterers are lucky if they get a couple of random posts about events in each month.
And yet, staying top-of-mind on social media during the busy season can set you up for more leads and sales when it’s slow. The first quarter is a great time to set yourself up for social media success during the busy season.
Let’s walk through an effective strategy for automating your social media posts while maintaining the authenticity that sets you apart from everyone else.
Plan your strategy now
Planning is key to any successful social media channel, and it’s crucial for when you’re busy and don’t have a minute to spare on marketing. It allows you to be intentional and consistent with your content, helping you to build a strong and compelling brand.
Here’s how to plan like a pro.
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Start with overarching categories. These are big catch-all things, like Behind-the-Scenes, Our Company’s ‘Why’, Meet the Staff, Event Showcases, and Inspiration.
Once you have your categories established, make a bulleted list for each one with sub-topics. For example, for a “Behind-the-Scenes” category, you might include: making signature dishes (prep, cooking, packing, serving), packing your truck, organizing your walk-in with new deliveries, your mise-en-place, and so on. Having subtopics keeps you focused and allows you to easily put together a content calendar.
Create a personal image library
Here’s a dirty little secret every successful channel manager knows: You don’t have to post a picture as soon as you take it.
Savvy channel managers use their content categories and topics to create shot lists for themselves to take pictures ahead of time. If you have a personal image library on your phone, creating content is a simple matter of grabbing relevant images.
Don’t have enough images? Feel free to fill in the gaps with stock images. Just don’t try and pass off other peoples’ food or work as your own.
Pro-tip: Invest in some mobile Lightroom presets, which make photo editing simple and consistent. They’re generally around $30 for a set of 10. There are a ton of food-related presets out there. You’re a simple Google search away.
Pre-write each month
I used to write first and source images later. Now, I source images first. There’s no right or wrong way; go with what feels best for you. Whether you write first or curate images first, set aside at least two hours each month to write and schedule your content for the month.
If you post every other day, you’ll need to create about 15 posts for the month. Here’s how to write quickly and avoid writer’s block:
• Start with events, holidays, and launches first. This allows you to get the ball rolling. When it comes to holidays, don’t forget quirky food holidays. Google is a great resource!
• Then, rotate through your big categories, choosing different subtopics to keep your content interesting and fresh.
Pro-tip: Don’t auto-schedule your Instagram posts to Facebook.
Nothing says, “I’m not here” and “I don’t care” like auto-posting your Facebook posts from Instagram. You’re not fooling anyone. Those 30 hashtags you added to your Instagram caption don’t make sense on Facebook and are a dead giveaway. Also, @mentions break and show a lack of care and intention when celebrating colleagues by mentioning them.
Create a hashtag and @mention document ahead of time
While hashtags aren’t necessary on Facebook, they are hugely important on Instagram and they are a pain to research on the fly or even each month.
I have a document with popular and relevant hashtags for each client with branded hashtags, including local hashtags and popular hashtags by category and topic. This allows me to quickly grab relevant hashtags for each post.
Pro-tip: Don’t use the same set of hashtags for each post. Select only the most relevant hashtags for the image and caption you’re posting.
With a bit of planning and scheduling, you can easily sail through the busy season with an interesting and engaging social media presence.
One final note: Don’t abandon your feeds all together. Set aside 5 to 10 minutes a day during downtime (in the morning, evening, or lunchtime) to engage with your community. The most successful channel managers will spend between 60 to 80 percent of their time each month on engaging alone.
Be generous with this and think about how you’d like your own audience to engage with you. If you want thoughtful, heartfelt comments, leave thoughtful, heartfelt comments. If you want a lot of likes when you first post, be the first one to like other people’s posts.