It’s easy for social media to seem overwhelming – the networks are always changing, trends are constantly evolving, and everyone has an opinion on how it should be done. Rest assured, though, that you don’t need to be a professional photographer or expert marketer to make social media work for your business!

Why do we encourage all of our partners to create profiles and remain active on Facebook, Instagram, and the like? The answer is simple (albeit twofold) – these sites are often the first place prospective customers will look for you, and it can be one of the cheapest ways to get your name out there!

Think about when you plan your own vacations, or when you’re searching for somewhere new to eat, drink, or shop. How often do you turn to a social media network to see foodie photos of tasty dishes, search reviews of the best places to stay, or ask for recommendations about the coolest events in town? In-state travelers and out-of-town visitors are doing the same things when considering where to go and what to do in the Silver State. By showing up in their social media feeds with a regular presence, you’re encouraging folks to patronize your business and helping showcase how awesome your community is. The best part is that you can capitalize on these actions and efforts for FREE!

Whether you’re looking to improve your cell phone camera skills, take advantage of goofy internet holidays, or dive into the world of user-generated content, we’ve got the tips and tricks to get you started.

 

Cell Phone Photography and Videography Tips

The cameras that now come standard in almost every type and brand of cell phone pack some seriously pro capabilities, and they are more than capable of snapping standout photos for your social media. The better photo you can take, the more eye-catching it becomes, which will ideally lead to more followers, more visitors, and more income!

If you want to make simple tweaks to how you’re taking photos, Tourism eSchool has the two steps that’ll elevate your game. For more in-depth lessons on cell phone photography, check out Hatchbuck’s three-part series “How to Take Professional Quality Photos with Your iPhone.” Sked Social also has a complete guide to taking picture-perfect Instagram photos, with lots of examples and screenshots included. Of course, you can’t forget about all the apps out there that give your photos that extra bit of oomph. Buffer has a list of 26 favorites that’ll make your shots even more engaging.

When it comes to video, there’s no shortage of great resources out there that’ll teach you everything from the most basic of basics to the smartest tricks that would never cross your mind. These three articles are easy to understand and full of information:

 

How to Create Content

Sure, you can take killer photos and shoot stellar video – but what do you do with these pieces of content? What should you even be taking photos and video of?

Coming up with ideas for what to post on your social media channels is arguably the hardest part of being on social media. The good news is, because this is a challenge for the smallest businesses and the biggest brands, there are lots of suggestions out there for how to clear this mental hurdle.

When you’re not sure where to begin with social content, think about what kinds of posts you like seeing from the businesses and brands you follow. Do you love getting glimpses of behind-the-scenes activity, or meeting the employees who make it all happen? When a page posts a poll or hosts a giveaway, do you participate? What kinds of content most capture your attention? The answers to these questions can inform how you interact with your own audience and help jumpstart that brainstorm.

If the creative roadblock hits really hard, turn to the internet! CoSchedule and Sprout Social both have lists full of ideas for social media posts, and you can find even more by Googling “ideas for social media posts.” Even if you don’t have a company blog, the thought processes behind these suggestions still totally work.

For Instagram Stories specifically, HubSpot can teach you how to use Stickers to jazz up your 24-hour posts with polls, location tags, GIFs, and more. Buffer has your back with a full-fledged guide if you find yourself asking, “What the heck is an Instagram Story?!”

Another handy tool to know about is Canva, which lets you build polished graphics for all sorts of needs for free (with some features available for a premium). This can come in handy for flyers, fundraisers, infographics, social media posts, and so much more!

 

Hashtag Holidays

We’ve all seen wacky (and not so wacky) holidays trending on Facebook and Twitter – #NationalMargaritaDay, #StarWarsDay, #SmallBusinessSaturday, #BikeMonth, etc. These are perfect opportunities for your business to join the digital conversation and have some fun!

Take a look at upcoming celebrations and see which ones make sense for your brand. If you’re a bar or restaurant, maybe you offer a special for #NationalBeerDay (April 7). Properties with outdoor seating may want to show off their patios, campfires, decks, and such on #NationalPicnicDay (April 23). Ask a team member to dust off their alien Halloween costume for #UFODay on July 2! The options are almost endless.

Sprout Social has a downloadable calendar of hashtag holidays, along with tips for how to best use them, while you can search Days of the Year for any and every hashtag holiday taking place.

 

User-Generated Content

If you’re unfamiliar with this term or practice, the simplest explanation is that user-generated content (UGC) is any piece of content about your brand or business that was created by a consumer. There are lots of benefits to using UGC on your social media channels:

  • It can feel more authentic and trustworthy than typical marketing messaging
  • It shows off your business/brand from a new, different perspective
  • It can supplement the content you’re creating
  • Sharing it (always with credit!) makes customers feel appreciated and important

Research from Instapage fully breaks down why UGC is so effective, and uses that insight to show you how you can incorporate it into your own marketing plans. Rivet Works has even more UGC examples for you, along with how to start finding UGC for your business. These 13 tips from Libris will make sure you’re using the UGC that makes your brand truly look its best, and Shopify will make sure you’re getting the proper permissions before sharing someone else’s content.

 

Content Calendars

Most businesses do not have the luxury of having a team member dedicated to social media. That can mean the job of creating, finding, and posting content gets shifted to people who already have their hands full with other tasks and responsibilities. Plus, it’s tough to start each and every day going, “What am I gonna post on Instagram today?” This is where content calendars can save the day.

Content calendars can take a variety of forms, but they’re most often some kind of calendar or spreadsheet where you can plan out social media content in advance. Maybe you don’t have time to set aside for daily content creation… but maybe you do have a couple hours each week where you can write up a bunch of posts at once and schedule them out. If you’re a team of people managing social media, a calendar can also streamline who is posting what, when, and where, and give you time to look (and plan) into the future for things like giveaways, holidays, and monthly themes.

For tips on how to get started with a content calendar, Hootsuite has you covered. HubSpot also has a free, downloadable template if you want to play around with the idea!

 

Looking for even more free marketing tools? Crello’s got 100 of ‘em – literally!