Having a full-time employee dedicated to social media tasks is a luxury most small businesses can’t afford, yet if you have something to sell, or an image to promote, you must post on social media daily. How do you find the time?

You schedule them. I’m not talking take the personality out of your Instagram and Facebook feed kind of scheduling, but the kind of scheduling that will allow you to plan content, organize images and make yourself a theme for your social feed. Long gone are the days when brands and retail businesses ignored social media. It’s necessary, especially when you are trying to expand your customer base, and increase brand awareness to younger consumers.

I found myself trying to run a small business and being in charge of marketing and social media. I love making social media posts, but it was not easy to find time to fit in unique, eye-catching social media posts. I’ve discovered the Later.com app for scheduling Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter posts, and I really like it.

There are other scheduling apps, so research them and find the one that is right for you. Here’s the catch — try really, really hard not to post the same things on different channels each day. Mix it up. Believe me, it’s still a ton of work, and I spend anywhere from 4-6 hours on Monday morning writing captions, selecting and editing images and coming up with a “theme” for the week. But then I’m sure to have at least one post on each channel each day. This way, if the week goes to hell quickly, I have that taken care of.

Themes are huge. What’s a theme? What does the grid of your Insta feed look like when you look at a week’s worth of posts? That’s your theme. You need to have different textures and colors and make sure there’s not three days in a row where you post a picture with the same qualities — like a flower closeup — unless you want your theme to be flower closeups, then by all means, post away. Themes can be the filter you use, or a common color thread or set pose, or more commonly, they are making sure the feed is pleasing to the eye if you were to look at one brand or company’s weekly feed.

Since we (as an industry) have the most beautiful subjects to sell, images should be the least of our worries. They MUST be in focus though. No one wants to see a blurry, overexposed image. Any iPhone can take the most amazing images, iPads too. It’s not that hard.

Let’s talk about are captions or copy. Captions (also called copy) on Instagram and Facebook posts are not limited to a number of characters like they are on Twitter, so please tell us a story. Say something silly to grab our attention. Talk about why consumers NEED this plant, not just how pretty it is. Today’s conscious consumer wants to know what it will do for them and how it will make their life much better. Many scheduling services allow captions to be saved for future use, and that’s super handy. Say you have six great images of a coneflower and you want to spread out the images over a month. You can use the same caption and tweak it each time that plant is featured. If you have the time and creativity to come up with a different caption each time, please do, because that is so much better.

These tools are not the magic bullet. You still have to commit to doing the work, but if you commit to the first few hours every Monday or Friday to getting your social media feed in line, you will feel so much better. That way, if something cool comes up and you want to post it — it’s not so random. An extra post is an added bonus, and that also gives your feed much needed personality to show people you are not just a bot posting the same old content, but that there is a person behind the posts with real-life experience in gardening. And that is priceless.

Angela Treadwell-Palmer founded and co-owns Plants Nouveau LLC., a company that specializes in introducing and marketing new plants to the nursery industry. She’s been around the world, experiencing world-famous gardens and remote areas looking for new ideas and exciting plants. angela@plantsnouveau.com