Social media is a powerful tool for companies of all sizes to reach customers. However, not all businesses have the resources to properly utilize such platforms. That’s what compelled Chris Costello to create his companies, SpectSocial and BALI Media, LLC. As a sophomore in college, Costello built these businesses from his dorm room with the hope of helping small businesses that didn’t have the funds to allocate toward social media marketing. I had the pleasure of speaking with Chris about his experience building his brands and helping others grow theirs.
What led you to establish SpectSocial?
SpectSocial was founded with the full intent of creating a marketing avenue for beginning entrepreneurs, online marketers, independent marketers and anyone else who has the need to use social media to scale their business. When I was first starting my business and social media profiles, I would get contacted form agencies across the US asking if I was interested in scaling and increasing sales. Of course, I was, but after hearing their pricing, I became deterred. I sent out to create SpectSocial to help solve the monetary issue for new businesses without the large cash flow that bigger companies have. I wanted to make sure that I could keep the prices way below the industry average for social media marketing while meeting and even beating the industry norms.
You established two media companies while in college; how did you balance your academics and your entrepreneurial efforts?
It definitely wasn’t easy. To me, it didn’t feel like work though. I knew that I was creating a name for myself while also having the satisfaction of helping other entrepreneurs like myself grow their own dreams. Once I started my companies, sleep was not top priority but rather making sure I got past the start-up phase of BALI Media, LLC and SpectSocial. Early mornings and late nights were a thing of consistency as we work with clients from the USA, Europe, Asia, Australia, and Canada and since I didn’t have a staff to help me with support at this time, most responsibilities fell on my plate. Of course, I had to prioritize business with school as well and would study hard when I had upcoming assignments and exams, but it was a fun challenge being able to manage both school and entrepreneurship at the same time. The time management skills have definitely helped propel me further since graduation.
What’s the biggest challenge you’ve faced in building your companies?
The biggest challenge I have faced throughout building my companies is making sure that we stay up to date with the newest social media growth methods, new marketing tactics, and new sales strategies. Since we work in media and technology, methodologies are constantly changing. It is not enough to be an expert SEO for one week and claim to be still a few months later if you have done nothing to learn about new strategies and new search tactics. Thankfully, we have members of our staff who do extensive research on what is new across the industry to help us stay up to date.
What piece of advice is critical for businesses looking to grow their audience on social media platforms?
I have two main pieces of advice for anyone trying to grow their audience on social media. My first piece of advice would be to sell a lifestyle/experience rather than a product. Too often I see this from new businesses when we start working with them where their social media posts are built up of product after product. This is not allowing their current and future customers to see the true benefits behind the brand. To build a brand successfully via social content, I suggest posting creative content that can contribute to growing the brand of that company. For example, if you are an e-commerce store that sells men’s t-shirts, rather than posting photos of a t-shirt on a white background, post images of real people wearing your shirts, doing something fun (at the beach, with friends, at a game, eating, etc.) this will allow you to sell a lifestyle behind your brand making your future customers more likely to be emotionally attached to your product. Secondly, don’t give up. Everyone and every business who has scaled in industry and social media had the persistence to get passed the starting stages. Everyone starts with a big fat 0 on all their social media profiles. As the platforms grow in user numbers, it will only become harder to gain traction which is why patience, consistency, and persistence is one of the biggest factors.
What advice do you have for other young entrepreneurs?
If you have a passion for something and you think that you have a good idea, run with it. Just know that it will take extremely hard work and patience to get to where you want to go. Focusing on making money the right way should not be your goal because it rarely is possible when you are starting. I remember when I first started years ago growing my first Instagram account to 101K followers, I would sell shoutouts to other users on Instagram for $5-10 apiece and I was in awe at the possibilities. Anyone can get started, but few will have the motivation to continue over the hurdles.
What’s your proudest moment?
My proudest moment is the moment I launched my LLC, BALI Media, LLC. This legitimized everything that I had worked so hard to create and build. Starting from working 12 hours a day growing my social media brand and making $5-10 a day hoping that this money would go towards my passion for photography to owning two successful companies and launching a third branch soon and helping thousands of users across social media platforms scale their brand, business or product.