What do you do now? With the busy season coming up for many people in the horticultural and agricultural industries, businesses are finding themselves scurrying around trying to make sure that everything is going according to plan. Everybody is trying to stay in line with the big picture. Where does that leave social media? Often social media strategies can fall by the wayside this time of year. It’s often a last minute thing, or the kind of thing that people don’t put much thought into. Is that a good idea? What do you think? My obvious answer would be “NO!”, but we can agree to disagree if you want to be stubborn about it.
You have a Facebook account; it’s got quite a good following. Your customers see it as a valuable resource for pictures and a good way to let you know how they feel. You aren’t so concerned about Facebook. You want your business to expand its social media horizons, so you turn to the next biggest thing: Twitter. You might even have a Twitter account. There are probably a few random tweets here and there. You might even have a decent number of followers. You sit down and look to post something new, but you find yourself staring blankly. You have no idea what to do with Twitter.
Take a deep breath. It’s going to be ok. I’m going to help you with that.
When looking to post on Twitter, you first have to ask a few questions. Who am I talking to? Is it customers? Industry leaders? Suppliers? Or is it some twisted combination of all of those? No matter what the case may be there are a few things you have to remember about this social media monster.
- Twitter is one giant conversation. Think of it as a constant ongoing networking event. Everybody has a name tag and it’s really ok to talk to anyone. It’s ok to ask questions. You might not get an answer from some people, but generally if people are active on Twitter they are looking to be a part of an active conversation.
- Think of it as show and tell. You only get 140 characters per tweet. That’s really not a lot of room to say something. That’s why you will see links all over Twitter. If you want to talk about a topic, state your brief opinion and link to a webpage that goes into further detail. Use Twitter as the bait to your own hosted content. Because you are limited in what you say. You have to make it count.
- It’s ok to share. Twitter was built for sharing. See that “Retweet” button? Use it. People LOVE it when you retweet their content. It lets people know that you’re interested in what they have to say, and it gives them exposure to your followers.
- Be personal. Nobody wants to follow a robot (well normal people anyway). Don’t post useless drivel. If you have something to say then say it. If you don’t, then go out and find something cool that you think your followers would be interested in and share it. Unless you’re a celebrity nobody wants to hear all about you all the time. Sales pitches get boring, and boring gets un-followed.
- Thank people. If somebody follows you actually take a look at their profile. If they are someone who might interest you follow them back! I don’t suggest following everyone who follows you but at least look into them as a candidate. If someone retweets you acknowledge them for it.
By following those five tips tweeting can actually become pretty simple. It lets you “show off” to a lot of people. It can help you become a business that is known as an industry leader. Twitter has the ability to give your followers the feeling that sometimes they are getting a chance to interact with you on a one on one basis. That’s the biggest thing to learn here.
Twitter is all about give and take. You really get what you give, and it can be a lot of fun. Maybe it’s just because I’m a social media FREAK, but Twitter is where I go to hang out. It allows me to be myself and I get to chat with some really interesting people that maybe otherwise wouldn’t know that I existed.
Find me here:
It has been a cold couple of days up here! I hope that this finds you somewhere warm, whether that be in the tropics, in the living room in front of the heater, or in your (hopefully) warm cubicle. I must say that these last few weeks have been very busy. I am beginning to find that this is a general theme in being young and trying to make the most out of life and your current situation! However, I am not the only one who has been busy. It seems that the whole Green Industry has been in an uproar lately. Companies acquiring other companies, people making big announcements, and organizations putting movements into motion, it has been an interesting start to 2013. It will be very interesting to see what the rest of the year has in store.
It is important that at this time of the year that we don’t forget to stay focused on our underlying goals. We need to remember that for anything to remain possible we have to strive for a greater sense of communication. Companies and individuals alike are beginning to realize that perhaps old views of new technologies may not be so accurate.
People are beginning to see that perhaps the ultimate need for a social media is not in boosting immediate sales, but rather that social media can play an important role in learning, communicating and reaching out to customers. It’s about being creative, and showing the people that follow you that you are indeed a real person or a business comprised of real people. It is only in this that we truly begin to understand the power of social media.
Things like Facebook pages, Twitter feeds, and Pinterest boards allow us to connect on a level that 10 or 15 years ago we could never have dreamed of. Social sites are no longer just for friends searching to reconnect with old high school friends. They are a way for entire industries or better yet the entire planet to interact, share, and engage with each other. In today’s world social media is about meeting people’s needs. The thing with these needs is that they are not always the same! Everyone uses this technology in a different way.
Moving forward we must remember all of us. We must continue to see what this greater connectivity means. A business Facebook page may not be the tool for you to use to make a quick buck, but it’s free and there is definitely something to be gained there. It’s all about utilizing the tools in front of us the right way. A hammer is a great tool for a lot of things, but if you try to use it when you’re making a sandwich and it doesn’t seem so effective.
I don’t know about you, but I’m excited. I’m excited to see where we go from here. 2013 is shaping up to be a big year. I only hope that we continue to press on. We cannot afford to fall back now. There’s too much at stake now, and because we have come so far we have more to lose, but still so much more to gain.
That my friends is my true hope for 2013. Putting the pieces of the puzzle together carefully will take us the distance.
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A couple of years ago I took a class called Field Cropping Systems for my major at Cornell University. We would talk about everything from planting to post-harvest. We would talk about how each growing region had a climate and in each tiny area that essentially could be limited to a single plant there was something called a microclimate. The same can be said of today’s marketplace. Even though there may be prevailing trends within the horticulture and agriculture industries, we have to realize that individual businesses are each affected and shaped by different microclimates within the market.
Now I’m just as guilty as the next person when it comes to talking about the green industry as one whole big jumbled mess, but on the other hand I’ll be the first person to tell you that just because something works for a garden center in Pennsylvania doesn’t mean it will work for a garden center in Washington State. As an industry we should share ideas and communicate with each other; we should decide which fronts that we need to tackle to move our entire industry forward, but in order to move forward as an individual business you really have to assess what works for you.
I have people ask me all the time, “How do I get involved with Social Media and be effective?” or “How do I cater to young people?” I can give them a few bits of advice on typical content, or point them in the direction of market research that myself or someone else has done regarding Generation Y, but I cannot emphasize enough that when laying out a marketing strategy the first step has to be identifying your true market.
The industry can tell you that gardening is most popular amongst married women aged 35-65 who lead active lifestyles blah blah blah blah. However as an individual business you must understand that these are averages on the industry as a whole and that your market may be completely different. For instance if you own a grower/retailer operation who sells to landscapers, and does 75% of its business with those landscapers, does it make sense for you to market to the “typical gardener”? No way!
One thing that small business owners often neglect to look at is who is coming into their business to purchase from them. Take a look around. Who’s shopping at your location? Who’s buying from you online? Who’s placing the orders for next spring? You can only really gain a sense of who you need to cater to by first gaining a sense of who is coming to your business. The answers to these questions may also work the opposite way. They may show you who is not coming to your business, and the demographics you need to cater to more. Either way the first step in establishing any marketing strategy, digital or traditional (print, radio, etc.), must be to analyze your micro-market. The industry can help you understand trends but when it comes down to your business, no one should know who your customers are better than you.
This is especially tricky when it comes to Social Media Marketing. Getting involved with Social Media can make your company globally known, but if you’re a local business that doesn’t ship or sell online, does it make sense to cater to these global demographics? As a business you have to understand that these global “likers” are good for business by generating popularity in the global high school that is the internet, but at the same time you have to know who your true customers are and that their needs must come first in order for your business to be profitable in the slightest.
Remember before you can create your content you have to know who you are creating it for. For if content is the key to marketing success your audience is the lock and in order for things to work out the key has to match the lock.
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