Cultivating customers on Instagram

Cultivating customers on Instagram

How green industry businesses can successfully use Instagram for marketing.

July 31, 2020

During session two of Cultivate’20 Virtual’s Selling Plants Online & Marketing Strategies Series, Grace Hensley spoke to the event’s attendees about mobile marketing for green industry businesses. Hensley is a certified horticulturist, member of GardenComm and owner of Fashion Plants LLC, a horticultural services firm serving the Bainbridge Island, Poulsbo and Seattle areas of Washington state.

Editor's note: For more marketing tips, check out our recap of session one here.

Her talk focused on the essential foundations of digital marketing, including how to use your customers’ social media feeds to reach them. Especially during a pandemic and forced quarantine, social media has become your customers’ window into the larger world. And if they see you on their social feed, you’re where you want to be. It’s a small step from their smartphone to their wallet.

“You can get into your customer’s pocket pretty quick,” she says.

Instagram is one of the most popular social media marketing options. Hensley says Insta hits that sweet spot between the younger and older demographics. Many of Facebook’s early adopters have grown tired of the social network. At the same time, they’re suffering from social media fatigue and don’t want to learn how another network works or find their existing friends all over again in a new place. Newer options like TikTok are scary to them, as they’re seen more as domains for teenagers.

At the same time, it’s important to know what Instagram is and isn’t. Hensley says Insta is visual, social, youthful and bite-sized. However, what it’s not is yours.

“Your website is still the foundation of your business,” she says.

Attempts to control the conversation can be made, but successful social media marketing is more about interaction than selling. Use it as a playful space to entertain, educate and encourage your customers, Hensley says. If you keep to an 80/20 split between those three E’s and selling, when you do need to make a sale, your customers will be used to interacting with you.

To convert your social pals into customers, include a call to action in your posts that leads to a place where they can make an online purchase.

“The secret to engagement is direct messaging,” she says. Hensley says you should monitor and always respond to any direct messages you get — unless they’re from creeps (which does, and will, happen).

Instagram is searchable. Much like Twitter, another social media platform that uses hashtags to group similar discussions together, the use of the # symbol before a word creates a tag. Hensley says you can use up to 30 tags per post.

Here are a few of her tips for successful social media marketing.

Talk about pets over politics. This one is pretty self-explanatory. You don’t want to get into arguments with your customers “IRL” (in real life), you shouldn’t do it over social media either.

Use a planner. There are several social media tools that will let you schedule posts ahead of time in batches. This can be a useful time-saver

Learn one new thing and implement it. Eventually, you’ll get good at it. Whether it’s using a new program like Canva to whip up slick social media graphics or adding a new social media network to your online portfolio, focus on one thing at a time. You’ll get better results than you would if you attempted a full overhaul of everything at once.

Guard your privacy. You might want to set up a “no kids in posts, stories or grid” policy and enforce it. However…

People buy from people. Use (consenting) people in your posts and stories as much as you can.

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