February 2021
Tools to Help You Master Your Social Media By Gail Pabst and Diane Blazek

This new year-long series from NGB shares successful social media tips.

We at National Garden Bureau and All-America Selections are very honored to continue to provide content for garden retailers’ e-newsletters and social media as part of our mission. We’re now going one step further with tips, tricks and tools to help you master social media!

Why Master Social Media?

Every consumer-facing business needs an online presence and a website is only part of the picture. According to recent social media stats, 3.5 billion people (about 45% of the population) are active social media users. Among millennials, 90.4% of them use social media, followed by 77.5% of Gen Xers and 48.2% of baby boomers. And if that’s not enough of a reason, a full 73% of marketers believe social media marketing is “effective” for their businesses.

With a good social media strategy your company can: 1) Firmly establish who you are as a business, 2) Target, attract and build an audience, 3) Show (and share) your business’ personality and authority and 4) Track results.

In just five years, National Garden Bureau has gone from a minimal presence on social media to an ever-increasing reach to gardeners, with substantial growth each year. In just three years, we doubled our Pinterest followers. In the past five years, our number of Facebook followers has increased 325%. And our Instagram followers also grew very rapidly — from 2,500 followers at the end of 2018 to almost 12,000 at the end of 2020. Our expanded reach has resulted in increased membership, which allows us to do even more marketing of the horticulture industry. Which, in the end, helps everyone involved in the world of gardening.

The best part? We’ve done this organically with almost no paid ads, boosts or paying for followers. We want to help you find social media success by sharing some of our learning experiences in future issues of Lawn & Garden Retailer.

Small Bites Allow for Quick Action

Quick tips and tricks are an easy way to digest new information and we will share our tips for success in small bites to enhance your own social media accounts. Gone is the fear of “that will take too long,” or the excuse “I’ll just do it later.” In this format, you can read, take a few quick actions, then reap the rewards.

Even if you already have a large audience and a great technique, social media is always changing and we can always learn more. Some successful retailers may read a tip and say, “Oh good, we already do that” and that’s great! Kudos to you! Our hope is that you will find at least one new approach each month that you can make to your own account(s).

Beginning next month, each issue of Lawn & Garden Retailer will include “Tools to Grow Your Business” where NGB’s social media experts share their quick and easy tips to success.


Auditing Your Social Media

Let’s get started this month with a quick audit of your current social media presence and website as it relates to social media:

1. Where are you now? How many platforms are you using? Are your name and profile brand consistent across all platforms? Are you using the same (and current) company logo on all platforms?

2. Are you on some social media accounts that you haven’t used in a while yet still want to continue to be a part of? You may need to find an easier solution to posting to that platform, maybe with a third-party software that will post for you (we use Zapier to post to Twitter). Remember, even if you are only posting once a week, you will still be active on that account. You don’t want to have an account that you highlight on your website that looks abandoned or neglected.

3. Are you on all the sites you want to be on? If not, now is the time to add the new one(s). Not on Instagram and want to be? No time like the present! Just think how far you will be in a few months if you just start now. Grab your username to reserve your spot.

4. Are there any imposter accounts using your company name? Put your name in the social account search bar to see if anyone is using your name or logo. If so, report it. Don’t assume there isn’t one. We were surprised to discover the name “AAS Winners” and logo being used by an unauthorized party. We reported it and as of this writing are still waiting for an answer. But it’s something to be aware of.

5. Analytics — Get familiar with the analytics area of each platform, sometimes called Insights. In our June column, we will discuss how to interpret and act on your analytics.

6. Benchmarking — Make a spreadsheet that incorporates some of the basic analytics that each site provides, and keep track of growth and changes as you go.

7. Goals — Start thinking about your goals for each social media platform. Write them down, maybe on your spreadsheet so you have a record.

Auditing Your Website

1. Go to your website and click on the links to your social media accounts.

A. Does each link work with no error messages?

B. Does the link go directly to your social media page?

C. Does the link open in a new tab? You don’t want your website visitors leaving your website to go to your social media platforms. If they leave, they might get distracted and forget to return to your website.

D. Can you easily find your social media links on your website? You might not want your audience to leave your website and go to social media, but if the social media opens in a new tab and you have relevant and compelling information, it will be a great asset to your business.

2. Do you have a way for site visitors to sign up for your e-newsletter? Is it prominent? Getting email addresses is an important way to communicate with your audience. Unlike social media, email addresses guarantee you a way to directly connect with your audience.

The above are the first of many tips we’ll share in upcoming months, and are just some of the steps we have taken in the past few years to improve our online presence. National Garden Bureau has been around for 100 years (1920- 2020) and social media gives us a modern presence that is extremely relevant. Please take a moment and follow us on our top social media accounts:

Facebook: www.facebook.com/nationalgardenbureau

Instagram: www.instagram.com/national_garden_bureau

Pinterest: www.pinterest.com/nationalgarden

National Garden Bureau is in the unique position as the oldest and only non-profit industry ambassador to help all segments of the gardening industry. Our mission is to inspire, educate, and help both individuals and horticulture companies grow and succeed. If it’s in a garden, then we promote it!

Next month, we’ll talk about the successes we’ve had with Pinterest.

Gail Pabst and Diane Blazek

Gail Pabst is marketing communications coordinator and Diane Blazek is executive director of the National Garden Bureau.