Video tips and tricks for garden centers
Debbie Foisy is giving the presentation “Turn Your Boring Plant Expertise Into Fun, Catchy Videos” on Tuesday, July 18, at Cultivate’23. Here, she shares some tips from her more than 10 years of creating videos for her garden center, Deb’s Greenhouse, a grower/retailer near Edmonton, Alberta.
L&GR: How long have you been making videos for Deb’s Greenhouse?
Debbie Foisy: Since the beginning — about 2010. It was definitely a bit clunkier back then. You had to record it, and then you had to upload it. It wasn’t as easy as it is now.
L&GR: What tech do you use to make videos?
Foisy: We just use our phones now, both to make videos and upload them.
L&GR: Do you stick with a certain length for your videos? Is there a certain length that gets the most views?
Foisy: I haven’t found a magic number, but I do find that it’s always changing. I feel like we can’t keep up with what’s popular for social media algorithms. If you have a loyal following, and your content is interesting, people will watch it. It’s OK if it’s a minute, and it’s OK if it’s 10 minutes; the people who like it will watch the whole thing. And if it’s not for them, then they just move on.
L&GR: How often do you make and post videos?
Foisy: When we’re busy in the season, I do at least a video per day. But this time of year [in March], leading up to it, I’m doing a couple of videos a week.
L&GR: Are you on TikTok too?
Foisy: Yes, we’re on TikTok, Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest but not very active with videos on Pinterest. I upload everything to YouTube as well.
L&GR: Which one gets the most views or has the most subscribers?
Foisy: [We have the] most subscribers on Facebook and views are definitely still the highest on Facebook. TikTok is definitely very good — there’s a lot of growth on that platform right now. I have more activity on TikTok in a year than I have in 10 years on Instagram. I’m surprised — I’m glad, but I’m surprised.
L&GR: What would you say to garden centers resistant to being on TikTok?
Foisy: That’s purely their choice. A lot of people are shying away from TikTok; that’s totally up to them. I see it as a place that my customers like to be, so I have no problem being on there as well. It’s a personal choice, but your customers are there. A lot of people didn’t like Facebook or Instagram or other things in the beginning, either.
L&GR: Who does your social media or the videos?
Foisy: We do it in-house. A lot of my staff will make videos. We get a new product here and I’ll say, “Hey, who’d like to make a video?,” and whoever’s interested is welcome to get in front of the camera and make a video. I think it’s great — it offers more perspectives and puts other people in front of the camera, so when customers come in there are more people that they connect with when they walk in the door, which I think is fantastic. It’s a great opportunity for the young people on our team to expand what they are capable of. Making a TikTok for work is different from making a TikTok for your friends. It’s a great resume kind of thing for young people.
I think there’s endless opportunity for greenhouse stores. Everything we grow is beautiful; it’s photogenic. People are interested in it. And I think we can deliver that in a way that is really appetizing for our clients or potential clients.
L&GR: And yet there are garden centers resistant to doing videos or even social media.
Foisy: Yeah, and I’ve learned from different conferences all over North America that we go to that the message has been clear for a long time that we should be doing videos. I think we need to explain how we do it in a way that’s relevant to our fellow growers and to encourage them to try it.
L&GR: Do you know if your videos have brought in new customers?
Foisy: Absolutely. Every year, we pick a theme for a segment, and last year I started doing a segment every day called “Today’s Top 5 Plants.” People would come in the following day, and I would have to tell whoever’s on shift that these were the top five, so make sure you know where they are and that they stay fully stocked because people would buy them.
And when I talk about the plants, I’m not just saying, “Oh, look how pretty it is,” but “Look at this plant. This is what it will do, this is where you should grow it, and this is how to get the most out of it.” It wasn’t just like, “Hey, come buy this.” It was an explanation of how to use it or where to use it. That’s kind of our boring context expertise, that if we deliver it in a way that is appealing to our audience, we are giving them what they need and they’re supporting our business.
L&GR: Do you have any tips for other garden centers for making videos?
Foisy: Buy yourself a tripod that will hold your camera and definitely do a few practice videos to see where you have the best lighting in your building. That might change through the day because the sun moves, right? Take a few practice shots and videos just to see if you should be standing or sitting or where you’ll have the things you’re going to display. If you’re going to show a couple hanging boxes, where are you going to put them so you’re not walking out of the camera all the time? Do a few mockups and speak like you’re talking to a customer in front of you — just as animated, just as excited. What helped me a lot is when someone said, “Talk to the camera like you’re talking to one person” to kind of get that lump out of your throat and be comfy. It takes practice to feel super comfortable.
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