Crucial content

Features - Cover Story

Does your social media game need a new strategy? Growers share their ideas for better ways to engage with customers, suppliers and end-consumers.

From algorithm to viral, social media terms have permanently infiltrated our lexicon. What type of social media user are you? A dabbler who posts inconsistently? A sleeper whose content isn’t helpful or engaging? A jokester who posts memes and reposts every #dadjoke and #docktok video? Or a vanguard who asks questions to start conversations, as well as posts solutions and beneficial content? Pundits expect North American social media users to reach 448 million. To date, Facebook is the most-used social network in the U.S. with 180 million users. In a November 2021 study from Statista, B2B marketers most often used LinkedIn for organic and paid posts. Although wholesale growers are in a B2B position, your social media presence also needs to reach and inspire the consumer.

We spoke to three growers who shared their social media views and strategies. See what you can glean from them before your next tweet.

WHICH PLATFORMS ARE YOU USING?

Clesen Wholesale

“We’re on Instagram [@clesenwholesale] exclusively. We’re concentrating on one social media channel for now,” says Michelle Erwin, business development manager.

Rocket Farms

“We are primarily focused on Instagram [@rocket farms], Facebook [@RocketFarms], and LinkedIn [Rocket Farms, Inc.] while building our presence on TikTok [@rocketfarms],” says Jon Gutierrez, senior product and design manager.

Little Prince of Oregon Nursery

“We’re on Facebook [@littleprinceoforegon], Instagram [@littleprincetogo] and TikTok [@littleprince plants], says Joan Dudney, marketing manager.

HOW DO YOU DECIDE WHICH ONES ARE THE MOST VALUABLE TO YOUR BUSINESS?

Rocket Farms

“We first consider the audience insights for each. Our metrics have shown that Facebook tends to draw an audience that’s a little older than those using Instagram, while roughly 43% of TikTok users are between the ages of 18 and 24 years old,” Gutierrez says. “Our customers fall into all types of demographics, so it’s important to utilize each platform strategically based on their reach.”

Little Prince of Oregon Nursery

“We think they are all valuable and reach different audiences,” Dudney adds.

WHAT ARE YOUR ULTIMATE GOALS FOR USING SOCIAL MEDIA?

Clesen Wholesale

“Our ultimate goal is to create customer engagement and awareness. And when I say ‘customer,’ it’s not necessarily our direct customer,” Erwin says. “There are times I walk just the greenhouse and find something to put on Instagram. It’s such an easy way to engage with people.”

Rocket Farms

“We want to highlight our brand presence within the market of course, but we also believe social media has the ability to connect with our customers in a way no other marketing platform has before,” Gutierrez explains. “Through social, we share a platform alongside friends and family, so it’s even more important to genuinely communicate our brands personality that then shapes how our customer feels about us.”

Little Prince of Oregon Nursery

“Our ultimate goal is to bring brand awareness. We want people to go to their local IGC searching for our logo and plants.” Dudney says. “It’s also a great way to engage with people and keep our finger on the pulse on what customers are looking for.”

HOW DO YOU MAKE POSTING A PRIORITY?

Clesen Wholesale

“I set aside time every week. Every morning at 9:30, I have 15 minutes blocked out on my calendar that says, ‘post on social media,’” Erwin says. “Then I do some scrolling and commenting, so usually takes more than 15 minutes. I also spend a good amount of time on Monday drafting several posts, so I have content ready for the week. We already have an editorial marketing calendar for our newsletters, so it’s easy to repurpose some of that content for Instagram. I try to post a reel to Instagram as much as I can, because that’s a good way to reach thousands of people and get new followers. But making a reel is a lot of work and it’s time consuming.”

Rocket Farms

“This ties into our ultimate goals for social media. We want to be top of mind for our customers when it comes to all things horticulture, so posting every day is important to maintain that connection with our audience,” Gutierrez says.

Little Prince of Oregon Nursery

“We use a service called Later, which allows you to schedule posts in advance. It’s super handy,” Dudney explains.

ARE YOU POSTING MAINLY PHOTOS OF PLANTS? WHAT ELSE DO YOU LIKE TO POST?

Clesen Wholesale

“We do post a lot of plant photos. And thankfully we work with beautiful things, so that makes it easy to have plenty of flower photos,” Erwin says. “But when we post a face with our plants, that’s when we get the most engagement. We also do employee spotlights and introduce our followers to our team.”

Rocket Farms

“We like posting plant photos, of course, but we also find value in sharing recipes, highlighting new plant products, and providing plant care tips,” Gutierrez adds.

Little Prince of Oregon Nursery

“We post pictures of current crops, silly videos that we make, pictures of our pet frogs and gardening tips,” Dudney says. “We love teasing upcoming plants and we also try to include some DIY [projects]. It’s a great way to show off our awesome company culture. I mean, who doesn’t want to watch us riding off-road segways?”

DO YOU THINK IT’S IMPORTANT FOR B2B COMPANIES TO USE SOCIAL MEDIA TO TALK TO CONSUMERS? WHY?

Clesen Wholesale

“Definitely. It’s all about engagement and building awareness for your brand,” Erwin says. “It only takes a few consumers to see your posts and go into a garden center and ask for your product.”

Rocket Farms

“Yes. As consumers continue to evolve and change, so do the ways they communicate with businesses,” says Gutierrez. “There’s a growing demand for transparency in companies, whether that’s B2B or D2C, so we have to meet them where they’re at.”

Little Prince of Oregon Nursery

“We think it’s very important,” Dudney says. “We have a direct line of communication with the end customer. This allows us insight into what people want and are looking for. Trends move fast in our industry, and we need to be on top of it.”

CAN YOU THINK OF AN ANECDOTE WHERE YOU WERE ABLE TO TIE A SOCIAL MEDIA POST OR PRESENCE TO A BUSINESS DEAL?

Clesen Wholesale

“I’ve seen the most direct conversion to sales from social media engagement with mixed container designers,” Erwin says. “They see a plant or plants we’ve posted, and they end up buying them to include in their next design.”

Rocket Farms

“We are currently gearing up for a give-away campaign with an influencer that has an audience of over 500,000 followers,” Gutierrez says. “This partnership all began in our DMs when the influencer had tagged us after sharing a product of ours in their Instagram stories.”

Little Prince of Oregon Nursery

“Oh, for sure. There have been many times that we have posted new plants we will be offering and there are immediate calls or emails for wholesale orders,” Dudney says.

WHEN A NEW PLATFORM COMES OUT (LIKE BEREAL, FOR INSTANCE), WHAT ARE THE QUESTIONS YOU ASK BEFORE LAUNCHING INTO A NEW CHANNEL? 

Rocket Farms

“When considering a new social platform, we first have to ask ourselves, ‘Is this a platform we find ourselves using in our free time?’ Next we figure out how to begin creating our brand identity in this new arena,” Gutierrez says. “As a team, if we don’t internally believe in, or feel comfortable using, a certain platform, then the quality of content will suffer and our audience will overlook us. It’s incredibly important to be genuine about the content we put out there to ensure we are adding value to that space.”

Little Prince of Oregon Nursery

“There are always new opportunities,” Dudney explains. “I believe it’s important to be consistent in posting and delivering great content to your audience. Being active in multiple platforms is beneficial. Dip your toe in and see what kind of results you get. It never hurts to try.”