GG: Who manages social media for Proven Winners and what kind of time commitment is given to it?
DE: I manage all Proven Winners social media outreach, including Facebook, Twitter, the Proven Winners Regional Blog and YouTube.
With regards to Twitter, both Stacey Hirvela from Proven Winners ColorChoice (Spring Meadow Nursery) and I share that responsibility to tweet during the entire day. Stacey also maintains the Proven Winners ColorChoice Facebook page, which currently has 20,817 fans to date.
The time commitment is maybe one hour at the most per day – in the morning I check and answer questions on Facebook and post for the day. Then, I’ll check back at noon and 5 p.m. to see if there are any new interactions.
On Twitter, Stacey tweets during the morning from 8 (a.m.) to noon and I pick up from there. By using a scheduler, like Hootsuite it can make posting a lot less time consuming.
GG: Which social media platforms have you found to be most effective? Why?
DE: Proven Winners feels that all platforms listed already are effective. That is the reason why we are participating in them.
However, the decision is different for each company. We have had substantial growth on both Facebook and Twitter over the past three years. On Facebook, we experienced a 254 percent increase from 2009 to 2010, and from 2010 to 2011 we had an 81 percent increase.
On Twitter, from 2009 to 2010 we had a follower increase 105 percent and from 2010 to 2011 had a 104 percent increase from the previous year. At this time, we have 32,092 fans on the Proven Winners Facebook and 3,434 followers on Twitter.
In December 2011, we started our regional blog where we are working with bloggers across the country to write for Proven Winners on a freelance basis. We have been extremely pleased with its performance in the past three months. By winter of 2012, we will be able to review all the numbers to see if we feel it is necessary to expand this project.
YouTube has become a force to reckon with and we are continually producing more and more video content for both trade and consumer channels.
Proven Winners feels it is important to have a strategic marketing plan to target multiple channels, including the trade and consumer – both in the experienced category but in the novice category as well. Social media gives consumers the possibility to reach out and get to know your company on a more personal level than traditional advertising did in the past.
GG: What is unique about Proven Winners’ social media strategy?
DE: I don’t feel there is really anything unique about our strategy as we are continually learning and look to other companies – both horticultural and non-horticultural – to inspire us with ideas. I believe the reason why our Facebook page has [such a large] fan count compared to other horticultural brands is because we update our page frequently and keep the customer engaged. We also have had tremendous success with using Facebook’s advertising option, which is available to all companies for a very low cost. Recently, I read that Calloways (Nursery) in Texas is having great success advertising their upcoming events on Facebook.
GG: Are there any emerging social media platforms you’re exploring?
DE: One of the next platforms we are reviewing is Pinterest, which is becoming extremely popular. We are researching how businesses are using this tool effectively.
Also, once businesses are able to create Google+ pages, we will be exploring that option. When Google+ was launched, they asked for businesses to wait to create their page. I imagine it will be similar to Facebook, where they do not want companies using profiles to promote their businesses. We didn’t want to start a Google+ page for Proven Winners until they were ready with that platform at the risk of building a fan base and having to start over again.
GG: We hear a lot about social media as a great marketing and promotional tool but little, if any, about social media’s payback. Has Proven Winners found ways to generate revenue through social media? Any metrics that can help convey any monetary success Proven Winners has had with social media?
DE: I have read many articles about social media and its return on investment (ROI). There are many industries struggling with calculating this. It is not just a challenge the horticulture industry is experiencing, but major companies like Coca-Cola, Ford, etc.
There is a video I showed at a recent presentation and it states that ROI on social media is “that you will be in business in the next five years”. There are many videos on YouTube that a business could watch talking about social media and ROI.
To me, I view social media like having a website – what is the ROI on your website? How do you measure that? Social media is the new website – you will need to be doing it so people know you are in business.
In the video, it also states “the question isn’t whether we do social media; it is how well we do it.” I believe to attract new business, we must be where our customers are. It is very hard to measure the relationships you are building with your customers through great customer service on these platforms.
Retailers are more able to see the ROI on social media because they could hold exclusive events or have exclusive coupons for platform users and can measure it by how many people showed up for an event or redeemed a coupon.