When people think of social media, I think one of the things that gets their guts in a twist is the idea of generating content. You probably don’t have a full-time writer on staff. How are you supposed to generate all that content?
One of the secrets of social media is that you don’t have to write or photograph everything you post.
Sharing other people’s content puts you in their line of vision. It makes them more likely to follow you, to share your content and to build a relationship with your brand.
It shows that you aren’t using social media channels only to hawk your own wares. Sharing content from other sources shows that you’re focusing on the user’s needs, not your own. It also gives you a whole world of content to share.
Don’t feel that sharing someone else’s content on your accounts is stealing. One of the most important metrics on social media overall is the share. From a share on Facebook, retweet on Twitter, repin on Pinterest or even a regram on Instagram: they’re all compliments, saying that your brand thinks that the user is posting content that is worth seeing.
How To Find Content To Share
When it comes to who you’re trying to reach on social media and whether or not you want to market to consumers, it’s not really up to you. As long as you use the words “petunia” and “geranium” on your website and the name of your greenhouse operation is on a pot label, you’re going to get consumers following you on Facebook and Twitter. Follow the same rule as the rest of the internet: If you wouldn’t want your mother, your retail customer or the consumer seeing it, don’t post it.
The good news is there is a ton of plant and gardening information online. The bad news is since just about anybody can be a publisher online, there’s plenty of information of questionable veracity out there. That’s where your expertise comes in.
A few pieces of advice:
1. Be selective about what you share. Be sure the content is accurate, accounts for any regional differences (or you can clarify in your post) and from a source that you find trustworthy.
2. Take a look at the user’s other posts. This post might look good, but if anything else on a blog or website looks suspect, think twice about using it.
3. Make sure it’s publicly available for sharing. I would not recommend sharing content from Facebook friends’ personal profiles, because their privacy settings may prevent your followers from seeing your friends’ content.
4. Start following. Start following the social media accounts of other greenhouses, garden centers, national publications like Better Homes & Gardens, Fine Gardening, Garden Design and Organic Gardening. And why not follow some home décor magazines and sites like Dwell and Houzz? Cooking, too — you can follow Whole Foods, grocery chains and your favorite restaurants. You’ll begin to see which brands deliver great images and articles and then you’ll be ready to share.
The Facebook Share
There are two things I’d look out for when looking to share other companies’ content: photos and timely information. Photos are important pieces of content through all of social media, but Facebook especially. If you find an image that already has some likes or shares, share it! Your followers might like it, too.
How often should you share other brands’ content on Facebook? I still see a lot of debate about how often to post overall, but I would say that sharing content from other brands anywhere from a few times a week up to once a day is great. Just be sure to vary whose content you’re sharing.
The Twitter Retweet
You saw the power of the retweet at this year’s Academy Awards when Ellen DeGeneres pulled together the most retweeted selfie ever. During the broadcast, she asked viewers to retweet the photo. People want retweets. Again, it validates their point of view and is an important social media engagement metric. And it makes the person retweeting your tweet an advocate for your brand.
What differentiates Twitter retweets from Facebook shares is privacy. The Huffington Post stat I found says that only 11 percent of Twitter accounts are private, which means you can retweet what 89 percent of Twitter users post.
I think this makes retweets even a little bit cooler than the Facebook share. I just searched for “retweeted me” on Twitter and I’m seeing post after post of people excited because someone prestigious has retweeted them. It’s all about the sphere of influence. To an avid gardener, a retweet from an operation like yours is like gold. Retweet your followers’ gardening tweets. Those users could be your company’s (and the industry’s) best evangelists. Find the people who might be fans of your products and show you appreciate what they’re tweeting.
It’s important, though, to balance your number of retweets with original messages and @reply messages to other users. Because the Twitter stream moves so quickly, I think it’s fine to retweet several times a day.
And don’t forget, it’s easy to share, share, share, but people want to hear what you think and to see inside your world, too. A good mix will keep your social media feeds healthy and robust.