How can I use social media not just to raise awareness of my business, but also to increase customer traffic?
Aaron Riemann, Out of Eden Garden Center
Advice From Maggie Bridge, Sam Bridge Nursery And Greenhouses, LLC
As a member of Generation Y and someone who has been using social media since day one, in my opinion, social media does very little to actually increase sales. As a 28-year-old woman, I have never once set foot in a brick-and-mortar establishment because of something I saw on Facebook or other form of social media. However, it is an incredible tool to increase awareness for your business, improve search engine optimization and is a key component in your marketing mix.
The number of fans and likes you have certainly increases your reach but does not necessarily translate into dollars. I’ve done many campaigns and special promotions to try to measure how effective social media is, specifically Facebook. For example, in each promotion I ask that they tell us they saw it on Facebook at the register so they receive their discount.
More and more people are putting way too much emphasis on this one medium. At the end of the day, it all comes down to your marketing mix. It needs to be more than just one thing. We put money into lots of mediums: TV, local magazines, direct mail and eMail, coupons, newspaper (this is dying and will become obsolete soon), community events and donations, online advertising, social media and, of course, in-store promotions.
We see the biggest return on investment from direct mail, eMail and coupons (we also include coupons in our direct mail and eMail). The coupons are wildly popular. We advertise in places like Valpak and Clipper, and these coupons make it back to us in droves. For the price of a newspaper ad, you get an amazing response.
Why I Think Social Media Still Matters
While I feel that social media doesn’t necessarily bring you dollars, it would be foolish to say social media is without its benefits. It is a great way to share photos and videos in real time. It gets people talking about your business and reinforces your message. I find Facebook is a great way to spread the word about events. It’s a lot like a social calendar. (Just make sure you link your Facebook to your website!)
At the end of the day, it comes back to the plants. My advice to garden center owners would be to keep social media as another feather in your cap. Get off the computer and look at what’s on your bench and in your yard. Make sure your quality is tip-top and the customers will come to you. Give your customers the best quality and service they can find and show them what kind of value they can receive from your product. This will keep them coming back, and they’ll bring their friends.
On a side note, the younger generation is increasingly moving away from Facebook and Twitter and are starting to spend their time on Instagram, Snapchat and Whatsapp. Truthfully, I’m over Facebook too. There are just too many people on it and way too many businesses trying to sell me things. My new favorites are Instagram and Snapchat. Here’s an article that talks about this very thing:
I bet there are many who would disagree, but I think a shift is happening. I hope this helps!