Want to Sell More Plants? Grow New Customers With Social Media

Benary's social media efforts

Benary is connecting technology with gardening through a number of new social media efforts. Statistics indicate the number of worldwide social media users will approach 3 billion by 2020.

Did you know that a brand that posts on social media reaches 10% more users than its current followers, and that 66% of social media users ages 25 through 34 favor brands they follow on Facebook? That’s according to a recent article in Forbes (“How Social Media Can Move Your Business Forward”). In another study conducted by the marketing agency Mediakix, researchers found that the average person will spend more than five years of their lives on social media. It goes without saying, if you aren’t on social media pushing your business, you should be.


What better way to tell your story than through the unlimited potential of social media? According to Statista, the number of worldwide social media users reached 2.34 billion in 2018, and that figure is expected to reach 2.95 billion by 2020. That’s a lot of potential new customers.

Carmen Johnston

Carmen Johnston

Case in point — Carmen Johnston. She’s the owner of Carmen Johnston Gardens and a social media maven. She recently spoke to a crowd at the Northeast Greenhouse Conference, held this past November, about her success with growing her business after hiring a social media expert. She said even though the investment was expensive, it more than paid for itself in the end when a $300 investment in social media netted a million-dollar wedding for her design business.

A Few Ideas to Get You Started
Johnston said one way she has successfully found new customers is through offering one-on-one, 20-minute consulting sessions through Facetime. She also makes sure to document everything she does at her business, no matter how small, and post it on Instagram. During her presentation, she urged the audience to tell their stories by documenting what they are doing at their businesses.

Here are a few other ideas Johnston recommends:

  • Instagram Stories let you post photos and videos for 24 hours, and they’re easily discoverable, even if someone doesn’t follow you.
  • Walk-and-Talks with Growers could be videos posted on a website or YouTube where growers talk about what is going on in the greenhouses and share their knowledge with others.
  • Gather and GROW party, where you invite bloggers and social media influencers to an event to talk about what you do.

Above all, Johnston said to remember to be authentic and enthusiastic when you’re on social media, and while you’re being yourself, don’t be afraid to let your personality shine through. Customers appreciate the personal touch, and they will always absorb your enthusiasm or lack of it.

The Horticulture Industry Speaks Out About Cultivating New Customers
In Greenhouse Grower’s 2019 State of the Industry survey, we asked what horticulture industry businesses and stakeholders were doing to better understand and cultivate new customers. Here are just a few of the responses we received, some of which you might be able to put in place at your operation.

  • “Knocked on new doors, reviewed non-returning customers, and reached out directly to them.”
  • “We are using social media to reach out further to regular and potential new customers.”
  • “Our customer base is based on word of mouth. Great customer service, quality products, and very friendly and knowledgeable faces are  all important.”
  • “Increased turnover of ineffective sales people.”
  • “Educational seminars/workshops.”
  • “We reach out to and coordinate events with non-profit organizations.”
  • “Use online advertising.”
  • “As educators, we are looking for students, and we are connecting with high schools to offer tours.”
  • “Not enough. Our outreach needs to be more substantive.”
  • “We go where the potential customers are and provide some type of relevant educational offering, along with an incentive to become a new customer that day.”
  • “We have tried to be more in touch with the younger generation through technology.”
  • “Breeding and distributing new plant categories to help the consumer become more successful.”
  • “Look more at Google Analytics to see what portions of our website customers visited, as well as how many customers searched for our business, and then phoned or went onto our website.”
  • “Striving to always have a better quality product than the competition and to provide superior customer service. It’s one of the few edges I have being a small grower in a rural area.”