Social Media Shenanigans

Twice now I’ve joined a local nursery’s facebook page, posted something perfectly on-topic and reasonable, only to have my contribution deleted without a word. I thought I’d provide an update on the first incident, and describe the latest one with some additional thoughts. As usual I’ll keep these folks anonymous as I wish them no ill will. As I have said in the past I want success for all small businesses who are doing something special and worthwhile, particularly in the field of horticulture.

So to follow up on the nursery that was the subject of this post. The owner posted on another facebook forum about a certain rare plant she was just dying to get hold of, and I was able to provide it for her. I delivered it to her (as I was passing by anyways) and she appeared quite happy to get it: she traded me for something else not quite as rare but still useful to me. Hopefully this means a positive business relationship has begun and will continue into the future. So that is nice. (Here’s a possibly funny side note: she assured me this plant is hardy for us, citing a single, well-established specimen in Port Angeles; but, sadly, this plant now appears to be dead: it took all winter and part of spring for the damage to show. That’s too bad. But wasn’t my post that she deleted about the very same subject—delayed freeze damage? Talk about irony!)

Then just a few days ago I went to another local nursery’s facebook site, which I had been following for a while, and posted to their wall an invitation to join the Independent Garden Centers and Nurseries facebook group and affiliated LOGON public portal, with a link to The Blogging Nurseryman’s post describing it. (No, I didn’t put all those links on their page, just the last one.) It seemed to take them a few days to figure out that I had posted something, but when they did, they simply deleted it without a word. The group has been great, so if they are not interested in it, that is really their loss. More about that in just a moment.

Folks, this is not how to use social media to your advantage. A facebook page is more than just a place to share what is going on at your business: certainly, that’s a big part of it. But just as importantly, it is a place to INTERACT with your clientele. Interact means interact, converse, and respond. I cannot emphasize this enough! It does not mean to simply delete stuff that you didn’t put on there.

It may sound like I’m personally offended by what happened, or something—that’s not the case at all (though I do wonder what goes through people’s minds when they delete posts: why would they not want to take every advantage to communicate with their clientele, and especially other industry professionals? Really—enlighten me). All I’m saying is that, generally speaking, deleting stuff other people post on your facebook page is not a good habit to get into. Occasionally undesired solicitations may be a problem, but most often I believe people do this to try to contribute something of value or initiate a conversation that is likely to lead to more business. What if a year from now this business has 500 facebook fans on their page? They’ll probably receive a couple of questions, comments, or links every week on their wall. I hope they’re not going to just delete them all with no further communication. That sounds like a great way to start losing customers. (We might also note at this point the irony that the link they deleted was entitiled “How to use facebook for your business” written by a nursery owner more than qualified to discuss the topic and relate it to horticulture.)

I’ll conclude with a brief plug for the IGC&N group. If you own or are employed at a retail nursery or garden center, this should be of great interest to you. Rather than describe it here, I’ll refer to this blog post from the Blogging Nurseryman (again, the same link I posted on that nursery’s wall) to tell you all about it and provide the appropriate links. The group is of immense value to any nursery owner or management who thinks the horticulture industry in general has potential for improvement. If you already know everything about running your business, are absolutely content with no possible room for improvement in your business, and have no interest in sharing anything you have ever learned, well I guess then this group is not for you. (That is actually a serious comment and not intended to sound snotty.) Anyway, the group is there for you, if you want it. Heck, it’s even there if you don’t!

Lastly, if you want to read something really fantastic about garden bloggers, check this out, also from the Blogging Nurseryman. Give yourself a few minutes. I’ll continue to refrain from offering my own commentary about this, since I lack much of the background information about the history of garden bloggers. Long story short: if you’re blog is any good, don’t sell out to advertisers.

By the way, in case you haven’t noticed by now, I am a nursery social media expert. So if you learned anything of value from this post, that will be $300 in consulting fees, please.

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12 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Trackback: Why do we make social media so complicated? « The Blogging Nurseryman by Trey Pitsenberger
  2. Trackback: You say it so well! « The Blogging Nurseryman by Trey Pitsenberger
  3. lynnferda
    May 19, 2011 @ 09:08:23

    Great post, Ian!

    Reply

  4. Victor Flaherty
    May 19, 2011 @ 09:19:57

    I have a true story that is rather sad about nurseries and facebook. I have a nursery in Houston. My brother owns one about 5 miles away from me. We use the same company name for advertising together on the radio and in print media. It saves us money to do this. We have separate facebook pages and email lists that we tailor to our customers, inventory and market. We are a fan of his FB page as well as 3 other nurseries around town. We make comments on those 3 others occasionally. Those comments are welcomed from their responses and they have never deleted any of them. Those nurseries have commented on ours also.
    We had never made a comment on my brother’s FB status before but my brothers store put out a FB status that said they were looking to hire salespeople. A customer, that shops both stores, posted a comment on their status saying that she was at our store the prior weekend and that she helped sell veggies for us. I guess she shared info with shoppers that day. We posted something to the effect that we appreciate customers helping customers when they have knowledge to share…nothing more. That comment got deleted and our store got blocked from making comments on their FB status. I know how you feel Ian.

    Reply

  5. Ryan Miller
    May 19, 2011 @ 11:16:45

    I find that kind of behavior puzzling as well. Open communication leads to a connection, which leads to people favoring your brand. Annie’s is a great example of this. Some Portland area nurseries are doing this right too: Dancing Oaks, Joy Creek and Xera

    Reply

  6. Ian
    May 19, 2011 @ 22:29:48

    Thanks folks. I’m still waiting for someone to disagree with me on this, but I guess they’re all too busy being aloof and uncommunicative. Victor, that is truly ridiculous, but who knows, perhaps someday they will see the light.

    Reply

  7. Kat
    May 20, 2011 @ 08:20:36

    Hey…. I’m a social media expert too. 🙂

    Reply

  8. stone
    May 23, 2011 @ 17:17:04

    Some people are determined to be the end of the internet.
    Some seem to believe they can avoid all mention of other people in the biz…

    You are definitely a nicer person about this nonsense than I am… I call people by name, and include the link to the site when someone acts like they’ve got an exclusive on information, and treats me like a spammer for trying to share.

    Reply

  9. Ian
    May 24, 2011 @ 09:15:25

    Kat, either we all are, or we all aren’t, and some of us more so than others. (Huh?)

    Stone, well, this second nursery is local, and really the best conventional nursery (as far as that business model goes) for many miles around, so I’d rather not have them steering business away from me for any reason if I can avoid it. I won’t say I haven’t had those feelings, though – maybe if I had been established here for years and were making a killing in profits…

    They probably won’t, but if they read this I hope it isn’t beyond them to thank me both for the lesson and for keeping them anonymous.

    Reply

  10. Trackback: Sharing information « THE DESERT NORTHWEST [blog]
  11. Horticulturist
    Jun 26, 2011 @ 04:01:30

    OK, OK….I’m the party that is guilty of deleting the post.
    Perhaps I shouldn’t have deleted it. I most certainly should have followed up with a response at the WHY I deleted it.
    As I recall, the post pertained to more in-depth information than our customers want. After owning a nursery for nearly 20 years, I have found that 85% of our customers are yardeners, not gardeners. They’ve purchased plants from big stores that have large top growth and little root structure. Naturally these plants failed.
    My goal is to inspire people to come to the store and to be inspired to plant. Our interactions with customers is geared toward education. But as we’ve seen time and time again, too much information makes them feel that it’s too complicated. They’ve killed plants before and are convinced that it was their fault.
    I’d like the opportunity to make them feel that success is possible rather than have them feel that defeat is inevitable before they even get out of their chair.
    There are sites online for discourse between horticulture-minded people. My FB page is not going to be a site for negatives. Keep it positive and remarks will remain. Implying that their efforts are doomed before they start isn’t a positive.

    Reply

  12. Ian
    Jun 28, 2011 @ 10:15:56

    Ha, I wondered if you were reading this. Points taken – thanks.

    My concern at the time was based on something I have seen many times before. It’s late winter or spring, and certain plants look great on top but all the roots are frozen dead. Customer buys some of these plants not knowing the roots are dead. Shortly after being planted, the weather warms and plants die because there are no roots to support the top growth. Customer doesn’t know what happens and either blames himself or the nursery – in either case resulting in negative sentiments, and, possibly, a lost customer. But enough about that.

    I don’t really see a conflict between educating people as much as possible and staying positive – they’re more like two sides of the same coin. I strongly believe educating people empowers them to achieve better results, and never intend to give up doing so. We would agree that when a customer walks into your store you have to feel them out to meet them at their personal level of expertise/interest or lack thereof. To me, one has to be more cautious in this regard when posting to a general audience of people of widely varied abilities and backgrounds, as on Facebook.

    Reply

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