Technology plays an integral part in business operations, and on top of websites, customer interaction and invoicing solutions, social media has also risen in the ranks when discussing necessary business tech.
When deciding whether or not social media is worth the investment, take a look at what these green industry professionals have tried, as well as what their results have been.
Building a following
It’s one thing to say you’re going to become active on social media and another to actually stay engaged in the process long term.
For starters, get a feel for what platform fits your audience best before you begin posting. According to Jeremy Thorne, working owner of ThorneCare Landscape Solutions, LLC, Facebook has proven to be an excellent space for homeowners and residential clients.
Thorne adds that they’ve also utilized Facebook ads and boosting their posts, which he says hasn’t costed them too much money but has brought in a decent number of new customers.
“If you’re spending $200 to boost a Facebook post for two weeks in a certain area, while you might not see a return on investment immediately, the people that see it are sharing it with their neighbors, family and friends,” says Thorne.
Overall, Thorne says you could end up spending between $600-$800 on Facebook ads in a year, but this could potentially bring in twice as much in new customers.
He does stress that you need to be consistent with your posts and with your ads, if that’s the route you choose. If you decide to post one week but then go away from two after that, you will certainly see a dip in your interactions.
“You also need to be consistent with tracking your referrals so at the end of the year when you know where those customers are coming from,” he says.
Should I have a dedicated social media manager?
Another common question surrounding social media management is whether or not someone should be hired to specifically manage these sites.
The short answer is: it depends.
Mark Hopkins, regional VP of LandCare, says they do not have a dedicated social media manager, however, at the corporate level, they do have a few people on their marketing team that handle brand management in general.
“Social media is just a small piece of what we do, and most of our incoming interest is organic,” says Hopkins. “Some companies might find it useful to have a designated social person, but we don’t.”
Hopkins also notes that since LandCare caters to 100 percent commercial clients, it can be more difficult to track social media metrics. While they might not focus specifically on social media, Hopkins says they do work for consistency in branding, and their marketing team ensures they keep a similar theme and message across all of their platforms.
Hope Smith, people experience manager of Plants Creative Landscapes, says their team does have a designated social media manager, but she notes it’s not a necessity to have that sort of position or even have a full-time person in that position.
If your company does choose to forgo hiring someone for that type of role, Smith says there are numerous free resources available that allow you to track social media information.
“When it comes to the type of information that you’re tracking, there’s a ton of different metrics available,” says Smith. “Depending on the type of content that you’re putting out, you would want to measure a specific type of metric.”
Smith recommends taking time to understand what each metric means and which one you want to work on improving. She says watching these metrics will also help you better understand what type of content your audience finds engaging, which allows you to cater your posts appropriately.
Negative feedback and calls to action
Online reviews are increasingly important for businesses in this day and age, but what happens when you inevitably receive a bad review?
Smith says the most important thing is to not let a negative review go unacknowledged. Even if it’s an issue that really isn’t your company’s fault or isn’t the result of something your crews did wrong, Smith says it’s still important to “own up to it” and respond to the comment.
She recommends responding professionally and then asking the commenter to reach out to you directly instead of continuing the conversation online. This, she says, keeps conversations from being publicly displayed across your sites.
“There’s not really anything you can do to get rid of negative reviews, but the important thing with any sort of review or feedback like that is a large quantity of quality reviews,” says Smith. “The more positive reviews you receive from your customers, the less that one negative review impacts your overall standing when it comes to the platform.”
Once you have your audience tuned in to your platforms, how do you get them to reach out to you?
J.W. Washington, senior director of sales, learning and development with AriensCo, says the key is to engage your audience differently based on the platform you’re using.
Washington says their Facebook audience is very residential-focused, which means their posts are written and geared toward homeowners. On Instagram, he says they work predominately with professional landscapers to create a sense of community with them by showcasing their work and engaging with them.
He adds that you can also engage your audience by offering clickable promotions or using paid ads to target certain markets you want to bring in.
EDITOR’S NOTE: This information was presented in a webinar during NALP's LANDSCAPES 2020 event.