Reaching Your Audience

Reaching Your Audience

by Danny Summers

Reaching Your Audience has changed... a lot! If we could turn back time about 20 years, we would see Garden Centers reaching their audience in almost completely different ways... such as through direct mail, newspaper ads, a local radio stations, and email was becoming more widely used.

Fast-forward to today and the list has changed... almost completely. There is very limited direct mail being used today, and most of those are postcards and Every Door Delivery (EDD). A few Centers are still using local radio but streaming services such as Spotify and SiriusXM is attracting larger audiences. And a number of social platforms have reached new heights of influence.

Email has certainly become today's base of reaching your current audience – a direct connection. But even for all of these, the audience is shifting and seems to be more so by age group.

This past week, I connected with Becky Paxton at Garden Media Group and she shared some of what they monitor on a regular basis. Garden Media Group is an industry PR and Marketing firm that works for a number of well-known brands and producers (some of which are our Partners for Success and Fall Event Sponsors). I feel what she shared should be important to you. Here are some details she provided:

Each quarter, Garden Media Group dives deep into the world of social media to put a finger on the pulse of the global discussion on plants. Using cutting-edge social listening tools, they measure the volume of social media posts about gardening and houseplants and analyze trends within the online conversation. These social trends are reflected across our industry, from the number and types of plants sold to landscaping trends to floral designs.

Becky said, "In watching the volume of plant social posts rise and fall each month, the flow often closely mirrors what our industry experiences in sales.​ With the pandemic gardening boom in the rearview mirror, we're now looking to predict what lies ahead for our industry. Social media listening is a critical lens through which we can see what's new, now and next for consumer gardening."

Garden Media screens millions of social media posts, images, videos and web articles to measure the number of people who are talking about houseplants and gardening online. Key platforms they track include Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, and Reddit and the vast majority of posters are consumers, with a smaller percentage representing trade. We also strategically track within Facebook and TikTok, two platforms that limit large-scale data access for third parties. This information is then measured against Google search trends.

"Once we have a sense of how many ​people are talking about houseplants and gardening, we then drill down into what they're actually posting. It's fascinating to watch micro-trends, like goth gardens or uber-rare houseplants, flash in the pan and how these drive sales," said Paxton. "If Garden Centers take away just one thing from our research, it's that video is the biggest winner in 2023. Video is driving views, engagement, and followers across all platforms. Most importantly, social media users are hungry for sources that provide engaging, educational, and inspiring content - the kind of content Garden Centers are perfectly positioned to provide."

The latest overview of Garden Media's data study of the first quarter of 2023 shows some shifting in some of the social platforms. Here's some data for Twitter, Instagram and YouTube for the past few years:

I asked Becky about Facebook and any trends there. She said, "Facebook (or Meta) is not as open and keeps a lot of their audience tracking data for their own use." She pointed us to a source they watch for Facebook and that is Sprout Social. In a recent article Sprout Social published, it said,

"Facebook continues to be the most popular social media platform. In fact, the Sprout Social Index found that it’s the top platform for both consumers and marketers. It’s the platform that 71% of consumers and 65% of marketers plan to use the most in 2023."

In the same article, you will see: "Know whether your target audience is still on Facebook? Or if you should keep investing in Facebook ads? Staying on top of the latest Facebook statistics will give you the insights you need to update your Facebook marketing strategy."

Knowing which social platform to reach your audience may very well be based on which age group of your audience you are wanting to reach. For this reason, all of the above (or most) is most likely the best strategy.

Reviewing the b article mentioned, here are a few key points that jumped out:

  • Facebook Users ages 25-34 years represent Facebook’s largest audience. Despite the platform’s reputation as a seemingly “older” network, 23.7% of Facebook users in the United States are between the ages of 25 and 34. Moreover, the platform sees higher usage among people below the age of 44.
  • As of March 2023, 23.8 percent of Facebook users in the United States were aged between 25 and 34 years, making up Facebook’s largest audience in the country. Overall, 18.4 percent of users belonged to the 18 to 24-year age group. Facebook’s smallest audience can be found among teen users, with around one in every twenty users being aged between 13 to 17 years. Additionally, women were slightly more likely to use the platform than men.
  • Usage among teens has dropped sharply. The platform’s popularity among teens has seen a significant drop. Only 32% of teens were using Facebook as of 2022. This is a sharp decline compared to the 71% who were using the platform between 2014 and 2015.

Here's a chart found on Sprout Social that shows the Facebook users - by age groups as of March 2023.

Spending time to analyze all these details on social platforms on a regular basis should give us several major thoughts...
    1.    One social platform does not cover all age groups of your audience.
    2.    This is an area of change so this is something you need to watch - often.
    3.    The heart of your current audience may be Facebook users now but each year how you reach them most likely be different.

Steve Kendall has shared ideas with The Group on creating a strategy of content and message development that allows you to utilize multiple of these platforms. This is an area to discuss at The Fall Event 2023.

Here's one additional thought I have after reviewing all of this...

While leveraging social platforms can help you reach new audiences, a major objective for your Garden Center should be to continue to develop your own direct path to reach your audience. Today, email is certainly on top for this and texting is gaining acceptance, especially with younger age groups.

The gains we are seeing in texting are why you need to be connecting with TapOnIt! for their enhanced, graphic-rich, texting service. Their logo and link are in our Fall Event Sponsor area and their President and Co-Founder, Sara Castillo will be with us at The Fall Event 2023.

If you want to read much more details in the articles I have referenced above, here are resource links for you:

Garden Media Group
Garden Media Group's State of Social Report - Q1 2023 (PDF)
Sprout Social - 26 Facebook statistics marketers should know in 2023

Reaching your audience continues to evolve and staying on top of the changes will help continue to build the relationships that are so important for you and your audience! All of your team should be aware and watchful of changes for how best to reach your audience!

 Sharing is at the heart of The Group and your ideas are very important. If you have any trouble logging into The Group WebSystem, please let me know. Are you and your staff all subscribed to our eLists such as GroupEs, Retail-Grower, Retail-Landscape, Owners-Only, and a number of others? Need help subscribing? Let me know so I can show you how you can sign up.

Thanks for sharing!

Danny Summers
[email protected]
Tel: 678-909-7770
Cell: 678-761-7145

REMEMBER: Your interaction (by phone and email) with Group Service Providers such as Tim Quebedeaux, Sid Raisch, John Kennedy, Jean Seawright, and of course Danny Summers are included in your retainer!

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