Growers urged to connect with customers through social networking phenomenon

Garden centre consultant Neville Stein has urged growers to grasp the social networking phenomenon as a means of communicating with customers and showcasing their businesses.

Speaking at the HTA-run nursery stock conference Contact 2011 in Birmingham earlier this month, Stein likened the current economic climate to "the credit card bill arriving on our doorstep" and said growers needed to establish what makes them "unique, special and different".

He said: "If you want to be successful, you are going to have to be unique, special and different, and once you have established that uniqueness you have to communicate that through social networking sites like Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, LinkedIn and Flickr."

He continued: "You can raise awareness of what you are doing through social networking sites and I would encourage and urge you to use social media to describe how your business is different, special and unique."

Interaction with local news outlets, reader offers in newspapers and the sale of products through shopping channels were all successful marketing tools for growers, said The Sun gardening correspondent Steve Bradley.

He added: "Because of various cutbacks the BBC has suffered, it is desperate for content such as interviews and news. That's where you can come in.

"You need to make sure that you can supply most of the material and if you want to push something new it really is the ideal thing - it fits in with the local remit."

SOCIAL NETWORKING

Garden centre consultant Neville Stein's guidelines for using social networking media:

- Register on multiple websites to raise your profile in search engines.

- Keep it social and interesting and circulate your links to as many people as you know.

- Interact with people on a personal level.

- Hire a specialist to make a video of your business to show what you can do.


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