Leveraging Instagram in the landscape industry

July 22, 2016 -  By
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Photo: ©istock.com/Ellica_S

Presentations, brochures, design books—our industry is ruled by photographs. Whether it’s a beautifully designed patio or a weed-free lawn—pictures allow us to make an emotional connection with our customers and sell our services. So, it’s not too surprising that I consider Instagram—a photo-centric platform—to be near the top of my list of the best social media channels for the landscape industry.

What’s Instagram and who uses it?

Instagram, which is owned by Facebook, has more than 400 million users. Similar to Facebook and Twitter, it’s a timeline-based feed platform, allowing you to build a community of followers and follow others. Users upload pictures and have the ability to apply artistic filters to them. You also can create three- to 60-second videos.

Instagram’s users could be an attractive one for your business. More than half of its users are 18-29 years old and 28 percent are in the 30-49 age bracket, so it’s a great way to reach millennials.

Great for the Green industry

A great social media strategy often revolves around driving consumers from individual posts to your website, then encouraging them to convert into customers with various calls-to-action. With Instagram, there’s no ability to place “clickable” links within posts, nullifying the ability to send traffic to your website. With this limitation, many businesses shied away from the platform at first. But now they’re seeing it as an opportunity to engage with their audience.

Instagram isn’t widely used (yet) in the landscape industry, but it’s a great way to showcase the beauty you create on a daily basis. Consider this platform to be a living, breathing portfolio that features your best work. Some ideas for captivating posts include: photos of completed jobs; photos of products, plants and accessories; photos of employees, staff and clients; or short tips, job tour or highlight videos.

Tips for growing your audience

1. Post photos that inspire or entertain. Inspiration comes in many forms. Whether you’re a landscaper or a mowing company, users can find beauty in everything from a patio to a freshly striped lawn. Showcase that beauty by adding filters or text to give posts more meaning.

2. Use hashtags. Instagram users mark important topics with the hashtag (#) symbol, categorizing the post by topic for those searching on the platform. Using popular hashtags allows new users to find your posts. But be careful. Don’t overuse hashtags or use popular hashtags that have nothing to do with your product or brand just to appear in popular discussions. Consumers can see that your “#JustinBeiber juniper” is a failed attempt to jump onto a popular hashtag. It’s best to use Instagram’s search feature to identify popular hashtagged words in our industry. Stick to no more than five per post.

3. Use contests to expand your reach. Nothing generates engagement quicker than contests. Better yet, user-generated content created in response to contests can help you spread your brand quickly on Instagram. Having users post their own content with your brand hashtag or by tagging your username can help create unbiased promotions from your consumers that will be seen by their followers. For example, a lawn care company could hold a contest for their customers to share pictures of their green lawn. This approach could drive more business by exposing the brand to others.

4. Use influencers to leverage others’ audiences. Leveraging other users to help expose your brand to a new group of people is one of the best ways to grow your audience. Identify those brands or people who have a significant “influence” (number of people they reach and interact with) on other users of the platform, and reach out to them to help promote your messages. By producing posts that help support them or compliment their brand, you’ll be able to ask them to return the favor.

Measuring your ROI

While every business person is focused on revenue-generating channels, customer engagement opportunities can help keep your customers happy, increasing their lifetime value. Keeping these objectives in mind, your brand can create an Instagram channel that provides value to your organization in more ways than just sales.

Photo: ©istock.com/Ellica_S

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About the Author:

Kanary is Director of Demand Generation for Kuno Creative, a digital marketing agency. A member of the green industry for the past 20 years, he has consulted with green industry companies throughout the U.S. and gives marketing lectures at several industry conferences every year. Kanary is also an adjunct professor of marketing at Baldwin Wallace University and a Certified Google Adwords and Analytics Individual.

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