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Harnessing the Power of Social at the HTA Marketing Forum

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The importance of storytelling and the need to be authentic in your social conversations were just two of the key points made at the HTA Marketing Forum which took place at Horticulture House, Chilton, on 16 October.

With social media and digital technology becoming such an integral part of consumers’ lives, the need to be active in the ‘social’ arena is more relevant than ever. David Denny, HTA Futures & Sustainability Manager spoke about new online tools which provide us with extra targeting capabilities enabling us to gain deep insights into customers on a scale never seen before. Julie Hall from The School of Marketing highlighted the fact that social media is about building communities and engaging with your customers. ‘It is a relationship tool, not a sales tool – it is about relevance, context and connection’, she said. Simone Bonnett, from The Social Managers, spoke about the importance of treating social media as your shop window as first impressions count. She emphasised the need to get all the basics right on your profile and include important information such as contact details, opening hours and including an image.

Across all the different platforms storytelling was a key theme. People relate to people and so on podcasts and video people want to know about you and your business. ‘Keep your videos personal, in the moment and authentic’ said Huw Richards from Huws Nursery withSkinny Jean Gardener, Lee Connelly encouraging all to ‘do something different to stand out and don’t be afraid to share your opinions’. When it comes to writing online Alan Down shared his experiences from writing his Down to Earth blog. ‘Keep it light and chatty but authoritative and make sure you use bright relevant images and keep your content topical for maximum impact.’

Summing up the day HTA Council Representative Neil Grant from Ferndale Garden Centre, who chaired the day, comments, “It is clear from this insightful day that digital marketing plays such a key role within an overall marketing strategy and we all need to embrace it within our businesses. As an industry we have such great stories to tell – about our plants, our people.  We all need to make time within our businesses to ensure we are maximising the opportunity the power of social – in all its forms.”

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