Saturday, March 19, 2016

March 2016 Newsletter

Announcing a Brand New Book by Mel Bartholomew!
Gardening for more than 70 years, Mel has taught around the country and around the world. The most frequent question he gets is . . . “What should I grow?”He replies with,"It depends – where do you live? What do you and your family like to eat? How much space do you have to garden?" Mel believes that one of the best ways to determine what to grow is to ask yourself, “What are the most valuable crops I could harvest?” If you decide to grow zucchini rather than carrots, you’re going to have to buy your carrots. But would it be smarter to grow carrots and buy your zucchini? That’s what Mel calls a DOLLARS-AND-SENSE calculation.Mel was a civil engineer so he loves math and numbers and provides valuable information in High Value Vegies. He says,"So the best answer to “What should I grow?” is, “The crops that will bring you the biggest return on your investment.”  Get your copy today!

Using Social Media

By Kim Roman (Square Foot Gardening 4 U)

By far the easiest and most cost-effective (free) way to do this is through social media. Do you need to learn ALL of the different types of social media? It would be handy, but not necessary. First identify WHO you want to “target” and then you will fit the platform with your audience.  For instance when I was looking into social media, I was looking for an “older” audience.  This information comes from

*  55% of Twitter users are 35 or older.
*  63% of Pinterest users are 35 or older.
*  65% of Facebook users are 35 or older.
*  79% of LinkedIn users are 35 or older.

Here’s a list of average age of users of a few of the most common platforms:

*  LinkedIn has the oldest user base, with the average user being 44.2 years old.
*  The average Facebook user is 40.5 years old.
*  The average Twitter user is 37.3 years old.

Because I only have time to devote to one thing, I’ve chosen Facebook. It’s easy to use, I can schedule things to post automatically when I’m on vacation and if I choose, I can step up my game and use Facebook Advertising.

In addition to my business Facebook page, Square Foot Gardening 4 U, I also help Belinda Jensen and Amie Guyette Hall to administer the Square Foot Gardening Foundation page

After Facebook, I’d recommend using Instagram and Twitter. They are also easy to use. Because a lot of what we show is visual, Instagram is great since it’s photo-based.

You can tie many of your accounts together using HootSuite. There’s just not enough time and space to explain that, so do an Internet search. It’s also too complicated to explain all the intricacies of the different platforms, so for the rest of this article I’m going to just use Facebook as the example.

The first thing you will want to do is create a separate Facebook Page from your personal account. Nothing will drive your friends crazier than if you post a million garden-related posts and nothing will drive your customers crazier than seeing a million photos of your wonderful grandchildren.

You absolutely should let your friends know you have a business page and invite them to join, and you absolutely should let your followers get a peek into your life . . . OCCASIONALLY!

“But I can’t possibly think of enough stuff (a.k.a. content) to put on Facebook every single day.” Then it’s a good thing that 80% of what you post should actually come from someone else! Yes, only about 20% of the content you share with your followers on social media should be your own original work.

How do you find this “content”? Simple. You first start liking and following other gardening pages that have content that you enjoy and “share” them on your page.

Always give credit where credit is due. When you share someone else’s content, mention them in your post. Your followers will get to see where the post originated, but I also like to tell people where I found it. Let’s say there’s an article from Mother Earth News but I saw it on Gardens All.

When I share it people will be able to see that it came from Mother Earth, so I’ll say something like, “I saw this great article on Gardens All’s page.” Guess what? When I share, they receive a notification.

If they take the time to see that I personally named them they are likely to follow me. If they like my content, they will likely share and return the favor of mentioning the Foundation or my Page. Their 51,000+ followers might then pop over to see what else these Pages are about. You will build your followers by being generous with your praise of other pages.

Use a variety of content, both serious and fun posts. I have posted articles about prisoners growing gardens to help a local homeless shelter down to silly jokes. Mix it up – make sure to use a variety of photos, videos, articles, original and shared content.

See how each post performs then tailor what you share. On the Foundation Facebook page I posted a silly meme (pronounced MEEM). It was a closeup of a small green tomato and the caption said “The most wonderful time of year is not Christmas, it’s the start of gardening season.”

It was seen by over 62,500 people, clicked on by 2,300 and over 6,000 people “reacted” to it by commenting and/or sharing the post. That’s HUGE! Between that and our contest, we increased our followers by more than 400 in just three weeks.

Use hashtags (#). Hashtags turn topics and phrases into clickable links in your posts which helps people find posts about topics they’re interested in. We use #sfg40years on many of the posts on the Foundation page to celebrate SFG’s 40th Anniversary. It’s suggested not to use more than 3 hashtags per post. If you post an article about tomatoes - #tomatoes, #veggiegarden, #squarefootgardening might be used. It’s a great way for you to also search on what interests you.

Get your audience involved. Ask for their opinion on things. Encourage participation. This needs to be a two-way street.

Even though you have a gardening Page, you can broaden the scope of your posts by adding things like recipes and even other related topics like health.

I have an International following, but most of my classes are taught at my house in Glen Burnie, Maryland or in the local area. I’ll usually start that post with “Hey Maryland Friends! I’ll be giving a seminar at the Maryland Home & Garden Show in Timonium on . . . “

No matter what social media you choose to use, you can find info on how to use it by doing an Internet search “How to use Facebook for my business”, “Tips for using Instagram”, etc. You can also check out the book Social Media Marketing All-in-One For Dummies. Just make sure the information you get is no more than a couple years old.

ONE LAST NOTE: When you are a Certified Instructor, you are allowed to use the SFG name, and if you choose to use it in your social media name, please let Belinda know. AND make sure to let her know if you change the name of your account. We need to keep track of the AUTHORIZED users of the SFG name so that we can contact those who are NOT allowed to use the name – this protects YOU.