- Written by Claire Mitchell
- July 26, 2016
If you’re a social media user you’ll probably have heard of Instagram, even if you’ve not tried it yet. The concept is simple – you take a photo, tinker around with the built-in filters if you like and then post it, accompanied by hashtags, to your Instagram timeline. Simple.
The thing is, Instagram is a cracking marketing tool for florists. Think about it – you’re working with the most beautiful products every single day. You have possibly the most photogenic business around and you will never be stuck for ideas.
On Instagram great images win every time. The best photos get lots of likes and can propel Instagrammers to superstar heights, but the photos I’m talking about are rarely taken professionally. More often than not they are snapped on a phone by amateurs who are simply capturing a moment. Which is why it’s perfect for you ;)
So let’s look at how you can take your trusty phone and what’s in front of you every day to create a quick, easy marketing splash using Instagram.
GET SET UP
First of all, if you haven’t already done this, set up an Instagram account on your phone. You can ONLY do it on your phone – so far Instagram hasn’t created a computer or even a tablet version although you can view your timeline (and other people’s) and add comments (just not post photos) on a basic web version. Instagram makes it very easy to set up, just download the app and off you go.
Because it’s going to be your business account, use your business name as your username so you can use it on business cards, window stickers and promotional material – like this: Instagram: @thegirlsmeanbiz
GET SOME IDEAS
@stemsuklondon is a great florist to follow on Instagram. Their timeline is gorgeous and quite a few of the images are of tributes, not necessarily the most obvious thing to post on social media. They have a knack of posting interesting photos – and they aren’t doing anything you can’t do. Why not take them as inspiration and do it your way?
Catkin & Pussywillow are on Instagram at @floristatthestation and again they are taking snaps of things around them every day. Their timeline is whimsical and lovely and makes you want to dive in and find out more.
@johnemmanuelfloralevents has over 31700 followers on Instagram. He’s an Australian ‘floral event stylist’ who creates amazing displays and plays Instagram really well! Take a look through his timeline and see how you can use your scaled down versions to create gorgeous photos.
As well as watching and learning from these Instagram superstars, look at the hashtags ### they are using. Hashtags are how you get found on Instagram. Using the right hashtags can mean the difference between posting to just your family and the cat and gathering an impressive following of fans who will help you build your brand.
Once you’ve seen how other people do it and you’ve figured out what you like and what you don’t, have a go yourself.
Here are some ideas of things you can post on Instagram if you’re short of inspiration but to be honest, anything you have to hand in the shop has the potential to make a lovely photo.
I have a florist close to where I live and every couple of days a HUGE lorry pulls up outside from Holland. I always imagine it’s full of the most beautiful flowers and must smell and look amazing inside. Am I right? Or is it actually just a bunch of ice boxes on racks? I have no idea but I’d love to know!
Why not take snaps of the delivery wagon getting unloaded, so we can see what delights are in store in your shop this week? And even give your suppliers a shout out too if they are on Instagram – you do that by using the @ symbol and their username to tag them. They will see you’ve done it and are likely to share the love and mention you on their account too.
2. BEHIND THE SCENES
Following on from deliveries, why not take snaps of your stock room when you’ve just had a delivery. If it’s brimming with beautiful blooms for a wedding or you’ve just received some new types of flowers, show us! We want to see!
3. TALK US THROUGH IT
This may come as a shock to you but I barely know my dahlias from my daffodils. As far as I’m concerned, I choose my flowers by colour, size and shape (the big green ones that look a bit like artichokes or the purple tall spikey ones over there). I have no idea what they are called but I’d love to know. The thing is I’ll never remember to go and find out so why don’t you help me?
You can record 15 second videos on Instagram which doesn’t sound long but it’s long enough to tell me what a flower is called and how to recognise a good one. In your stock room right now you’ve probably got enough stock for 10-20 bite sized tutorial videos that will keep your Instagram account busy for ages.
Even things like roses – as you might have guessed they are either red, white or yellow (or sort of peachy orange) to me but I imagine you talk about the varieties (you clever thing) so explain it to me. What’s the difference? Which ones smell nicest? Which last longest? What am I better to ask for?
4. WORK IN PROGRESS
What are you working on right now? If you’re working on a wedding project or a prom corsage, a funeral tribute or some stock to sell in the shop, show us! Even if it’s a top secret client project you could take a photo of one of the flowers up close and say ‘you’ll never guess what I’m going to use this for’. You can guarantee I’m going to keep an eye on your Instagram account to find out what you DID use it for because I love a bit of suspense!
Even better, if you’re out and about at a venue, take snaps! You don’t have to use them there and then if it’s likely to spoil a surprise but you can use them afterwards. Your team working on a wedding arch or top table arrangement is really interesting to us. We love to see the work that goes into it and what would be amazing would be photographs of the stages – before, half way through and after.
5. TRADE SECRETS
By this I mean things your average customer simply wouldn’t know. Whether it’s how to look after a certain type of flower, which flowers don’t like being put together, ways to re-use your wedding bouquet, I guarantee there will be things you take for granted that are a total mystery to me. You’re helping people by sharing tips and that’s a good thing – it shows you’re an expert and makes people like you. Yay!
6. GUESS WHO IT'S FOR?
This is a lovely thing to do. Once you’ve finished a bouquet or arrangement and you’re off out in your funky van to deliver it, take a snap of it. It works well if you have a staff member holding it, especially if it’s a big arrangement as it will dwarf them and look even more impressive. The other thing you can do is take a photo of it by THE front door before you knock. The idea is to ask ‘is this for you?’.
Even if it isn’t for us, we’d love to think it was and in my case I’ve thought ‘it’s definitely NOT for me but I’m going to get myself some flowers anyway because that’s GORGEOUS!’ As long as no names are mentioned and no secrets are given away, it’s a lovely way to drum up interest and engagement as you’ll often have people commenting with ‘I wish!’ or ‘Oh I hope so!’
7. TEAM MEMBERS
People buy people, even if they are buying flowers! Let us get to know your team. We don’t care if they are up to their ears in lilies or sitting on the floor surrounded by buttonholes, we’d love to see who works for you and what you are all working on. It’s a lovely way to show the people behind the business and you’ll find customers will start to recognise your lovely team and say ‘hello! I saw you on Instagram!’ which is kind of weird but also good!
DOES IT REALLY WORK?
The thing about Instagram is that it builds your brand. Not only does it showcase your beautiful work, it also shows us the people behind your business, builds relationships with your followers and tells us a story.
All of these things are really valuable in marketing.
If someone near you follows your Instagram account and is looking for wedding flowers, or prom flowers, or a tribute they are MUCH more likely to choose you over someone who only has a bland website to show them what they do. This is the power of Instagram and social media as a whole – it’s like a real-time, real-life narrative of your world and it works!
The other brilliant side effect of all this photography is that you can use it everywhere! On Facebook, Twitter, on your blog, your website, Pinterest – these photos can go a long way even though they are snapped on your phone. The same with any videos you make – you can squeeze loads of different uses out of them.
And don’t forget to have a tinker with the filters on Instagram, they can give a photo a totally different look – see how other businesses (not just florists) are using them.
I DON'T HAVE TIME!
I hear this from pretty much every business owner about pretty much every aspect of marketing and my answer to you, you fabulous florist, is ‘you don’t need time to do this’.
You do it as part of your day. You keep your phone in your pocket and you grab it and take snaps a couple of times a day. It’s a habit. And if you do this, you’ll quickly become marketing minded and will spot ‘good’ photos you can use.
As for posting them, it takes seconds. It’s not like a blog or even a Facebook post where you feel like you’ve got to come up with words – you literally snap, add a couple of hashtags and off you go. Done.
Or you delegate the task to a social media savvy team member who will be mightily impressed by your Instagram knowledge and will instantly award you some extra street cred, which can only be a good thing.
Your Florist Instagram Challenge
Use 3 or more hashtags including #florist and The Florist Mag will select a lucky florist to win a giant box of chocolates!