The “sunflower selfie” has been one of the summer’s hottest trends. On Instagram, there are more than 4.2 million posts with the hashtag #sunflowers. Capitalizing on the obsession, Pugh’s Flowers in Memphis, Tennessee held a photo contest to engage fans on social media.
Earlier this summer, Laura Carter, Pugh’s wedding and events coordinator, took her daughter to a local sunflower field to take snapshots in front of a beautiful backdrop. There, she noticed lots of other families doing the same thing. That inspired the idea for social media contest.
On Wednesday, August 15, she posted the following on Facebook:
It’s contest time! Comment with your favorite sunflower fields photo and the one with the most likes will win a sunflower bouquet, delivered to your door! Let’s see those beautiful pics. We will pick a winner on Friday.
“It’s been the best Facebook post ever in terms of interactions,” Carter said. The contest notice spurred more than 50 entries and 70 comments. The shop’s fans, eager to get their friends involved, shared the post 49 times. “It helped put us in people’s minds and exposed us to our community at a time when people aren’t normally thinking about flowers.”
Pugh’s awarded two winners, based on the number of likes their photos received. Each received a bouquet, valued at $50, as their prize.
Pugh’s Flowers host contests regularly, but this particular competition reached more than 2,000 social media users and sparked exceptional engagement.
“We will definitely do the sunflower photo contest again next year, and we will have other contests frequently throughout the year,” Carter said. “None have been as interactive as this one.”
Interested in replicating the Pugh’s experience? Here are Carter’s tips:
Connect with a local farm. A large number of Pugh’s sunflower photo entries were shot at Agricenter International, the same sunflower field where Carter took her daughter. For inspiration, look around your community for picturesque sites. Consider partnering with a local farm to increase your reach and build enthusiasm.
Offer a compelling (but low cost) prize. Giving away flowers may feel counterintuitive, but free blooms provide a great incentive for people to enter a contest. Carter said the $50 bouquets were well worth the cost, given the engagement the contest generated. To keep prizes affordable, she recommends sticking with seasonal blooms and taking advantage of bulk discounts from your wholesaler.
Encourage your own friends to share their family photos. People love to post photos of their children (and their pets) on social media. Mindful of this tendency, Carter turned to her personal Facebook network, urging them to post pictures of their children — furry ones, included — in the photos with the sunflowers. This, she said, enticed more submissions than merely advertising the contest on the shop’s Facebook account.
Mackenzie Nichols is a contributing writer for the Society of American Florists.