Two weeks ago, thousands of people throughout the United States, Canada and Colombia experienced the joy of giving and receiving flowers through the Society of American Florists’ Petal It Forward movement. Now in its third year, Petal It Forward had 457 officially registered events, which helped the feel-good initiative go viral.
Another big factor fanning the flame? SAF members’ social media efforts advertising Petal It Forward before, during and after the event. Here are a few strategies that helped put Petal It Forward in the spotlight — along with tactics and ideas all industry members can use to promote businesses and flowers throughout the year.
Casa Flora in Longview, Texas, kicked off social promotions on Thursday, Oct. 18 with a Facebook post seeking fans’ input for giveaway locations, which yielded 24 suggestions. The staff whittled the list down to six spots, unveiled on Monday, Oct. 22 in its “Petal It Forward Location Reveal.”
Flowers on Broad Street in Fuquay-Varina, North Carolina, took an artsy approach with its PIF previews. On Tuesday, Oct. 23, the shop’s Facebook and Instagram posts included first a flat lay of roses and PIF information cards in the morning, followed by a shot of arms passing a handtied bouquet in front of a brick wall in the afternoon. The posts got nearly 30 shares from fans, including two popular influencers: “Today in the Quay” and “Cary Living magazine.”
Expressions Unlimited in Greenville, South Carolina, started a countdown on Monday, Oct. 22, creating the numbers “3, 2, 1” out of loose stems. The day before, the shop shared a “sneak peak” of buckets of flowers and wrapped bouquets.
Facebook Live videos proved a popular marketing tactic for Petal It Forward 2018. Forget-Me-Not Flowers and Gifts in Barre, Vermont, racked up 3.4 thousand views, 41 shares, 125 likes and 65 comments with its live footage. The 50-second clip showed happiness ambassadors beaming on a gray, drizzly morning as they loaded brightly-colored bouquets into wagons to disperse around town.
Trig’s Floral and Home in Minocqua, Wisconsin, used images from past PIF events to create a montage video, set to music, illustrating the impact of the goodwill initiative. The video, posted on the morning of Wednesday, Oct. 24, introduced the Trig’s team, included text spelling out the PIF concept and the science behind flowers’ mood-boosting powers, featured screen shots of past recipients’ happy comments and ended with a line about why the shop participates: “It’s the positive benefits of giving and receiving flowers that drives us to bring our communities these gifts.”
Sharing the Love
As intended, the event generated a lot of positive buzz from non-florists, including news organizations, volunteers and surprised recipients. Many participants kept an eye out for mentions of their PIF events and shared the happy shout-outs, which helped build momentum and credibility. Casa Flora’s Facebook timeline included posts from the Longview Chamber of Commerce, the Longview News-Journal and the East Texas Weekend. Flowers on Broad Street shared the Fuquay-Varina Police Department’s experience as volunteer flower deliverers for the day.
Playing with Images
Florists showed off their creativity, seizing a wide variety of images to capture the PIF experience, including close up shots of flowers en masse, teams of cheerful volunteers and recipients hugging happiness ambassadors. Here are a few other examples:
Bella Flora in Schuylkill Haven, Pennsylvania, created a “punny” illustration of a bicycle with a basket of flowers to advertise the PIF.
Lizzie Bees Flower Shoppe in Richardson, Texas, posted a portrait of a beaming high school teacher clutching her bouquet.
Ambassadors with Roche Bros. Supermarkets in Boston, Massachusetts, posed with Instagram cut out frames.
Expressions Unlimited placed bouquets in the arms of a local statue and a mannequin. The shop wrapped up its PIF promotions on Friday, Oct. 26 with a photo of a toddler handing out flowers with the caption, “You’re never too young or old to find joy in giving flowers! If you love flowers and you know it, clap your hands!”
Petal It Forward doesn’t happen in a vacuum. The event’s success requires teamwork on a variety of levels. Many florists used social media to thank SAF for organizing the event, grower and wholesaler partners for supplying product, community members for volunteering, news organizations for reporting the feel-good story and recipients for spreading the love (in person and online with their anecdotes and happy photos).
Sunnywoods Florist in Chatham, New Jersey, was among those that responded to every single comment from surprised recipients who took the time to express what the gesture meant to them.
Katie Hendrick Vincent is the senior contributing editor for the Society of American Florists.