Social media is about connections, building community and creating excitement.
These elements go hand in hand with the Society of American Florists’ Petal It Forward event Oct. 19, when florists will give away two bouquets to passersby with the simple message to keep one and share the other.
Floral businesses that use social media to extend the reach of their event break down their posts into distinct elements. First, they tease, recruit and promote. Next, they document the day-of fanfare. And finally, they respond post-event to the ongoing engagement.
Here are five proven tips for using social media to raise awareness for Petal It Forward.
On Sept. 29, Erin Lund, owner of Lund Floral in Ogden, Utah, posted a simple message to Facebook along with a picture of the poster advertising Petal It Forward. “Who’s coming with us?” it read.
The purpose behind that post was two-fold. “Part of it is teasing the day, beginning to promote it, but right now I need to find the people who are going to help execute it,” she says. “This is about getting the manpower to hand out 1,000 bouquets.”
Elsewhere on Facebook, Gina Whipple, shop manager of Petersen & Tietz Florists and Greenhouses in Waterloo, Iowa, posted on Oct. 1 the first of many teasers for its Petal It Forward event.
“Our advertising for the event is almost exclusively through social media,” she says. “We start doing teaser posts just saying something exciting is going to happen and trying to get that message out there as much as possible.”
Neither Lund nor Whipple are working alone. Both tap into their community networks to promote and execute the event. That includes not only having people on the ground to help the day of the event, but it also includes ensuring those connections are visible on social media.
By working with the mayor, sheriff and running a simultaneous food drive for the local food bank, Whipple was able to cross promote online with several different community organizations. The local radio station did several segments about Petal It Forward that were not only aired on the station, but also captured on social media.
“The best thing we’ve done is getting other local places and people involved,” Whipple says. “It’s an event that is so positive and has the capacity to spread so much joy. Getting other places that are important to the community, involving them — it’s a good way to cross promote.”
Lund turns to someone she views as one of the most charismatic people in her community: Amanda Schleininger, owner of Hustle & Heart Real Estate Group. The two, who are both active on social media and work together on Petal It Forward, have formed a mutually beneficial social media relationship.
“Amanda has one of the loudest and biggest personalities ever, so how you could not pay attention?” Lund says.
Turning on the video cameras and showcasing the heart of the distribution effort is essential. Facebook Live, Instagram Stories and TikTok offer an opportunity to capture snippets of the energy and the reactions of recipients.
Lund’s real estate partner, Schleininger, has her photographer on hand who takes still shots and videos. “We do interviews on the street and ask, ‘How does this make you feel?’ or sometimes pair it with the broader message about random acts of kindness,” Lund explains.
In addition to streaming video on the shop’s social accounts, Whipple asks her partners to take videos at the event that she can then link to and cross promote. Last year that included having the mayor do a Facebook live from the event.
“If I’m working with a local business or organization and they are promoting on their social then I’m gaining access to their audience,” she says. “It just gets my reach out further with less work on my end.”
Along with using the recommended hashtag, #petalitforward, shops engaged on social media also use tags they know will draw attention. For many this includes tagging their regions and town names. Others promote causes like #shoplocal and many tap into the feel-good nature of giveaways with #spreadjoy.
In Albuquerque, New Mexico, the hashtag #abqflowerwall has a following. Davonna Lowry, owner of Flowers by Zach-Low, brings a silk flower wall to events and encourages people to take photos in front of it. It was at the state fair and will make an appearance during Petal It Forward.
“It gets a lot of social media posts,” Lowry says.
The day isn’t over when the last bouquet is handed out. To keep the buzz going, florists with a strong social media presence stay engaged on social media.
Whipple makes sure to respond to anyone who comments, likes or posts about the event.
“We have card that we attach [to the flowers] that has our links to Instagram, Facebook and Twitter and we ask people to post their Petal It Forward bouquet on social media and tag us,” Whipple says. “It does keep the momentum going a little bit and we make sure we are engaging with any posts.”
Want to join the 462 businesses that will Petal It Forward on Oct. 19? Register here.
Sarah Sampson is a contributing writer for the Society of American Florists.