Trey Pitsenberger has been online as The Blogging Nurseryman since 2005 and commenting here on the Rant since we started a year later. Yeah, he's definitely an early adopter, as he recalls in a recent message to Independent Garden Centers and Nurseries. He tells the story of having been contacted in '06 by a nursery trade publication and according to them, “the consensus amongst most nursery consultants was there is no relevance [of blogging], and no reason for nurseries to be interested in blogging, or bloggers.” Trey goes on to do some well-deserved gloating.
Well, we know how that turned out. Looking over one of those trade publications the other day, it seems that about a quarter of the articles deal with how to use this new medium to help our businesses. I find it amazing how everyone is offering advice on how to do social media now. Many of the same people who said it wasn’t relevant then, now want to sell you on the program. It’s social media, not rocket science. That’s what’s so scary to the traditional media, and PR firms. How are they going to make money, when the power of your advertising efforts are in your hands?
And on his Facebook page Trey makes this prediction for 2011: "I believe as more retail garden centers use social media to connect with the public, the public will respond by spreading the word through their own unique networks. …Interesting alliances may be formed that might not have been thought of before."
Of course he's spot on, but do other garden center owners get it? Probably not, despite all those trade associations telling them they have to do something about social media.
The Facebook Group Arrives
But there's news – a brand new way for garden center and nursery folks to share their successes and failures in using New Media (or on any other subject) with each other, and JUST with each other. No vendors soliciting for new business. Trey has created the Independent Garden Centers and Nurseries Group on Facebook and anyone who works for IGCs and nurseries is welcome – but the catch is they have to be on Facebook first. That catch is actually a good thing coz it forces newbies to dip their toes into the social media waters before they can start chatting with their colleagues across the country about how all this works best for them. (I think we can all agree that people in the gardening biz should at least be on Facebook.)
What else is new is that Facebook recently changed the way it runs its groups, so that members are notified by email of new topics posted, then can "subscribe" to responses to that topic, or not. So finally, following and joining in the conversation is as easy as checking your email. (Computer-phobes, it's really that easy.) Savvy garden writer Fern Richardson jumped on this new tool, set up a group called The Business of Garden Writing, and right out of the box it's been a big hit, sparking the meatiest, most useful discussions ever. (So long, listservs!) And when Trey learned of the success of Fern's group he immediately stopped trying to start conversations on Linked-In (where they sit passively, waiting for people to check back) and jumped on the Facebook Group bandwagon.
Carrying our Messages to IGCs
Now garden centers talking to each other is great, but they need to hear from us, too. From garden writers, bloggers and customers. So Trey has joined the garden writers group and will be reporting to the people we buy from what we're saying about them and the products they sell. And if you gardenbloggers out there happen to cover a subject of interest to garden centers, send Trey the link so he can pass it along. Regular (blogless) customers can do the same by simply sending Trey a message. (firstname.lastname@example.org)
The photo shows Trey on the job at The Golden Gecko Nursery in Garden Valley, California.