We have already discussed the ways in which the internet has changed how we sell homecoming mums. People rarely come into the florist shop and pick out the elements of their homecoming mum. They look on Pinterest and they send you a message, “Can you make this for me?” If you’re lucky, they sent you a picture of YOUR mum. haha !
For the most part mums have always been sold by word-of-mouth, and they still are, in 2018 the mouth is the World Wide Web and smartphone apps. The really great news is that you can have a some control over how your mums are presented to potential clients via social media.
Social Media is visual and we deal in visual. You must have clear, well-lit photos. I have already written on the topic but it bears repeating. Customers are drawn to photos, not words. Customers will scroll past your informative and important Facebook post that has no photo. But you will stop them in their tracks with something bright and sparkly. Buy a tripod with a phone adapter, at the very least.
I am going to cover three forms of social media in this post. There are others, but I am not familiar with them and cannot speak with any authority. Also, be aware that what is true today, January 2018, may not be true in a year. The way that social media works, particularly for small businesses, is constantly changing. Try to stay on top of those changes. Fortunately for us, people will come searching when it’s time to buy a mum. You simply need to have these established before the season, so you are showing up in those search results.
We are all on Facebook. Our group is on Facebook so you are familiar with Facebook and how it works.
You have lots of choices when it comes to selling mums on Facebook.
You CANNOT sell from your personal page, it is against FB Terms of Service to run a business from a personal page and it’s not professional.
You can post on Facebook Marketplace. I personally did not have luck with this last year. It seems to me that people are looking for something cheap, not a professional business. But, it is free and certainly worth a shot.
You can sell from your own Facebook group. A lot of small businesses have turned to groups, instead of pages, to keep their customers engaged. If you sell things in addition to mums, this would be ideal. You can post fun discussions and memes to keep customers engaged. Members of a group will see group posts in their feeds before they will see business pages, unless they have unfollowed updates.
You can also sell from other Facebook groups such as local buy/sell and community Facebook groups. Be sure to read the group rules so that you don’t end up being banned.
You can sell directly from a business Facebook page with a variety of shopping cart apps like Ecwid and Shopify. Or you can just post photos and have your customers message you.
Facebook has started treating small business pages like a mooching cousin who won’t get off your couch. Here is an article from Entrepreneur magazine regarding the changes that Facebook is making to its algorithm. Basically, they believe that interactions with businesses and brands is bad for you and they are here to make sure you have meaningful interactions with your friends and family. All is not lost, though. Here is another article from Entrepreneur magazine with some tips for engaging your customers on Facebook. Here are those tips with my comments:
(1.) Focus on measuring and improving your content performance. OK. I’ll be honest. This makes my brain go all twirly. I can’t focus on numbers, at all. I think you should continue to post at least once a week during the “off” season. Talk about what you’re learning. Share local interest news stories. Post that video of the funny hopping penguin! Ask questions. The more people that interact with your posts, the more people will see it.
(2.) Create a livestream strategy. According to this post Facebook will give priority to “going live.” You know who does this very well? Our very own Rhonda Nickerson! And I totally think this could work for making mums. People are fascinated by this crazy thing we do and I think it just might be novel enough to bring in some customers.
(3.) Prioritize community. Remember that this is SOCIAL media. Be social
(4.) Ask your audience to prioritize your posts. This is an adjustment that they can make in their own settings to make sure that they don’t miss anything.
Lastly, sell your mums with Facebook Ads. Facebook ads are easy to set up and you set the budget. You can also set the ad to reach people according to demographics, like age, location and interests. You know how when you search for sheets on Amazon and you see sheets for days and days on Facebook? This is why. Imagine how this could work for you if people are searching to buy homecoming mums? I have only dabbled in Facebook ads and I don’t have any tips, but I do know they work. Several Mums, Inc members use them successfully.
Instagram is hugely popular with the kids. If your ideal customer is a teenager, you need to be on Instagram. And you need really good photos.
Instagram introduced business accounts last year. With a business account, you can track engagement better with “Insights.” Ideally, you would use those insights to make similar posts focused on people that are actually following you.
There are two ways to obtain followers in Instagram.
Be social. Follow people and groups and businesses that are relevant to your business. Then like and comment on their posts. Not every post, that would be spammy. But eventually, they get curious and if they like what they see, they will follow you back and like your posts and very possibly buy a mum from you!
Hashtags. Hashtags are very important in the world of Instagram. The right hashtags are even more important. Hashtags are used for searching. So if you post a photo of a work in progress and hashtag it #burnedfingers you are not going to attract the folks that want to buy your mums. But if you use hashtags like #homecomingmum #hoco18 #lagovistavikings you’re going to attract some folks that want to see what you have on your page. Instagram allows up to 30 hashtags per post. This article from Hootsuite is a very thorough article on using hashtags.
One last word about Instagram. Even though homecoming mums are seasonal and regional, it is important to stay engaged. During the “off” season, post once a week. Post something that is relevant to your audience, like a quote on a pretty photo. During mum season, post at least once a day, if not more often. This is going to require some planning and possibly paying for a scheduler app like Hootsuite or Tailwind. I have spent one Sunday a month creating a month’s worth of posts.
And just like Facebook, videos are very popular on Instagram. Take a look at Ripl and Boomerang to help make your photos into Instagram videos that the kids will love!
Who is on Pinterest? Everyone. Teenagers. Moms. Grammas. DIYers.
I am loathe to call Pinterest social media. It’s not social. It is a search engine. But it gets lumped in with social media and is VERY popular. If you have used it even a little bit, you know it is driving folks to your Etsy and your website.
Good photos are essential to using Pinterest. A good photo will be repinned and followed up on. A “meh” photo will be passed right over. There is a lot of discussion in various online places as to what size photo to use. I am here to tell you that for us, this is not a huge issue. I mean… don’t use little tiny photos, but it truly doesn’t need to be the perfect 735 pixels by 1102 pixels. Use Canva.com or Picmonkey.com to resize your photo if you don’t know how to do it elsewhere.
You need to go ahead and sign up for a business account in order to get the analytics. Analytics are going to tell you who is looking at and repinning your pins and the other pins they are repinning. Knowing what the other stuff is will help you identify your target audience and speak more directly to them.
It is recommended that you set up your main board with pins directly from your website. (For those that only sell from Facebook, you cannot repin from Facebook, so you will need to Pin from your phone and manually link your Facebook page to that photo in the description.) Then, set up boards that your potential customers will like, homecoming dresses, makeup, decor, food, etc.
If you search for tips on using Pinterest as a small business, they are going to tell you to pin 25 times a day. Who has time to do that during mum season? Here are my thoughts, either pay for a scheduler OR make sure your boards are full ahead of time and then repin a few pins once a day, during mum season. With the Pinterest smart feed, your pins will show up because people are searching for homecoming mums.
Since Pinterst is a search engine, it is essential to make sure your pins, boards and account have keywords in your descriptions that will bring your customers to your website or Etsy shop. Use words and phrases that your customer will be using to search. If your mum is called the Super Gigantic Absolutely Unique Senior Mum, great! Think about what your customer will use to search. Use the search bar to come up with short phrases and use those phrases in a way that makes sense to Pinners looking at your pin. Pinterest is currently testing hashtags. So go ahead and start using them, but make sure your descriptions are there as well.
Last word about Pinterest. It takes time to be found. How long? That depends on how many of that item are on Pinterest. It could be weeks, it could be months. So get started now. And then, you’ll be ready to start repinning and getting some attention during mum season.
You should have some ideas swirling around in your head for marketing your homecoming mums on Facebook, now. Set up your business accounts now, in the off season, so that you won’t be scrambling during the mum season. If you have questions, feel free to ask on the Facebook group, we have a lot of very savvy business owners in our group. Also feel free to email me at Christy@CentralTexasSpiritWear.com I will try to help you out, if I can.
UPDATE JULY ‘18: Since I originally wrote this article sometime ago, changes have already occurred in all three of these places.
Facebook is favoring video. They are especially favoring their own Live video feature. You don’t have to make a full half hour “how to.” Just make a quick video where you talk about one of your mums or the supplies you are getting in. Do an unboxing. The video will remain on your page.
Instagram has added a IGTV, another video feature. See above.
And finally, Pinterest is past testing hashtags, they are now using them for search and you should as well. The gurus say to add them to your new pins. Use hashtags that your customers will search. You CAN repin old pins, add hashtags to those.
Christy Bryson is selling Classy, bad a$$ mums at CentralTexasSpiritWear.com . She has been a member of Mums, Inc for three seasons and attributes all her success to this amazing group.