#NationalCatDay…at the Nursery?

I’m a cat lover, but not a national-everything-holiday lover so I admit I mostly ignored the #NationalCatDay posts last Thursday. Friday, however, I saw one that caught my eye. This one, to be exact:

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What did I notice about it? Well, for starters, why is a national nursery grower even thinking about posting for National Cat Day? Because our clientele are thinking about it. Cats are everywhere on the internet. In a pleasant world, maybe half of the internet is made up of cat pictures (that’s not a scientific fact, by the way). Cat pictures are something that are easy for the average social media user to get on board with. They can post a photo of something they care about (their cat or multiple cats), it doesn’t feel invasive to their privacy, and thus they feel like they are participating. They might even get lots of likes from other cat lovers. It’s an easy psychological win/win situation. Everyone loves pictures of cute, fuzzy kitties. Unless you have no heart [I kid!].

This post from Monrovia got it absolutely right and you can steal their idea. Their post acknowledged the cute nature of the subject (cats) and compared it to the ease of growing plants. Nod to the cat, back to the product.

What they’ve also done is create something that builds both their brand and the local business who shares their post. At the time of the above screen shot, the post had been shared 191 times, liked 727 times and had 25 comments. I’ve been following a lot of nurseries and garden centers for some time now and this may be the most engagement I have ever seen on a post. I’m not positive on that fact, but it’s pretty impressive.

Whoa, I take that back. A quick scroll down Monrovia’s page reveals a post shared a whopping 3,076 times. It’s about pumpkins as containers. And the consumer questions were answered with helpful links to relevant concerns. If you’re not answering comments on your social media posts with helpful information, you are missing a huge opportunity to gain a customer.

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Many of those #NationalCatDay comments had a clever reply from one of the page administrators. I think it’s challenging for the average nursery or garden center to have someone super clever like that on staff, but it’s a fascinating learning opportunity to study the responses.

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Not only can the local garden center share Monrovia’s post, particularly if they sell Monrovia products, but they can also re-create it with their own products and in their own stores. It’s unlikely that a great percentage of your customer base also follows Monrovia and even if they did, they would appreciate seeing your own spin on their idea.

The trick here is being nimble. Most of us probably didn’t know that National Cat Day was approaching, but if you saw something trending on any particular day and quickly put together a post to celebrate whatever pseudo-holiday it is, you’ll build support for your brand and maybe even gain some new followers. After all, if you care about cats you might also care about cat owners and their plant needs. You’ll also demonstrate that you care about the community and are engaged in the same things as your customers.

There are many quirky holiday calendars and resources online if you want to consider a few non-traditional holidays in your marketing planning. A quick online search should point you in the right direction.

You could also create your own special pseudo-holiday. Case in point: #NationalCatDay is a promotion for PetCo. Yep. Of course. Why didn’t we consider that it wasn’t an advertisement for a national brand? As many viral things go, you’d be surprised by how many people and pages latch on to something for which they don’t stop to find the origin [the “ice bucket challenge” lost much of it’s meaning as it gained momentum]. Fortunately in this case, the meaning is altruistic and optimistic. Strive to be nimble, but smart with your social media marketing. Fact check before you jump on the train!

As for us and our two cats…we celebrated #NationalCatDay in our own style by taking a nap.

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About Dr. Cheryl R. Boyer

Associate Professor and Extension Specialist, Ornamental Nursery Crops and Garden Centers at Kansas State University [K-State Research and Extension] Manhattan, Kansas

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