Social sensations

Savviness on social media can not only promote your company, but also bring about a number of other benefits.

Photo by Laura Shankel

In a world where likes, impressions and views seem to be the peak measure of success, social media has become a mainstay in society. With its impact climbing, more and more, companies are using the increasing amount of social media platforms to highlight their business — and it’s especially trending in the green industry.

Take Spencer Lawn Care, of Canton, Ohio, for example. The husband-and-wife-led, company has amassed more than 200,000 followers (across multiple platforms) and millions of views since 2018. That was the year Savanaha Spencer came on board to join her husband, Shawn, and he says things have been skyrocketing the past four years.

“My wife volunteered to come on for two weeks but has been with me ever since,” he jokes.

Spencer says he’s been using social media since starting his own business back in 2011.

“Back then, a lot of the time it was Craigslist and Facebook,” he says. “Social media has been a great avenue for us. Even more so in recent years. In 2014, I started on YouTube and did that as a hobby up until 2018 when we really started gaining traction…I was on YouTube for years before I ever turned monetization on.”

Once Savanaha came on board, Spencer Lawn Care’s YouTube audience loved the dynamic between the pair in the daily videos.

“We went from 5,000 to 50,000 subscribers in one year,” he says. “Now we’re up over 120,000 and growing consistently, and we’ve got sponsorships on the table.”

The company now works with several manufacturers and brands where they make product-based videos and give reviews of popular equipment.

And while the brand collaborations are nice, Spencer notes it can be hard to balance their social media personas and the business.

“It’s like a teeter-totter,” he says. “The business is on one end and social media is the other end — and you’re trying to find a balance where they both work because they do both work off each other.”

Blueprints for success

While the Spencers are using social media to grow their business, Eli Diaz has become internet famous with his channels all without promoting his actual landscaping company, which he doesn’t want named, based in Houston, Texas. He posts under the name Cyber Landscaping.

“My brother and I work together. We’ve been working together since the year 2000, so over 20 years now. We mainly do residential yards and contract work for rental companies when there are vacant houses,” he says.

Diaz says it was his wife who convinced him to film their landscape work and upload it to YouTube.

“We started recording in July 2021. The original idea was we were both going to be in the videos, but we weren’t happy with the results when we used a tripod, so I became the camera person,” he says. “We’re mainly on YouTube but use TikTok and Instagram as well.”

Cyber Landscaping’s videos, which have garnered nearly 175 million views on YouTube, don’t promote the business and Diaz says his brother always keeps his faced covered in them.

“When we set out to do this, it wasn’t about gaining business,” he says. “My brother is always covered up and we like him being anonymous. He won’t speak in the video. The whole purpose of the channel was to just make videos on the work we do.”

Shovel & Thumb Landscaping, based in Ridgefield, Washington, has a YouTube following of about 6,000 and well over a million views, but Owner Cohan Fish says he’s still fine-tuning the company’s social media strategy.

“We’re not content creators — we’re landscapers. I don’t think we’re using social media to its full advantage right now,” he says. “We use a couple different platforms. One of the main ones for us is YouTube. So, we do time-lapse videos on our projects and get some good traction there.”

Fish says he’d like to capture more customers through social media down the road, though work has been steady as of late.

“We haven’t utilized social media for advertising or a pay-for-click advertising campaign,” he says. “I think there’s potential there, but we haven’t needed to yet… We just use it as a way to show customers what we’re up to.”

Not only would starting a paid advertising social media campaign allow Shovel & Thumb to reach more prospective clients, but Fish says it’d also take some of the legwork off of his staff.

“I’ve been considering working with an advertising partner who would create the content and manage a pay-per-click campaign,” he says. “That would cost some bigger dollars to spend on social media, so we haven’t jumped into it yet but we’re definitely thinking about it.”

Over in the Twin Cities, Clearscape Outdoor Services Owner and CEO, Wade Gerten, says he’s been making social media more of a priority since purchasing the company four years ago.

“Before that they probably had a Facebook page, but they really weren’t actively using it. So, when I got here, I opened up a LinkedIn page, redid the Facebook page and then about a year ago we started using TikTok. We’re not on Instagram yet, YouTube or Twitter — but I don’t really think we need to be,” Gerten says.

For Clearscape the main goal of social media is finding labor — a constant problem for green industry companies.

“We really don’t have a strategy,” Gerten says of social media. “We’re only now just starting to use it more frequently. I primarily think we’ll use it for recruiting.”

Looking for labor

Last spring, Clearscape used TikTok to hire laborers for the upcoming season. Of the 48,000 impressions their posts received, 36,000 were within their ideal target. And all that posting resulted in 25 recruits directly from the app.

“It’s been really valuable to us. We’ve hired half of our new hires from TikTok,” Gerten says. “Recruiting is so heavy for us — about 90% of what we post on social media is for recruiting. We’ve done very little in terms of marketing.”

Because the company is relying on social media so much in terms of recruiting, Gerten says he thinks it’s almost time to start creating two Clearscape profiles on every platform — one targeting the labor field and one targeting customers.

When it comes to targeting the labor field on TikTok or any social media site, Gerten says it can be tricky to reach your ideal audience.

“For recruiting — you really can’t target a demographic,” he says. “There are labor laws in place where you can’t run a job recruiting advertisement and have any sort of targeted demographic.

One important element of posting recruiting videos on socials is getting the viewer to do what you want them to do — apply.

“All the videos have a clear call to action, which shows what you should do next; whether that’s call someone or fill out a form or click a link,” Gerten says.

Not only is the labor pool on social media more now than ever before, but Gerten says it’s also often a cheaper way to go about recruiting.

“The two tools we used for recruiting in the spring were Indeed and TikTok,” he says. “The average cost-per-hire on Indeed was $35 per hire and for TikTok we averaged $4 per hire. It definitely made a lot more sense to focus on that platform.”

Photos courtesy of YouTube

Building a better brand

But while social media might be a great way to build up your workforce, it’s also an avenue for building up your brand.

That’s something Spencer Lawn Care figured out early on and have excelled at so much that they now even sell merchandise in their company’s signature pink and green color combination.

“When Savanaha came on in 2018, we rebranded,” he says. “So, I needed safety colors when we were on one site, so I got us neon green and neon orange, and thought, ‘What other colors are out there?’ So, we went out to look and came up with neon pink — and now everything is green and pink.”

And while their audience got to know them for their pink and green apparel, they also got to know their distinct personalities over the years, something the Spencers make a point to highlight in all their videos.

Photo by Laura Shankel

“Branding is everything,” Spencer says. “Anyone who hires us, meets us or just consumes our content, we want them to know that we’re good people, what we say is what we’re going to do, and we follow through. That what we’re all about.”

Being a viral sensation on YouTube and TikTok has been great, as it brings their small business in front of hundreds of thousands of people all over the world.

“Social media has helped out in many different avenues — advertising, SEO and all that,” he says. “It’s also helped our company out more financially than we ever could have imagined.”

In the last year, Spencer suspects they’ve garnered at least 10 customers who found them directly on social media.

But having such a recognizable brand does have drawbacks at times — like constant attention and those looking to impersonate you.

Spencer says the only reason the company is on TikTok is because somebody had started a fake Spencer Lawn Care account on the app with shortened versions of their YouTube uploads.

“They had like 45,000 followers and all he was doing was screen recording our videos we put on YouTube every day,” he says. “I started our Spencer Lawn Care LLC profile purely out of spite.”

That official account now has over 52,000 followers, which Spencer says is great, but he acknowledges that not everyone who works at Spencer Lawn Care likes being in the limelight.

“There’s a downside to it as well — and it’s that it’s made it very hard to keep and retain employees. Simply having them on the channel is tough because not everybody signed up for that,” he says. “Not everybody wants to be a part of it. We do with our employees like what we do with our children, we don’t force them to be on the channel — it’s got to be their choice.”

Adjusting to the algorithms

With such a large social media following, Fish notes that it’s no small commitment to maintain.

“Our office manager usually handles our social media,” he says. “She’ll do posts weekly on Facebook and then more sporadically on YouTube. It takes a little more time to create and edit those.”

Fish says the biggest takeaway he sees from the popularity of Shovel & Thumb’s YouTube page is having a multitude of beautifully edited videos at the ready. Having those already edited and uploaded saves time when trying to show them off to a potential client, he adds. Plus, those people can go back to the page and reference them again whenever they’d like.

“I’ve seen the most benefit in being able to show your portfolio very easily with everybody,” he says. “So, if I’m getting a new customer, I can say, ‘Hey! Go check out our page.’ And they can see 20 projects we’ve done already. So really, it’s helping close deals rather than generating leads I’d say.”

Photo by Laura Shankel

When it comes to who is seeing the videos, Fish adds it can be tricky to figure out the algorithms behind all the various social medial platforms.

“Certain posts go viral with half a million views or more and then another just hovers at a couple thousand,” he says. “It’s interesting. We have no way of knowing what’s going to go viral or not. It’s whatever the algorithm decides to put out in front of people. We don’t know how they do that. So, we just make content that fits the bill and hope the algorithm grabs it.”

For Diaz, he says he knows a post is performing well based on the number of comments it gets.

“We get a lot of people that are interested in the equipment we use,” he says. “And we get a lot of criticism also because everyone has their own method for doing a certain task. You also get people asking questions in regards to their lawn about fertilizing or stuff like that.”

Diaz says in addition to spending a few hours a week editing and posting the content, the most time-consuming task is staying up to date with all the comments and engaging with their viewers.

“I probably spend four to five hours a week commenting, and another six to seven hours editing videos,” he says. “But we’re so busy it’s hard to manage our workload with social media and time with my wife and daughter.”

Gerten says it’s great when there’s someone in the company that you can delegate the social media task to.

“We have a talent director,” he says. “Her job is to recruit, onboard, train and retain talent…She probably spends 10 hours a week on social media on average.”

As social media is becoming such a part of the company’s strategy for hiring and recruitment, Gerten says it’s vital to stay in tune with the trends and prioritize what platforms are most popular.

Clearscape Outdoor Services use TikTok to hire labor for the upcoming season.

Photos courtesy of TikTok | Phone: | Icons: Adobe Stock

“The technique we’re using today on TikTok we actually first started doing on Facebook a few years ago,” he says.

“We had a lot of success with it. The recipe really is to post content that people find interesting, funny or entertaining. And also get that content in front of the right people.

“Over time, Facebook has become less valuable to us,” Gerten adds. “People are using Facebook less than they did. The demographic we’re going for aren’t using Facebook as much as they were two years ago. Where they’re all going is TikTok — so TikTok has grown exponentially.”

Photo courtesy of Spencer Lawn Care
Photo courtesy of Spence Lawn Care

Spencer agrees, adding that with more and more social media platforms popping up, he doesn’t necessarily want to create another account but it’s important to keep up with the times.

Whether it’s on Instagram or out around town, the Spencer Lawn Care duo is known for its infamous pink and green color scheme.
Photo courtesy of Spencer Lawn Care

He adds he and Savanaha probably spend about 50 hours a week editing and posting social media content. He notes that it’s like having a second full-time job in addition to the business.

But all that work has paid off. He sees more and more customers coming to them because they found them on social media.

“We have a ton of customers now who’ve hired us specifically because they saw us,” he says. “They even ask us to make videos on their properties.”

Running paid advertisement campaigns on social media is another way Spencer Lawn Care finds customers. Spencer says when doing this, it’s best to stay as hyperlocal as possible.

“Now we’re honing in on ads for specials like fall cleanups or whatever you’re offering at a specific time of year — you can really hone it in to your area and your demographic. So, we always stay within 15 miles and have it really tight. This keeps costs down for the ads, too,” he says.

All in all, the most important element to any social media post is authenticity. That’s why Diaz says the best piece of advice for growing your company’s following is to stay true to who you are and what you do.

“Just keep recording, but the main focus has to be the work,” he says. “That’s when the comments will come pouring in. You have to hook them on the work that being done. If you start a video by advertising your business, they’re just going to swipe up to another video.”

The author is assistant editor at Lawn & Landscape magazine.

The Spencers spend about 50 hours a week filming, editing and posting
video content on their social media platforms.
Photo by Laura Shankel
April 2023
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