Social Media in Public Gardens

Member Highlight: Polly Hill Arboretum

Interview with Karin Stanley, Education and Outreach Coordinator


APGA: How are you engaging your visitors via social media and what channels do you use? 

PHA: We have a website, use Vertical Response for our email blasts and have a Facebook page. We also post events on local website calendar pages. We recently set up our website to be mobile friendly, so our site will be easier for people to navigate, and read from their cell phones. At some point we will try to expand this to offer more of a guide by cell type of tour. I also check Google Analytics, Vertical Response reports and Facebook Insights to see what sort of activity is generated from these sites.


APGA: What are your strategies for success?

PHA: We update our website frequently to keep the content fresh. Our email blasts have worked quite well at keeping people informed of our programs and other Arboretum happenings. We do not do a real electronic newsletter (those are still mailed out twice a year) but instead try to keep our emails short, and easy to read with a few beautiful photos. We add links on the emails for those who want more info. Our audience tends to be older and most say they appreciate our shorter attractive emails and often open ours more frequently than others they may receive.


APGA: Can you provide a specific example of a success you've had in social media?

PHA: For Facebook we have tried to do frequent postings to keep a strong presence. We have had a couple of photo contests which have worked to generate a bit of engagement with our audience and lately we have generated some feedback by posting a photo and a bit of a clue about a plant asking people to ID the plant. Still we have not had great luck at expanding our "likes". Currently we are stuck at 401. Again our audience is a bit older, and honestly none of our staff and few of our volunteers are big Facebook users or promoters."    


APGA: What have you learned from something you tried in social media that didn't work?

PHA: I think for us it is mostly an audience thing and perhaps not really understanding how to best use Facebook. And again, honestly I am not sure as a group we are all that convinced that it is that beneficial to us. I am the only one our page and I have many other tasks as well that often take precedence.