A garden center looking to boost its business needs an updated web presence, be it a robust social media channel or well-designed website, experts say. YouTube is another powerful tool for reaching customers, even though most gardening retailers have yet to harness the popular video site.

While Facebook and Instagram are the industry’s online stalwarts, YouTube is a significant social media platform due to its reach and shareability, says Katie Dubow, creative director at Garden Media Group.

“You can take a video and use it across multiple channels,” Dubow says. “And Google owns YouTube, so anything you create is easily searchable.”

Gardening-related YouTube channels like Garden Answer, which has more than 232,000 subscribers, boast an active viewership where even day-old videos generate tens of thousands of views. However, YouTube has not gained traction among most IGCs, largely due to the challenges of maintaining a multi-channel brand as well as a general lack of knowledge about the platform, Dubow says.

Garden centers can approach YouTube as a content producer and brand enhancer, although most users won’t be earning revenue directly through their channel. Before joining the site, Dubow suggests creating a handful of competently shot, on-brand videos that highlight what makes your IGC unique. Retailers can use a smartphone camera and tripod to record an in-store tour or a how-to on implementing popular plants into the landscape. These videos should inspire and teach, rather than just sell.

Check with family members or staff to find out if they have video skills that could help. There are free video editing programs and apps like iMovie that’ll get the job done.

“[One of] the building blocks of a brand is becoming a trusted source,” Dubow says. “If customers are finding answers, that will give you clout.”

After establishing a channel, Dubow suggests seeking out a third-party influencer — perhaps a popular local blogger or larger gardening website — to make a cross-promotional video they would share on their network. This service usually includes a monetary fee, in-store promotion for the partnering business or an exchange of products.

“Find out the terms in advance,” Dubow says. “Will this person be okay with a product exchange, or a promotion where they’re getting tagged on Facebook?”

Laura LeBoutillier and her husband, Aaron, film short gardening tutorials for Garden Answer, a concept IGCs can emulate with their own content.

“YouTube is a good bang for your buck if you don’t have a big marketing budget,” Aaron says. “People want information that lines up with their interests. Whatever you put up, make sure it relates to your store.”

Ultimately, YouTube represents an opportunity for a business to round out its social media presence, LeBoutillier says.

“One of your videos may rank high up on a Google search,” he says. “If a customer gets acquainted to your business through YouTube, that’s excellent.”

Ultimately, garden centers need to pivot under the looming threat of big box competitors, Dubow says.

“Sometimes a kick in the pants is all you need to get started,” she says. “There’s value across the board in YouTube, and (IGCs) that want to stay relevant are going to need to use it.”

Douglas is a Cleveland Heights, Ohio,-based freelance writer and journalist. In addition to Garden Center, his work has been published by Midwest Energy News, Crain’s Cleveland Business and Fresh Water Cleveland.