"Laypersons have a better command of the social channels than companies"
Silvia Appel ("Garten Fräulein") – Photo: Kristijan Matic
The intention behind Silvia Appel's various social media channels is to enthuse people for living with plants. The 33-year-old woman from Würzburg/Germany has been active on the web under the name "Garten Fräulein" (Garden Miss) for six years already.
Previously Appel studied media management. Today, she totally dedicates her time to gardening – both on the balcony, on the windowsill, in her own garden as well as in urban community gardens. And she shares this passion with the world. She shows her achievements and gives many helpful tips on her blog and via her Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest accounts: For example how one can split up perennials, harvest tomato seeds or plant flower bulbs... In the meantime, Appel also writes books on gardening, holds lectures, sells lovingly designed seed boxes, chic gardening gloves and lots of organic seeds in her own online shop. Since the end of 2016 she has been able to live from the Garten Fräulein projects.
The blog is the most important platform for the Garten Fräulein.
Mrs Appel, would you describe yourself more as a classic blogger or as an influencer? Or don't you see a difference between the two?
Appel: That is difficult to say. When I introduce myself somewhere, I always have difficulty explaining what I actually do professionally. In my opinion, neither of the terms hits the nail on the head. The project "Garten Fräulein" has developed into its totally own little world over the past years. If I had to decide, I would probably describe myself more as an influencer, because I am very active on Instagram at the moment. However, the blog continues to be my most important pillar. I am found on the web via the blog and it gives people a good, overall overview of everything I do.
For many users, Instagram is the best source of inspiration for green questions.
The new word creation plantfluencer has been circulating through the media for some time. Do you believe that social media will be able to gain the same significance one day in the garden and plant section that it has in the fashion or tourist industry for instance?
Appel: I think the social media channels will adopt a greater importance for the themes plants and gardening as well. At present, this is particularly noticeable in the case of indoor plants. Countless people post the plants in their apartments under the hashtag "Urban Jungle".
The number of my own followers has increased rapidly this year too. I am above all very much recognised as a garden and plant expert on Instagram. This is no doubt due to the fact that I regularly offer a question round in my stories on Sundays. Such services go down very well with the people and they find them very important. In my opinion, Instagram is the best platform for such purposes. One simply comes into contact with people faster and more easily compared to Facebook for instance. But not only I, a lot of other people, who occupy themselves on the channels with living green, are also achieving great resonance at present. Whereby most people don't even operate their accounts on a professional level, but indeed purely as a hobby. But especially because so many laypersons are active online, it frees many beginners from their inhibition to pose questions. Collectively, the web is a huge pool of knowledge.
On Sundays the Garten Fräulein offers a regular question and answer session in her Instagram Story.
Overall the laypersons frequently have a better command of the social channels than the big companies with their huge marketing budgets. The latter often handle the accounts as if they were producing a newspaper. There are indeed fixed editorial plans, which are planned six months in advance... Most of the companies from the green industry are also not aware of how they can use the different channels purposefully. I believe the customers expect the companies to provide them with service offers via the web that really bring them added value. They don't want to just take part in prize draws or be informed about discount campaigns. In order for companies to distinguish themselves from others and really bind customers, they have to offer more.
The Garten Fräulein offers her users many tips for successful gardening.
Are the people on Instagram and co. more interested in gardening and plants or is their main interest the decoration aspect?
Appel: I don't think one can clearly differentiate here. There are both camps on the web, but I find this okay. The same is true for the classic gardening magazines. Some people buy them to look at the pretty pictures, others to obtain useful tips for their own green space. In the Instagram items on indoor plants the main focus probably does actually lie on the decoration aspect. But for most people potted plants aren't disposable items. They want them to stay healthy and keep living, which is why they frequently search the web for information and tips.
For further information: garten-fraeulein.de