Five years ago, one would rarely have seen a house filled with succulents or landscapers suggesting to their clients to use xeriscaping, a form of drought resistant gardening, in their front yards. Yet today, succulents have become an international hit amongst millennials due to their low level of maintenance and vibrant colors that make them easy to cultivate indoors. It is possible to find shirts, pants, coffee mugs, shopping bags, blankets, wedding cakes, and myriad of other products that have succulents and cacti printed on them. Even live succulent nails hit the market in 2017 as part of the succulent craze.
With the increase in the market for succulent and cacti cultivation, I can admit that I have taken advantage of their new availability to begin cultivating my own indoor garden. Now I will also be embarking on creating an Instagram account solely dedicated to these funny little plants. To do so, I began by researching some popular pages on Instagram that feature succulents as their main selling point. These accounts include @sucstu , @pups.and.succs, and @succulentcity , each with their own style and approach to cornering the succulent market.
Succulent Studios is an account focused on the marketing of their new products, the succulent box, which is a monthly subscription to their site that gives you two new succulent species a month. Their pictures, as with all of these accounts, are definitely geared towards the aesthetic of the succulents. They include a wide variety of multimodal content including videos, boomerangs, photos, reviews from customers, and inspirational quotes. One of my favorite aspects of their account is the personal stories, where a user can go to find health tips, succulent first aid, close-up pictures, and quick tips about succulent care.
This is an interesting mix compared to other pages because it not only uses visual modality to attract the attention of the audience, but it also uses the linguistic modality, which can create meaning or understanding of information, to educate the audiences about caring for indoor plants in a visual and interactive way (Arola et al. 2014). Additionally, they have features on their page like: #wallpaperwednesday and #succulentsunday where they post pictures pertaining to that day to create a sense of consistency on their page amongst other posts about their subscription services. I hope to do a similar strategy with my page and have consistent content that is posted on certain days to keep the audience interested in engaging on a weekly basis.
Next is pups.and.succs which is an account that is less focused on mass marketing and seems to be a personal account. It is run by a girl named Jess and it is very obvious from her page that she is focused on creating aesthetic and visual content. There is little to no other modalities other than visual, but I think that it is an effective rhetorical strategy for this type of theme. What I really like about her account and want to make sure I include in some of my posts is that she identifies the plant by species so that the audience knows what they are looking at. She also uses a copious amount of hashtags, which I think helps market her page since she doesn’t necessarily have a product to sell like @sucstu. I think that using hashtags will also be important as I move forward in my posting.
Lastly we have Succulent City, which is an account that is dedicated to posting pictures that highlight the best of succulents on instagram. They also promote their website that sells succulents and other merchandise as well as posts articles about succulent care (visit the site here). Their content is also solely pictures, but they are posted from other accounts on Instagram. This gives the page an edge in terms of community engagement because it is taking the larger succulent community and compiling their accounts and pictures into one place for others to explore and follow if they so choose. I would like to do this with my Succulent Spotlight feature on my page to have the succulent Instagrammer community be involved in the creation of new content on my page. As explained by Jenkins et al. in their chapter on spreadable media, content is more likely to succeed if the publisher “”gets” the mentality and is a meaningful participant in the dialogue of particular audience members” (2013). Including people in the conversation will open up my page to more opportunities for community participation, which is something I want to try and execute in my account.
After contrasting these three Instagram accounts for their use of different rhetorical strategies, it is also apparent that all three market their content using spreadability tactics and have a good understanding of what their audience wants to see. One of the most notable techniques that I have noticed in all three pages is that they target towards creating popular culture versus mass culture. The difference between the two is that mass culture is produced and distributed in large numbers whereas popular culture is media that has been integrated in meaningful ways into the lives of the audience (Jenkins et al. 2013). Succulent cultivation is not only something that is pleasing to look at, but many social media sites have made it possible for average people to integrate this hobby into their own lives at varying degrees. I have found this to be something very effective and I hope to mirror some of that success in my own page through the next 8 weeks.
Arola, K., Sheppard, J. & Ball, C. (2014). “Chapter 1: What are Multimodal Projects?” In Writer/Designer: A Guide to Making Multimodal Projects.Boston, MA: Bedford/St. Martin’s Press, 1-19.
Jenkins, H., Ford, S., & Green, J., (2013). “Designing for Spreadable Media.” In Spreadable media:Creating value and meaning in a networked culture. New York: New York University Press. 195-229.