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It’s that time of year again.  Everywhere you look, you see temporary parking lot greenhouses filled with racks and racks of flowers. At Lowe’s, Home Depot, Schnuck’s and Ace Hardware, there are beautiful, bold, right, vibrant colors, just begging you to take some home!

As a rule of thumb for our little boot of Indiana, annuals shouldn’t be planted before Mother’s Day. Every year, I fall for it. I am tempted. Not only to buy these flowers prematurely, but to also buy more than I should. You see, annuals will not return next year. It is that simple. I’ve thrown my money away on short-term plants that are already blooming well before they should be, well before I should be planting them.

 However, I have begun to shift my gardening strategy from a short-term to a long-term perspective. Lately, I have been cutting back on the number of annuals that I plant. Instead, I will wait until the Master Gardener Plant Sale in May.  I then reallocate funds I normally spend on annuals, to buy more interesting and unique perennial varieties not available in local stores.  A perennial will come back next year and those succeeding, bigger, stronger and more beautiful. So I have not wasted my money, time and effort on one-season, annual plants.  I have instead invested in my landscape, gaining not only satisfaction and enjoyment, but also increasing my home’s financial value.  Note, I’m still tempted, and I do still buy a few annuals each spring to quickly add color. 

 Some years back, I purchased both a lilac bush and a wisteria vine. I was told both of these were very young and may not bloom for several years. Already a master gardener, I went home and researched  the soil, water, and sun recommendations for both of these plants.  After reading up on them, and after talking to several other people, I have to admit I was intimidated by these plants. I bought them because I knew that, in a few years, both would have stunning color, and provide a major display in my already vibrant yard. I really wanted them to bloom right away, like my annuals but I knew that in the long run, if I planted them in ideal conditions and tended to them, these plants would bring joy for a lifetime.

 Likewise with social media (SoMe). There are definitely some SoMe methods for quick “return on investment” that require little effort and little knowledge. As you can pay people to plant your annual beds, you can also pay up-front for generic services, and invest no time in their development.  However, in the long run, these quick, impersonal, quirky campaigns will not build the satisfying, long-lasting personal, business and financial rewards that depend on, and build upon, relationships. 

 Rather, you can develop a strategic campaign that is most reflective of yourself, your business and its mission. A strategic social media presence is well thought out, well researched and well executed.  It includes a variety of engagements, value and information. It pays long-term dividends that grow each year.  Your business beds will not be planted with Social Media annuals, gone when the subscription runs out.  They will instead build each year, synergistic with previous investments, to provide sustained competitive advantage.  SoMe is a beautiful thing, if tended with TLC!

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