Ask a gardener about their biggest challenges and pruning would be at the top of the list. It can be an overwhelming job that intimidates many people. In the winter of 2021, a request was posted to the the Oregon State University Extension Service Master Gardener Facebook page for shorter, more accessible information about this often-necessary garden task. Longer videos and detailed catalog publications might offer this information, but it can be hard to navigate and understand and it requires patience and research, if it can be found at all.
A team from the OSU Garden Ecology Lab, a program focused on all aspects of science-based gardening research, developed a social media campaign that ran during key times for pruning trees and shrubs. Using social media kept the information short and approachable and the hashtag #PruneBetter was used to make it easy to find and come back to as the campaign went on.
Content for the social media series included short videos with retired experts Neil Bell, former OSU Extension horticulturist, and the late Bernadine Strik, OSU Extension professor emeritus. They demonstrated pruning with simple steps and, when applicable, links to additional resources for deeper information.
Another video series, produced separately, featured professional arborists discussing different pruning topics. “Pruning with the Pros,” coordinated by Nicole Sanchez, OSU Extension horticulturist, was promoted as part of the #PruneBetter campaign and made available on the OSU Extension website and Extension YouTube channel.
The campaign ran mid-winter to early spring 2022 on Facebook and Instagram. For Facebook, the short video clips were combined into longer videos, while short clips were delivered to Instagram to fit the channel’s requirements. Quizzes and prompts in Instagram stories served to engage viewers to interact and test their knowledge.
The response to the campaign was overwhelmingly positive. More than 105,500 people were reached by the Facebook campaign, which included 11 posts with videos and photos. More than 27,700 were reached with 11 Instagram posts, which included videos, photos and over 30 stories that included quizzes. Taken together, the campaign reached over 133,000 people.
The Garden Ecology Lab working on the #Prune/Better team included Bell, Strik, students Mallory Mead and Nicole Strik Bell and was led by LeAnn Locher, OSU Extension Master Gardener outreach coordinator.