by Julia Watson
The year we have just experienced was a roller coaster – 2020 threw us all a gigantic curveball(s) and the ride is not yet over. We have all been impacted personally and organisationally on many levels, and we can only hope that 2021 can bring renewed hope and improved conditions.
While the rollercoaster ride of 2020 threw us so much to contend with and a myriad of events to get our heads around, some strong themes and trends emerged online based on what people were searching for. Google Trends is a fascinating resource to discover these trends (especially for what people were searching for the most) and 2020 was a year of firsts!
Here are three trends relevant to our industry from 2020 that I’ve pulled from a long list to inspire us to keep connecting and engaging our audiences with the important messages we as botanic gardens professionals share on a regular basis.
Trend #1: People wanted to start vegetable gardens
Google searches for ‘How to start a vegetable garden’ peaked at a 5-year high in April 2020.
This may have been when many countries went into some form of lockdown, plus the northern hemisphere was entering spring. Resilience was on all of our minds, avoiding the supermarkets was a good idea, and growing your own food provides exercise, satisfaction and an enjoyable hobby when spending long days at home.
What we can learn from this: With ‘how to start a vegetable garden’ searches reaching new heights, it means this could be a good phrase to use in your marketing and educational materials, or to inspire content creation for your workshops and engagement programmes.
Along the same theme, related queries that also had high search numbers were:
• How to start a vegetable garden from scratch
• How to start a small garden
• How to start a small vegetable garden
• How to start a raised bed vegetable garden
• How to start a vegetable garden for beginners
Overall gardening searches appear to have trended down over time, but the COVID-19 pandemic gave this search term a brief boost in the first quarter of the year.
This is a fascinating statistic and begs the question – how do we support this and continue the trend? As botanic gardens professionals we have an opportunity here to inspire and inform people who are searching for these terms and are clearly keen to get into gardening!
Trend #2. People wanted to help no matter where they were in the world – and thoughts were with Australia during and after the bushfires
With so much on everyone’s minds during 2020 it is uplifting to know that globally people were deeply concerned about the Australian bush fires and what they could do to help. In a similar vein, “how to stop climate change” was also searched more than ever.
What we can learn from this: Firstly, kindness is abundant and even when the world looks dark there are positive stories we can hang on to. Secondly, make it easy to let people know how they can help your garden, your organisation and your cause. Let’s keep this momentum going, thank our supporters and inspire our audiences regularly on simple and effective ways they can help.
Trend #3. People loved virtual (museum) tours
Lockdowns meant no travel, therefore many turned to armchair internet travel. With ‘virtual museum’ being the top trending virtual activity people searched to experience, it’s clear that providing a window to the wider world is a wonderful way to engage with your audience.
What we can learn from this: While we’d love to have our visitors physically visiting our gardens, the opportunity to open our gardens to the world via the internet is not one to ignore. Let’s beat ‘virtual museum’ searches in 2021 with ‘virtual garden’!
Overall, while we are facing a very tough year ahead, looking into these positive trends can give us inspiration, hope and insights for staying focused and optimistic in 2021. Don’t lose sight of the fact that as botanic garden professionals we bring joy to our communities and deep value and progress to the environment. We make the world a better place to live in.