7 Easy Ways to Start Mastering Social Media

Digital marketing expert Carrie Swing knows that mastering social media while trying to run your own business can be tough- especially when your business requires 100% of your creative attention and energy. That’s why she’s determined to help interior designers get started on the right platforms to grow their online presence and reach the next new client. Here, in anticipation of her lecture on Instagram for Business at next week’s Design San Francisco, Carrie shares her tips for designers on all things social media. 

Remember when you loved what you do? Before you got overwhelmed with marketing and accounting and HR? We all want to be able to devote more time to our specific talent, and thankfully digital marketing can allow that if you use it strategically. Use it, don’t let it use you. #makebusinessfun (again). – Carrie Swing @carriedawaysf

1.Strategically choose your platforms and set goals. The purpose of any marketing effort is to get your name out there, to get published and/or to meet new clients, as efficiently as possible. A clear strategy that begins with a review of your mission statement and marketing plan will allow you to use social media / digital marketing to effectively move toward these goals. Analyze the various platforms available and select only the few that really suit interior design, your business size and clientele. For designers, I most often suggest Facebook and Instagram. Sometimes Pinterest and industry-specific sites like Houzz can work as well, but don’t be talked into thinking that every new platform the teenagers use will be appropriate for your business. Be as selective as your clients will be when they decide to work with you.

2.Be clear and consistent. State clearly on each platform exactly what you do and for whom. Not only does this keep your brand consistent, it saves everyone time. Online searchers typically make a decision in seconds, so if you only do custom yacht interiors, say so. Consider social media in the same way you would analyze a publication to place an ad – the clientele must align with yours, as well as the look and message. Use the same online “handle”, bio, headshot, logo and website on all platforms, and link them when applicable. Because design is by nature visual, make sure your online presence reflects your brand visually as well as through content.

3.Follow (and engage with) the leaders. You want followers who might refer you to new clients, the same as you would target with standard marketing. Follow people you work with or admire, such as artists, fabric houses, museums, publications, showrooms and architects. People often follow those who follow or engage with them, so take the time to find the right accounts to follow and engage with them. The general public (and potential clients) will come after these business connections become active, and these connections act as filters to get to the right people. Social media should be the opposite of cold calling potential clients.

4.A tag is the new referral. Engagement with others is key on social media. When you complete an installation, ask clients to post images and tag you – a new install with flowers, wine, or whatever gift you may leave is the best time to ask for a tag, which is the “new” referral. On your own posts, tag colleagues such as architects or fabricators used on the project. You can also ask satisfied clients to review you on Yelp.  DO answer comments within 2 days, but it’s OK to be brief. For example, on Instagram, you can say “thank you so much @you and @you and @you” rather than typing out 3 separate posts.

5.Good things take time…but not too much time. As with most things, the more you put in, the more you get out, but you need not spend hours – I suggest spending 10 min per day per platform to seek out one or two quality connections per day, by liking and commenting on posts that are relevant to your work / interests / or who share connections. Designers are often overwhelmed on sites such as Houzz by repeated questions on things like paint colors, so note these details when you post your images, and you won’t need to address them again. A watermark on all your photos will ensure that you are credited if (when!) the image goes viral.

6.Advertise wisely. Ads do work! Facebook ads, or sponsored posts, are inexpensive and ensure that your post will show up in your followers’ news feeds. (Facebook’s current algorithm limits unpaid posts on business accounts to a smaller audience.) Sponsor posts when you have something important to share, such as press recognition, new staff or a new location. In planning any paid posts, remember to keep your marketing at your level. You may see articles advising you to hold contests or participate in # games. Is this in line with the level of sophistication of your clients? Maybe it is if you do kids’ play spaces or parties, or custom garage flooring which might be tied into a sporting event, but for the most part it is not, and will bring you down to the level of price comparison rather than quality work.

7.Share don’t sell. This cliché truly does apply, so think of social media as the new way to share magazine articles with friends. Look to current events, community or any of the millions of design blogs for things to share. If you get stuck trying to come up with content, refer back to your specialty or your mission statement. Are you the authority on Palm Springs Modernism? Share articles on local architects or open houses. Are you a lighting designer? Post images of the sunset and discuss how colors look different under different light conditions. Strive for a mix of self-promotion (love this chair I just had re-upholstered!) and sharing relevant info (design fans will love this new film for the English country house interiors).