Updated June 15, 2020
Despite the uncertain times we live in, one thing is unquestionable: Social media is as popular as it ever has been. People are turning to social media for human interaction during this period of obligatory self-isolation, and brands are seeing the long-term potential of investing in these platforms. Social media is not only a place to virtually show your work and expand your network, it will increasingly become an e-commerce conduit, making it all the more important for interior designers to have a polished presence on the relevant social channels.
This guide will help interior designers understand the major social media platforms, the types of content best suited for each, and how interior designers can craft successful social media strategies. It will also show how they can become an influential part of their social media communities by engaging with their followers, fellow colleagues, and brands with which they want to build an association. This article will inform on everything an interior designer needs to know to craft a savvy social media strategy in 2020.
The Top Social Media Platforms for Interior Designers
Instagram Basics and Tips
Instagram remains the most important social media site for interior designers. Interior designers can post photos of their work, inspirational images, action shots or video clips from events, and text promoting upcoming events. It also provides the ability to initiate communication with any other user on the platform. Justina Blakeney, designer and founder of the home-goods site Jungalow says, “Increasingly, more opportunities come via my DMs (Direct Messages) on Instagram than they do into my email inbox”.
If you look at examples of interior designers who are super popular on Instagram, you’ll notice they do a few things:
- They post visually interesting content that shows off their work, but also gives credit to their sources of inspiration.
- They also make use of hashtags, which allows platform users who do not follow their accounts to more easily find their content.
- They post regularly, usually 1-2 posts a day.
Your Instagram account will also have an important sub-platform called Instagram Stories. Modeled after Snapchat, Stories show up in a separate section at the top of the main Instagram news feed, and are only visible on your page for 24 hours. This is a great place to post lighter content meant to show off your personality, interests, or design details you come across spontaneously that you would like to share with your followers. You can always promote a Story to become part of a Highlight, which are curated collections of Instagram Stories available at all times on your profile, and serve as great opportunities to build a narrative around specific projects, sources of inspiration, or any other themed content you would like to showcase. Experts expect short-form content like Instagram Stories to become increasingly popular, as users’ attention spans become shorter.
One more important thing to note is that as of May 19, 2020, Instagram and Facebook launched an e-commerce feature that allows users to buy products directly from the platforms. This will be discussed in more detail in the Facebook description.
Pinterest Basics and Tips
Pinterest is a close second to Instagram in the ranking of most important social media platforms for interior designers. One of its greatest benefits is that it acts not only as a social media platform for marketing your business and interacting with your network, but also as an electronic file cabinet for keeping and sharing your design inspirations. The site allows you to easily assemble digital mood boards, traditional staples in the interior designer’s toolbox, which you can post publicly or share directly with contacts of your choosing. Other popular content on Pinterest are infographics and step-by-step photo guides, similar to “how-to” videos interior designers would create for YouTube, but in still-photo form.
Recognizing that people use Pinterest when they are in research and buying mode, Pinterest has now partnered with Shopify, adding an e-commerce component to the site. While not necessary to maximize your potential gain by using Pinterest, paying for a business account will provide access to analytics that help identify your target audience. It also allows for sharing promo pins and “rich” pins that can have longer descriptions than regular pins.
Keep in mind that providing exclusive content is part of successfully using Pinterest to promote your business, so be thoughtful about which images you post on one social media platform versus another. Using Pinterest effectively for business requires an average of 11 pins per day, making it one of the more labor-intensive initiatives. Use meaningful keywords and create multiple pins around one idea to maximize SEO.
Facebook Basics and Tips
(Chart from the Pew Research Center study on social media usage, published April 2019)
Facebook is still a useful place to build a presence for your interior design business. According to the Pew Center for Research, 69 percent of adults say they use the platform. One of the advantages of Facebook is that it allows users to post a variety of content. You can share photos, links to articles, and repost other users’ content. Facebook is less labor intensive than most other social media platforms, as recent studies show that posting 1-2 times per week is adequate to maintain a following. Facebook users are looking for quality over quantity. In fact, according to a Hubspot study companies that post much more than 1-5 times a month on Facebook saw their engagement decline by 60 percent. More time should be devoted to engaging with your followers. Reply to comments on your own Facebook page in addition to following your followers, liking their photos, and commenting on their content as well.
Facebook also has a feature that allows you to create a group, which if nurtured, can become a community of people who follow you and appreciate your work, driving organic growth. Facebook’s new e-commerce function, mentioned above, makes it easy for members of your Facebook group to purchase your interior design services or products. Facebook also has a robust paid advertising platform that makes it easy for interior designers to reach their desired target audience by building a precise avatar with a multitude of descriptors. With so many free ways to use social media for advertising and brand building, any kind of paid advertising lacks appeal, no matter how strong the offering.
YouTube Basics and Tips
YouTube is still a powerful social media platform for which interior designers should at least consider developing a strategy. According to the Pew Center study, it is the only online platform that exceeded Facebook’s reach with 73 percent of adults reporting that they visit the site for content consumption. However, building a following is difficult, and you will be competing with more than 50 million content creators active on the platform. On the upside, opening a brand account is free and comes with analytics that will show you how many views each video gets, the demographics of viewers, and how engaged users are with the content via sharing and comments.
The content of the videos you post on YouTube can be anything from how you put together a mood board to a quick tour of your latest project site (provided your client approves). Another popular format are instructional, “how-to” videos, where you can offer viewers design tips, home renovation advice, and any other expert knowledge your target audience would be interested in learning about. Youtube videos can be longer and more in-depth than the videos you might post on Instagram, for example, which should be limited to a short format. One of the most popular interior designer companies on Youtube is Studio McGee, who post a fun and engaging mix of home tours, design makeover videos, and an occasional peek behind the scenes into their offices and specific elements of their design process.
For interior designers, maintaining a Youtube channel is most effective when used alongside other social media channels that can help drive traffic to your Youtube page. Otherwise, your channel will easily get lost in the shuffle. This multi-channel strategy also eases constraints on your time and resources, since you will be using it as a compliment to your other channels rather than focusing on building a unique Youtube following.
Other social media sites, like LinkedIn and Twitter, are not worthy of a meaningful concentration of your efforts, but establishing a landing page for your business on these sites is a good way to appear professional and make your contact information more widely available. LinkedIn is generally used to post jobs, company information, and professional content. Twitter is mainly used to post short-form prose, news, and to a lesser extent, pictures and gifs. Neither are designed to highlight visual representation, but can still offer value as a portal to share basic company information and connect with other designers in the industry. A simple home page with a link to your website can be enough to satisfy people that are using these channels to find interior designers, or you, specifically.
A Surprising Change in 2020
For the most part, a smart social media strategy for interior designers has remained relatively the same from 2019. However, rising star, Houzz, has taken a troubling turn into choppy waters. Houzz is a website that was created to connect homeowners with architects and interior designers. Designers can create a profile and portfolio on the site, where interested customers can connect with them. Houzz has an e-commerce element as well, similar to Wayfair. While it is not a social media platform, per se, Houzz does have the ability to function in a similar way to Pinterest, for example. Designers have to pay to have a profile on the site. It would perhaps be worth doing so as this platform currently has more than 35 million active users; however, the company has recently been in the news for laying off 155 employees, cutting executive salaries and changing user privacy policies to take ownership of designers’ photos. While Wall Street watchers had been expecting an IPO for the company in 2020, Techcrunch has doubts about its future, making it a risky site to spend time and money on building a presence.
While 2020 has been unpredictable in so many ways thus far, interior designers can expect social media to be an important part of their business plan for a very long time. One thing we learned during the COVID-19 crisis, is the importance of reaching out to your community to show you care, offer support, and even ask for help, if you need it. One of the respondents to Design Manager’s April 20, 2020 COVID-19 client survey shared about their time in quarantine,
“I took the opportunity to reach out to all of my clients, both present and past, just to check in with them. It was nice hearing back from them of how much they appreciated me doing that and what was happening in their world during this time. It was great connecting with them on a personal level."
There’s no easier way to connect with your network than using social media. While it may not make sense to invest time in having a presence on every platform out there, research the platforms that are most visible to your target audience, and go from there. While each platform requires a nuanced strategy for success, once you find the right platforms, the process of finding and engaging your community will be fun and satisfying, both personally and professionally.
Remember, if you make the required amount of effort, like posting thoughtfully curated content on a regular basis, using high quality photography, and engaging with your followers and other community members, social media will give your brand the opportunity to reach a world-wide audience and your network should increase in number and quality. The best part of all, becoming an influential member of the social media world is all about sweat equity, making quality connections and helping to keep cash flow moving in the right direction!