Updated April 8, 2021
One thing we’ve learned over the past year is that so many parts of our life can take place online. The interior design industry is no different: As the industry begins to adopt remote work and consultation, there is a growing need – and opportunity – for interior designers to successfully market their businesses online. And, surprise, a major part of that marketing will take place on social media.
For interior designers, social media is not only a place to virtually show their work and expand their 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 updated guide will help interior designers craft a savvy social media strategy for 2021. We’ll break it all down so that 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 to show up – and show up well – in front of their target audiences. It will also show how they can raise their stature social media communities by engaging with their followers, fellow colleagues, and any brands with which they want to associate.
So here’s to a happier, healthier, and more social 2021!
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The Top Social Media Platforms for Interior Designers
Instagram Basics and Tips
Instagram remains the most important social media site for interior designers. In fact, Design Manager recently published an article devoted to how designers can use Instagram to its fullest potential and which designers are doing it right.
- What is Instagram? It’s a digital platform where interior designers can post photos of their work, inspirational images, action shots or video clips from events, and text promoting upcoming events.
- How does it promote user interaction? It 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 also has 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. Note that technically speaking, the content you post in Instagram stories will not affect your ranking in Instagram's algorithm. However, if you want to build a loyal base of followers, Stories are important.
- Why invest your time in Stories? Stories are the perfect 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.
- What to post in Stories: The best Stories integrate some “behind-the scenes” shots that show viewers exactly how a designer works, plus an occasional lifestyle shot showing a designer in a social setting, which creates a more intimate connection between the view and the designer.
- How to make your Stories content live longer than 24 hours: 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 with Shopify that allows users to buy products directly from the platforms. This is a revolutionary change in how interior designers can use social media to grow their business and will be discussed in more detail in the Facebook description.
TikTok Basics and Tips
- What is TikTok? TikTok is a new addition to Design Manager’s social media strategy manual. Unlike Instagram, TikTok does not allow for static images and instead focuses entirely on videos.
- TikTok’s value-add: The platform offers some pretty advanced editing tools, allowing users to make sophisticated video clips. TikTok currently has over one billion global monthly active users, 63 percent of whom are between the ages of 10 and 29, which could be an important audience to cultivate for your future project pipeline.
- The downside of TikTok: At this point, TikTok should not be a large share of your social media efforts; however, this may change over the coming year and Design Manager will surely keep you informed on if this social media platform develops into a more polished and professional outlet. If you’re going to give it a try, be prepared to post three times a day to remain visible.
Pinterest Basics and Tips
- What is Pinterest? 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.
- What makes Pinterest special? 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. However, it will be interesting to see if TikTok takes over this aspect of Pinterest’s value-add, seeing how easy TikTok makes it to create how-to videos with clever cut and paste graphics.
- Pinterest and e-commerce: One thing that TikTok cannot currently compete with is Pinterest’s integration with Shopify. Recognizing that people use Pinterest when they are in research and buying mode, Pinterest has savvily partnered with Shopify, adding an e-commerce component to the site. While a business account is not necessary to increase your potential gain by using Pinterest, paying for a business account will provide access to Shopify plus 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.
- What to post on Pinterest: 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
It’s hard to deny that Facebook still reigns supreme when it comes to social media platforms. As of January 2021, it boasted 2.74 billion monthly active users. That doesn’t mean it is the best platform for interior designers to focus their time on, however.
- We know what Facebook is, but why is it worth your time: 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 2 posts containing quality content is adequate to maintain a following. Facebook users are looking for quality over quantity. In fact, according to a recent 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.
- The value of private Facebook groups: 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 e-commerce function: Facebook’s e-commerce function via Shopify, 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
- What is YouTube? YouTube is a video sharing site owned by Google where users can upload videos across a broad range of content, somewhat similar to the idea of TikTok; however YouTube is far more corporate friendly, and the Google tie-in helps bring greater visibility in Google searches. Most major corporations have a YouTube page, and it is increasingly being used by small businesses, too.
- Why Youtube is useful? YouTube is still a powerful social media platform for which interior designers should at least consider developing a strategy. According to a Sproutsocial.com study, YouTube is the most widely used social platform among US adults. 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.
- The pros and cons of YouTube for interior designers: 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.
- What to post on YouTube: 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 or TikTok, for example, which should be limited to a short format. One of the most watched interior designer companies on YouTube is Robeson Design, who post videos sharing their knowledge of design principles plus practical advice to help them create elements of Robeson’s looks at home by showing you where to shop and how to troubleshoot design challenges.
- How interior designers can use YouTube: 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.
While 2020 was an unpredictable in so many ways, 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, and that remains true for 2021 and years to come. 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!