Social Media and Its Impact on Your Business

I am frequently asked questions about social media and how to integrate it better into one's business. These days, if you don't know what social media is, you are definitely not taking advantage of a great tool for getting you and your work MUCH more exposure. (This can relate to any company in any field, but since interior design is always on my brain, I'll tailor this post to someone in the interior design business.) To know what social media is and to use it effectively are two different things. Many designers have websites for their business and think that's enough. That's the problem…there is nothing driving people to that website. Unless someone is searching for your name specifically on google, they're not going to find your website and see your work. You have to bring people to your site…on a regular basis….to remind them of what you do and how well you do it! This is where social media comes into play.  Social media consists of different socially interactive sites that connect you with an audience as regularly as you like. The more you interact on a social media site, the more others will want to interact and connect with you.  The more you connect with your audience, the more your work and business get attention. The more your work and business get attention - the more successful you will be in your business! There are LOTS of social media platforms. You have to decide which one (or several) you like using the most, and then stick with it. The key here is CONSISTENCY. If you join Facebook, only to post your profile picture and that's it, chances are you won't get much notice to your business. You have to constantly be engaging on your social media to continue reminding people about what you are doing in your business. So what do I like to use? Here is a list of my favorite social media platforms for Interior Canvas. BLOG: If you like to write, a blog is a good place to start. It's a personal reflection of you and your musings. If people read it and connect with it, it's because they like your personality and what you have to say.  A blog is a great place to post pictures of your work, to show an "in-progress" job site, to share a funny story that happened this week, etc. The best part about it? To start a blog is FREE. If you're just starting a business, this is a great way to get your name and voice out there without the cost of an expensive website. (Blogspot and Wordpress are the most popular blog websites to start out on, but there are dozens of others that pop up every year). I use Wordpress and have been happy with its user-friendliness. However, blogs are not for everyone. They do take time to compose and edit. If you're constantly on the go and do not have a mid-twenties college grad working as your assistant (who could type a blog in their sleep), then a blog is probably not going to work for you. This is OK. There are others! PINTEREST: Pinterest is a virtual bulletin board that allows you to "pin" images for any category imaginable. You can download their "pinning" mechanism to your computer to allow you to pin images from anywhere on the web to your hard drive on your computer - and file them all on your account on the Pinterest website. I love pinterest. It's my favorite place to collect images that I think are inspiring, beautiful, creative and intriguing. It gives other people a chance to see what my tastes and preferences are. The key to Pinterest is to have a website or some other social media site to put in your "profile" section. If people see a pin of yours they like, they will inevidibly click through to your website or other site that is connected to your business, to learn more about you and what you do. I receive TONS of traffic from Pinterest. If I were a designer, I would "pin" all of my work that I had designed for my clients, and file it on my Pinterest site. Make sure to put all of your original curated photos in their own folder with your business name as the title of the folder. Also, make sure you put your name and business (again) in the comments under the photo before you pin it.  Yet another way for millions of people to see what I've done, and potentially get more followers (and hopefully clients) for my work! At Interior Canvas, I always "pin" my images from my articles on my website to my pinterest page. This also is a way to bring back traffic to my site, and thus get more notice to my articles, musings, etc. (So designers, make sure you have "pinned" all of your portfolio pictures on your website onto your pinterest account! It brings traffic directly back to your website, if other pinterest users click on the image to get more information about that photo). INSTAGRAM: Instagram can be viewed on your computer, but this social media platform is unique in that you can only upload pictures for your account from your phone. (Hence, you will need an instagram app for your phone.) Instagram has become quite popular in the interior design world. How cool to see what your favorite designer is doing (or where they are shopping that day for a client), get a behind the scenes look at an install they're in the middle of, or take a firsthand look at a new fabric combination they've put together.  I'm OBSESSED with Instagram. With instagram, the more personal - the better. There's nothing worse than following some major designer's instagram account to realize really quickly that their assistant is taking all of the pictures. (It's not that hard to tell people). Instagram should be a reflection of the person whose name is representing that account.  Make sure you put your website on your instagram profile, so that people can always link back to see all of your work on your website. (* Remember, the goal of social media is to always bring people back to your website.) TWITTER: I'll be honest. I'm not a big twitter person. I don't "tweet" spontaneously. I don't have conversations with other twitter users. It's just not my thing. But twitter does reach an audience that other social media platforms do not. So here's what I do. When I am on Pinterest, My Blog, or Instagram (my three personal favorite platforms), I use twitter simultaneously. Meaning, when I "pin" something on Pinterest, I tweet it out too (Pinterest allows you this option). When I have published a new article, I click on my twitter button to share via twitter. When I post a new picture on Instagram, I also share with twitter. It may sound redundant, but this doubles your number of looks and likes - I guarantee it! One other note, especially with twitter. If you want to drive even more traffic to your "tweet," make sure to "hashtag" key words that your tweet is about. Do not be obnoxious about it. No one wants to read a paragraph of hashtags (YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE OUT THERE). Instead, keep it simple. If you are tweeting a picture of a new sofa you just installed for a client, you might put in your tweet: "New sofa installed today! #sofa #interiordesign #furniture. Then, other users who may be searching under hashtags for all tweets that have the word "interior design" in them, would immediately find your tweet. (*Hashtags can also work for instagram and pinterest too). FACEBOOK: Facebook is probably the most familiar to people, as it's been around the longest. It's easy to invite people to "like" you page or become a friend to your personal account. Facebook also makes it easy for others to share your pictures, comment, tag others on your posts, and all of a sudden, have lots of people noticing what you're doing. Facebook can also be quirky with who can see your posts. They get even quirkier with businesses who have "pages" on Facebook. If you don't pay for ad space on Facebook, your "fans" do not always see your posts. I struggle with Facebook. I do share my articles on Facebook, because I know some of my audience is only on Facebook, and this is the best way to connect with them. But I also know that it doesn't always reach my "fans" and "friends", so I would not put my eggs all in the Facebook basket as far as social media reach is concerned.

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Obviously there are many more platforms out there that I didn't touch on. As I said before, you have to decide which one (or ones) you will use all of the time…and then stick with them.

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Oh, one other thing. If you are new to the social media world, you will notice people will use ACRONYMS a lot. You will find this strange, weird, and wonder where the dictionary is for all of these acronyms. I definitely will not list them all - and I certainly don't know them all, but here are a few popular ones - just so you can feel like you are "in the know":

-LOL (Laugh Out Loud)

TY (Thank You)

TTYL (Talk To You Later)

TIA (Thanks in Advance)

FWIW (For What it's Worth)

IDK (I Don't Know)

FYI (For Your Information)

JV (Joint Venture)

*And, hope you don't get this one, but I thought funny*

TTMA (Talk To My Attorney)

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Lots of information here, and so much more that I could tell you. But this will at least get you started! Good luck and put those social media sites to use!

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HAPPY MONDAY!

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