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If You MUST Be On Social Media, Tell A Story!

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Interior Designers - We were taught how to use social media, wrong.

In this blog, we will explore the significance of storytelling through social media, drawing inspiration from the success of HGTV shows and how you can get social media right! Get ready to revolutionize your brand and take your interior design journey to new heights!

First off, let's set the record straight...

Your design business does NOT NEED to be on social media.

A "like" or a "Heart" from a random person on the other side of the planet will never grow or impact your design business.

The truth is, the reason you are on social media AT ALL, is because marketing companies benefit from selling you marketing services. They tell you that you MUST do this, or you MUST do that. So, you give it a try, and when it becomes too hard, or you fail at it...You hire them. It's a simple strategy on their part.

The fact is, you would get more business by putting up a $20 yard sign in front of your existing projects, and gain repeat business within neighborhoods that you are already familiar with and who are already paying you. But that is covered in another blog (Why Interior Designers Shouldn't Ignore Yard Signs: Debunking 5 Myths)

If you MUST be on social media...You should be "telling a story".

If you were to pull up 99.999% of Interior Designer social media accounts, what you will find is:

1. Professionally photographed finished product images

2. Trending "TikTok" posts

3. Weird videos of the designers face, awkwardly in screen while giving a walk thru

4. Close up images of staged compositions

5. Drunken photos and videos of their personal life

So, here's a question...

Why does ANY of that matter to your client? What have they learned from scrolling through your social media feed by watching that type of content?

Now, let's take a look at the typical show format for an HGTV, BRAVO, Design Network or Magnolia design television episode...

1. Each show starts with a highlight about the home owner - They give us context and a person that we can relate to (better if there is a heart felt story to go along with it).

2. They highlight the personality of the designer - They frame the designer as our host and guide, introducing us to the client and the project.

3. Overview of the project - The designer shares an overview of the project, identifying the clients needs and wishes, and foreshadows some of the design intent and insights into their design thinking.

4. They focus on the process - The heart of the show is focused on the process. They highlight the contractors and the methods of demo and construction, personalities characters, etc. The entire time, the designer serves as an expert and guide, narrating the demo and construction process. This further establishes them as the expert.

5. Problem Resolution - This is the most important factor, and what propels the designer into a "Trusted Authority". Each show highlights a problem that they encounter (damage to the structure, a fractured foundation, a pipe that's off centered, etc.). We see the designer's reaction, then we see how they work with their team to resolve the issue. This establishes the designer as the "Trusted Authority". It conveys to the client that this is the go-to-person for helping them get past the hurdles that would have cost the home owner excessive time and money.

6. The Big Reveal - By the end of the show, they have taken us on a journey, and now it's time to see how it all came together. This is the "Big Reveal". This shows us the completed work, and how happy the client was with the results. They usually capture a quick quote and story from the home owner about how pleased they were with the process and the outcome. This solidifies the designer as the "Hero".

Social Media IS Your Broadcasting Network

Now, I'm sorry to break this to you, but you may never get your own TV show (I hope you do, But the fact is, you may not). But fortunately for you, you do have Facebook, TikTok, Instagram, YouTube, etc. This IS your own personal "broadcasting network". Even better, because you're not limited by sponsors, contracts or network rules. So, you too could be leveraging your social network to use these same Hollywood show formats to help educate your clients and feature yourself as the design expert in your market.

All you need is a tripod, gimble, smartphone and a Bluetooth microphone, and you could be producing your own content, and telling your own design stories.

Unfortunately, 99.999% of designers skip right to the end, and higher a photographer to only capture the final step. And even with that, you leave out the reaction from their clients.

Think about that...

How many designer's social media profiles even feature the client? Realtors show client testimonials. But scroll through designer's profiles...ZERO.

Understanding the Power of Social Media

Here are some fun facts about social media that you should know:

1. The most used social media platform in the world is Facebook, with 2.9 million monthly active users across the world - Facebook’s reign continues into 2023, but it doesn’t stand alone. YouTube is hot on its heels, clocking in with 2.5 million monthly active users.

2. The most engaging type of content on social media is short-form videos -

Both brevity and authenticity are winning the day on social media, with short-form videos—typically less than a minute in length—capturing the attention of 66% of consumers.

3. The most common way people access social media is a mobile device - It comes as no surprise that the majority of people are tapping into social media through their mobile devices, but the number itself might raise some eyebrows: 99% use a tablet or smartphone to connect to social media, while 78% do so exclusively from their phones.

4. Shareable Video Content - 51% of people are more likely to share videos with friends and family over any other content type.

Dispelling Social Media Myths:

Let's be clear, social media is a business unto itself. The platforms sell advertising, based on the content you create and the amount of time people spend on the platforms. Marketers have leveraged this to suck money out of business owners and people aspiring to be influencers. The truth is, the only people that make millions and billions, are the platforms and the very few people that have learned to navigate the system. So, let's dispel some myths...

1. Myth: You must post at certain times and regularly.

Reality: No one cares. Just consider this...How often are your hunkered over your phone at 8:33am EST waiting for a person you follow to post at their regular time? Actually, when have you ever done this? The truth is, this is both a carry over from television programing and another way for marketers to trap you into a content schedule that you can't keep up with. In fact, most interior designers will say that their clients search their social media to verify and validate the designers style and capability. So, ask yourself..."Why does the date and time of your post matter?"

2. Myth: Likes and Engagement matter.

Reality: Again, why does this matter? If you are basically using your social media accounts as a free, current and fun way of displaying your portfolio...Then, why do the Likes and Hearts from your followers matter? The truth is, Likes and reactions were designed by the social platforms to keep people on social platforms longer. They aren't even there for you.

3. Myth: You should be up to date on the latest Viral Trends.

Reality: This is just social media and marketers attempt to rope you into more spending. The fact is, the latest Viral Trend does not help you build credibility or establish you as a "Trusted Authority". In most cases, they just make you look a little foolish.

4. Myth: You should post photos of your finished product.

Reality: First off, your photos don't "teach" your audience anything. The truth is, by posting your photos, most people are able to mindlessly scroll through beautiful photos. Second, people simply steal your images for other purposes. If you are going to post your photos as an online portfolio, you should post a few and then redirect viewers to your own website to "View More". The goal of social media should be to convert people over to your own website, not stay on social media.

5. Myth: Using Social Media to Become an Influencer.

Reality: We have heard that we should "tag" brands, to get on their radar, with the possibility of becoming an ambassador, or striking a licensing deal. Truth is, most brands don't even have influencer programs. Second, when it comes to licensing deals, most brands are horrible at crafting licensing deals. The only real winners of major licensing deals are the Hollywood celebrities that have brought in powerhouse lawyers to negotiate on their behalf. Of the designers with licensing deals, most are left scratching their heads wondering if they did something wrong. The truth is, in order to land a licensing deal, you must already be an established brand yourself, or you must have a product that you are willing to "license" to an existing brand. And the best way to do that, isn't by tagging social media posts, but by hiring an attorney and a licensing agent to approach and negotiate a deal for you.

Let's Get Back to What Matters...You and Your Business

Monday through Friday, you are a business owner. Your focus should be on establishing your business, replicating your standard operating procedures, scaling if you are wanting to go that path, building your brand within your local market, and considering how you might exit your business (whether early or later).

A TikTok "heart" from Switzerland might make you feel good. But it isn't going to buy you a cup of coffee.

If you MUST be on social media, it should be a business decision, that helps propel your sales and brand.

Your social media accounts should NOT be your portfolio. Your website should be. And even that, should ONLY be used to compel a potential client to schedule you for a consult, or appointment.

Your social content, should do a few things:

1. Learn about you - Your content should be telling a story. The story that interior designers should be telling is a simple story, about how you have a creative eye for design, you have the team to solve the problems that may come along the way, and that you are the trusted expert to help them create the dream that they can not create themselves.

2. Compel viewers to Share - When people discover your content, they should learn something that THEY, or someone they know, might want to know more about.

3. Compel viewers to Contact You - Your content should be designed for people to be compelled to contact you. If you are not creating content that ultimately leads to a person contacting you for your services, then you are simply wasting time on social media.

So, if you MUST be on social media...You should be telling a "story".

As interior designers, you have a very unique opportunity to share a story of transformation and that evokes feelings of emotions and creates spaces where people and families can seek comfort, solace and become re-energized. In a very short amount of time, you are able to transition an environment and create a narrative to a story that truly sets you apart and establishes you as an expert and in some cases, a hero.

And I understand, when you look at other designers social profiles, you see the same trends and techniques, and you both want to fit in, and you don't want to be left out. It's easy to assume that "they" must know better than you.

But here's the truth.

You are an artist. You paint with fabrics, furniture, decor, rooms and environments. You can create moods and feelings with your craft. As an artist, is it your goal to "fit in"? Or is it your goal to create?

I am asking you to step outside the norm. Be the artist and the creative that you are. Tell your story. And document the projects, transformations and the challenges you overcame to design the projects, homes and lives that you've touched.

You do NOT need a network, publication or a marketer to profit off of your talents and abilities.

You simply need to tell your story.


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🎧 Listening Time: 24 minutes 46 seconds

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