For more than three years now, I’ve been writing about Boston-area designers, products and events on DesignBoston. Promoting great people and their work is a great passion of mine, but I feel I can do more for them (and you) by talking about the best social media tools designers – whether architects, interior, or product – can use to help promote their own businesses.
Design engages several senses, but none more than the visual. Whether your work is buildings, rooms, chairs or devices, sharing photos of your work is a great – and easy – way to begin engaging with an active, interested audience. With over 40 million users, Flickr is by far the most popular photo-sharing service, but there are a variety of sites available.
On each of these sites, you can add titles, descriptions, and tags which will help your photos be found by people searching for similar content. For instance, the top result on Google image search for “Paul McCobb” isn’t from Wikipedia, Ebay or some online retailer, but from Norfolk, VA-based graphic designer Amber Karnes, who is very active on Flickr (and a big fan of Mid-Century Modern furniture in her home).
Like photo-sharing sites, video let’s you showcase the visual attributes of your work, but adds motion and sound to the mix for an even richer experience. The largest video community, by far, is YouTube, but Vimeo, Viddler, and Blip.tv each have beautiful players, intuitive controls, and growing communities.
Or, you can use a service like Tubemogul and add your video to all of the sites. This way, your video is everywhere eyeballs are, giving you greater chances of connecting with someone looking for what you’re offering.
Blogs have been around for years now, but I am still regularly asked about why someone needs to have one. Well, first, it gives you a place to tell your story – share your expertise about your field, show why you’re different than other designers. It also gives you a place to share the photos and videos you’re uploading. And the Search Engine Optimization benefits of blogs are outrageous; the more regularly updated, on-topic content your produce, but better your site will appear in search engine results.
For both this site and DesignBoston, I use WordPress. I like the customization options available with WordPress, and the fact the software is a free download – many web hosts have a one-button install for it, which makes it an easy choice. There are thousands of themes to choose from, or you (or a web designer) can create your own.
Boston-area designer D Scale uses a blog to promote products that they either make or sell, and both photos and videos are used to great success. I would suggest that D Scale does less “look at this piece” and perhaps describe different situations — small space? blending styles? — and suggest how a piece or two might solve that situation.
Twitter is where, more than any other place, you reveal your human side. Twitter takes all that makes up typical social networks — the profiles, the information, the photos and videos — and strips it away to just an avatar, a brief bio, and an input field. People follow you now for your fame or notoriety (although that may happen) but for what you offer them.
There are countless books and websites that you can read to learn how to best use Twitter. My advice: be yourself. If you’re excited about a new design, let everyone know. If you’ve hit a wall, it’s good to share that, too. And be sure to connect with those that you find interesting, so you don’t feel like you’re just shouting into the ether.
Facebook Fan Pages
Having just passed 350 Million users, Facebook is the social networking community to be on, and if you’re a designer, a Fan Page is what you want. With a Facebook Fan Page, you can create the space on Facebook where both you and your fans can share information, links, photos and more.
Boston-based colorTHEORY have a great Fan Page. Every day, they post an “Inspiration Room of the Day”, as well as photos of projects as they’re completed. colorTHEORY’s fans vote on and leave comments, noting what they do and don’t like about a photo, piece or project.
Of course, I would suggest an integrated strategy using all of these social media tools, as opposed to focusing on just one. If you would like to discuss ways to integrate social media into your overall marketing strategy, please don’t hesitate to give me a shout.