Stay consistent, focus on engagement and interaction and be smart with hashtags. That was some of the sage advice about social media offered by a panel of interior designers during the Monday Keynote seminar at spring High Point Market.
Jennifer Quail, editor in chief of i+D Magazine moderated the session, which featured designers Justina Blakeney, Courtney McLeod, Bria Hammel and Lance Jackson. Though the event was about social media, panelists agreed that Instagram is the best platform for interior designers.
The event focused on four key areas of Instagram—time, use of hashtags, Instagram stories and outsourcing social media work.
Time. Panelists explained that they spend different amounts of time using social media in the morning and evenings, with the average time coming in at an hour and a half per day. Some post once a day, and some post a few times, but all panelists said they use regular Instagram posts as a portfolio for their own work, and Instagram Stories for live action content.
They also all agreed that the way they use Instagram most is to find inspiration. “Using Instagram is integral to business—and it’s not just about posting stuff yourself and seeing what other are doing, it’s about interacting with others,” Courtney said. “As for how much time you spend with it, it’s all about the mindset. Think of it less like a task you have to do and more like a strategy.”
Hashtags. How do you know if you’re using too many hashtags or not enough? It was agreed that using too many hashtags looks like you’re trying too hard, and it should be avoided. Bria said designers should use their Instagram business accounts to see how hashtags affect traffic to your page.
Justina added that hashtags are a great way to discover people, and she uses them for community building. “Community building is a smarter way to use hashtags,” Justina says. “And if you become the ‘founder’ of a hashtag, that can be extremely beneficial when it comes to people finding you. You should add hashtags, but if you use too many it no longer feels genuine.
Instagram Stories. Lance said Stories have worked great for him, and he’s even starting with Instagram Live Stories, which he does every Sunday to promote his brand. The panelists agreed that the feed is primarily aspirational, and Stories are used for behind-the-scenes content “People want to see authenticity,” Lance said.
The designers also encouraged the audience to try new tools on Instagram. “Instagram will favor you if you try new things on there,” Justina said. “This could get you bumped into the discovery feed, which would really help your work be seen.”
Outsourcing. Unless you absolutely have to, do not outsource your social media work. That message was repeated over and over during this part of the session, as the panelists stressed the importance of authenticity. If you simply focus on the value add part of it and have others help you post, that’s easy, but not thoughtful.
Courtney pointed out that because interior designers do a lot of the posting themselves, they need to pick a platform. “You can’t be awesome on every platform, so you have to pick one,” she said. “And even then you can still get mental block. And if you really feel like you need help, you should get it, but use that as a last resort.”