In 2010, Instagram emerged on the social media scene and it’s been a popular addition to other visually oriented options like Pinterest. So popular, in fact, that Facebook bought the site. In 2018, Instagram monthly active users reached the one billion mark, up from 800 million in 2017, according to Statista. While not all of these users may be interested in design ideas, it’s likely that a healthy percentage of them are. According to Pew Research data, Instagram users are:
If you’re looking to reach potential customers in these demographics, Instagram can be a great way to visually share design tips, trends, and products.
“Instagram is the perfect platform for creatives and designers, particularly as they grow their businesses,” says Rachel Ford, president and cofounder of Ford Media Lab, a content marketing and social media agency in Brooklyn, New York.
“With its visual nature, it is the ideal platform for showcasing one’s work and becoming a source of shareable inspiration.”
Think Like a Designer
Ford recommends that designers and builders treat their Instagram grids as they would their professional portfolios. “Make sure everything you showcase on Instagram is as intentional as the spaces you curate,” she says. “Consider color, tone, saturation, texture, etc. Your signature design aesthetic is the ideal place to start.”
Ford also recommends using apps like A Color Story to help consistently filter and tone images. Most of these apps offer the ability to preview posts as they would appear before posting.
Other Useful Apps:
Adobe Spark: used to quick create social graphics and videos
Unfold: offers templates for telling digital stories
VSCO: a photo editing tool with preset filters
Hyperlapse: used to turn still images into motion shots
Related Content: An Interior Designer Shares How Instagram Boosted Her Business
Network Like a Business Owner
Instagram is also a great networking platform. Ford encourages designers and builders to invite participation with your work. “We advise our clients to turn their own customers into influencers,” Ford says. “To do this, simply create something people want to share and talk about on social media.” Ford calls these “Instagram-able moments.” According to Ford, most designers are already creating these moments. “The missing piece is to attract people and compel them to share.”
Account Manager at Power Digital Marketing Kylie Carrasco also recommends that designers take advantage of Instagram and believes the platform and the profession make the perfect pair. “Interior design is a form of visual arts, so it makes sense for the most visual social media channel on the Internet to play a major role in an interior design firm’s marketing strategy,” she says.
Carrasco offers a couple of tips for using Instagram most effectively, one of which is to take advantage of Instagram stories. According to Carrasco, Instagram stories are a significant part of positive user experience and an essential piece of a successful Instagram marketing strategy.
She recommends that designers and builders rely on tactics like the poll or question feature to create a direct line of communication between yourself and audience. The “swipe up” functionality provides an opportunity to directly link to a project, portfolio or promotion. “Not only are they great ways to increase engagement, bu they’re also a great way to receive feedback from your audience and visually adapt your content to align with what they’re seeking,” she says.
Hashtags may seem like a no-brainer tactic for Instagram, but Carrasco says they may under-utilized or used ineffectively. Hashtags are so important, in fact, that Instagram recently rolled out a “follow a hashtag” feature prompting more accounts to use hashtags to their advantage. “The proper use of hashtags can support your marketing strategy and drive more users to your account,” says Carrasco.
She recommends that designers do their research with hashtags and follow trending hashtags like #entertainingathome or #neutralpalette and then include those same hashtags in their own posts. Doing so provides the opportunity to have your posts broadcast to a larger audience increasing reach and engagement.
Create Transparency with Behind-the-Scenes Content
Instagram consultant Emelina Spinelli recommends that designers not just show their work but tell the story behind their work. “In each Instagram post, explain the design process behind the work. Share what the client wanted and how you arrived at the end result. Captions are a terrific way to engage an audience and an easy way to begin generating interest for your work in an organic natural way without being salesy,” she says.
Stories, she says, are a great way for prospective customers to get to know you better and learn how to work with you. She recommends creating a story or highlight services—called a portfolio. Here, she says, you could post 6-12 photos and videos of your best work. “A video walking around through the residence or space you designed will perform the best to literally show potential clients and fans what it’s like to work with you and your style. If you narrate the video, this adds a personal touch and helps people trust you more.”
Use Social to Be Social
Instagram, like any social media channel, works best when users use it to actually be social. It’s not just about posting your photos and videos. It’s about interacting in meaningful ways with others.
“There’s nothing less encouraging than loving someone’s work and seeing they never respond to a comment,” says Spinelli. “Respond to comments to encourage your community to visit, leave their two cents, engage with you and your brand, and come back for more when you share a new post.”
In addition, Spinelli recommends finding and connecting with larger interior design influencer accounts, and responding to comments in their feeds. “These influencers have already created a community interested in interior design. By responding to their comments, you can build interest in your work and gain additional followers and credibility.” Ford also points out that following other designers will prompt Instagram’s algorithm to learn to suggest your account to a similar audience.”
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