A roomful of designers asked that question last week at a workshop on social media as a marketing tool. Some 40 guests gathered at the Needham showroom of K. Powers & Company, Decorative Carpets and Rugs, which generously sponsored the event, and found answers from two social networking pros: Kristin Bedard, formerly of The Boston Globe and boston.com and now with Forrester Research, and Leslie Fine of Leslie Fine Interiors of Boston and astute blogger.
Bedard broke down the various social media outlets by comparing them to more traditional tools. LinkedIn is the equivalent of your Rolodex, while Twitter is more akin to, say, a cocktail party. The abiding message for all platforms in this virtual world of communication is share, share, share. Share ideas, likes, dislikes, events, photos, and connections. And then be patient. It takes time to build up a following.
To be successful in the blogosphere, says Fine, you have to be consistent and keep your blog, Facebook site, and Twitter feed fresh and updated. Taking the leap to post a blog or start Tweeting means committing to contribute on a regular basis. “If I see that someone hasn’t posted to their blog or sent a Tweet in a month,” says Fine, “I stop following them.”
As for time, both Bedard and Fine agreed adding social media to your marketing plan needs time management. Set aside a couple of hours — spread through the week — to dedicate to this endeavor. When the time is up, walk away from the keyboard and get back to your core business — designing.
As red hot as social media seems to be, it is not the be-all end-all. Gail Ravgiala, editor of Design New England, addressed the role traditional media, such as shelter magazines, still play in drawing design aficionados to worthwhile projects. She outlined some simple steps for approaching a publication with a project for editorial consideration, explaining that the worlds of advertising and editorial are and should remain separate realms. “Getting published is a third party validation of your work,” she said, adding that it is the opposite of Twitter: It isn’t instantaneous, but you get a whole lot more than 140 characters worth of message.