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English: An example of an automated online assistant. Further information is found in the Automated online assistant article in Wikipedia. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

If you target the general public as an interior designer then you MUST have a facebook page for your business.

In previous posts I’ve wittered on about Twitter and given a few pointers on improving web sites. However I cannot stress the importance of Facebook to interior designers. It’s quite an important marketing channel now and it will become increasing important over time as it becomes more prevalent throughout the lives of your customers.

Let’s start off by trying to work out if you need to do something for your interior design business on facebook. Are your clients mostly businesses like restaurants or commercial offices? Are your residential clients technology averse? If the answer to these is YES then the ‘market segments’ (types of customers) you are targeting will probably be out of reach by Facebook. However that still leaves an awful lot of people who can potentially view communications about your company on facebook.

Click To Read More Interior Design Articles

Click To Read More Interior Design Articles

You say, “Facebook is just glorified email, right? I can’t see how Facebook is a professional communications channel for my business.”

Well, people do use facebook for what could otherwise be achieved by email, that’s certainly true. But it’s a whole lot more than that. Facebook can be a proxy for a web site, it can be a customer service platform, it can be a portfolio showcase, it can be a design blog, and so the list goes on. It’s more than email, in that email is really a one to one type communication and it’s largely controlled by the initiator which, in the case of an email marketing campaign, is you. Facebook is a web of interacting ‘communities’ engaging in mass digital conversations.

But the world is changing away from the email we’ve all mostly got used to. People want information when they want it. They don’t want it when you want to give it to them. And they want it now. And that means immediately not tomorrow.

So let’s go back to your beautifully crafted email communication offering your services. It looks great and you were convinced into doing it because it is so cheap to do compared to paper mailshots, right? You send it out but…oh what a shame, the client’s project has just started with a competitor! If only you were quicker. Or maybe they will be starting their project in 6 months time and might mislay your email in the meantime. Maybe, as is more likely the case, they will treat your email with disdain and bin it without even reading it. So an ’email-shot’ was cheap to do but it cost you your time and it maybe wasn’t effective.

So instead, already having your design service offering and a online portfolio might have initiated that first contact towards winning the business. And totally new potential clients might have found your company facebook page because you write a blog with interesting content about home interior design issues and they discovered it through searching on google.

All well and good, but isn’t that a web site?

Yes, sort of! but there’s more. A  blog is the first element of interactivity over and above a regualr website. It allows potential customers to comment to you and each other about what they think about the issues you are raising in your interior design related posts. That buzz you create in digital communities creates your brand awareness.

But people might complain and everyone will see it? Well yes that’s true but you should have done it right in the first place. This gives you a second chance to rectify the problem and to show people that customer service is important to you. You get the chance to stop people complaining about you when you are not there to influence it.

Writing a blog from within Facebook is free. Hosting your digital portfolio on Facebook can be free to do. Creating a Facebook page for your business is free. Compare that cost with the cost of doing it on your web site.

Oh and there’s another thing. Have you noticed those flashy Blackberry mobile/cell phones and Nokia equivalents? I’m sure you have. They are becoming more and more common. People are using them for all sorts of communications and soon they will be using them to do their research (eg to find an interior designer) on google much more than they are now. So you’ve just invested let’s say £$10,000 on a cool new web site. Fantastic. However. First of all you probably cynically or intentionally forgot to put a blog on there (and even if you did you probably won’t keep up writing it for too long) and secondly I’ll bet if you borrow someone’s Blackberry and try to look at your new site 0n it then it will look awful. Great showcase for your business?…not.

So you’ve spent all this money on a web site. But have you tried typing “Interior Designer” into google and seeing where you rank. Probably not that highly. So how are people going to find you? Well you could spend more on SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) but that’s a whole new and expensive ballgame so let’s not go there right now. Let’s do the effective and free stuff first.

Well once you built your network on facebook you will find people discovering your site inadvertently though your connections. For example Facebook will automatically tell a friend-of-a-friend that the friend is a fan of you, yes you the interior designer. So when the friend-of-a-friend is contemplating looking for an interior designer they discover that you have done a great job for one of their friends. It really is informal networking and digital PR, the sort that you used to do face to face and the sort that you used to pay for to get coverage in magazines.

So look. I’m not saying you can build an interior design business based on Facebook networks. What I’m saying is that it is a potentially cheap, new and effective marketing channel. Use it alongside your traditional methods that have already been shown to work.

And that’s another thing. With digital marketing you can see the metrics. When you placed an ad in a magazine you had no idea how many people saw it. all you had at best was an over-inflated circulation figure. You can now count the clicks. You can count where the clickers came from and you can track where the clickers clicked to. Be warned I’m watching you! (Digitally of course!)

So  Interior Designers how do you correctly use facebook?

Here’s 4 ways to get you started.

1. Create a vanity url, a business page and make sure that someone can see the ‘fan’ functionality.

2. Either write a blog in facebook or get a free facebook application to copy in the content of your blog to facebook.

3. Use one of the free applciations to add extra info about your company.

4. Build your network. Friends, family, colleagues, clients – the bigger nework, the better.

5 thoughts on “Interior Designers – Facebook & 4 Ways To Correctly Use It

  1. I really like this article…very useful information…would like to implement it soon….Look out………..thanks a lot

    Like

  2. So…This is June 2010. Since January what will be your progress report. I understand you are writing blog regularly. Are you satisfied with a traffic through your Facebook business page? Have you got at list one customer from (how many?) clicks? Your article are very good, I mean it.
    But, sometimes theory and practice…. you know.
    Thanks. Tatiana Jones

    Like

  3. Pingback: The Business Bible For Interior Designers « KOTHEA The Fabric Blog

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