Social media keeps changing. Can your brand keep up?
Depending on who you engage with online, you could have an entirely different impression of the Fall High Point Market than others do. Between the market-sponsored Instagram takeovers, the Design Influencers Tour, the Cool Girl’s Guide to High Point Market and many other efforts, the social media space is saturated with designers posting photos of their favorite finds at market and captioning them with their designated branded hashtags.
No one is quite on the same page — and that’s the point. Our feeds have become hyper-curated to our personal preferences. We are living in siloed digital worlds that make it difficult to measure what is “working,” especially when you are selling a high-ticket service like interior design or a product with a greater barrier of entry (e.g., needing to be a member of the trade to purchase directly). So, what to do? Here I want to explore a few of the issues I’ve been noticing about social media and discuss what we can do about them.
Creating the best content
Let’s talk first about Instagram best practices. The best thing you can do is create high-quality Reels with lots of video and trending audio. That’s content you can use on TikTok, as well. But this requires you to not only have the time and interest to predict trends or be an early adopter, but also to be adept at videography, lighting and editing — and comfortable being yourself on camera. If you’re a home furnishings brand, this means having the resources in-house to devote to this or paying to outsource it. It would also be helpful if you sold a product that was easily attainable at a big box store at a $35 price point. None of this applies to you? That’s OK. You’re not doomed. It is just important to recognize that “hacking the algorithm” is easiest if you fit those descriptors.
But good content is good content, even if it is not algorithmically rewarded right now with hearts, follows and comments. That could change at any time. Good content, as I define it, uses quality audio, visuals and copy that people perceive to be entertaining or useful. What can you do? Double down on the aspects of content creation that fit you best. That could mean still imagery, even though you are told it’s all about video now. If you can’t keep up with posting a daily video but you can post daily photos, then do what’s most sustainable for you. Remaining consistent is as important as the content itself and far more important than the trend.
The problem with chasing trends
By the time you’re chasing the trend on social media, it’s too late. The home furnishings industry is often behind when it comes to tech and social trends partially because most home products don’t lend themselves to a quick-changing zeitgeist the way fashion and beauty does. (People don’t buy new sofas as frequently as they do new shoes or lipstick.) That means we need to be looking at social media differently, making sure we are using influencers within the vertical, with the same goals as it pertains to audiences. To use an extreme example …
Is Kim Kardashian the right influencer for your brand?
It depends. If you’re selling a trendy retail product that is easy to attain and is in stock, then that could be a fantastic fit. But if your product is only available directly to retailers and designers, who cares if you have a Kardashian influencing her massive audience to buy your bar cart? The majority of her audience doesn’t have immediate, easy access to the product.
If words like quality, heritage and luxury are more in line with your brand, then you’ll want influencers who can speak about the product with authority. That means seasoned designers whose work speaks for itself, not necessarily trendy designers with the largest followings.
How algorithms are evolving
Have you noticed your follower growth is slowing? That’s OK! The way social media used to work was that you’d curate who you followed based on the content you liked, and users were more inclined to click the “Follow” button. As a brand, chasing followers and looking at that follower count was a pretty high priority. Things are evolving. Today, users trust the algorithms to learn their preferences and bring them content they will like through recommendations. This makes users less inclined to click that “Follow” button. Long before this algorithm adjustment, tracking followers, even if the number was going up, was becoming less important than tracking the people who were actually engaging regularly with your content. That metric tells us a lot more.
Depending on your product, your audience, their behavior online and their buying habits, it may not be necessary to be on the cutting edge all the time. There are even instances when being too trendy can alienate core parts of your audience. The reverse can also be true.
There is not a one-size-fits-all model for digital marketing success. It’s important to know your brand and to be able to communicate it well to people who use the latest technological tools in ways that make sense for your brand. It’s OK to skip the ones that don’t.
Courtney Porter is a designer, author, host and media director. She specializes in seamlessly bringing interior designers, architects, furniture manufacturers and showrooms’ physical products and services into the digital world. She is co-author of “Green Interior Design: The Guide to Sustainable High Style” with Lori Dennis. Porter also is a host and producer of design shows. You may have caught her on “Behind the Bar,” interviewing your favorite celebrity designers or sharing her favorite decor finds on the live sales network Lit Live.