The following is blog post version of the presentation I gave at a recent installment of the Design Institute of Australia’s DIAlogue AM program. The topic of this session was ‘Social Engagement: Grow Your Brand Online’ and was intended to give some advice to designers on how to use social media platforms to market your products and services.
Presenting 13 Rules of Social Engagement…
#1 Get out more
It’s not called social media for nothing, so if you want to get involved, then you’ve got to get yourself to the party. This means putting some trousers on and heading out to get in amongst the action by signing up to some social media platforms to get you started.
There’s a huge selection of different social media platforms out there, each with their own self-proclaimed point of difference. The ones you see above are some of the more popular platforms. Some of them we just have a profile on and others we use more actively.
#2 Don’t spread yourself too thin
If you sign up to every social media platform under the sun and attempt to operate them properly, then you won’t have time to run a business as you’ll be spending all day and night tweeting, posting, tagging and pinning. So, pick two or three to be the main ones you’ll be active in.
What you choose depends on what best suits the graphic design service or product you’re offering. If you’re targeting a lot of corporate clients then LinkedIn is the best place to find them. Similarly, if your service is more visual, like a photographer, then maybe a Flickr or Instagram account might be more suitable.
#3 Make yourself attractive
Now that you’re at the party you’ve have to get noticed. You do this by making yourself appear attractive.
Just like in the real world, people notice what they find interesting and appealing. In the digital realm of social media, this is done through having good content.
By content I mean your posts, and tweets, the links to articles, vids, pictures, funnies and more that you put out through your social media platforms. This is what other social media users will see, it’s what represents you and what tells them if you’re worth liking, following and engaging with.
The following three rules are worth looking at when thinking about the kind of content you should be putting out there in order to use your social media platforms to market yourself as a designer.
#4 Project your personality
Just because it’s online doesn’t mean you can’t get across a bit of what you’re like. So if you think something is funny, fascinating or moving, then why not let that be known by putting it out via your social media platforms.
People want to work with people, so the more you can show personality the better. Be careful though. Remember this is your brand’s personality as well as your own so a bit of self-censorship doesn’t go a miss sometimes. See rule #10.
#5 Be relevant to your industry
It’s important that you show you know what you’re talking about, which means demonstrating knowledge, interests and appreciation of your industry.
If you go to a gallery launch you loved, see a piece or architecture that amazes you or find a fellow designer whose work blows you away then you should put it out there via your social media platforms.
This will show that you have passion in your work – a good attribute to have when attempting to convince people to engage your services as a designer.
#6 Show your own work
Don’t be afraid to toot your own horn a bit. The whole idea is to get someone to see what you can do.
Therefore, when you do something good, be it a new illustration you’ve done, a flashy looking website you’ve designed or an awesome photograph you’ve taken, put it out there. It will showcase your talents and hopefully attract potential clients to get you to do the same kind of thing for them.
This is the Yoke Pinterest page. It’s a good example of the kind of content that we put out there and how it can be categorised into the three rules outlined above. The folders ‘Yoke’, ‘Melbourne’ and ‘Awesome’ show our personality, including what we get up to in the studio, what we like and the city where we work and live.
Next there are several folders containing content that we’ve found covering different disciplines of design including digital, packaging, typography and product design. It shows a little of our personality still, but also demonstrates that we are up to date and aware of the industry we’re professing to be knowledgeable and capable in.
Finally, whenever we do work that we are proud of, we will put it out there. So our ‘Cool Ads’ folder contains the Suk-a-Bug web film we made, the ‘Graphic Design’ folder features the event invitations we made for NAB and our own website is showcased in the ‘Web Design’ folder.
Presenting Yoke’s top 5 bits of social media content, in ascending order.
#7 Don’t be old
This has nothing to do with your age as everyone is welcome on social media (one of the favourite people we follow on Twitter is Dennis Coble @DK_coble – check him out, he’s awesome).
What I’m referring to is the age of your content. One of social media’s best selling points is how instantaneous it is. People are always ravenous for new things they’ve not seen before.
So if you post a live feed of conference, or the first glimpse of a new product or hash tag comment from an event you’re at, then that’s interesting because it’s relevant and of the moment. If you post a link to ‘Charlie bit my finger’ then you’re just going to look and smell a bit musty.
#8 Image is everything
People like pictures. So wherever possible, it’s a good idea to put an image out with your content. Whether it’s a blog post, a point of view or just a ‘TFI Friday’ message, putting it out there with a relevant and interesting image will give it more impact. If you can create the image yourself then that’s even better.
This is an example of an image/graphic that our designer Matt made to go with a previous blog post that Salli wrote on the sue of social media in the marketing of HBO TV series True Blood. People seemed to like this image and it was retweeted and reposted quite a bit, which drove more people to the article, thus raising the profile of the studio.
You don’t want to be that person at the party who just talks about themselves all night. Social media means being social, so you need to communicate with the people around you on your selected platforms.
If you see someone post something interesting, impressive or thought-provoking then don’t be afraid to tell them. If someone asks a question you might be able to contribute to, then do it. And if you feel that way inclined then retweet, like, repost, share and pin. It’s a bit like when apes groom each other for fleas – if you want someone to pay you attention then you’ve got to give them some too.
#10 Separate business and pleasure
This is a bit of a touchy one, but if you’re going to out yourself out there as a business then it’s important that you remember to act business like. So, I’d suggest keeping your personal online profile separate from that of the business or service you are attempting to promote.
Say you have a few too many white wine spritzers down the local pub on Friday night and, for reasons known only to you at the time, launch into a bit of a Twitter rant on the way home. You need to remember that potential clients lurking about your social media platforms may see that.
So, to stop yourself from holding back from expressing yourself, which you should be able to do, make sure you’re doing it when it doesn’t have the potential to harm your business.
#11 Don’t spam
No one likes a spammer, so be careful that the output quantity of your content does not verge into this territory. Not sure if there is a definite amount on what is and isn’t spam levels.
Obviously, if your content is really good then you’ll get away with doing more of it before people start heading towards the ‘un- like, follow, approve’ buttons.
#12 Write a blog
I cannot stress this enough. If you are looking to push your graphic design services then start a blog.
Not only is it a place where your thoughts, opinions and insights on your industry can be given enough space to really carry weight, but it’s also a really good way to drive traffic to your site.
As everyone keeps saying in today’s SEO landscape, content is everything and Google will look kindly on sites producing new, relevant content. Your blog is your chance to do this.
This is an example of a previous blog post I wrote for our site on my experiences as the recent Melbourne AgIdeas 2013 Design Conference.
From the notes I scribbled down over the three days, I pulled together a bit of an overview on the event and then profiled six of the speakers who really impressed me. You can read it here.
Throughout the blog post we dropped in images we made, sourced from the speakers themselves or found on the net to make it visually interesting – see rule #8.
Once up on the site, we contacted the six designers whose presentations I’d written about to let them know they were featured. A few of them sent out a link to the blog through their social media platforms, which got us more exposure and visits.
#13 Come up with a cool idea
It’s not easy but, as with all good marketing, a cool idea goes off like a frog in a sock.
People are wary of spreading marketing messages or sales pitches through their social media platforms but will happily punt on a cool idea. If you can wrap up a promotional message in a cool idea then you are onto a winner.
It’s a modern take on the traditional advent calendar but instead of chocolates behind each door, you’ll find an advert or a piece of branded content.
We sent out the above Christmas card to everyone we knew on the 1st December leading them to the page. Then everyday in December users could come back and open the next door.
People seemed to like it. Above is a selection of the coverage it secured on blogs and design, marketing and advertising related sites, plus a selection of the many tweets people made about it.
It got us a huge rise in the traffic to our site as well as raising the profile of the studio – both things that you want to achieve through marketing via social media platforms.
Finally, it’s that old saying – you can take a horse to water but you can’t make it drink.
So, no matter how successful you are at attractive potential clients to your design services, make sure you can deliver when they come to you. Ensure your site is up to date and packed full of great looking work. Respond quickly and professionally to all enquiries and work hard to make sure you win their business.