Over the last 9 months, I have had the great privilege of getting to know a phenomenal group of women in the interior design world (and great gentleman too). We have shared design successes and frustrations, asked each other questions and gotten to know one another all via Twitter. Now, we read each other’s blogs and comment and sometimes we even blog about each other! We follow each other on Facebook, link on LinkedIn and generally support one another. I’m not sure where we are going or how it’s going to all turn out, but one thing I know is this – I am loving the ride.
I am the first to admit that I went into social media kicking and screaming. I am still a technophobe and require a great deal of technical handholding. I still can’t understand how anyone with any business sense would respect an app called Twitter. And I still can’t quite get my head around doing a Facebook fan page, not because I don’t see it’s value (I do), but because I have not yet figured out how to make the Facebook model work for me and for my business.
That being said, all of social media, and Twitter most of all, has been one of the most rewarding though frequently challenging experiences of my life. As a ‘mompreneur’, there are only so many hours in the day for work, family, networking, volunteering. While I do meet with people at events and have coffee, I am still limited. And frankly, some of that is by choice. I have a strict rule that I miss out on tucking in DD no more than 3 nights a week. And one of those night is reserved for date night with my husband (my secret to a great marriage – but that’s another post). But through social media, I can connect with other designers and people in our trade, while my daughter is sleeping and my clients are enjoying their own lives. The other challenge is that I have had to take everything I learned about marketing in business school 13 years ago and turn it upside down, sideways and backwards.
Simply said, the old rules don’t apply. There have been a few frustrations with that (well how else do we grow?), but many rewards. If your childhood dream was to write and for people to read what you write, start a blog. What could be more simple? And if you’re not sure how, well not too many people are going to follow your blog at the beginning. Just keep writing and you will figure it out. If you want to connect with a whole bunch of new and exciting people across the globe, join Twitter. If you want to see what your old buddies from high school are up to, join Facebook. And the list goes on…
But one admonition, you had better have patience and be prepared to be completely real, because that is what the new model entails. Success will not come over night and people will know when you’re blowing smoke or just in it for you. I remember being jealous of people with over 1,000 followers. Now I am one of them. I still can’t quite believe it and frankly would be supremely happy even if I didn’t have 1,000, because the relationships I have already built are so great. Of course, I welcome more!
1,000 followers did not happen over night. I believed in it. I was passionate about it. And I worked at it. Still do, still am and still do. Day in and day out building relationships, just like in real life. I know too many people who take a stab at social media, don’t even attempt to learn the rules, and vanish into thin air or worse yet crash and burn.
After nearly a year on Twitter and about 9 months blogging, I am just beginning to reap the ‘rewards’ of that hard work. I am in the process of putting together a Look Book for the Decorating Diva @DecoratingDiva, which is due any day now…aaaahhh… Never realized how hard it would be to choose from so many options!
I have gotten some speaking opportunities through various social media including blogging. I have gotten a client through LinkedIn. I have been able to generate some more traditional PR as an outgrowth of my involvement in social media. All that aside, I have learned so much from the people I have met from so many different walks of life. I wish I had a way to get all 1,000 + of us in one big room – it would be so much fun!
The absolute pinnacle so far has been the honor of being asked to be one of the designers to participate in IDzinechat (#IDzinechat). Leslie Carothers – @tkplesie suggested to Wanda – @WandaSHorton that we have a scheduled Twitter event – a Design Chat. Wanda did a magnificent job of arranging the first one. If I listed all of the great designers here I would inevitably miss someone and then feel horrible about it. But if you go to #IDzinechat you will find everyone and the great conversations.
Those of us asked to be the design experts, so to speak, were given instructions to answer questions and get to know what consumers wanted. There was to be no advertisement, no promotion of our own businesses. Imagine that? Free design advice based on consumer needs. We had a free-flowing conversation that knocked my socks off. I could hardly keep up with it. The hardest part was explaining the how to of interior design in 140 characters. We had experts in all areas from kitchen design to draperies to feng shui. The best part is we were all keeping it real.
It was simply unbelievable. The next day I was still floating on air. Still am.
Bottom line: I can’t wait to do it again.
Would love to hear about how you are keeping it real…