Katie Treggiden talks to interior designer Rebecca Tucker about the importance of blogging for small businesses.
Way back in 2009 – three years is a long time in social media - Rick Burnes analysed website and blogging software provider HubSpot’s customer base and compared companies with blogs to those without. He found that those who have a blog, as well as a website, receive:
- 55% more visitors to their website – surely a good thing.
- 97% more links to their blog or website. This is vital, because it affects search-engine rankings.
- 434% more indexed pages. Indexed pages are those which a search engine has explored and stored. If a search engine hasn’t indexed a page, it won’t show up in search engine results. So again, it’s very important.
This was three years ago, and yet many businesses still don’t blog. So perhaps a better question is, why don’t businesses blog? I suspect the two main reasons are a) lack of time, and b) lack of confidence.
To provide some inspiration to overcome those hurdles, I interviewed two interior designers who have made the time and found the confidence to blog for their businesses: Heather Jenkinson, whose most valuable client found her through her interior design blog, and Rebecca Tucker of Suna Interior Design, who says, “I am a huge, if relatively recent, convert and I see [social media] as a major factor in our future marketing and promotion.”
First up, then, Rebecca. And watch this space for Heather’s interview.
What made you decide to start blogging?
Helen Fewster and I have been running Suna Interior Design for more than 10 years, and have owned it for nearly five. Over that time we’ve grown and developed the company, but our marketing was historically quite straightforward. We’d aim for press coverage and send simple mail-outs to potential clients and follow up with a call, but our efforts didn’t extend far beyond that. We’ve always prided ourselves on not needing to promote ourselves by paying for advertising, and have worked primarily through word of mouth and recommendation.
But in the past couple of years we’ve really expanded our horizons with our marketing. We still don’t advertise, but are finding better ways of spending our time and money more effectively. We made a big decision – especially for a small company – to take on an in-house PR and marketing manager. So we’re now launching our own magazine (issue 2 out soon!), and undergoing an extensive rebranding. This involves all aspects of our approach, not just our logo. We’ve also entered the realm of social media and the blogosphere.
We feel it’s a vital part of our marketing future. It’s more effective than costly one-off advertising in the trade press, and is absolutely the way forward. Plus, I really, really enjoy the process and the immediate interaction that social media encourages – you get a much more direct response than you ever will through more traditional methods. And a personal approach to our marketing really suits us as a small, boutique company.
What do you blog about?
We use the blog and social media primarily to promote our company, updating people in real time with any new work we have completed, or upcoming projects. We’ll also talk about any interesting aspects of the business, like our rebranding, current office move, magazine production, and an exhibition stand we’re designing for the Independent Hotel 12 exhibition in October. But you have to widen the scope further to attract and maintain interest, so we do features on current trends, products we love, colour trends, seasonal posts and style file-type product collections. We’ll even write posts on how we use social media, our Facebook launch and my love of Pinterest.
We’re building up a readership and learning as we go along, which I think is absolutely part of the joy of blogging. You soon find out what works and what doesn’t.
What do you think a blog adds to your online presence?
It’s a vital component, if not the most important aspect after our website. Facebook is short and chatty, but more about capturing someone’s attention and then leading them onto your website or blog. Twitter is even shorter and more fleeting, so can’t be relied on to evenly represent us. You tweet and you’re gone, off the bottom of the feed in seconds. Plus, I like to ramble on, and 140 characters is torture for me. A blog can be more image-led, visually attractive and bespoke than Twitter or Facebook, both of which can sometimes be a bit visually impenetrable.
But does it translate into business?
It’s early days with our blog – I’ve only been writing regularly for three months, so we haven’t yet any direct examples of business. But we’re in process of raising our profile in our industry, and our blog and social media is our means to do that. We’ve certainly had evidence that more people have heard of us. Other high-end interior designers are becoming more aware of our presence and clients have noticed our raised media profile, even interacting with us on social media to increase their own traffic.
How do you find time to blog, on top of everything else?
Isn’t that what weekends, evenings and midnight is for?! I’m currently trying to figure out if irregular blog posts are a negative or if people don’t mind me not working to a fixed blog schedule – eg. once a week or every morning. I’m not sure I could work with that – I blog when inspiration hits.
What advice would you give to an interior designer thinking about starting a social-media presence?
Start with Twitter and build an audience, who you can then direct towards a new blog post. I think it must be hard to start with a blog with no way to promote it. Make posts varied to start with, until you can figure out which ones are popular. Images are more attractive to a hard-to-capture audience. I always work on the premise of what I like on other people’s blogs. So for me it’s images, short text blocks and an informal tone of voice.
Which other social-media channels do you use?
We use Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and – my personal favourite - Pinterest. Compared to the font-mad, shortened-link denseness of Twitter, the visually boring LinkedIn and the too-familiar Facebook layout, it’s a veritable visual feast. I use Twitter to connect with others and to hopefully lead people back to our website and blog, but I use Pinterest for inspiration and to get our images out. Pictures on Pinterest have the potential to go viral, with the added bonus that posted images link back to the website of origin – hopefully ours!
How do you think social media and the internet have changed marketing for small businesses?
As you can probably gather, I am a huge, if relatively recent, convert. I see it as a major factor in our future marketing and promotion, above more traditional methods of advertising. It’s a more personal approach and much more fast moving and reactive. While we may not be directly targeting our current or potential clients (many may not be avid social-media followers), we’re positioning ourselves so that, when they do join the throng, we’ll be ready to take full advantage. Hopefully we’ll have developed a strong social-media presence that will stand us in good stead.
Thanks, Rebecca. And if you need more inspiration, we asked our Twitter followers to nominate their favourite blogs. Here they are:
If you think your company’s blog belongs on this list, please let us know.