Sophie Paterson on Social Media for Interior Designers

by Kate Watson-Smyth

When it comes to building a business, interior designer Sophie Paterson has found that social networking is the best tool you can have. 

When Sophie’s not busy refurbishing houses, she’s telling the world how busy she is. It’s a system that is working for her professionally. One of her biggest jobs to date – renovating a 6,000sq ft house in Cambridge, came through her Facebook page. She has nearly 3,000 Twitter followers, many of whom are writers, journalists, interior design bloggers and other designers.

Put simply, you ignore the social networks at your peril, she says. “It’s so important to have a presence on Twitter and Facebook. It’s not just about finding new work, although obviously I, and many others, have been successful with that. It’s also about building a community of people who have similar interests and who you can share ideas with. We’ve known for ages that the best way to build a business is through word of mouth and this is basically a gigantic electronic word of mouth.”

“My website developer said she would put a Twitter window on my page and that I would have to fill it or it would look stupid.”

Unusually for such a passionate advocate of the medium, Sophie was a late convert. “I had always wanted to be an interior designer but my family pushed me to be more academic. I ended up working as a translator for a Spanish newspaper in Madrid. When I came back to the UK, I worked as a event planner for a chain of restaurants in Surrey. When they decided to do up one of the restaurants I offered to help.”

One thing, as they say, led to another and, flush with the success of her first job, Sophie decided to do up her own house. While hunting for builders, she came across a property developer who was impressed with her style and asked her to work on his latest project. It sold for a record sum in record time. The work flooded in, and Sophie was on her way.

“At the start, I was like many other interior designers who were reluctant to embrace the internet. I only started my Facebook page because I wanted my friends to see the work I had been doing, but I came to realise that it’s a great showcase.

“My website developer said she would put a Twitter window on my page and that I would have to fill it or it would look stupid. She told me I had to tweet at least once a day and I did because I didn’t want the page to look empty,” she says. Gradually her following grew and she now tweets between two and 12 times a day, depending on her commitments.

“A lot of people find interior designers’ websites can be very slick and intimidating and they are put off by that. If they find you through a social network it can act as a kind of introduction to you and the kind of person you are and that can help them. It’s a soft way in, if you like,” she says.

Social aspects aside, there are still some aspects of internetworking that Sophie finds tough. That’s why she wanted to be involved with The Art of the Bespoke (TAOB)

“Every designer has areas of their business that don’t get as much attention as others and for me that has definitely been SEO. While I love online social networking, I shy away from anything technical. With TAOB ensuring that they, and my listing within their Sourcebook, are constantly search-engine-optimised, that’s one less thing I need to think about.

“It fits in really well with my business, as it’s an organic and relevant way of marketing our services online. I really like the fact that not only is it an up-to-date and informative sourcebook, it also has great editorial content, which reads like a magazine.”

If you’d like to use social networking to expand your own business, Sophie has some advice:

- Find someone you admire in your industry and see what they tweet about and who they follow. Try and emulate them. When you are thinking of posting a tweet, ask yourself if they would post it.

- Don’t endlessly promote your business. Rather than just publishing links to your work, talk about what you have been doing or where you have been – perhaps on a work-related trip – and post links to related subjects. You have to be slightly more indirect about it.

- Remember Twitter etiquette. Don’t overshare, and remember to reply to people who talk to you and thank them for retweeting etc.

- Don’t just follow people in your industry, but find people who are related in some way. I follow a lot of writers and editors, so if there is a shout-out for something they need, I can offer to help instantly.

- You have to be genuine about it. If you are just posting cynically to try and drive traffic, you will be found out.

 

 

If you have a project you’d like to discuss with Sophie, you can see more of her work and contact her through the Sophie Paterson Interiors sourcebook page

You can also contact Sophie via her Twitter and Facebook page.