Is it time to reevaluate your social media strategy?

If you’ve been on Twitter recently, you know it’s going through some upheaval since Elon Musk of Tesla, Space X and being-a-billionaire fame purchased the social media site just weeks ago.

Excited by promised changes, new users are joining. Troubled by those same changes, others are fleeing for different social media sites. Ever heard of Mastodon? Some brands have suspended their advertising, waiting to see how things shake out.

It has me thinking about how home furnishing brands and interior designers are subject to the whims of social media in ways they haven’t been by other forms of media.

Sure, a magazine might go out of business; a TV station might change hands. Newspaper and radio rates  go up. But a company can take its ad dollars and go elsewhere. The same is true for Twitter advertisers: Other platforms and outlets will be happy to take their money.

But on social media, you can have your account hacked and taken over by someone with nefarious intent or have your brand attacked by a person with a grudge who is set on causing you harm. Less ominous but still troubling is that on social media, you’re subject to opaque, frequently changing algorithms that can elevate — or bury — your content with little or no warning. Or a billionaire can rise up and take over the platform.

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And let’s face it, there aren’t that many broad-reaching social platforms. Think of all the cable channels and even streaming services available now. There are just a handful of big-draw social media sites: Instagram, TikTok, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn and Pinterest, and they’ve sorted themselves out, appealing to fairly specific audiences. In our industry, Instagram is reigning supreme, far ahead of the others in terms of use.

Looking at that list, we can see how quickly social sites rise and fall. TikTok wouldn’t have made that list a few years ago, and Facebook used to be far more popular among home furnishings resources than it is today. Awhile back, I spoke to the owner of a small furniture company who built his company on Facebook but now has only a nominal presence there.

Many smaller manufacturers and interior designers — especially designers — have put their limited resources into building followings on social platforms they can’t control, investing as much (or often far more) time than money into social media. They use social channels for marketing but also for building a library of their inspirations and their work.

How much damage could a major shift at your preferred platform do to your business? What would you do if Instagram disappeared tomorrow?

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I’ve talked with furniture brands recently who are focusing again on more traditional forms of marketing. Think direct mail and email. And they are re-investing in their websites, where they have more control.

I don’t mean to be a voice of doom, and I’m not vying for the title of chief curmudgeon. (We joke that my colleague Clint Engel, executive editor of sister publication Home News Now, also holds that title.)

Social media is fun. It’s informative and it has helped build countless companies and brands. Witness the influencers who rolled out collections with home furnishings manufacturers at the recent High Point Market. Think of the other influencers who are pointing their followers to companies they discovered during the show.

But putting all or even most of your marketing eggs in the social media basket may not be wise. Just look what happens if a new blue bird grabs the handle.

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