Social media still evolving. I mean, I guess I knew it would but today if finally clicked. I was sitting here thinking about the Design Bloggers Conference and conferences in general, and it dawned on me that I should aim to always attend them. I should make the effort not only because that's where the new information is, but because that is where ideas and trends are examined and hatched out. I'm a better vlogger than a blogger, but I love to blog because I love photography. I say that to say, social media challenges me but more importantly, it allows me to channel my creativity.
My new challenge is to move more into video and find ways to incorporate that into my blog.
In retrospect, I've actually learned a lot since January. Since then, I set up a VYOU profile where you guys could ask me anything that you'd like. I've had 16,912 profile views in a little less than 60 days, but only 3 questions and 9 followers. What that tells me is that you want the information, but maybe not the commitment to join yet another site or to have to video your questions. So, I was extremely interested when Jason Harris of the Design Network started talking about his new idea. He wants to create a You Tube for Design programming. Having a show on the network would not only benefit my readers, but also serve as a great jumping off place for some of my future media endevors. I was over at the site earlier and I noticed some fellow bloggers already filming shows. I'm really interested in seeing the end result, as I figure out just what I want to do.
On the same stage and also a good idea, was Andy Appelbaum of Project Decor. I really like this concept also, but have questions about implementation. Times are changing, so should I give up something that I adopted early on that hasn't ever really caught on for Project Decor? My hesitation isn't just that I would have something else to do, but also regarding my relationship with Wayfair.com. I've been halfway in-halfway out with Wayfair, but as I answer more and more of your design questions, I want to fully explore that relationship and give you more shopping options. I'll explore it more and the coming weeks and let you know what I decide.
We are living in a time when it seems everyone wants to share everything. The sheer number of blogs indicates that people think what they have to say is important. Why just consume information when you can create it right? Well... Wrong! At the DBC there was an overall emphasis on creating good content. Celebrity Interior Designer Charlotte Moss did an entire keynote about it. (I have the hat to prove it). So with everyone wanting to share, where are we when it comes to content? Before I get to those who are getting it right, consider this:
Of the 150 or so bloggers who attended Blogfest2011 a little over 10% no longer write a blog. Some with over 10,000 page views per month have called it quits. Just last year there was a series of posts from "top Blogger" about how difficult things are for them behind the scenes. In a series entitled "10 Things I'm Afraid To Tell You" we learned that many were broke, even more were over-worked, and most were just plain tired.
I don't have crazy high numbers. This has a lot to do with my blogging style and maybe not fully understanding SEO, but I for one, only write about the stuff that I like. This keeps it fun for me and hopefully for you. On the second day of the conference, I spent the majority of lunch talking to Laura Busby with Peacock Alley. It was easy because I love Peacock Alley. I got monogrammed Peacock Alley towels for Christmas that I shared on Facebook and Instagram. I sleep on Peacock Alley sheets. (One corner is missing because my toddler cut them, but I refuse to let them go.) And I love everything about linens. Hey, I ironed my sheets in college people. Trust me, it was meant to be.
Early in my career, I worked for a very high end designer in Houston who had clients all over the world. It was nothing for her to sell an $8,000.00 bed or a $400 gallon of paint. How did she do it? Simple--with a story. One day I was in the showroom when the Maitland Smith rep came in. That day it wasn't the regular rep, but the company historian. He knew everything about each and every piece of furniture in the history of the company. Not only did I sell more Maitlnad Smith than any other case good, but I used them for years in my own design practice. That one afternoon set Maitland Smith apart from all the other vendors in that arena forever. This is important becasue personal connections like these help me to sell to my design clients. I have to be able to translate all that I've learned into sales.
THIS IS THE MOST IMPORTANT PART OF BLOGGING FOR ME!!!
Image of Bloggers with Barbara Barry at Kravet's Blogfest2011
So, who gets it right? Let's talk about brands.
Kravet gets it right! Not because of the stellar performance they pull off each year for Blogfest, but because of the culture at the company. What the Kravets understand and what they bring to social media is the personal connection. They invite the speakers that tell the memorable stories, they take bloggers on the tours that they themselves would want to go on and in the end, they provide the "Disney experience" for Design Bloggers.
House Beautiful is also getting it right. I am super excited to be at the Meek school of Journalism. I know that I keep talking about it, but you have to know just how lucky I am to be in Oxford right now. I am in the place where the conversation about digital and print media happens almost daily. I think it's no coincidence that this is also Newell Turner's alma mater. I'm sure when he was studying journalism he could not have imagined the marriage that would take place between technology and design. Imagined or not, he is leading the pack with his quest to envision what's possible with print and design. Pick up a current copy of House Beautiful and you'll find QR codes that lead you to videos, links that lead you to products, and image galleries that give you more options and inspiration than you could ever imagine.
Since content is king and sharing content is the key…What makes a successful blogger vendor relationship? I think the key is proper alignment and the ability to grow with the brand.
Images by Pinkeggshell at Design Bloggers Conference
We are all creatures of habit. How much so? So much that in the millions of SKU's housed at the Houston and Atlanta Design Centers, I can tell you without looking which ones I use in 90% of my projects. I was invited to a dinner by Farbicut and I immediately thought about the exact product that I get from them. I use Donghia, Lee Jofa and Romo without question, but only use any other fabric vendor when I absolutely can't find what I am looking for in one of those houses. I don't know at what point in one's career they fall into this trap, but for most designers it just is what it is. As a blogger, I now see things differently. I'm happy when I get product information along with the opportunity to learn about a brand that I might have never used before.
In my case, a vendor would do well to invite me to their showroom when new collections are launched, ask for feedback and if I'm not the town, find another blogger. A brand properly aligned with just a few select bloggers could see tremendous ROI. I share information with the designers on my African American Top 20 list. Many are not very social media savvy, but they sell millions of dollars in products every year. I send them extra product information when I get it and spend time interacting with their favorite vendors as well.
The Future? Who knows what the future will hold. As things change, so will I. As new innovations enter the market place, I'll be there to give them a try.
I'll always do my best to imagine what's possible.