In the fast-paced technological world, it’s easy to become overwhelmed. How much is too much on Instagram? Which apps are worth using? What’s the deal with Insta stories? The fear is, while the Internet has widened access to design, it can also diminish the role of the designer to one of glorified shopper, as Jon Call of Mr. Call Designs pointed out. Last month, Panafold attended the What’s New What’s Next conference at the New York Design Center, and we came away with some thoughts on preserving your integrity as a designer while benefiting from social media.
1. Digital presence is important at any stage of your career.
What we heard repeatedly was that a digital presence is essential, no matter if you’re a new designer with only a few projects under your belt or an established designer with years of experience. Social media is a way for potential clients to scope out your work and feel connected to you. And while it can feel contrived or superficial, Instagram can also be a good breeding ground for new ideas. Social media works well as a creative outlet or a visual diary. Don’t go dark - your followers want to know that you’re there (we hear that 9am and 5pm on Fridays are particularly good posting times).
2. Maintain a healthy balance between work and personal on Instagram.
Instagram offers an immediate portfolio of your work, but also allows people to feel personally connected to you. So, how do you determine how much of your content should be personal and how much should be work-related? The consensus on this point varied at the conference, with some designers (for example, Katie Lydon) leaning more heavily toward a work-oriented page and others (for example, Patrick Dragonette) treating Instagram as a diary of their everyday lives. What eventually emerged was that whatever ratio of work to personal you have on your Instagram, it should feel authentic. Don’t post thoughtlessly, and keep your tone consistent.
3. Pinterest can be helpful in particular circumstances.
The designers at What’s New What’s Next expressed a complicated relationship to Pinterest. Almost all used it internally to onboard new staff to the aesthetic of the company or to bounce ideas around in-house, but rarely or never used it with clients. When clients come in with a Pinterest board already put together, designers said it can feel like their skill set is reduced to that of shopper, not designer. However, some did say that Pinterest boards can be useful in establishing a baseline of the client’s tastes.
4. Cultivate your relationships and create new ones on social media.
The Internet and social media have widened access to design to nearly everyone. That translates to relatively easy exposure for a designer. Several of the designers at WNWN recalled meeting new clients through Instagram DMs or finding inspiration on other designers’ pages.
All the designers at WNWN expressed frustration at the lack of convenient, intuitive applications that help, not hurt, the relationship between client and designer. While these are being developed, embrace the power that social media can give you and the growth your business will experience.