Clodagh, the mono-moniker New York design entrepreneur, has been in business for more than 25 years and prides herself on being ahead of the curve. Yet it took a while for her and her eponymous firm to embrace social media. Now, the 12-person operation, which includes a product-design division and an interior design practice for high-end residential, commercial, spa, and hospitality clients, is integrating social-media tools for branding, advertising, marketing, and business development. A self-described nontechie, the Irish-born Clodagh spoke to ARCHITECT by phone while wandering the streets of Dublin and gave tips on how a small firm can best deploy the power of social media.
Find a good tweeter.
You don’t always need a full-time staffer, Clodagh suggests. Look for someone who is tech-savvy and has the skills and knows your business. At Clodagh, it’s Lauren Sanford, an interior designer. “She went to a Twitter seminar and came back all steamed up,” Clodagh says. “Lauren does most of the twittering right now, either what I tell her or whatever she picks up on herself.”
Drive traffic to your website.
You want eyeballs on your site, and tweeting, blogging, and Facebook posts are the best way to do that. “We had a quarterly newsletter,” Clodagh says, “but it’s so cumbersome.” Use social-media tools to talk about what you are doing day to day and week to week, as well as new products and brand enhancements, plus what you’re doing at the trade shows. “Even e-mail blasts are a thing of the past,” she adds. “We’ll only use e-mail blasts for holiday greetings.”
Build a fan club following with Facebook.
This is the place to post stories, pictures, press releases, and YouTube videos of speeches and talks. Facebook is “like ‘Dear Diary’ back in Victorian times. You can expose everything.”
Tweet, text, and blog all you can.
Don’t stop, Clodagh recommends. Whatever you find or see, whatever you stumble on in the street or eat in a restaurant, or when you experience “the thrill of some amazing décor”—pass it on to other architects and designers. It lets people know who you are and what you’re passionate about. “Then people twitter back, and you become a group of chirping birds.”
Forget bricks and mortar.
“We recently closed our downtown showroom because people had stopped walking in off the street,” Clodagh says. “So why pay rent? Everyone is buying online. It’s a radical change. You can tweet out when there’s something new to promote on the site and people don’t have to come in anymore to see it.”
Share your enthusiasm.
It’s not just about products. Promote what you care about. “For us that’s environmental consciousness, wellness, green design, what ‘good design’ means, and experiences where people can flourish.”
Break down barriers.
Architecture and design have all become a bit too “churchly,” Clodagh believes. “We’ve become like doctors and lawyers, remote from most people.” Social media can help change that and make the profession more user-friendly and approachable. You can let people know there’s nothing remote about what you do so they won’t be intimidated. “Facebook pulls that barrier away.”
Don’t mind your P’s and Q’s.
Social media is the place to express your opinions, so don’t be afraid to speak your mind. “Everything is too edited, anyway.” Be honest and forthright, fresh and direct. In other words, don’t look back. “I’ve never regretted anything we’ve put out there,” Clodagh declares.
Open the doors of perception to a virtual world.
In a business such as architecture, people want insight into the work designers do—the creative process. Social media connects the world. Remember, she says, that today, “there are zero degrees of separation.”