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Industry insights

5 ways to make Instagram work for you.

With 1.1 billion users monthly, what are we waiting for? Dispelling the myths surrounding Instagram to make it work for you and your interior design business.

Read time 8 minutes

There's no denying that we live in a social media bubble, nearly every company has some kind of platform presence. But, how can you avoid being sucked into an Instagram black hole of time spent with nothing to show for it? We're regularly asked by our members how they can make social media, particularly Instagram, work from them and their business. Combining insights from our roundtable series, held at the tail end of last year, through to tips from our in-house social media expert, we look at 5 simple ways to approach making your company Insta ready.

eporta Instagram where we host events, insight, inspiration and amazing design stories. @eporta
The benefit of Instagram is the awareness it brings to my brand. From press to potential collaborators, it helps me to organically grow my presence for free." Anonymous eporta member from roundtable event.

Firstly what is the point of putting my brand on Instagram?

Instagram has over 1.1 billion monthly users, not every one of these will be interested in your feed, but even a small slice of the audience can lead to great things. Instagram is what you make of it you need to charter a course before you can sail the water. Is it for brand awareness, becoming an instafamous designer, attracting potential partnerships or for more business? Whatever the goal there is a way to make it work for you, it just takes time, practice and patience. Jess, our Social Media Executive explains Instagram is the perfect canvas for interior design. "It's all about the visuals and we work in a field that shares this ethos. Designers get to work with amazing fabrics, products, suppliers and sites every day, naturally providing them with a wealth of visual content to share."

Note Studio- epitomising Scandi cool, this is a visual flow that covers products, inspiration and projects, all visually created to delight. @noteddesignstudio
Note Studio- epitomising Scandi cool, this is a visual flow that covers products, inspiration and projects, all visually created to delight. @noteddesignstudio

Brian Woulfe, who chaired the roundtable, also highlighted that whilst he might not directly get hired by a follower on Instagram, potential clients use it as a second point of validation after his website, before hiring him. He shares his personality, not just his work, so potential clients get a flavour of what he'd be like to work with, and also proof that he is who he says he is. Not using Instagram can, therefore, affect your likelihood of being hired by certain clients. There is also a very human factor, Instagram drops barriers and creates communities. It allows you to converse with peers and suppliers in an easy, non-pressurised way, helping you to expand your network.

We're using Instagram not for our target market but as a shop front to our brand. We also use it to check out suppliers before we use them." Anonymous eporta member from roundtable event.
Laura Egea understands the transitional aesthetic that makes a great feed, taking us on a subtle colour journey. @egealaura
Laura Egea understands the transitional aesthetic that makes a great feed, taking us on a subtle colour journey. @egealaura

What does a successful Instagram mean? What do people mean by engagement rates?

A successful Instagram looks different depending on what you are using it for. If you are trying to become an instafamous designer, then you are fishing for 'likes' and a large number of followers, which is easy to monitor. However, if you want to organically grow brand awareness, how can you sense check that you are on the right track? Firstly, ensure you have signed up to an Instagram business account, with this comes great power, in the form of insights.

Here is a key to Instagram Metrics

  • Impressions: The total number of times your post has been seen
  • Reach: The number of unique accounts that have seen your post
  • Engagement: The number of likes and comments on your post
  • Saved: The number of unique accounts that saved your post
  • Profile Visits: The number of times that your profile was viewed
  • Follows The number of accounts that started following you.

You can use these insights to assess how well Instagram is actually working for you. A key performance indicator (KPI) is the engagement per follower. This can be worked out by adding together all the 'likes' and comments you've received over the period of a month, then divided by the number of posts you've done in the same time period. Divide this by the total number of followers you've had over the same period and times by 100 to get a %. Have you done it yet? Not happy with the number you see? Well, it may not be so bad as you think. A 1-3% engagement rate is considered average to good, so anything above 3% and you can consider yourself an influencer.

Salva López- shares consistent brand visuals, from the filter used to the scale of image, the feed is very identifiable. @salvalopez
Salva Lopez too.png
Salva López- shares consistent brand visuals, from the filter used to the scale of image, the feed is very identifiable. @salvalopez

But, as Jess points out- "Don't forget the dark social elements. Your engagement per follower accounts for the outward facing health of your feed, yet there are important behind the feed metrics too. If a follower saves your image they are still engaging with it, just privately." What's more, in the world of interior design where others are looking to your feed for inspiration and sparks of creative genius, they are likely to save an image for reference at a later date, omitting their need to 'like' it.

People want to see A go to B, they want to follow you through the journey of a project. This means sharing the imperfect moments too. It makes you human. Think of your Instagram as a narrative." Cinzia Moretti, chair of the social media roundtable.
Moretti Interior Design- Easy wayfinding- Clever use of the Stories Highlights cover images make it easy to navigate and correlate with their authentic open book Insta personality. @moretti_interior_design
Moretti Interior Design- Easy wayfinding- Clever use of the Stories Highlights cover images make it easy to navigate and correlate with their authentic open book Insta personality. @moretti_interior_design

What sort of things should I post?

Again a lot of your content choices will come down to what you want from your endeavours. However, there are two things that will deliver results no matter the goal- consistency and authenticity. If this is a branding exercise your imagery needs to have a consistent art direction to it. This way no matter what you post they're clearly identifiable as yours. Also have a consistent approach to how much you share of yourself, Is it about you, your projects or a mix of both. If you decide to let people into your personal life and that of your families then do so knowing it's hard to go back on it as that's what your followers come to expect. Whether you're a brand or an individual, it's good to have a personal informal tone to your posts, that is authentic to who you or your brand are. As Cinzia pointed out, and as many at the roundtables agreed with, their followers show higher levels of engagement when they see the in's and out's of everyday life as a designer. Sharing moodboards and inspiration images is popular amongst designers as it gives their audience a sense of being behind the scenes.

1) Laura Hammett Interiors have amassed over 140,000 followers, and with the seamless moodboard it's easy to understand why. @laurahammett.interiors
2) Studio Ashby's achingly cool Instagram is personable, professional and aspirational, this moodboard image is very on brand for their feed. @studioashby
1) Laura Hammett Interiors have amassed over 140,000 followers, and with the seamless moodboard it's easy to understand why. @laurahammett.interiors
2) Studio Ashby's achingly cool Instagram is personable, professional and aspirational, this moodboard image is very on brand for their feed. @studioashby
3) Mark Alexander, not an interior designer but a supplier who take a relaxed approach to moodboarding that is highly reflective of their brand. @markalexander_ma
4) Sophie Robinson Interiors is awash with colour, her Instagram has a very personal touch to it which is why this moodboard in action shot really resonates with her followers. @sophierobinsoninteriors
3) Mark Alexander, not an interior designer but a supplier who take a relaxed approach to moodboarding that is highly reflective of their brand. @markalexander_ma
4) Sophie Robinson Interiors is awash with colour, her Instagram has a very personal touch to it which is why this moodboard in action shot really resonates with her followers. @sophierobinsoninteriors

This can also mean sharing the ugly duckling building site before it becomes a beautiful swan of a scheme. People like this because it is genuine and honest. If you are concerned that these sort of images affect the curated aesthetic of your feed then you can share the images in Stories. Stories are highlights and only last for 24 hours, so they can be a lot more forgiving. As Jess suggests- "Mix it up a bit, Instagram is full of people posting perfection, showing some of the grittier parts of a project helps you to stand out."

Moretti too.jpg
Moretti Interior Design Showcasing the importance of the human moments in design, taking followers on a journey from the start of the project to the finish line. @moretti_interior_design
Moretti Interior Design Showcasing the importance of the human moments in design, taking followers on a journey from the start of the project to the finish line. @moretti_interior_design

What's the bare minimum I can do to make it work?

"Aim to be realistic, not optimistic about your Instagram efforts. Set aside an hour every week to plan your posts, from curating the visual flow to plotting the accompanying messages. You can save these down as drafts on Instagram and send them on the go. Expect the time you put aside to increase dependant on the number of posts you plan to share, an hour is about the right amount of time for 3- 5 posts a week." Says Jess.

Posting often is great so long as the content is worthwhile and considered. If you are amazing at photography and feel comfortable posting when inspiration strikes, go for it. Just remember to keep your comment tone and visual style consistent in the feed. If however, you aren't so comfortable with an off the cuff approach, it's fine to take the time to plot what you'll say and when. The main thing to build Instagram momentum is consistency, posting regularly in a way that is familiar to your followers and that will keep them engaged. The industry norms are between 3-5 posts a week, but if you are a big brand or want to really grow your Insta-personality that could be up to 3 times a day. Just work out what you can realistically commit to, both in resource and time and take it from there. To get the best out of every post, keep an eye out for trends, which posts garner the highest level of engagement- likes, comments, saves and shares. The insights section of your account can also tell you the age of your audience and the times of day when they're most active.

Owl Design- colour curaors, posting 3 images over 3 days in the same colour way it's really bold and striking..png
Owl Design- colour curaors, posting 3 images over 3 days in the same colour way it's really bold and striking..png
Owl Design too.png

But as Instagram, like most social media, is a two-way conversation it's important to make time to engage with your followers. Cinzia and Brian both take time every day to share the love with others in their network. They comment on followers feeds where appropriate, 'like' designs they come across from other designers, save images for inspiration and so on. This kind of engagement doesn't go unnoticed, so you will start to see similar behaviours organically occurring in your own feed. Just 10 minutes a day is a great way to start this practice.

What's the best way to 'hashtag'? And the best way to 'tag'?

In essence, hashtags are way-finding tools to your content, helping you find your tribe on Instagram. They are also a great way to share your personality and sense of humour. When it comes to hashtagging, relevancy is king. Hashtags can help your feed thrive by directing potential new followers to your feed from the hashtags they follow. This is also why where you direct them to needs to be relevant, encouraging future engagement. What's more, they say variety is the spice of life, and the same applies to your use of hashtags. Avoid using the same ones every time it minimises your audience. You can easily check for alternative hashtags by typing them into the search bar on Instagram, this will automatically populate options for you. Jess advises that a pic 'n' mix approach to the ones you choose is also best. Using largely followed hashtags such as #interiorinspo (3.5 million posts) or #homedecor (46 million posts) mixed with quirkier ones such as #ihavethisthingwithfloors (800,000 posts) or #moodboardmondays (35,000), which have strong and loyal following works really well with Instagrams algorithms. Meaning your content is easier to find.

Studio Ashby really understand how to use hashtags, taking a minimal yet specific approach. @studioashby
Studio Ashby really understand how to use hashtags, taking a minimal yet specific approach. @studioashby

You may also have seen several interior designers and brands use their own unique hashtags such as us using #greatdesign in every comment, or #sophiepatersoninteriors, this can be brilliant as it collects all you work together. However, it is unlikely someone is searching for your name alone, so by dispersing this within an array of large and small hashtags you are casting the net wide. Just remember to keep the hashtags precise and relevant to the image.

Pantone mood board with and without tags, the perfect example of sharing credit. @pantone
Pantone too.png
Pantone mood board with and without tags, the perfect example of sharing credit. @pantone

Tags, on the other hand, are a way of giving credit to content contributors. Whether it's the photographer who shot your project, through to the owner of a feed you shared an image from. It's important for your engagement rates on Instagram that you give credit where it's due, as it can come across disingenuous when you don't. Simply typing @and their name also allows you to reach their audience too, so towing the politeness line is really win-win!

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