We talked to Lorna Sixsmith from Garrendenny Lane Interiors about how Social Media and Blogging has benefited her business:
Tell me a little bit about your business:
I started my interior design business in Nov 2007 and I started my blog in January 2008. Blogging was my sole use of social media during 2008. I found blogging helped my SEO greatly and amongst other subjects, I blogged about new arrivals to the shop, new fabric and wallpaper collections and the opening of my online shop. Approximately 40% of my fabric and wallpaper sales came directly from my blog and improved SEO that year and I gained clients as far away as Westmeath and Sligo.
I am concentrating more now on the online shop and will be developing a new and improved site over the summer. I am using the blog and Facebook to specifically bring attention to new products by hosting a ‘Freebie Friday’ each week as each comment provides the person with a free ‘ticket’ to win the new product.
During 2009, I increased my use of social media. I started using Twitter in March 2009 and developed a business FB page in September – both have helped to increase the number of unique visitors to my site. For example, in Feb 2009, I had 2,500 unique visitors – these increased by approx 1000 a month to 10,500 in Dec 2009. Having said that, they seem to have reached that level and it is hard to reach above 11,000 visits.
I have also made some online sales as a result of Twitter and Facebook.
Do you use any traditional marketing ?
Not as much. I place an occasional advertisement but although they often result in enquiries, the number of sales through them are low.
I started an offline and online PR campaign in January. RE the offline, I have been included in features or had articles written about my business in an Irish Times supplement, the Sunday Business Post, the Irish Independent Mothers and Babies supplement, the Country Living magazine of the Farmers Journal, House and Home magazine, Image Interiors and Munster Interiors. I have written features for Munster Interiors and House and Home magazine. I also write an article each month for the local free magazines My Waterford and Carlow Life and Entertainment. As I will be concentrating now on the online side of my business, the nature of my offline campaign will be changing.
What social media do you have in place?
My blog which also has a Freebie Friday offer each week now.
My twitter account is @GarrendennyLane. While I do tweet about new products, PR I have achieved, photographs of interior design and rooms etc, I also tweet about everything else I do from coming in from feeding calves to filling the boot with fabric books on the way to meet a client.
I also use Linked In to a limited extent. Limited because my business is mostly business to customer rather than business to business and I feel I spend enough time on social media as it is! I update my status once a fortnight or so (usually with news of a feature in a magazine or newspaper) and that is really about it. I see that many people now have their twitter updates going to their Linked in status update and this I would not recommend. Tweets tend to be too personal and glib for this. Much better to do it the other way around – ie have your Linked In updates going to Twitter (I have never done this but presume it is possible)
I update my business page about once a day – either with a new blog post or with something I think my ‘fans’ will enjoy. I also use it to bring attention to my ‘Product of the Month’ by asking fans which one out of 3 they would prefer to see as the Product of the Month. I haven’t paid for any advertising to bring people to the page and have approx 350 fans at the moment.
What I like about social media is that it gives businesses a personality and a personal voice behind the business.
Did you have a strategy before you embarked on your social media campaign?
I didn’t have any strategy to start with beyond that I had heard that blogging helped SEO and hence would help to increase visits to my website. I enjoy writing and I love writing and reading blog posts so blogging is definitely a most enjoyable part of my business.
Do you have a strategy now? How has it changed since you started?
My only strategy really at the start was to bring attention to my products and to improve my SEO in using those keywords. I used to do a ‘Friday Fix-it’ post in which I offered free interior design advice and solutions to anyone who emailed me a query. I would still do that if people wished to email me but as I am now concentrating on the online shop, I have changed this Friday post to a ‘Freebie Friday’!
I don’t have a strategy at the moment apart from what is in my head!! However, I am doing a course with the Carlow Enterprise board at the moment which is FETAC affiliated which means I have to write down my strategies in a marketing plan!! So that will be interesting!
What concrete results have you seen from your efforts in social media?
40% of fabric and wallpaper sales from my blog in 2008, the first year in business (I was interviewed for a white paper for an IIA article and hence I put some time into working this out – how did I know – I asked clients where they had heard of me and generally they had put in a search term which brought them to a blog post).
I have had about 30 online sales from Twitter/Facebook although there may be more from Twitter where I haven’t made the connection.
A little story from a couple of weeks ago, I was uploading new products and did a link from Facebook to a little silver bell that I had just uploaded. Within 20 minutes, one was sold along with another product to a Facebook fan. I went onto Twitter and tweeted that the bell had sold so quickly along with a link. Within ten minutes, another 2 were sold to 2 people who had read the tweet.
How do you measure your results?
I offer discount codes to my Facebook fans so I am able to tell how many times it has been used.
I have just put a reader’s offer into the House and Home magazine which provides H and H readers with a discount code so I will be able to measure the result of offline advertising on my online sales.
I use google analytics to determine how many visits to my site are from Twitter and facebook and how many pages each visitor visits as well as the average time they spend on the site.
How do the results compare to your other marketing efforts?
I enjoy using social media so I don’t consider it to be ‘work’. I would probably write blog posts even if I didn’t get any results from them but while offline PR and the occasional paid advertisement certainly keeps my profile alive and well and help brand awareness, I feel that the improved SEO, increased number of links, and general awareness online is much more effective than offline marketing. I would suggest that businesses should not concentrate on just offline or online but use both.
What one piece of advice would you give to our blog readers?
Ensure you enjoy social media or else get a member of the company who will because unless you can write well, have the time to read and enjoy other blogs and enjoy engaging with others on Twitter, Linked In and Facebook, your tweets, updates and posts will come across as sterile and unengaging.
What plans do you have for your social media campaign in the future?
Ask me in a month when I have written up my Media campaign!!
I will continue to blog, tweet and update facebook to the same extent. I have just been introduced to Weedle so intend to set up a profile there. I guess one plan I have is to spend more time measuring the success of each aspect of social media, so I know which is the most successful and which to spend time on. Having said that, I enjoy them all so I would probably continue!!