Adam Martin (@amartindesign) is an independent graphic designer and social media strategist in Lexington, KY. He holds a BFA in Graphic Design and founded Social Media Club Lexington. Adam is also a frequent participant in Design Community Twitter Hours (@DCTH) on Thursdays from 6pm to 8:30pm EST.
Social Media and the Designer’s Perspective
What can social media marketers learn from designers? Isn’t social media business primarily for marketing or PR people? Not necessarily. Social media is an indispensable tool for anyone looking to communicate and engage with others, especially designers.
The designer’s ultimate goal is not just to make things look pretty, but to be communicators – to communicate ideas, brands, products, and information creatively, clearly and visually to targeted consumers. So, as a social media strategist, why pay attention to what designers are doing?
1. Designers Connect Emotionally With Their Audience
Effective designers seek to understand the needs and desires of their customers, then meet those needs through conceptual design. Designers don’t just make things look cool in Photoshop; they establish an emotional connection with the audience.
A great book titled Do You Matter: How Great Design Will Make People Love Your Company, co-written by Robert Brunner, Apple’s former Director of Industrial Design, explains these emotional connections more thoroughly.
Take these design goals of brand building beyond just visuals. Part of that brand building is the emotional connection you can make through social media.
A great example is using the search function of Twitter for customer service. Whole Foods does a tremendous job of this on Twitter. They utilize Twitter’s search functionality and interact with their consumers or potential customers. Using social media, you can ask your customers questions and respond to them, engage them, or simply listen to them.
2. Designers Realize They Are Not the Only Driving Factor Behind Business
A business with a bad business plan cannot be saved by great design alone. Savvy designers know and understand this. Plenty of companies have invested in great design, but ultimately failed because of the way they ran their business.
The same goes for social media. It is not the only answer, but when pieced together with great design, advertising, SEO, and PR – social media can produce big results in terms of building businesses, brands and niche communities.
What good is a website with great PR if the user cannot navigate it easily? All the pieces must work together. Do not rely on one to replace quality in the others.
Harley-Davidson is an example of a company that uses many of these techniques (HD on Twitter, Facebook, Youtube) and is very involved with their community. Randy Sprenger, Manager of Electronic Advertising and Direct Promotions at Harley-Davidson recently sat down with BrandWeek to discuss some of their marketing and social media strategies.
3. Designers Stay Trendy
In this information age, trends and techniques can advance quickly. Part of a designer’s responsibility is to keep up with it all, to know what is going on in pop culture, the design industry and the technology world.
Most designers are constantly reading, researching, learning and evolving so they can stay ahead of the curve and not fall behind. The design archives of AIGA, the professional association for design, is a good place to spot design and advertising trends of the past or present.
Social media marketers must be constantly learning as well. With the growing number blogs, social networks, and expanding social tools, we need to always explore new ways to use social media effectively.
The bottom line is, design and social media are complementary ways of communicating with consumers, so designers and social media marketers would be foolish not to harness the power of both.
Special thanks to Jason Keath for allowing me to post my thoughts here.