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So, you run a design office.  Or you work at one.  Maybe you’ve been tasked with “doing social media” for them (or yourself), since everyone’s doing it nowadays, and you don’t want to be “that guy/firm”.

Welcome to the Jungle.

Of course you start with a Facebook page, because all your competitors already have one and EVERYBODY is on Facebook.  Page created – begin celebration of being young and hip.

What’s this twitter deal?  All the kids are talking about the “tweets”, so we’ll sign up for that one too.  Hey, may as well be everywhere.  All it takes is one potential client to find us.

Next, Instagram.  That’s like Twitter, but with pictures.  We designers like pictures.  While we’re at it, let’s do Vine.  Like Instagram, but with videos.

Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Vine – done and done (and done and done).  Begin celebration and watching that bank account balance grow.

Hell, I’ll start blogging too.  I’ve got some important shit to say and if the rest of these yahoos can make a good blog and make money, surely I can do it…  I design the world for Christ’s sake!

In case you haven’t realized it yet, this is the exact progression that I’ve gone through in my own social experiment.  Except I started the blog first, then ignored it, then started back up again – you get the idea.

So, you have all these channels on this infinitely long tail.  Now what?  What do you put on Twitter that doesn’t give the impression that you sit and read articles all day for the sake of posting them to look cool?  What if you’d really love to listen and engage, but you’re in an industry that isn’t products or technology, and none of your potential clients are going to post “What can I use as a substitute for Live Oak and still meet my canopy and parking lot shade req’s?” Answer: Sycamore (for you San Antonians).

How the hell do 6-second videos, pictures with hipster effects, Tumblrs, Snapchats, and all this other fun stuff help you run a better design business?

I’m not sure that they can, at least in the traditional sense.

But, they can help you expose YOURSELF to the world and vise-versa.  If people aren’t asking questions directly about your profession, find some tangential way to help them that has nothing to do with your business, but with you as a person.  Explore your hobbies and become an expert at something other than the way you make money.

My guess is that having the profile of a well-rounded, courteous, honest, talented person online absolutely CAN NOT hurt your business.  That person you just gave the tip to about seasoning sauteed green beans with fresh Thyme to create a savory side dish – they might just become your next client.

So, if you haven’t yet figured out how to reach your target clients with all these social tools, maybe pick a few and figure out how YOU might like to use them – for yourself.  Hopefully the rest takes care of itself; you’ll probably have fun either way.