Wisconsin based business owner, Kate Gruenke openly admits that for the first three years of being in business she didn’t have real internet and, until only recently, lived far enough out in the sticks to be out of reach of DSL internet. But don’t let that fool you – Kate is a marketing force to be reckoned with, publishing a weekly podcast to help her clients and the wider interior design community achieve their social media marketing goals.
After an unconventional start, Kate loves living out in the middle of nowhere and having the freedom to run her company remotely, helping interior designers and home stagers better market their own businesses. From building websites to nailing their social media strategy, Kate assists her clients with all things digital marketing.
For a first edition of Hopper HQ Spotlight, we had the pleasure of chatting with Kate – better known as Kate The Socialite and founder of Socialite LLC – about the importance of strong personal branding and the benefits of marketing on Instagram.
Please introduce yourself…
Hi, I’m Kate the Socialite, and I specialize in helping interior designers and home stagers market their businesses with ease.
Could you tell us a fun fact about yourself or your business?
The email newsletters I create for my clients often land them new projects mere minutes after being sent to their contact lists.
How long has Instagram been part of your marketing strategy and in your opinion, should brands consider add it to their own marketing mix?
I’ve been on Instagram for around a year and a half. Prior to that, I focused only on Facebook and Google+. Since adding Instagram to my social media marketing strategy, I have gained even more clients and have grown my mailing list (which sends people into my sales funnel if they aren’t ready to buy right now). I’ve also started fielding requests from other brands who want me to promote them.
If you want to establish yourself as a professional and make it easier for magazines to find and feature you, you absolutely must have an active presence on Instagram.
In your opinion, why is a strong, personal brand so important when selling your expertise as a service and how did you go about establishing ‘Kate the Socialite’?
Oh, such a good and multi-layered question! I once operated under a different name, but it didn’t attract my ideal client. Since I now work solely with designers and stagers, I needed a business name, logo, website, and overall aesthetic that would appeal to them. To catch the right client, you have to present yourself as the right bait.
My brand (aka, the personality of my business) is me and my potential clients need to first know, like, and trust me before they will hire me or buy from me. I could be selling the best digital product or service on earth, but no one will care about it if they don’t first care about me.
As the business owner, it’s my responsibility to give them something to care about and to facilitate that relationship with them. I need to go find them and become the solution to their specific marketing problems–and that’s exactly what I’ve done. My clients are located all over the US, UK, Canada, and Australia.
As Instagram gives people the opportunity to communicate their personalities through great visual content and engaging Stories – your own feed gives a great snapshot into who you are – how do you determine what falls under your personal brand and your personal life?
I love this question and have several answers for it:
- If I’m in the middle of a situation, I don’t share it. I wait until it passes, even if it’s good. This allows me to live in the moment, reflect on the situation as a whole, and be able to craft a cohesive story around what happened. If I’m about to share something “negative,” I first make sure to take a positive perspective on it, to find the grain of truth or the encouragement that can help someone who is in a similar situation. If I can’t find that angle to my situation, I don’t share it.
- I also don’t share stories that involve other people, even if they are close to me, unless I have their permission.
- I make sure I’m not whining, complaining, or speaking badly about someone else. Every Instagram caption I write affects how people will think about me and my business. I have to be careful with every post.
- That said, I avoid political posts. However, I don’t hold back when talking about my faith in God. I don’t push it on people (and I work with a diverse clientele), but I share it because it is a huge part of who I am. It affects every decision I make, how I run my business, and how I serve my clients.
Plan your social media posts.
Visually plan your posts. Drag and drop everywhere.
From your own experience, what would your top tips be to any interior designers or home stagers just starting out on Instagram, to help them stand out within the community?
If you feel like a tiny voice in a room full of shouting people, just know you’re not the only one. Instagram is making it more and more difficult to get your posts noticed. Here are a few things you can do it fix that:
- Post content that will inspire, educate, and / or entertain your audience.
- Avoid salesly, promotional posts (you should only use posts like this 20% of the time)
- Establish an aesthetic for your feed; curate it and guard it closely, even when sharing content from others.
- Avoid posting low quality, grainy, blurry, or poorly lit photos (especially if they are photos of your work); professional photography increases the perceived value of your service and makes your posts more likely to be shared by shelter magazines (Home & Garden, anyone?).
- Use 25-30 hashtags on each image you post.
- Craft a caption that tells a story or allows fans a glimpse behind the scenes, even if it’s short.
- Post consistently, at least 4 times per week. (Post consistency is the main reason I switched to HopperHQ. I love that Hopper auto-posts my content to Instagram. I can truly set it and forget instead of being bothered by push notifications on my phone.)
- Avoid Instagram pods; at face value, they sound great, but they actually skew your analytics. Bottom line: If you have to be part of a pod in order for your posts to get noticed, you need to post better content and follow the tips I listed above
We loved your podcast on the ‘8 Dangerous Marketing Tactics You Should Avoid’ – having dispelled some marketing myths, what do you tip as the Instagram marketing tactics interior design businesses and brands should be considering in 2018?
To grow your Instagram following in 2018, serious think about and answer these questions:
- What is your end game for Instagram? Do you plan to wildly chase the likes and treats fans like numbers instead of people, or will you commit to authentically engaging with the fans you’ve gotten organically (aka: not from a pod)?
- If you crave more fans on Instagram, why? More fans do not equal more money in your pocket. Instead of amassing random fans, commit to knowing who your ideal client is and to posting things that you know they like.
- As yourself, “How much in enough? Once all these people start following me, what am I going to do with them?”
You have to have a plan in place ahead of time that will ensure you are attracting your ideal client and ensure that you are able to take that ideal client off social media and into your mailing list–where the sales happen. Instagram isn’t the end all-be all.
Instagram is a powerful tool, but it only works if you do. It’s time to get serious about using Instagram as the beginning of your sales funnel for your interior design or home staging business.
Take step one: Get a Hopper account and schedule out a month’s worth of posts. You will not be disappointed with the results!
If you aren’t sure what to post on Instagram or if you have trouble with creating captions, head over here: www.socialitevault.com
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