Posted on 8/28/2012 9:34 AM by Robert Nieminen

Interiors & Sources Likes Social MediaWell, it’s official – as of late yesterday, we officially surpassed 5,000 “likes” on our Facebook fan page. This may not seem like a significant accomplishment to some, but trust me when I say we are proud of this milestone. I’d sincerely like to thank everyone who has followed us and kept the conversation going on the social network that is changing the way we do business.

Social media is an elusive creature, to be sure. The best and brightest in sales and marketing are still trying to figure out what an effective social media strategy looks like, and while the IPO of Facebook stock turned out to be a huge disappointment (or a predictable flop, depending on who you ask), no one is getting out of the social media game or writing it off as just a passing trend.

READ: Former IIDA President Peter Conant talks about embracing your "inner socialite."

No, I think it’s safe to say social media is here to stay. The question is not whether your firm needs to have a presence on social networking sites, but rather how to choose the right platform and leverage your exposure to effectively interact and communicate with your clients (existing and potential).

Here at I&S, we’ve been curious about how you designers out there use social media in your firms. So we recently conducted a survey of thousands of design professionals to wrap our heads around the role that social media plays in your day-to-day operations (or if at all). The results were both surprising and telling.

Here are a few quick stats to give you a snapshot of how the design world uses social media, followed by a brief analysis of what I think these numbers mean:

  • LinkedIn (68 percent) and Facebook (66 percent) are by far the most popular sites among design professionals, with Twitter coming in a distant third (30 percent)
  • 39 percent of firms surveyed have someone on staff dedicated to marketing their services via social media
  • 45 percent of respondents check their social media account(s) daily, and 51 percent do so by smartphone or tablet
  • A third of the firms surveyed have developed new business as a result of using social media to market their services
  • Only 12 percent of respondents use social media to communicate critical information with clients, but 40 percent report that social media has had a positive impact on their business
  • 35 percent of respondents believe that social media has (or will have) a “very significant” impact on the design of workplaces and other physical spaces, with another 48 percent indicating it will have a “significant” impact on the built environment

What these statistics tell me is that while social media is by no means the predominant avenue for design firms looking to market themselves or communicate with clients, they do point to a growing presence of A&D firms on social networking sites and a reliance on social media to enhance their firm’s marketing efforts.

Also, the last bullet point about social media influencing the design of our work environments is the most exciting (to me, anyway) because here we have a digital phenomenon translating itself into physical space, transforming not just our work habits but the form and function of the places in which they occur. Further, as more young professionals enter the workforce, I predict that these statistics will only continue to rise.

What about you? How are you using social media as a design professional? Does your firm market its services on social networks? Which ones?

Sound off in the comments section below (or click “Like” if you agree with what you’ve read). We’d love to know how your experience with social networking is influencing your business.