SW IMG - 4 Tips for Using Houzz and Pinterest header
Originally published in STIR®

By Lynn Bronson


A look at putting these two social media inspiration sites to work for your business.

If you haven’t yet experimented with either of these social media platforms for inspiration or to build your business, here are a few tips to help you get started.

1. Get up to speed

Pinterest has more than 70 million members who use the site to get ideas for just about everything — from tattoo designs to recipes to paint colors. Images are organized into thematic Pinboards created by users. Content can be uploaded by anyone, from just about anywhere online.

Houzz has more than 16 million unique users — 90 percent of whom are homeowners — coming to the site for design inspiration, project advice, product information and professional reviews. “Houzz has the world’s largest professional image database of home interiors and exteriors — more than 2.5 million photos,” says Liza Hausman, VP of Community for Houzz. Professionals use Houzz to create profiles for their businesses; homeowners use it to create ideabooks for their projects and, increasingly, to research and hire professionals.

2. Have a plan

Shelley Gesler, social media manager at Sherwin-Williams, recommends you consider your needs before you dive into any social media site. “Any designer interested in using social media for their business needs to ask themselves: What are my objectives and goals? Will the users in this channel find what I’m offering relevant?”

A profile on Houzz or Pinterest (or any other social media site) does not replace having a solid website for your business — at least not yet. “If you’re creating a presence in social media to build your business, the goal should be to drive traffic to your website,” Gesler says. If potential clients get excited to learn more about you and what you do, you need to have a place for them to go.

3. Get your feet wet

Gesler also recommends testing the waters first by exploring the sites. “Put yourself in your clients’ shoes. Try out Houzz and Pinterest as they might. Start an ideabook on Houzz, or create a few boards on Pinterest to get a feeling for how they work.” You’ll be armed with insights that will help you make the sites work harder for you.

4. Collaborate with clients

Amy Woolf of Amy Woolf Color Consulting uses both Houzz and Pinterest to work with clients. She asks them to start out on Houzz and create an ideabook — the online version of tearing images out of home decor magazines. “Clients who lack a design vocabulary can use pictures to explain what they’re looking for,” Woolf says. “Then I can translate the visuals into a shared language that we use as a filter for design choices.”

Woolf then uses Pinterest as a “virtual shopping list” for her clients. She sets up boards of product choices for clients so they can click through directly to the sources and make their own purchases. Not only is it more effective than an email with a list of links, Woolf says, it makes it easy to share the same product with multiple clients at a time.

Different sites, different tasks

Developed especially for professionals, Houzz is targeted to the needs of people specifically looking to renovate. Images are uploaded by professionals only, with an eye to being easily searchable. Houzz also offers original content in the form of articles and surveys that speak to current trends in design, as well as a platform for the exchange of ideas among professionals. When you’re ready to get started, Houzz offers support and advice on how to set up and maintain an effective presence.

Less focused and more freewheeling, Pinterest can still be a valuable business-building platform — and chances are more of your clients have already become familiar and comfortable with the interface. And if you’re looking for inspiration from more than just traditional design sources, you’ll find vast opportunities for browsing on Pinterest.

Wherever you start, Woolf offers this caveat for anyone checking out these sites for their business: “Set a timer when you sit down at your computer. These sites can be extremely addictive and time-consuming!”

For added inspiration, check out the Sherwin-Williams boards on Pinterest — as well as those by Jackie Jordan, director of color marketing at Sherwin-Williams — and the Sherwin-Williams ideabooks on Houzz.