Vanessa and Michelle have nailed one of the most important things about Instagram, the hashtag! They use a variety of hashtags in each post that have a wide range of popularity. It's important to have a hi/low mix of hashtags because if you only include those that are MOST popular, your work will get buried in everyone else's content.
1. Who are you, what do you do, and how did it all begin?
Vanessa: My name is Vanessa Matsalla and I’m owner and Interior Designer of Studio Matsalla based out of San Diego, California. I also co-write Nichole Therese Design with my best friend and Designer, Michelle Lisac. I started working for two San Francisco-based designers when I graduated college almost ten years ago. I started from the bottom as an expeditor and worked my way up as a Designer. I took a few years off to explore the SF tech start-up scene and realized my heart was still beating for design. I decided to launched my own firm in early 2014, here in San Diego.
Michelle: Hi, my name is Michelle Lisac and I'm a Scorpio...just kidding! I am an Interior Designer in the San Francisco Bay Area. I currently work at a wonderful firm in Menlo Park where I serve as a designer and furniture specialist. I am fortunate to co-write a design blog, Nichole Therese Design, with my wonderfully talented friend Vanessa Matsalla. We actually have a similar background; we both have a Bachelors degree in Marketing and both started at the same design company, which is where we met.
2. Where can we find you on social media?
Vanessa: Our blog instagram is @nicholetheresedesign and our blog is nicholetheresedesign.com - Vanessa’s personal interior design projects are found on her instagram @__vanessatherese and @veetherese on Pinterest. My personal work and website is www.studiomatsalla.com
3. What is your favorite hashtag?
Vanessa: Right now, it’s #ihavethisthingwithfloors. It’s a funky and colorful curation of beautiful floors and cute shoes! For business purposes, tagging a simple line of #interiordesign #decor #design has helped us immensely, in terms of exposure. It helps us connect and find with others who have a passion for beautiful spaces and design.
Michelle: I love the hashtag #shelfie. It is a clever blend of selfie and shelf and it is great way to tag photos of your beautifully staged shelves.
4. Why do you use social media?
Vanessa: I love sharing my projects and anything captivating or inspiring I come across. Social media has allowed so many of us to share such inspiring parts of our lives and this beautiful world we all share. I find it to be a positive outlet when it’s viewed and used in the right way.
Michelle: I also love sharing projects and sharing our current ideas and inspirations. What I love most about social media is how it connects people. We have "met" so many people and companies through Nichole Therese Design. I'll never forget the day that Trina Turk liked and commented on one of our posts, I had a total design geek-out moment!
5. Which tools do you use for creating or posting content?
Vanessa: For Instagram, I almost always doctor my photos with PicFX. I find that adding warmth and brightening an already great photo, only makes it better. For our blog, I use Pixelmator ($30 download for Mac). It’s very similar to Photoshop and allows me to create collages, add text and make our posts look much more dynamic. Natural light is also a must. I never take a photo at night or under dark lighting.
Michelle: For creating collages and adjusting photos I use GIMP 2.8, it is similar to Photoshop and you can download it free.
6. What effect does social media have on your business?
Vanessa: It’s proven to be an important tool for the growth of both my interior design business and our blog readership. We blog approximately three times a week and post one photo every day on our shared instagram. With this structure, we’ve averaged about 260 new readers/followers a month since we started last year.
7. How do you measure success on social media?
Vanessa: Capturing ROI on any type of marketing is a struggle for most businesses. The amount of Instagram followers certainly does not equal raging success. I measure success on the amount of doors it opens and exposure it gives us as business owners. The more exposure to potential clients and partners, the better. It’s as simple as that.
8. What aspect of social media do you find most challenging?
Vanessa: Forced inspiration. A beautiful photo should come naturally and I find that when I’m trying too hard to share and/or post something I think our readers will like, it backfires. Similarly to my design approach, I select and design around my design eye and my gut. Anything forced almost never yields a positive result, or new followers.
9. What makes you follow another brand back?
Vanessa: I love Instagram for the intentional curation it allows us to create and own. When I scroll through my feed, I look to be inspired. I tend to follow brands that coincide with my personal aesthetic or interests. If you’re following a brand only to have them follow you back, you’re missing a genuine opportunity to connect and be successful long-term.
10. Which brands have social media you admire?
Vanessa: I love @thelittlemarket, their products and philanthropic efforts. Their feed is always inspiring, colorful and full of good vibes.
Michelle: I enjoy @psimadethis and love following all of her amazing DIY adventures. It is inspiring and over the top at the same time.
11. Any advice for other brands just getting started on social media?
Vanessa: Structure and consistency. Most of our success is based on a schedule we abide by and the consistency of our output.
Michelle: Definitely consistency and good content. You have to put time and effort into it if you want to see results, just like anything else.