Saturday, April 24, 2010

On speaking at the #140 conference

I recently had the opportunity, at the invitation of Shira Abel (Twitter ID: @shiraabel), a high tech marketing maven with an interior design blog named "tchochkes", to speak on a panel at the #140 Conference on Twitter and Interior Design. [ The archived video is available at:]

During our whirlwind 15 minutes, which the Twitter conference had provided us with, for a moderator and three panelists (myself (@johnstrauss), Grace Bonney (@designsponge) of Design*Sponge, and Angela Gruszka (@ABC_Carpet) - Public Relations Director at ABC Carpet and Home ) we had limited opportunities to articulate our thoughts on the world of Social Media. So I thought I would follow up here with a few additional ideas.

First of all, as I said on the panel: I began as a huge skeptic. But one year later and I have over 1200 "followers" , many of whom are in the design trade as Interior Designers, Architects, affiliated manufacturers, woodworkers, furniture designers, media folk, etc. I generally don't follow back people outside this orbit so it is not the number of followers I am after (as many on Twitter are) but the quality of the ones I relate to. I think I could count on one hand the ones I knew before starting off on Twitter so that means about 1200 people in my field are to a greater or lesser degree aware of what I do that I wouldn't have been in touch with otherwise.

Of these followers, some have contacted me for quotes and one of those requests will no doubt soon become my first "Twitter job". Others may contact me in the near future. Several of the people/companies I follow have already worked with me in one capacity or another to produce work. (Examples are below) And it was a Twitter connection that led to me being invited to be on the #140 conference panel. (and many opportunities may follow from that). Through Twitter I have friends that I talk to about our chickens, a friend whom I exchange Hebrew words with to further my slow learning of the language, and new friends in Israel that I could visit when I go there next. Through Twitter I now have a community of friends who get together for "Tweetups" at the different furniture markets and who are now friends "in real life". The hugs we give each other when we meet are genuine and heartfelt.

So some examples of the networking results: @copperhandman, otherwise known as Rich Hawk and I tweeted first and then spoke by email and phone about a collaboration. I invited Rich to show some work in my High Point showroom last October and to collaborate on a three-panel screen that I designed. The result was shown in Interior Design magazine in their Market review issue that came out about a few months ago. From that picture, I have one custom job that I am currently completing for a pop-up television cabinet, with copper doors. (photo will be coming soon) Through Twitter, I met Alexandra Gibson (@gibsondm) who with Gibson Design Group helped me with a rendering of a project I designed for a new building of a local non-profit. The rendering was displayed at the building dedication so that they could identify a funder for the project. Through Twitter I have met many people involved in marketing furniture companies such as @tkpleslie, @prosperbydesign and @leslienewby who have along with many others been extremely supportive of my ventures and designs. (I have not paid them for their kind words - yet!) Through Twitter I have received coverage of my work from Home Accents Today (@WesAtHome and @tracybulla) and HER Nashville (@designvine). On Twitter I have exchanged communications with Kathy Ireland (@kathyireland) and Mariel Hemingway (@marielhemingway). I could continue in this vein, but the overarching concept is that any of this would have been unlikely without engaging on Twitter.

In the next post, some further musings on the philosophical and social underpinnings of Twitter as it relates to our understanding of the "Public Sphere". Stay tuned.

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