Most Italian furniture design brands do ok on social media but they are miles from the achievements of fashion labels. Yet even a chair could go viral: if only…
Irony, satire and trash nonsense are the ingredients that make corporate communications viral: from snacks to beers, passing through the detergents and TV series, having fun all of us. In design, however, only Ikea does it. Think of the clip with a Steve Jobs wannabe who presents the paper catalog as an iPad (“wireless, eternal battery, to turn pages just enough to your finger”)? Or the one taking the mickey on Instagram’s #foodporn (we’re in the ‘700s, the father blocks the kids with the spoon in hand because he has to portray the beautiful dinner though with a painter it takes hours). And what about the movie on conspiracies (with the narrator voice that reveals obscure happenings – from Brexit to the arrival of aliens – among the pages of the catalog). They are so funny that – marketers’ dream! – no one is ashamed of becoming men and women sandwich 2.0 and promote, through re-post, the Swedish brand. You do not feel exploited because you receive in return something precious and human that you instinctively want to give to someone you love: a smile.
So the key to success on social media is to make people laugh? “Not necessarily. Rather, it’s an attitude. Because on social networks as well as in life, of course, it’s appreciated when the desire to give come before than of receiving, “says Daniele Lago. With more than one million contacts, Lago Arredamenti is number one on Facebook among the Italian design furniture manufacturers. IkeaItalia, which is not ranked because it’s Swedish, has almost 25 million thanks to the link to the global page. But, according to the monthly reports that Facebook delivers to companies, Lago has more active reactions to posts than Ikea Italia.
Browsing the postings, though, one is amazed: the content is quite normal, it’s about products, internal happenings, and events. And posts are not sponsored. Why are reactions so numerous? “Because from the business page, people want service information or inspirational photos,” says Daniele Lago. “We want to go higher elsewhere: on my personal profile, for example, and offline meetings: we organize it on average 150 per year. A dual on and off-line communication that was not built in a day, by employing a twenty-year social media expert.”
Very true. The desire to become a cultural agitator exists in his company since he took the reins in 2006 and created, three years later, the concept of the Apartment, furnished homes in various cities around the world, handled by those who want to organize debates, encounters, dinners open to everyone to talk about things that count for those who know nothing about design: like kindness, empathy, robotization, work, things internet. Add to this the various bistros that Lake opens to corollary of events (the next one will be at Artissima) and the B & B that fits for those who want to start renting on Airbnb (with Lake Welcome Home concept) and you have the explanation why the audience young man, he feels part of the Lake community. And why all the talk between a tartina and the other, translates into ‘a + 10% of sales attributable to Facebook contacts’.».
This attitude, which begins with a listening attitude that only those who truly live among people master, is what is missing from most design brands according to Stefano Mirti, professor at the Master of Relational Design at the Milan Design and Visual Arts Center (and social media manager for Expo2015 ). “It is curious that the world of furniture has so far not shown great ability to interact with the public: it’s odd because what it sells – beuatiful objects – has all the characteristics to function really wekll on social media. The problem is the elite attitude of the brands, who they consider themselves relevant by their own mere existance, and tell stories often self-referential. Perhaps because, in truth, design suffers from the minor brother syndrome: the feeling to be second best to art and architecture”. According to Mirti, this is the demonstration that even in a seemingly “empty” universe such as that of social media what matters is the hones desire to get be close to an audience, and to chat on an equal level. “Design does it during the Fuorisalone when, and it is not by chance, the hashtag #design becomes trending on the web. But when the lights of the last party are switched off, everything is business as usual again”.
Pedestals are not admitted. «Even in the social media world what counts is the honesty of the desire to talk, as equals, to an audience»
How do you reverse this trend? “Descending from the pedestal and allowing people to become active characters of their own story”, says Mirti. “As Christo did on Lake Iseo, where the work of art was not so much the walkway as the show of people walking on it, and happy to be there. “
Involving people, then, even if it seems a bit cheap, is the key. And doing it with the curiosity of a dive into the reality of people who are not necessarily ignorant because they do not know who Alvar Aalto was. Some already do this with campaigns that promise to repost users’ pictures: like Kartell (179,000 followers on Instagram) and Moroso (149,000). But what works for them could not do it for others. “When asked: how to create a community, there is no answer,” says Stefano Mirti. “It is the rule of the garden: if we prepare the ground, with love and without haste, we can have some good results.”