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Social media and Italian design brands


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.


Sono anni che Lago organizza momenti di incontro e scambio nelle città.

Sono anni che Lago organizza momenti di incontro e scambio nelle città.









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’.».

«Anche una comunicazione top down a volte funziona: il successo dipende dalla reputazione del marchio», dice Mirti

«A top down communication also works but depends on the brand’s repupation», says Stefano Mirti

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.”


Uno still dal video di Gianluca Vassallo per Maestrie di Foscarini

A still from the video by Gianluca Vassallo: Maestrie, by Foscarini

Simone Ardoino of Crearepassaparola, social media manager for Foscarini, agrees. The Italian light brand has been collecting successes on the networks: at the last Mobile Show #foscarini was the most used hashtag (data: TalkWalker). “The ground was prepared with a countdown,” explains Ardoino, “posting 14 shorts of artist-photographer Gianluca Vassallo, announcing the hashtag #fareluce, title of the exhibition in the showroom in Brera and a book on light in art and architecture, without any reference to the product. “

It is a double register, a pop and a more ‘content’ oriented one, on which Foscarini has always worked. Alongside easy initiatives (like distributing at Euroluce bubble-shaped cards, each with an adjective, inviting people to use them in selfie to say how they feel – resulted in 28,000 home-made papers, more than 1,000 independent posts generated by users, and 140,000 visions for dedicated videos), the company creates others conceived to make people think. Like inviting perfect strangers to pose under its lamp in the streets of New York and to be photographed by Gianluca Vassallo after watching for three minutes in each others’ eyes. It was to tell the world that diversity is a problem only in our head, that we are the same when we look inside. A message of political and social significance, in which design is but communication, “says Ardoino. “Foscarini is allowed and trusted when it talks about things like these because it’s been creating cultural programmes for years: with its Inventario magazine, with its presence at major art events such as the Venice Biennale, through photos and video projects (the latest, Maestrie,  is an artistic tale for images and videos about craftsmanship, always from Vassallo). I have customers who expect a direct connection between social media investment and sales growth, but social networks do not transform brands: they amplify what is already.

That is why who has credibility and a strong passion for a passionate audience can afford a top-down approach – mere communication of business content through cutting-edge images. It does B & B Italia (number 6 in Pambianco ’17). And explains why the Instagram account of design critic Alice Rawsthorn has an extraordinary following, despite the fact that she uses it for doing the opposite of what experts suggest: posting non-original images (from books or exhibits), writing long texts, insisting with the same argument for several days (facing a theme of design history per week). Because virality is thus directly proportional to the person’s credibility. Maje us smile, then, or think, or be the smart or creative protagonists of something. Give us contents that are relevant. And re-posting will come natural, and will be deserved.

1 Comment

  1. Social media strategy is best for furniture business. It is easy to mix basic tech in marketing techniques for an industry that feels both traditional and fresh. Ital Furniture Company using all social media for gets better public response.

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