Pinterest is Doin’ it Right – Openly and Honestly

pinterest 2It’s no surprise that Pinterest has decided to add sponsored pins to our Pinterest accounts; I mean, how else are they going to make a profit? But what I did find surprising – and refreshing – was how Ben Silbermann, co-founder and CEO of Pinterest, sent us Pinterest users a nice letter (that he also shared as a blog post: Planning for the Future), sharing his personal pins to help demonstrate the changes that we’ll see coming.

What’s different here isn’t that Pinterest made this announcement, rather it’s how they made the announcement that’s different. It wasn’t a formal, official, corporate-like statement that appeared when you opened your account; it was a nice, open letter (delivered via a personalized email to those with a Pinterest account) that felt more like a conversation – even though it’s not like I actually conversed with Ben, but I did look at his Pinterest page and got to know him a little bit better as a person. Ben shared the pins he plans to share with his son – while he’s small and while he’s older – something that I (a mom) could relate to. Point being, Ben first and foremost identified a way to relate to me, and many people, as a user of Pinterest.

Ben was also very upfront and honest – an admirable quality. He makes it very clear in his letter that they – Pinterest – don’t yet know what this means, yet they chose to give us fair warning. Who does that these days?! He goes on to give us an idea and a few examples of what promotional pins might be like while still making it clear that this isn’t happening tomorrow, rather it will be an evolution.

Ben’s letter was kind, compassionate, and open. What’s more is that this isn’t the first time he’s done this – we Pinterest users have received other letters from Ben, i.e. the letter announcing the secret board capability (perfect if you’re pregnant, want to plan and not ready to share!). I realize that promotional pins beg a lot of questions but for now I can’t help but be excited for Pinterest – as a company and as a user. And I think they’re open, honest approach is one we can learn from.

If you’re interested in learning more about Pinterest, how to use it for your business or how they’re experimenting with promoting pins, you can fill out this form and they’ll share updates as their launch date approaches. Enjoy.

 

The super-secret, guaranteed effective guide to building engagement in social media


It’s unfortunate, really. I didn’t even want to write this post. But after endless conversations about the secret to building engagement, I realized it needed to be said.  So here it is. Are you ready? Read carefully, the super-secret, guaranteed effective guide to building engagement in social media:

The super-secret, guaranteed effective guide to building engagement in social media.

  1. Provide value to your audience

 

Oh, I’m sorry. Were you waiting for more? That’s it. That’s all you have to do. A lot of marketers will talk to you about social media engagement strategy like it’s a secret recipe for Sunday sauce handed down from their great grandmother. They’ll say you need one part education, two parts consumer spotlight, a dash of sales-oriented content and with a little love you suddenly have three-million comments, Likes and retweets.

Sure, there may be a certain mix of content that works for your brand, but only because you’re selling a particular product to a particular audience with a particular interest. That’s what they like.

You might think this is a bland recipe, but let it simmer. Think about it. There are two operative words: value and audience.

 

Audience

The folks in your online community are already customers, right? So you should know who they are and what they want (If you don’t know them, you have bigger problems than social media). Now, all you have to do is talk to them. Post things they want to see. If you were talking face-to-face with a customer, how would they respond to your latest update? Would they say “Wow, neat!” or would it be more like “Oh, I see.” Users were gracious enough to click that Like or follow button. Now give them something in return.

All too often, management wants to highlight moments that make management proud and make the organization look good. That’s fine – if you can honestly say your audience would find it valuable. Photos from your company picnic probably won’t do the trick.

The people in your online community are there because you share some common value.  Don’t ruin that relationship by telling them to think, feel or believe something different.

 

Value

Value isn’t just education. It can come in a lot of forms and it’s completely dependent on your audience. For example, there is a little newspaper is my hometown (I’m convinced their number of Facebook Likes is higher than their circulation). Every day, they post a poll question. Polls vary from local to state to national issues. You can always count on huge numbers of people posting paragraph-long responses. So how is this tiny daily providing value? It gives local politiphiles a place to voice their opinions. If you’ve gone to the trouble of Liking your local newspaper on Facebook, it’s safe to say you like to discuss current events. And hey, why not do it with a bunch of strangers on Facebook where you’re less likely to offend any friends or coworkers.

 

Skittles is another great example of providing value to your audience. With all current events aside, Skittles knows its audience on social media. I chuckle every time I read an update from skittles. See the below image if you need an example. You might say humor isn’t valuable from a marketing standpoint. But at the end of the day, what is Skittles as a brand?  Sure it’s food. But it’s not healthy. It’s not innovative. It’s fun – just plain old fun. Skittles are bright, colorful and easy to share with friends, just like their musings on Facebook.

So, next time you write a Tweet or click the “post” button, just ask yourself: Am I providing value to my audience? If the answer is yes, engagement shouldn’t be a problem.

 

3 Reasons why Pinning is #Winning

“Pin it” seems to be the catchphrase of the social media world as a result from the latest online craze, aka Pinterest. And, guess what? The picture/video-sharing site is sticking with users just as well as Ellen’s singing sensations Sophia Grace and Rosie (you have to check out their latest performance).

Pinterest Logo

Pinterest logo, courtesy of Google Images.

There are tons of articles floating around the cyber world that break down all you ever wanted to know about Pinterest, but we’ve boiled it down to the top three reasons why “Pinning is Winning.”

  1. Sight: There is a reason why people say “A picture is worth a thousand words.” And when it comes to Pinterest, that is a lot of words. The pictures on Pinterest are appealing and serve as a form of expression that can be interpreted in different ways and can represent various things we see on a day-to-day basis. Look at it this way: are you more willing to try a new recipe if you read about it or if you see a picture of it?
  2. Categories: It does not take long to notice the countless types of boards and categories Pinterest covers. I mean, the name Pinterest speaks for itself—the root word being interest if you have not caught on by now. From recipes to technology, Pinterest allows users to focus on their own interests, explore and share with others. It has become the go-to hub for sharing ideas, and it serves as a brands’ Mecca for monitoring and keying in on audiences’ interests. Who would have thought, right?
  3. Links: Pinterest gives credit where credit is due. Instead of seeing a picture or video and scrambling through webpage after webpage to find it, Pinterest serves as your personal tour guide and takes you to the exact page it came from. This is where the whole “what’s in it for me” comes into play. It is a great way for companies to direct new visitors or loyal consumers directly to its website or blog because they are clearly looking for something. Linking individuals back to a brand’s website is also an excellent way to create engagement and give users a reason to return.

Bottom line: Do not doubt the power of Pinterest. It has taken the world by storm and is raising the bar every day of how we share and explore online. I will just let this infographic speak for itself. http://mashable.com/2012/02/25/pinterest-user-demographics/

 

What’s so “Super” about the Super Bowl?

Super Bowl 46 LogoFor football fans, it’s a holy day. For others, it’s just an excuse to pig out and down some brewskies. But, no matter the age, gender or motive, the Super Bowl represents a profound experience that makes it an “unofficial” holiday in our American culture. As each year passes, it seems as if the brains behind the Super Bowl operations look for the next big idea to take fans’ experience to the next level.

This year, the land of Peyton Manning, Touchdown Jesus and Bobby Knight is the new home of the Super Bowl and the first-ever social media command center created by the Indianapolis Super Bowl XLVI Host Committee to provide visitors with a whole new type of game-day experience. (It’s in Indiana if you’re still in the dark with those sport references.)

The Game Plan

The new social media experience angle of this year’s big game is spearheaded by a group of individuals from Raidious, an Indiana-based social media company, who are committed to giving “Hoosier hospitality” to fans and visitors of Indianapolis by monitoring social media outlets and answering questions about local attractions, parking and other Super Bowl-related topics.

Raidious Super Bowl social media command center

Raidious Super Bowl social media command center

The social media platforms which will be monitored include Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Flickr and Foursquare. The command center is giving others the play-by-play now through Super Bowl Sunday.

The Drive

But, there’s more to this social media-savvy event. The command center goes for a two-point conversion with its SEO efforts, and in my eyes, really puts those extra points up on the board. Not only will the individuals manning (No pun intended, but go Giants) the center monitor conversations occurring on various outlets, they will also use SEO to highlight keywords and phrases people are searching with to obtain certain information.  According to FastCompany.com, a list of about 300 keywords will be used to monitor all social media outlets as well as the Twitter hashtag, #Social46.

The End Zone

Here’s the bottom line: it’s all about customer satisfaction, which directly relates to the individuals’ experience. No matter what business you’re in or which event you’re preparing for, you want outsiders or customers to walk away with the “wow” factor. It’s like Thanksgiving dinner when your mom seems as if her head is going to pop off faster than the cork on a champagne bottle just because she wants everyone to have a great time full of memories.

This social media command center accomplishes that same goal because it reaches out and makes a connection with Super Bowl attendees and tourists visiting Indianapolis. By serving as the scouting team, individuals are left feeling valued and taken care of because the command center has the ultimate Super Bowl playbook. The best offense is a good defense, and by being a step ahead of the game, you are almost always guaranteed to cross the goal line. So whether you’re tuning in for entertaining commercials or watching to see which team will clinch the Vince Lombardi Trophy, remember it’s all about your experience and the memories you take away.