BY KIM T. GORDON
Want to know how to spend your marketing dollars this fall? Here's a hint--throw out last year's plan and start fresh. The economic downturn coupled with the rise in social media and the full-bore acceptance of an internet that's accessible virtually everywhere has forever changed the way customers shop.
Rather than rely solely on media such as television, radio, newspapers and magazines, it's time to allocate a larger percentage of your budget to less traditional tactics. Winning and keeping customers now calls for innovative marketing that engages prospects in more direct ways. As you plan your holiday marketing tactics, be sure to factor in these three critical elements for a campaign that will work in today's socially and economically altered marketplace:1. New Media Has Taken Hold
This is not the time for an off-the-shelf media buy. Now is the time to integrate traditional media with new ways of reaching customers. For example, you could use cable TV ads to build recognition and credibility for your business, and newspaper ads to draw prospects to specific price promotions. But both techniques produce better results today if combined with a terrific interactive company website--the first stop many customers make to learn more about you--as well as positive online reviews and recommendations on third-party sites. If you regularly use radio advertising, this fall combine it with a social media effort built around a fun or innovative concept that keeps customers listening for the next installment in your ad campaign.2. One-on-one Communication Builds Bonds
They say everything old is new again, and that couldn't be more on point when it comes to devising opportunities for customer interaction. Consumers who are evaluating every purchase want to make safe and sound decisions. So they're spending their money at businesses, and on products and services, they trust to deliver on every level--from the purchase itself to customer service, low price guarantees and shopping convenience.
Create opportunities to communicate directly with customers. If you're a retailer, it's a great time to revive or step up in-store demonstrations, workshops and other events. And customer appreciation events that allow you to share information can be held in your office or off-site. Once you're face-to-face with customers you'll have the opportunity to communicate in ways that can never be achieved strictly through media advertising alone.3. Consumers Expect to Be Engaged and Understood
In this era of instant and pervasive interpersonal communication, engagement through online dialogue helps customers relate to your company or brand. The key to establishing a positive relationship is to demonstrate that your company cares about the same things its customers care about. Encourage customers to talk with you or about you, just so long as you get them talking.
There are several smart ways to engage customers online. You can participate actively in social networking websites and add an interactive element to your own company website where customers can communicate with you and each other.
This fall, consider selecting individuals to be part of an online "advisory" group that will provide you with feedback and insight in exchange for early notifications of sales, new products and offers, or free or additional rewards. You can post their insights through a message board or blog and feature stories about their experiences with your products or services on your site.
Are there charitable causes that are important to your customers? There's no better way to demonstrate you share their concerns than by contributing your time or dollars to address issues important to them. Detail your charitable efforts on your website to demonstrate that your company is one customers can trust and believe in.
by Neil Patel
HGTV. Nordstrom. West Elm. ModCloth. Those are some of the big name retailers who are using Pinterest
to drive significant traffic to their retail websites. In fact, Pinterest has become so popular it is driving more traffic than Google+
to retailers’ sites.
I think it is safe to say that as marketers it’s time to take this social network site seriously. But what exactly is Pinterest? And how do you use it to promote your business or brand?
Well, this guide will help you get started.
What is Pinterest?
Pinterest is becoming a social network site for sharing interesting images you find online. Think of it as an image-based social bookmarking tool like delicious.com
…but with a better
These images, once uploaded to the site, are known as Pins. Users can place these pins on boards customized under a theme. You can create any kind of theme you want…architecture, motorcycles or even history.
Fifty-nine percent of its “pinners” are women between 25 and 40 years of age. Women also make up 58% of its unique visitors.
It’s been on a spectacular growth in the last six months
with 40 times the number of visitors. In fact, Time magazine called Pinterest
one of the top five social networking sites.
The site is so popular they are controlling growth by making you enter your email address to get on a waiting list to become a pinner. However, this should only take a couple of days.
How to pinPinning is pretty easy. You can link to a website or upload an image. Or you can install the Pin It button from Pinterest
Pinterest will grab the web address anytime you pin content so you don’t have to worry about crediting the original source. After you’ve grabbed an image, your next step is to assign it to a board, add a caption and you’re done.
It’s better to create boards that are narrow in focus
. If you have fifty boards on very tight subjects…social media tools, 20s silent movies, Seattle micro beers…you are more likely to catch the attention of someone who shares your interest.
How to add prices to your pinsIf you want to add the price to something you pin, you can include it in the description. A header will then appear over the content with the price.
How to pin on Pinterest with your iPhoneYou can also pin images with your iPhone.
And make sure you tag your images. This will help your images to be found when people search Pinterest.
What to pin on Pinterest
When it comes to what to pin, the possibilities are endless. Right now the leading pins tend to be fashion, crafts, photography or architecture.
If you do a quick glance of the most popular pins you’ll notice one thing…they are stunning, unique or useful.
That should tell you something. Those who are really enjoying Pinterest are very visual.
And sure, you could just pin random, cool stuff you find across the web…but the power behind Pinterest lies in the ability to organize content around a theme or project.
How to create boards on PinterestFor the best user experience, anything you pin to a board should relate directly to that board. This will also increase the likelihood of people following your boards.
Create a title for the board, and always add a description:
Why should you create a board? You could create boards for…
- A car you are fixing up and pin ideas for things you want to do to modify the car.
- Each room of the house you want to redecorate.
- Pin images that are ideas for blog posts.
- Birthday wish list.
- Recipes and cooking ideas.
- Items you might need to go on a camping trip.
- Movies you want to see or books you want to read.
A board can have multiple contributors, so you can work with other people on a project, seeing all the ideas that are being shared. You can invite others to contribute, but they must be one of your followers.
10 tools to help you find great content for PinterestMost people who are professional web surfers are not short on coming across stunning and useful images. However, even the best of us need a little help to find inspiration when it comes to pinning. Here are ten tools I recommend.
- StumbleUpon – Choose a topic you are interested in and then click “Stumble” and this discovery-engine will deliver surprising results to your screen. When you see an image you like, pin it.
- Facebook – Follow people who share extraordinary photos on Facebook. When you find a pic you like, search the web for the original source to pin. Pinterest won’t let you pin from Facebook directly.
- Google+ - Follow some power users on this site who tend to share stuff that is both work related and fun. Google’s Marissa Mayer shares pics of her extreme hiking trips while explorer Trey Ratcliff posts pics of great stuff when he travels across the globe.
- Twitter – People share content on Twitter all the time, especiallyTwitter power users. When someone shares a pick, click through and pin it.
- Blekko – You can eliminate the spam stuff from your searches with Blekko, giving you highly-targeted search engine results and inspiring images.
- Paper.li – With Paper.li, you can turn all of your social network feeds…Twitter, Facebook and blogs…into a stream of news content that you can scroll through quickly to get that gem of a pin.
- Delicious – You may have forgotten about delicious.com, and not even used it forever, but it’s still a great place where people save content. You can skim your connections’ list of stuff that they are sharing, crawl through a stack or simply search under specific topics to find great images to pin.
- Google Reader – If you want a quick and dirty way to see what all your favorite blogs are sharing, stick them in a reader like Google’s. Sites that are picture heavy that you might want to add are The Big Picture by Boston Globe, This Isn’t Happiness or Hawlin’s MOOD. Follow the pics from those last two sites and you’ll discover great niche sites that share great images, too.
- Bundlr – Surf this curation tool to find inspiring images to pin. Look at their most-popular collection or staff’s pick to find the unique and useful image.
- Pinterest – It should seem obvious, but simply working through Pinterest several times a day will lead to some amazing images to re-pin. Don’t forget to @mention the original poster when you do.
9 reasons why marketers should use Pinterest
If you are a community manager, early adopter or social media enthusiast, then the business value of Pinterest may be obvious to you. However, everyone else in marketing may not share your enthusiasm.
But how do you go about convincing them they should jump on board? Here are nine reasons your business should consider marketing on Pinterest.
- Shift in consumer behavior from search to discovery – Search is great for finding answers. Discovery is great for finding inspiration. Pinterest taps into that phenomenon. As Samil Shah explained on TechCrunch back in November, Pinterest is bringing some of that discovery online…which could lead to a revolution in how we purchase items. Right now we are trained to go to Amazon or Google to find what we want. Pinterest starts before that search, before we even thinking we want to buy a particular product. For example, if I wanted a sound system for my laptop, I might hop on to Pinterest, browse a category devoted to sound systems and then land on a product. Within that discovery phase, however, I may never end up at Amazon since Pinterest drives traffic back to a retailer’s site.
- Little interaction needed for brands – A legitimate concern for any brand considering jumping into a new social media platform is the resource question: do you have it in the budget to staff? The nice thing about Pinterest is there isn’t a lot of overhead. Outside of pinning, categorizing and tagging images, you don’t have to worry about managing comments or playing the follower game. You can push content at your own pace.
- Connect with the visual segment of your audience - Pinterest is visual. So it attracts an entirely different crowd…those who may have an appeal for an image over written words. Why is this important? Consider how content marketers typically engage their audiences…through words, videos or audio podcasts. You can open the doors to a new segment of buyers who may be interested in your product…but not know about it…by building a community around the images you pin. That can draw others in who are inspired by your account and lead to referrals.
- Inspires the shy content creator – Pinterest is allowing another segment of the online market get into the action. That segment is the lurker…the person who is too shy to create their own blog, comment on other social sites or contribute in any way online. Pinterest is best compared to Tumblr, where most Tumblrs do not create original content…but share, or “re-blog,” other content. Pinterest is a great way for people to express themselves without having to do anything original.
- Amplifies the content of original creators – The average Tumblr post gets reblogged 9 times. That means it’s reaching far more people than if it remained on its own site. While there aren’t numbers on Pinterest, you can assume the same thing…content is re-pinned and shared across a wider audience. So if you are an original content creator, sharing that content on Pinterest will amplify its reach.
- Repinning is the new “retweet” –It’s quite possible that you can build a community from simply sharing other people’s pins…the same way some Twitter power users have built a following off of retweeting or Tumblr users who’ve reblogged.
- Tap into niches – As I mentioned above, Pinterest will allow you to pick up on a different segment. You can take this idea of niche marketing further by creating boards specific to particular segments. For example, Crutchfield might create boards around “dream man caves,” “cool clubbing” and “ladies’ lounge,” which include reader-generated home-based sound systems in these themes.
- Build your expertise – Even if your brand doesn’t work seamlessly on Pinterest like a lifestyle company’s might, you can still use it to share your experience and build your expertise in a particular location, industry or relationships. A web strategist likeJeremiah Owyang might create boards around “must-have social media equipment for road warriors,” “top people to know in the web analytics business” or “places to eat when you attend Conference X.”
- It’s beating out Facebook referrals - Finally, perhaps one of the best reasons for using Pinterest in your social media marketing plans is that it is outperforming Facebook. The general manager of digital for the print magazine Real Life said that Pinterest was a huge source of traffic in October 2011…more than Facebook. Time to re-tool our marketing strategies, don’t you think?
21 business/brands promoting on Pinterest
So what kind of brand or business promotes on Pinterest? Great question
. From non-profit organizations like the Humane Society of New York and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art to small, Midwestern shops to global brands, Pinterest is proving a good fit for offline and online organizations. Here is a list of 21 of the most notable Pinterest accounts.
- San Francisco Museum of Modern Art – SFMOMA is the perfect example of an organization being able to weave Pinterest into their marketing plans. A museum on the West Coast devoted to 20th and 21st century art, it’s already got great boards geared toward “caffeinated,” “humans” and, of course, “exhibitions.”
- Modern Ink – This bi-monthly magazine shares photos in boards that reflect critical keywords when it comes to their audience: “polished beauty,” “outdoor lust” and “face time.”
- Etsy – No surprise to find the online vintage and hand-made marketplace on Pinterest. The two seem perfectly fitted for each other.
- Ivory Homes – Utah’s number one homebuilder Ivory Homes shares content with followers that involves great home exteriors, things that make a house a home and décor for each room of the house. It’s a good example of blending their own content with theinterest of their customers.
- Sevenly – Charity based t-shirt maker Sevenly pins the images they use for inspiration, actual t-shirts they’ve created and plain goofiness in their “epic check photos.” The combination of business related and personality make it a great pinner to follow.
- Honeycomb Salon – This hair salon in Minneapolis pins images of hairstyles broken down into boards like “short cuts,” “long cuts” and “men’s cuts.”
- The Humane Society of New York – This non-profit uses its Pinterest account to update followers on pets adopted, new pets available for adoption and books pet lovers might enjoy reading.
- General Electric – You might wonder what a giant technology multi-national like GE could do on Pinterest. Well, if you like science, their account is quite fascinating as it pins content to boards like “bad-ass machines,” “the archives” and “#GEInspiredME,” a board devoted to photos taken by people with Instagram and tagged “#GEInspiredMe.”
- Gap – The clothing company pins content based on seasons, holidays and pics of Gap clothing worn by models and customers. The Gap pushed into promotional territory with their “2011 Holiday Gift Guide” board.
- Birchbox – This beauty 2.0 company merges skin care with tech, make up with new media. What’s really cool is their “birch box” board…a place that customers attach images of their birch boxes they bought from the company. A great way to use testimonials!
- AMD – You may be a little surprised at this maker of microprocessor’s Pinterest account…24 boards with topics that range from CES2012 pictures to PC Gaming, Valentine’s Day to New Years. It’s a great strategy that shows you how diverse a company can get when it comes to segmenting.
- Mashable – With nearly 7,000 followers, Mashable staff pin content based on tips and tricks, infographics, Super Bowl ads and gadgets. Check them out and see how a non-lifestyle content publisher is using Pinterest. It will be good inspiration!
- Drake University – This private university curates content around their mascot, the bulldog, items to inspire students to study, what to explore in Des Moines and images the ultimate DU fan may love.
- Better Homes and Gardens – BHG created over 54 boards with over 932 pins (that’s 17 images per board). Boards are devoted to fun front doors, kitchens we want to cook in and not-so-boring neutral. Their Pinterest account shows how well they adapted their magazine online…knowing who their audience is and what they like. Their nearly 10,000 followers is a testament to that.
- Martha Stewart – This lifestyle guru uses her personal Pinterest account to promote her personal brand, while Martha Stewart Living is designed to cater to the magazine lovers. The combined accounts have over 22,000 followers.
- Bergdorf Goodman – This fashion company with over 5,000 followers has created boards around the seasons. Notable other boards include collections of pictures of coiffed hairstyles, books the staff is reading and Tom Ford.
- Travel Channel – True to their core audience, this TV media company puts a unique spin on their pins by placing them in boards like “places we’d rather be than work” and “behind the scenes: man v. food.”
- Chobani – America’s number one yogurt company cultivates “good conversations” around topics that will naturally be shared by their target audience: fitness, travel, flavor inspiration and holiday treats.
- Domestica – Online retailer that specializes in home goods made by hand, Domestica encourages followers through boards that display their love of Wes Anderson art, “Lez Talk Fall Fashion-Femmes” and “Plaid Is Where It’s At.” And they are not shy about directing traffic back to their retail site.
- Daily Grommet – This is the New Egg of crafts, delivering useful, interesting and exciting products they’ve discovered daily. They have a board dedicated to “talented artisans” and their favorite videos.
- Gusto Pizza – Small pizzeria in Des Moines curates content that endorses what they do—sell pizza—but more importantly let’s you see who they are with boards dedicated to swagger and David Hasselhoff.
Brands that will struggle to market on Pinterest
Don’t get me wrong…not every business is going to find using or promoting on Pinterest easy. It’s still pretty tightly-focused, so tech brands, for example are not going to find it very accommodating. In a recent article on TechCrunch, Sivan Cohen and Ben Lang share 7 Reasons Why Pinterest Isn’t Ready for Tech Brands
. Here are the four most important reasons:
- Neither people nor brands are important – Pinterest emphasizes the pin…the image. Not the person nor even the board. The pin is what you will see first when you search.
- Tough to convert pinners into followers – A big global brand like Martha Stewart only has 22,000 plus followers, you would think she would have more. But for the most part, people will re-pin or like an image but won’t take the extra step of following. However, no surprise that Pinterest has close to 10 million. It helps that they re-pin the most popular pins everyday.
- You have to be creative if your brand isn’t visual – Lifestyle brands work well on Pinterest because what they do and how they promote it are identical. If you own a beach resort, all you have to do is show stunning pictures of the beach, your villas and the ocean. A tech brand like DropBox, however, can’t compete. One way to overcome this hurdle is to create boards around the people in the office…and pin images of their antics and adventures in and out of work…much like The Today Show does.
- Men don’t get Pinterest – It’s not hard to see why women dominate as users on Pinterest. Pinterest is a platform that attracts fashion, crafts and lifestyle images…natural favorites for women. I think it might be hard to imagine World of Warcraft or Craftsmanfeeling comfortable at Pinterest. Until then, tech brands will probably be limited on Pinterest.
A great feature of Facebook is that the messages you send have the potential to spread not just to fans but to friends of fans—known as the “multiplier effect.” Not only does this “multiplier effect” have the ability to spread marketing impressions, it also acts as a validation from a friend. Let’s take a look at a few Facebook fan pages and see how the multiplier effect might impact your marketing strategy. Data courtesy of businessinsider.com
, and comscore.com
by Mike Volpe
Twitter is a tool for "micro-blogging" or posting very short updates, comments or thoughts. In fact, since Twitter was designed to be very compatible with mobile phones through text messages, each update is limited to 140 characters. Truly, a micro-blog. Another way to think of Twitter is like a cross between instant messaging (IM) and a chat room, because it is an open forum, but you restrict it to the people with which you connect.
I have to admit I have not always been sold on Twitter. At first I did not get it at all. Then I thought I understood it, but thought it was stupid and useless. Then I used it a bit more and got some more followers and followed a few more people. Now I think it has some value, especially as a marketing and PR tool.
Ideas for How to Use Twitter for Marketing & PR
- Engage your CEO in social media. Social media is a great way to have a conversation with your market and make and mange connections with prospects, customers, bloggers and other influencers. But for a CEO, the typical routes to social media can be hard. Especially if you are a larger or global company. A CEO typically has little time to write a blog or answer lots of messages and friend requests on Facebook. I cannot tell you how many CEO blogs I have seen with only 1 or 2 posts because the CEO never had time to update the blog after the first couple entries. But, Twitter is limited to 140 characters per update, so it is all about short thoughts and comments. If your CEO can send a text message, they can use Twitter from anywhere in the world as a marketing and PR tool. Twitter is actually perfect for CEO or founder who is always on the road meeting with people and who has some interesting opinions on your market.
- Keep in touch with bloggers / media. It is really easy to follow someone on Twitter (see below). And you'll be surprised how often they decide to follow you as well. In fact, I have lots of people I consider "famous" in the marketing and PR worlds following me. In my opinion, this is a way easier way to connect with influential people in the media than calling and emailing them.
- Monitor your company / brand on Twitter. A while back we noticed that Guy Kawasaki mentioned Website Grader on Twitter. Well, of course we had to let him know a bit more about Website Grader and maybe ask if he would also blog about it? The result was this blog article on Website Grader which drove a good amount of traffic and leads. (See below for a cool tip on how to easily monitor people talking about your company on Twitter.)
- Announce specials, deals or sales. If you are a retailer or anyone who often has special offers, you can use Twitter to announce these deals instantly to a large audience. You know those commercials from Southwest Airlines about that "Ding" application you could download and would then alert you about specials on flights? Well, Twitter can be used as a kind of free version of that. Dell and Woot have done just this type of marketing, with a lot of success.
- Live updates on events or conferences. If you participate in a large trade show or run your own corporate event, you can use Twitter to announce last minute changes, cool events that are happening ("Just announced, David Meerman Scott book signing in the exhibit hall until 11am") and more. It is a great last minute marketing tool.
- Promote blog articles, webinars, interesting news and more. Its really easy to post a link to something in Twitter, and I often post links to blog articles on this blog, or other news articles relevant to HubSpot. A good idea is to post articles on other websites that are relevant to your business, like a customer success story or other PR coverage. If you have other content that is appealing to your audience like a free webinar, post links to those too.
Using Twitter for Marketing & PR - A Step-by-Step Guide
- Sign-up and post a profile. Visit Twitter and click on the "Get Started - Join" button in the middle. The rest is simple enough that I think you can figure it out without my help.
- Write some updates. The beauty of Twitter is that the 140 character limit is the great equalizer - I am about as good of a writer as Shakespeare on Twitter. Post a link to a news article you liked with a one line comment, mention an interesting thought you had, or tell everyone what you are cooking for dinner. Just write something.
- Make friends. Making friends on Twitter is pretty easy. Just surf around the web on your favorite blogs, people's Facebook profiles etc, and when you see a Twitter box that tells you what they are doing click on it. That will bring you to their profile and then you just click on the "Follow" button on the top left and you are now following them. Most of the time they will then follow you back, and the audience for your 140 character insights will have grown by one person. You can get started by following me: Mike Volpe on Twitter. You can also click on the people that other people are following to find more people to follow.
- How to post URLs. Twitter is based on 140 character updates. If you have a really long URL, that doesn't leave much room for Most people on Twitter use www.TinyURL.com to take a long URL and make it short. Give it a shot if you have a long URL that you want to market on Twitter.
- Monitor conversations about your company. Even if you don't join Twitter yourself you can monitor what people are saying about any person, company or brand. This is quite useful from a marketing and PR standpoint. Twitter has a search engine that lets you do just this. For instance, here is a list of everyone who is talking about HubSpot on Twitter. You can subscribe to these searches by RSS to keep yourself updated. Another tip is that you can "follow" all the people you find talking about your company (just click on their username to go to their profile). If they are talking about your company, they would probably be pretty happy that someone from the company wants to follow them.
- How to "chat". Using the @ symbol before someone's Twitter username is how people have "conversations" in Twitter. This makes their username a link to their profile so other people can follow the conversation (sort of). For example if you wrote "@mvolpe thanks for the cool blog article about Twitter today" that would be a way of telling me you liked this article. Try it out. It's not IM (instant messaging), but it is sort of like a publicly broadcast IM service.