When I first joined Pinterest, I was like any other social media user. I was excited to try a new network, prepared to link my pins to my Twitter and Facebook, and to create content that would be shared. Though I was initially thrown off by the columns upon columns of wedding gifts, recipes, and fashion I saw on my first log-in, I now can easily find things that I'm interested in and spend a minumum of one hour per day on the website. Thanks to Pinterest, I click on images that link to pages I would have never seen from a Google search. I feel like the creators of Pinterest knew exactly how to keep my attention. Because pinning only take a couple of clicks and is the site's main encouraged behavior, one user can easily pin and re-pin a lot content in a matter of minutes.
(Easily one of my favorite pins. Don't lie, you tried to eat your screen)
One day while looking at my activity, I noticed that a brand that makes recipe books repinned the above picture onto their dessert board. After looking through the board that it was pinned on, I discovered a whole new world of food images that linked to new recipes I’d never seen before, and I immediately clicked the ‘Follow’ button. This certain brand got me. I fell into the strategy of a great marketer.
I've noticed that a few major brands have also joined the Pinterest ranks, and they have quickly set the trend for marketers to follow in order to receive engagement and increase their referrals, all while gaining likes and followers.
Some best practices that I’ve seen are:
1) Properly name boards and fill the description with appropriate keywords. Name your boards after the pins that it will represent. If the name of a board is "Ice Cream Creations," I’d expect to see images of large sundaes, shakes and floats. Babble’s board titles have names that clearly represent the pins that will be found within each. When a user clicks on their ‘Outdoor Play & Getaways’ board they’ll see a bunch of outside activities that users and their children will enjoy.
Pinterest’s search option is very specific. It won’t go out of it’s way to find corn by-products for a user. A search for corn recipes will return pins, boards and people that contain this keyword.
2) Don’t only self-promote. Pinterest is a social community, so the key to growing is to be social; in other words; make it a two-way conversation. Comment on and share other user’s pins that relate to your brand. Starbucks does a good job of this. They have entire boards dedicated to things that have nothing to do with Starbucks. This can give a level of transparency to the brand to show that a company is more than just the products it creates. This outreach can lead to a follow for that particular board or your entire page. A brand can search for their keywords to find users, boards, or pins to follow or re-pin.
(This is a Starbucks board)
3) Use good quality images that don’t directly promote. Pinning images that contain all your products with a white background that links to a page where a user can buy them is boring. People want to see how they will use your brand’s product in their everyday life so that they can see how they can benefit from it. Chobani pins images of mouth-watering food that link to recipes that use their products. Users don't want to see images of Chobani's different flavors, so the company became creative and displayed other ways to promote Greek yogurt. Additionally, Pinterest is an image-focused network, so the most aesthetically pleasing pictures will command attention.
4) Add contributors that share common interests. Brands can let users add pins to their boards. Of course, they should make sure that they are pinning images that relate to a particular board first before they're given this permission. Whole Foods has a number of boards that use several users. Brands can also use this tactic for contests as well.
5) Put a Pinterest link on your website. If a brand is serious about growing their Pinterest following, they should add a ‘Follow Me’ button to their website in a prominent position. You can find a button on Pinterest’s Goodies page. Adding social buttons creates exposure for the brand's presence on social networks, and gives users a more in-depth look into who you are as a brand. That's the true essence of all social media.
There’s no doubt that Pinterest has massive potential for reaching users of all demographics. It’s up to marketers to figure out how to use it best for their brand.
-- Sean Clark is a blogger and social media enthusiast. Follow him on Pinterest.
I consider Tumblr to be a guilty pleasure of mine, and to be honest, I probably spend more time on that website than on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter combined. I think it’s because Tumblr has a very different culture than the other sites, and it’s a culture that I’m very in-tune with because I fit into the majority demographics quite well. I am, after all, an Asian college student between the ages of 18-24 with no kids making less than 50k. While that might seem like a very niche group, Tumblr’s growth in the past couple of years seems to suggest otherwise. In fact, Google’s data predicts that there will be more people searching the word “Tumblr” than “blog” by the end of this year. So, take these pros and cons into consideration and decide for yourself if your brand belongs on Tumblr. If you decide to jump onto the bandwagon but don’t have a marketing team consisting of teenagers obsessed with One Direction, read the rest of this article to get ready to Tumbl.
What happens on Tumblr stays on Tumblr
There’s a saying that goes, “What happens on Tumblr, stays on Tumblr,” and for good reason. This platform has been known to be somewhat of a “second life” for “Tumbleloggers,” a place where people post things that they wouldn’t share with their Facebook friends, but would gladly share with a group of like-minded Internet friends who follow each other due to common interest. For example, on Facebook I’ll often share news articles and music videos that I feel might spark the interest of the general public. But on Tumblr (I can’t believe I’m admitting this), I’ll re-blog photos of beluga whales and Rick Genest and follow blogs that share similar things. I wouldn’t share these particular things on Facebook or Twitter because I can’t think of one friend or follower of mine that would appreciate this content. Tumblr thus creates the perfect opportunity for businesses that want to connect with a niche group.
A few things that make a microblogging site like Tumblr so popular are the ease of navigation, the simplicity of design, and ability to post virtually anything – meaning brands can share different media, including text, photos, links, chats, audio and video, all on the same platform. Here are some tips on what and how to post on Tumblr:
Photo: The Tumblr dashboard, displaying several posting options
- Keep the words to a minimum. Tumblr is highly image-based, and because most Tumbleloggers come across content by simply scrolling down a dashboard, it’s best to keep lengthy written posts to a minimum.
- Post content that you wouldn’t be able to find elsewhere. People won’t want to subscribe to accounts that post things they could easily find on a website or on a Facebook page, so even if it’s just an office playlist or backstage photos of a fashion show, there are Tumbleloggers out there that would love to share your “insider” content with their followers.
- Tag your posts! Tags allow your posts to be “Tumbld upon” by other users who are searching the same tags, leading to more views, likes, re-blogs and new followers.
A few examples of noteworthy Tumblr presences:
- Oscar De La Renta: Their bio – “…reporting from inside one of the world’s most prestigious fashion houses” – says it all. Vintage photos, quotes from De La Renta himself, backstage photos and more.
- Universal Music: An inventory of online tidbits about Universal’s top artists. A vintage photo of The Rolling Stones, .gifs of Lana Del Rey’s newest music video, and never-before-seen photos of Justin Bieber attract music fans of all types.
- Sesame Street: A perfect account for bloggers who look forward to visual mementos from childhood popping up on their dashboard. Puns from the street, celebrity appearances, photos of the characters and share-able, kid-friendly holiday cards are popular on this Tumblr.
- NPR: By far my favorite account to follow for stories and interesting pictures from their worldwide coverage. For wordy posts, NPR publishes engaging, clickable headlines that direct to the whole post.
Photo: screenshot of a photo post from the NPR Tumblr with options to "reblog" and/or "like" in the top right corner
What are some of your favorite brands to follow on Tumblr, and what do they post that you would consider reblog-worthy?
For your personal entertainment, a list of my top five favorite Tumblrs to follow:
We all know that a picture is worth 1,000 words, so if your brand had a chance to tell its story in photographs, exactly what words would it be saying? Instagram may have been designed for individuals to share their lives with their friends through photos, but because Instagram is one of the most popular social platforms today, companies are now utilizing the free photo app to share their stories through compelling images on the digital and social space.
How it works:
Instagram succeeds because of how simple it is. Just about anyone with a smartphone can snap a photo, choose a filter, and share it with friends on several different social platforms like Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr and more. There’s a lot of flexibility with this app when it comes to sharing. You can keep your profile private, limiting your photo reach to only your friends, or keep it public and reach potentially hundreds or thousands of people.
Why it’s great for brands:
Two words: Company culture. Sharing photos from the company itself adds another dimension to brand voice, and an effective one at that. This is your chance to get really creative with a broad range of consumers. Depending on the brand image you choose to portray, you can enhance it with images. Demonstrate new uses of different products, share a photo from the latest office celebration, share live images from a fun company event, and anything else you think will captivate an audience.
Instagram is simple, but for fullest reach potential, the usage of the app still requires a bit of strategy for brands. Here are some best practice tips to further your brand’s social presence on this specialized platform:
- Informative profile: Many times, people see profile handles (names) before the photos themselves. Make sure your handle is relevant to your actual name, if not simply your brand name itself. Set the profile photo as something explicitly relatable to the brand, like the logo. Finally, include the company homepage in the profile. It might also be good to include Twitter handles and a link to your brand page on Facebook to simultaneously drive traffic towards them as well.
- Strategic hashtags: Instagram tells us to be specific, be relevant, and be observant. Simply put, it’s best to avoid generalized hashtags (like #iPhone and #instagram) and keep on the lookout for hashtags that are more popular than others. For instance, the #NYC tag has over six times as many photos as the #NewYorkCity tag.
- Post for the people: Leave the personal interests for your own Instagram profile, because a brand’s priority lies in the attraction of other people. Post quality, interesting photos that people want to see. Consider a trial-and-error posting process by recognizing the types of photos that generate the most buzz (more likes and comments).
Photo: Screenshot of @Starbuck's Instagram profile
Here are a few examples of brands that are doing Instagram right:
- @Sharpie: Sharpie does a great job in creating a solid brand identity. Their photos are rarely of their products; instead, they’re photos of what their products can do. Sharpie’s page is full of fun drawings, creative crafts and unique uses.
- @WholeFoodsMarket: A foodie’s favorite account, for sure. Whole Foods Market does a great job displaying company culture, plus food from worldly and local distributors that followers very clearly appreciate (just take a look at the likes and comments on their food posts!). Also, WFM has recently hosted an Instagram contest for Earth Month (April), boosting the number of followers and establishing an iconic hashtag.
- @Celtics: This team has an extremely loyal following, and no matter what happens on the court, they don’t disappoint in the socialsphere. This account posts photos of moments that won’t always be caught on ESPN.
- @Bergdorfs: This couture mecca consistently posts filtered fashion from the office, the runway, the store and more. Their 72,000 (and counting!) followers have a feed that won’t ever run dry!
Photo: Screenshot of a @WholeFoodsMarket Instagram with hundreds of likes
What are some of your favorite companies to follow on Instagram?
-- Jaime Cheng
Back in simpler times— let’s say 2006— when Twitter was in its infancy and Facebook was caught in an awkward adolescence, photo-sharing services were an essential part of one’s online persona. Sites like Picasa, Flickr and Photobucket invited users to upload their pictures, share with friends and “follow” others long before such features had caught fire in other social systems.
But where are they now?
While the aforementioned services still enjoy a great deal of traffic, they seem to have been shuffled to the corner in terms of general buzz. Soon Picasa (along with Blogger) will lose its unique brand nameas part of the Google+ integration— a decision that could relegate Picasa (neé Google+ Photos) to the ranks of Instagram and Facebook Photos.
In 2006, Webshotswas my photo-sharing service of choice. Five years later, the site still sends me regular updates on my albums’ activity (surprisingly, people are still looking). The appeal of Webshots lay in its low-pressure yet dynamic atmosphere; it was a place to share images with non-Facebook users and to show off my shots to anyone who happened to stumble upon the account. While Webshots never boasted a strong community environment, it did feature a “Picture of the Day” and invited users to get lost browsing a smorgasbord of images— some funny, some pointless and some extraordinary. Bought by American Greetings in 2007, what was once a tidy and quiet site now seems cold, cluttered and too commercial.
Is the friendly, inspiring and not-too-social atmosphere a thing of the past for photo-sharing sites? Perhaps not.
500px, a startup from 2003 and recent darling of Microsoft BizSpark is attempting to create a home for professional photographers and photo-lovers alike. While the site features a follow function, Twitter account and Facebook page, its tie-in to social media is more conservative. LiveJournal, not WordPress or Tumblr, hosts the site’s blog. Eschewing the share-happy mentality, their mission is “to help photographers get greater exposure, reduce some of the marketing headaches, and to let creatives concentrate on what they do best.”
Although 500px might not be the best fit for an amateur photographer like me, it’s reassuring to know that high-quality images (see editors’ picks) have a community base unfettered by tags and tweets.
— Nicole Duncan