I love using Pinterest, but not necessarily as a business. I’m a typical, addicted user. My boards are filled with crafts, animals, fashions and travel-related images, but the more I learn about the creative and interesting ways businesses are using this platform, the more I’m tempted to adopt it as a marketing channel.
In the meantime, here are some of the business marketing ideas, techniques and resources for Pinterest I’ve either found or thought of:
Business Uses for Private Pinterest Boards
A piece published by Chief Marketer this week had some fantastic ideas for making use of private Pinterest boards. I was particularly inspired by the idea of using private board to offer exclusive promotions. Making something elite or difficult to get into adds value to the offer and makes customers feel important.
I’ve been tossing around the idea of using private boards for content creation. First, the Pinterest platform makes it easy to collect photographs you can use on future posts. I’d also like to take this one step further.
Instead of using a text file or word document to keep a list of great headlines, phrases, landing pages and ads that inspire me, I can easily pin the page or upload a screen cap. I can also use it to keep a list of topic ideas. The added benefit of this method is that the content I collected would have some context.
Usually, when I come up with an idea for a post, I create a word document for it. Then, instead of writing it up right away, I just jot down important points I don’t want to forget, images that worked with the post and resource links. This way, when I need content, I can simply open the document and start writing. With Pinterest, you can use private board to do the same thing. I think this is a fantastic solution for visual thinkers.
My competitors are another important element in my content marketing strategy that Pinterest could take care of. If they do something that inspires me or that does particularly well, I want to use that to my advantage. So, I can pin these pages to a private board and have a whole board of secret weapons. (I might even call it “The Content Armory.)
Making Use of Public Pinterest Boards for Marketing
PR Daily recently published an interesting post on using Pinterest for Storytelling. There were several really good ideas here, but my personal favorite was the idea of a story board or time-lapse board. This is a fantastic idea for telling client stories and marketing case studies.
The more I think about it, however, I think it’s the perfect idea for launching a new product or service. You can pin photos and tell the story of what inspired you to create it. Then, follow it up with sneak peeks, samples, and even failures and new discoveries. Imagine using this method to launch a new game or piece of software!
Hubspot has also published a comprehensive list of ideas for Pinterest. I was most intrigued by the idea of using Pinterest for testimonials.
Pinterest Marketing Resources You’ll Love
If you’re ready to give Pinterest a try and integrate it into your marketing strategy, here are some resources to get you started:
A simple guide for using secret Pinterest boards from Business2Community.
A list of Pinterest WordPress plugins from WPMU.org.
A miscellaneous list of Pinterest stats, tips, and information from SmartInsights.
A Pinterest board of Pinterest marketing ideas from Lara McCulloch-Carter.
Some beginner Pinterest tips from Boomtown.
(Ok, I’ll admit it. I really wanted to name this post “Google+, the WordPress Killer, but I couldn’t bring myself to do it.)
Today, knowing I’m always good for a rant on content strategy, a friend of mine shared a Google+ Post from logIT.net. In it, the company (logIT) explains why it isn’t going to create a traditional blog. Instead, it’s going to use Google+ as its blogging platform. Needless to say, it didn’t even take five seconds for me to think of a list of reasons why this is a bad idea. Sadly, it took me well over 3 hours to write them all down.
So, grab yourself a coffee and make yourself comfortable. (Slightly edited post below.)
Using Google+ to Deliver Your Content? Might Want to Rethink That
Well, I have to give logIT.net points for creative thought and ingenuity, but aside from that, I’m afraid I’m just not on board with the idea. Why not? Well, where do I start?
How about the value of a blog? This varies drastically, but let’s take a quick stab at estimating it, shall we?
Let’s be generous and say you can write a post in an hour (I usually spend 2-3 hrs. Hell, I spent longer than an hour writing my reply and I didn’t even have to stop to research anything, nor did I edit it. Sorry.). Now, let’s say you post 3 times a week. That’s 3 hours a week, or 156 hours a year. Let’s assume you only run a blog for the average of just 33.8 months before running out of steam and letting it die.
33.8 months / 12 months in a year = 2.81 years x 156 hours = about 439 hours.
How much does the average blogger make an hour in their day jobs? Because this is logIT, let’s use web developers as an example and say it’s an average of £20. That means your blog is a £8,780 investment.
(Of course, there’s sales, links, etc. here as well, but for the time being, let’s stick with the almost £9K investment.)
And now that we’re on the same page, let’s go through some of the particulars.
“Google+ may not go anywhere.”
This is arguable, at best, regardless of how many users it has. The only one who knows this for sure is Google, and many times, I wonder if they even know what they’re doing. But, I digress. Are you really comfortable risking an £8,780 investment on the assumption that G+ isn’t going anywhere? How about MySpace? Still confident with this assumption?
To be honest, the idea of Google doing away with G+ isn’t my biggest worry. My biggest concern is this: What happens if Google changes its format? What if it no longer handles large amounts of content well? What if it’s no longer “blog friendly”?
Consider the changes Facebook as made to its platform and how many users it has. Are you still sure? I’d like to think they wouldn’t, but I sure as heck wouldn’t be banking a significant portion of my brand and marketing strategy on it.
Ah, but you can export it, logIT argues. Sure you can, but what about everything you’ve built up here? Anyone who has moved a website to a new domain will tell you it takes a lot of work to get the traffic and engagement back.
What about all the things you’ll lose because you don’t own it? Comments, for example. Their lead dev and another member of the company state Google’s API allows you to export comments, but are you going to ask permission from each person before republishing their comments elsewhere? Isn’t that sort of like content theft?
I’d have to dig through Google’s terms of service, but even if it isn’t, I’m not sure it’s ethical. Just because I’ve left this comment here doesn’t mean I want you to take this comment and republish it on YOUR blog, where it’s away from the eyes of MY followers. If I leave the comment on your blog, that’s different. It means I felt the blog was worthy of the time, effort, energy, and thought that I put into my comments.
“Google never killed a product without liberating the data.”
Heh. There’s always a first time. And you know what? They don’t care. They only have one focus, and I promise you it’s not your content and marketing strategy.
As far as I’m concerned, you should never rely solely on one company for your marketing, income, finances, or anything else. ALWAYS have an out. Don’t know why? Just ask some of the sites that lost their rankings with the recent updates. Or, the site that lost most of its income because Google shut down its AdSense account for no apparent reason, without warning. Or, talk to the freelancer who relied on one client for his income only to have that client sell the company. He lost his contract and all his income with it. This isn’t a rare occurrence. Do a search. It happens all the time.
Google+ Is a Thousand Times Easier to Get Sharing and Interaction
Really? REALLY? I’m willing to bet that the thousands of people out there struggling to create and build a successful G+ page would be all too happy to argue with you. What’s the difference between building up a following on your own website VS building it on someone else’s site?
- Spam/Troll control
What am I missing? You write a post and publish it on your blog, and you market it on your social networks. Google+ posts? You write the content, publish it, and market it to your social networks.
logIT even admitted to using the same cross-seeding and promotion tactics with their G+ concept in their post above:
“12. Google+ = Twitter + Facebook + Tumblr + Blog combined.” And ” 8. We’ve already built personal connections on Google+ which we will use to blow some wind into our sails, now that we’re just starting out.”
Would those same connections and techniques not do the same if it were just a link back to your blog post with maybe some extra info or an opinion? I would think so. Otherwise, the millions of other brands and bloggers using G+ are totally making up their share numbers.
Blogs not only come in with plenty of built in options, but there are hundreds and thousands of plugins that make it simple and easy to automate various processes AND customise their functionality to meet the needs of your audience.
Google+? logIT states it has “everything you need in a blog is already implemented into Google+”. While there might be some kind of addon section hidden somewhere, I’ve yet to see it. This means it’s tailored to the needs of the blogger, but not necessarily his target audience OR his readers (which, by the way, isn’t always the same group of users).
While we’re on the topic of user interfaces…
Google+’s Horrible UI
Google+ is poorly designed when it comes to managing vast amounts of content. If you go to someone’s profile, there’s no way to sort the content they shared other than by the type of content it is (image, video, text). There are no categories, no tags, nothing. You can’t organise any of it in a way that makes sense, easy to use, or even find.
You can’t format the posts.
You can’t add more than one image/video per post.
You can’t control the layout.
Don’t think these are important? Talk to a designer. As far as I’m concerned, this is an entire topic unto itself.
The comments aren’t even threaded for cripes sakes. Wait…let’s discuss the comments, shall we? Unlike a blog, Google+ doesn’t combine all of the comments onto one page, in one location.
If you want to see all the conversation surrounding a particular article, you have to click through and follow all of the shares to see everything. How is this better? I’m confused. Sure, it means the possibility of expanding your reach because the conversation is spread from one end of G+ to the next.
What good is it if readers can’t access the really juicy conversation that’s 12 or 13 shares down? There isn’t even a small chance that they’ll get sucked into the content through the discussion.
The other little glitch is that you have to expand the posts to view them. How much attention is your pillar content going to get if it looks the same as the rest of the content?
Oh!. I almost forgot. While make it possible for G+ users to search and find content by topic, I’m pretty sure blogs have a similar feature. It’s called “tags”. Then, when you share it on networks like G+ and Twitter, you can add there.
There’s no rule that says thehave to be used in the content. Why not share a comment when you share the link and add the in there? All in all, though, I can’t help but wonder if Google+ and Google+ will be overrun with spam and made pretty much unusable. I’m pretty sure I’ve seen this happen somewhere else before, and I don’t know about you, but I’d much rather have clean, usable tags.
What about the wealth of other sites, systems, and platforms that make use of blog content? RSS readers, content curation tools, etc.? If they’re not using any sort of blogging platform, how does logIT propose to make use of all these other tools that move, share, and summarise blog content? I can say from personal experience that most of my backlinks and blog-inspired conversions came through RSS readers and other such tools.
(Image Courtesy of Nik Hewitt)
“A platform does influence your blogging behaviour.”
So, just to satisfy my curiosity, how IS Google+ influencing their blogging behaviour? Is this something you really want Google influencing?
Somewhere in their comments logIT mentions G+ makes their blogging shorter and to the point. If that’s the style they prefer, what’s the difference? Why not compose their content in the little G+ input box and paste it into their blog afterward if they can’t do it in a word doc?
Ask any content strategist or anyone with experience in content-based marketing and they’ll tell you variety is key. In fact, I can’t be bothered to read most 200-word articles because they have little to no value. There are very, very few writers in this world who can present and explore a topic successfully in 300 words or less.
Most of the time, this kind of content seems to do nothing more than encourage bloggers to keep mimicking themselves and spreading the same old crap they’ve been blogging about for years. They can pound out posts in 30 minutes or less, and they never once address the other goals of the blog or the needs of their readers. I’m not saying you can’t blog successfully with nothing more than short posts. I’m saying you need to consider the role the blog plays in your marketing and make sure to address all of them, not just the author’s lack of time or the audience’s short attention span.
“Our peers and also our target customers are here”
That’s fantastic. It really is, but what about the tons of others who aren’t on Google+? Surely logIT doesn’t think “everyone who’s anyone” using G+. If that is the case, they’ve created a fatal flaw and a fantastic hole in the market. Their competitors are going to love it. Sure, readers can see the content, but that’s about it. They can’t comment, and because of a lack of social sharing buttons, it’s difficult to share. And if they fail to cross-promote the content on other networks, the only ones who will ever see it are G+ users.
Facebook uses this concept. Any content published on Facebook is limited to FB users. No one else can see it, and therefore, sharing it is usually useless. There are tonnes of people in every crowd who refuse to use the platform, so that cuts into your overall reach.
Another question I have when it comes to G+ and their target market is intent — are logIT’s users using G+ specifically to find content that will eventually lead to some kind of return? I don’t know because I haven’t done any research and have no idea what logIT’s business model is, but I can’t help but cringe a little bit here. I hope they didn’t fall into the trap of assuming their target audience uses G+ the same way they do, without any sort of research or data to back that up.
Obviously, if their target audience IS using Google+ to find and consume content in a profitable way, their competition will be using it, as well. Keeping in mind the crap UI and inability to customise pretty much everything, doesn’t this mean they’re relying on the chance they might be seen? This places a lot of stress and emphasis on their headlines and intros. If this is the case, I hope they’ve hired a good copywriter, videographer, and photographer because they’re going to need it, especially since they’re placing most of the emphasis on just one network.
SEO and the Value of G+
First of all, never, never, never, never blog for SEO sake. If that’s all you’re doing, quit now and move to something faster and cheaper. Like article marketing, maybe. Sure the introduction of G+ into the SERPs has added yet another ranking factor, but it’s just ONE of what is arguably hundreds of factors. So they get a G+ post to rank in the SERPs. So what? What about the rankings of their own site?
I realize that getting G+ content to rank has its benefits. But is it REALLY benefiting the site? Is it going to convert? I don’t know about you, but I would much rather have visitors coming to my own site than Google+. At least then they’ll get familiar with my brand and get an idea of what I offer. Ideally, a good blogger is exposing readers to his products and services in an attempt to convert them. That can’t happen on Google+.
logIT would likely argue that blogging purely about the traffic, but I’d like to argue that I have no idea what logIT does, offers, or even if it’s good at what it does. Why? There’s no context. Granted, I COULD click through to their site to have a look, but I just can’t be bothered to check. Why should I? They haven’t given me a reason to make the extra clicks, wait for their site to load, and then look around for the answers. I didn’t even bother to click through to their profile page because there was no need to.
I guess what I’m saying here is that SEO is important, but if there’s no conversion and very little context, there isn’t going to be much ROI in it, either.
And don’t even get me started on the whole rel=”author” thing. That was quite a misguided comment made by logIT, as far as I’m concerned. Rel=”author” is about the writer, not who’s publishing or where it’s been published. The idea is that Google will be able to follow that writer regardless of where he or she has content published. So what good is publishing solely on G+ going to do? What does that do for your authority level? “No, I haven’t been published on any authority sites, but I do publish content on Google+” ??
Think of it this way:
If I want to build an authority site on rock music, I’m going to get authors to publish content on my site who are authorities on their respective subjects. Lots of industry big wigs. Think of it like a newspaper, with a special writer for each section or column. How are you going to manage that if all you have is G+? By the way, can I guest post on your blog? Oh…wait a minute…you don’t have one, and there’s no point in me publishing on your site as an article or white paper because very few people ever go there.
So, you’re not building your site’s authority. What about the other ranking factors? How about freshness? If you’re not blogging, are you regularly updating your web copy? How about those situations where your target audience isn’t looking for a product or service? One example of this is things like cloud computing and other new concepts that target audiences don’t know exist. They’re searching for a way to sync multiple computers, for example.
Or, what about services/products that aren’t often associated with a provider… web developers who create and sell branded apps, for example, instead of just code websites. While I’d like to think you can create a page for each scenario, it’d be pretty difficult to do in a number of instances. Most of the time, this would result in creating pages specifically for SEO purposes, and we all know how Google views these pages.
Overall, I’m glad logIT enjoys Google+, finds it easy to use, and has found success with it. I’d like to think logIT thought this through, but to be honest, their post was too short and failed to explain any of the reasoning behind any of the points they made. As far as I can tell from those few words, it looks to me like the company saw posting on G+ as a short cut. In my experience, short cuts always cost way more in the end than they saved.
If you’re interested in getting a little more ‘bang for your buck’ out of your content, and are wondering how to structure your content program in order to gain the most benefit from your Social Media campaign, check out my guest post entitled “Copywriting and Social Media: Making the Connection” , which is published on Samir Balwani’s blog.
It covers the various types of content, and looks at the creation of link bait as well as viral content. In short, it’s idea for those of you looking to set up or tweak a Social Media or Content strategy.
Don’t forget to let me know what you think!
After speaking with a client recently, I discovered that businesses are in a unique position when it comes to dealing with social media. They know it’s a force to be reckoned with, they know it can be a highly effective marketing medium, but getting started and using it can be a complete mystery. How do you go from a Facebook account to a full-blown marketing campaign? How do you get people to convert?
To answer these questions, businesses often seek help from a social media consultant. However, not all of them have a positive experience. This isn’t because the consultant has done a poor job. Sometimes, it’s simply because businesses don’t fully understand what they’re getting into. So, if you’re considering the leap into Social Media Marketing (SMM), here are five things you need to know long before you hire someone or get started:
Social Media Is a ‘Hands On’, Ongoing Process
Unlike setting up a series of newspaper advertisements, or using banner ads, social media is not something you can ‘set and forget’. You can’t just have a Facebook page set up, and expect it to magically attract people and make profits.
SMM requires direct and constant interaction with your target audience. You’ll have to start by getting people interested in what you have to say. Then, you need to convince them to interact with you in order to develop the level of trust needed for them to convert into buyers.
Social Media Marketing Requires a Specific Plan
Contrary to popular belief, you can’t just sign up to a bunch of sites and expect it to go somewhere. This is like trying to drive in a foreign country without a map. You need a customized strategy.
You need to know:
- Where you’re starting (what do you have that you can use to your advantage now?)
- Who you’re targeting (define an ideal client/customer)
- Where these people are (which sites do your ideal clients use most)
- How to grab and hold their attention (contests, informative content, discussions, etc.)What the ultimate goal is (leads, sales, sign ups, etc.)
- What the milestones will be (make them measurable and reasonable)
- What you do best (video, contests, content, etc)
- How to put it all together
- Who’s going to run it (hire out, in house, run everything yourself…)
There’s a lot of questions here, but they’re absolutely vital; without doing the homework, no one will know what’s going on.
Learn Your Way Around Before You Start
Don’t start promoting a social media account or profile until you know what you’re going to do with it and how it works. Why? You are guaranteed to bumble around and make a ton of mistakes while setting everything up and learning how it all works. This looks unprofessional and people can easily be annoyed, particularly if they get a series of tweets or emails while you’re hooking everything up.
Social Media Marketing Means Being Connected
You can’t just start a Facebook page or a blog, and expect it to thrive on its own. Just like people, social networks need friends, and most importantly, need to be fed and watered by other networks and locations.
This takes time!
First, you need to ensure your website, blog, Twitter account, Facebook pages, and all of your other profiles are interlinked and promoting each other to promote good traffic flow.
Secondly, you need to consider how you’ll convince people to follow more than one account. So, for example, getting website visitors to subscribe to your RSS and follow your Twitter account. This will give you the maximum amount of opportunities to convert that client and build loyalty.
Know What You’re Paying For
If you hire someone to run your social media campaign or build your profiles, make sure you know what that includes and doesn’t include BEFORE you sign or pay for anything. Seriously. This sounds very basic, but not everyone does this. And, do you know what happens when you don’t do this? A nightmare. A nightmare happens.
You’ll end up with something other than what you thought you were paying for, and even though the person you hired did exactly what they said, it doesn’t work for you.
In short, assumptions are killers.
This is a lot of work to do before you even think of hiring someone, or getting started, but it’s absolutely necessary to achieve success. After all, if you’ve put this much passion and dedication into your business, why would you short change it by rushing into everything?