Appearing to pop up out of nowhere, Pinterest has become the third largest social network on the planet. As I shared the value of co-publishing (shameless plug alert!) with you in my last MobileGroove column, my hope is that you are already happily pinning away all of your photo- and video-based marketing content onto your brands’ boards on Pinterest. But, how do you Pinterest-ize your other content? That is, marketing content that isn’t “visual”, but is nonetheless valuable to communicating your marketing messages, such as your glowing customer testimonials and your spellbinding annual report?
Thank you for your question. I will be so bold (What?! A cocky marketing guy??) as to say that you can pin ANY of your marketing content on Pinterest. I’ll show you how.
A reminder that the opinions expressed here are my own, and come from my personal experience managing social marketing campaigns, leading social marketing teams, and consulting for social marketing clients. Every brand is unique. Use what works for you. Toss the rest!
Pinterest can be an easy win for B2C and B2B marketers. Why? Because Pinterest is a fast, easy, and free communications channel with incredible flexibility. Moreover, Pinterest is receiving a huge amount of both niche and mainstream media coverage, additional attention that is expected to continue for the foreseeable future. The sooner you begin using Pinterest, the sooner your business will benefit from this positive multiplier effect, and the faster YOU will climb the Pinterest learning curve for your brand(s). Said differently, everything you do for your business – and share on Pinterest – will receive more than its fair share of trade and mainstream media coverage. What marketer doesn’t want that!
Note that there are a near equal number of Pinfans (Pinterest enthusiasts) and Pin-“haters”. The Pinfans proclaim Pinterest to be a silver-bullet for marketers. The Pin-haters argue that Pinterest has zero value for business. Your results will depend on your audience, your brand, and…your skills.
Pinterest is simply a communications channel – albeit an incredibly powerful and cost-effective one – that allows you to engage your target audience. Debating whether Pinterest is the holy grail of marketing, OR a waste of time, is missing the point. Pinterest has given marketers a sound thump on the head that marketing has become increasingly visual, a trend we ignore at our [and our brands’] peril.
As a relatively new communications channel, Pinterest is experiencing a period of rapid innovation and experimentation. There’s plenty of room for marketers to jump in now, explore where the highest ROI is, and identify their best practices for this new social network. Please share your experiences on what works for your business on Pinterest in the comments section below!
To get us started, let’s begin with a quick recap of Pinterest’s four building blocks: the pin, the board, the like, and the almighty repin.
What is a “pin”?
A pin – which can either be an image or a video file – is content you post to one or more of your boards (see below). You can ‘pin’ in one of two ways:
- You can pin directly from a website using Pinterest’s “Pin It” bookmarklet [after you’ve added the bookmarklet to your web browser].
- You can also pin by directly uploading a file from your computer.
Please note that the process to tag/identify your content (and its URL) differs slightly depending on your approach. When you add a pin using Pinterest’s “Pin It” button, the URL of the source link is added automatically. When you add a pin from your computer, you will need to manually type in the URL you want associated with your image. As with all marketing content you publish to the Internet, you want your pins to have SEO-optimized images, names, descriptions, and URLs.
What is a “board”?
A board is a space you create on your Pinterest profile, which can either be empty (the Pinterest equivalent of being “under construction”), or contain one or more pins. You will want to fill your boards with brand-relevant images and/or videos, and their associated cover images, names, and descriptions. To answer the obvious question, I have not yet seen a limit to the number of pins you can have on a single board.
What is “liking” [a pin]?
Liking a pin adds the image/video to the “Likes” section of your profile. Think of this as “favoriting” a tweet on Twitter or “liking” a post on Facebook. Liking a pin is another way for you to engage with your audience. Note that liking a pin does not add the image to any of your boards, as does repinning [below].
What is “repinning” [a pin]?
Repinning a pin adds the image/video to one of your boards. Think of this as “retweeting” a tweet on Twitter. When you repin a pin to your board, you can also edit the repinned pin’s description to best suit your own marketing and SEO strategies. Again, this is analogous to a manual retweet (also called a modified tweet or “MT”) on Twitter. It says you like the person’s content so much that you want to post it so your own followers can see it. At the same time, you also want to tweak it to best suit your particular marketing objectives. The best example of this is where the person pins the image, but does not bother to add a description to their pin. Adding just a few words makes the pin more SEO-friendly.
Note that a repinned pin’s URL (source link) is added automatically. Just like”Likes” on Facebook and retweets on Twitter, you want your pins to be repinned. This is what exposes your brand to new people within your target audience, and makes Pinterest content so viral.
What else do I need to know to get started using Pinterest?
Like any social network, to use Pinterest, you first need to create a profile. Remember, the best practice is to use the same handle and avatar photo that you use on your other branded social network profiles. Therefore, if you use facebook.com/MYbrand and twitter.com/MYbrand, you should use pinterest.com/MYbrand.
Some users have criticized Pinterest’s user interface (UI) as being “awkward”, “klunky”, and”still in Beta”. While not “difficult” to use, some people find Pinterest’s UI to be counter-intuitive. An example? After you pin (upload) an image from your computer, you have to go back in and “edit” the pin to add the description and URL/source link. Is this difficult? Not at all. Is this kludgy? Absolutely.
A bigger feature outage [which will likely be addressed in an upcoming release] is that you cannot reorder the pins on your board. Currently, you must upload your pins in the order you want them to appear. For example, if you want your pins to appear in the order pin 1, pin 2, pin 3, you must upload them in reverse order – pin 3, pin 2, pin 1. Again, is this difficult? No. Is it annoying? Yes.
Remember to ALWAYS add your URL (think of it as your conversion link) and keywords in each of your pin’s descriptions. When you author a blog post on WordPress, your keywords are “hidden” in your post’s metadata. When you pin an image or video on Pinterest, your keywords are 100% visible – in your pin’s description. Marketers can (and should) add a URL to each and every pin on their boards. Doing so enables you to bring people directly to the original source version of your marketing content [if helpful], and/or directly to your “conversion” page, enabling you to achieve (and track!) your results.
Once you’ve mastered the mechanics of uploading content to Pinterest, give some thought to how you can best leverage your existing photo (hint: your Flickr inventory) and video (hint: your YouTube inventory) marketing assets.
I’m busy. REALLY busy. Why should I bother to Pinterest-ize my sales and marketing collateral?
Now comes the fun part (and the answer to the #DearKen tweet). Not surprisingly, a large portion of our marketing content is ‘old school’ brochures, whitepapers, and collateral that is neither in photo nor video format. Therefore, our challenge is to find the fastest, quickest, and most effective ways to visualize our existing non-visual marketing content.
Why even bother? Depending on our target audience and brand (food, YES!; forklifts, not so much…), the benefits far outweigh the investment to tailor our content for this new communications channel.
It is significantly cheaper for us to invest in visualizing our existing marketing assets, than it is to create completely new marketing content from scratch, especially when we take into account the overhead of our review and approval processes. We can also co-publish these new visualized marketing assets on multiple social networks (Slideshare, Flickr, and YouTube to name just a few), not just on Pinterest.
The bottom line? Visual content converts. Research on the most effective social network content for brands tells us that social posts with images [regardless of whether they’re on blogs, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, or other social networks] have significantly greater conversion rates. Yes, for marketers, visualization is the new black.
How do I pin my “non-visual” marketing content?
Get ready. Set. Pin!
- If your original source content is a live event – such as a trade show, customer event, press conference, keynote or panel presentation, webinar or teleconference – visualize it by pinning .jpgs of PowerPoint/Keynote slides you create with the top three messages, including context-setting introduction and call-to-action slides.
- If your original source content consists of marketing premiums – such as trash and trinkets, tchotchkes, giveaway items with your company’s logo, or specialty advertising products – take photos of them, and pin the photos.
- If your original source content is an audio recording – such as an executive interview, radio show or commercial, podcast, or even a jingle – again, visualize it by pinning .jpgs of PowerPoint/Keynote slides you create with the top three messages, including context-setting introduction and call-to-action slides OR video-ize it by adding it as the audio”soundtrack” to these same slides.
- If your original source content is printed material, or a Word or Excel file – such as a newspaper or magazine article, an annual report, a white paper, a bumper sticker, a billboard, a bus or taxi ad, a sales brochure, a fact sheet, a business card, a customer testimonial, a case study, a book, customer research, a poll or survey, or even a handwritten note on a yellow sticky – visualize it by pinning the .jpgs of the .pdf file [scan the articles and yellow sticky notes] of the document (see: how to convert a .pdf file to a .jpg).
Websites (or Computer Files)
- If your original source content is a website – such as a banner ad, press release, blog post, or infographic [when you don’t have/cannot download the .jpg] – visualize it by pinning the .jpg of the screen capture (see: how to take a screenshot).
- If your original source content is a presentation deck – such as PowerPoint, Keynote, or a .pdf-format presentation on http://slideshare.net – visualize it by pinning the .jpgs of the .pdf file.
- If your original source content is an email – such as a marketing email – visualize it by pinning the .jpg(s) of the [print to] .pdf file.
Over the past few years, marketers have been overwhelmed by the number of new communications channels. While we don’t need to [and absolutely shouldn’t] use each and every new channel that comes our way, we are directly accountable to our stakeholders and ourselves to explain why a given channel is appropriate (or not) for our brand.
Before I get the eyerolls, being a marketer means continually evolving how we communicate. An example? Picture it (pun intended), Twitter, 2007. Remember how fellow marketers shook their heads, and were ready to write off Twitter. They said it was folly to think that 140-character long tweets could deliver ANY value to “real” marketers or their customers.
This”resistance” didn’t last long, especially after we realized Twitter makes it incredibly easy [thanks to URL shorteners like http://bit.ly] for us to add ANY link, complete with tracking analytics, to our tweets. As marketers, we go where the eyeballs are. If our target audience is on Facebook, we are on Facebook. If our target audience is now on Pinterest, we are now on Pinterest.
That said, depending on your audience, co-publishing your marketing content on Pinterest can maximize the ROI of your investment in creating the content. Whether or not your audience is on Pinterest, it’s important to understand what is behind Pinterest’s success, and is arguably, THE marketing trend so far in 2012. Compelling. Visual. Content.
What are the most effective ways have YOU have found to pin your marketing content on Pinterest? How do YOU use your pins and boards to increase engagement to drive your business’ revenues? Please share your thoughts with us in the comments section below.
Editor’s note: Do you have a question about social marketing technologies, tools, and best practices? Tweet your question with the hashtag “#DearKen”. All tweets will be acknowledged, and considered as being submitted for publication.