Tuesday May 27, 2014

Get the Picture: Pinterest for Marketers

When trying to determine on which networks to conduct social marketing, the usual suspects immediately rise to the top; Facebook & Twitter, then LinkedIn (especially if you’re B2B), then maybe some Google Plus to hedge SEO bets.  So at what juncture do brands get excited about Pinterest?

Pinterest has been easy for marketers to de-prioritize thanks to the perception its usage is so dominated by women. Um, what’s wrong with that? Women make an estimated 85% of all consumer purchases. So if there are indeed over 30 million US women active on it monthly, and they do 92% of the pinning, and 84% are still active on it after 4 years, when did an audience of highly engaged, very likely sales conversions become low priority?

Okay, if you’re a tech B2B SaaS product like the Oracle Social Cloud, Pinterest may not be where you focus. But if you operate in the top Pinterest categories, which are truly far-reaching, it’s time to take note of Pinterest’s performance to date:

  • 40.1 million monthly users in the US (eMarketer).
  • Over 30 billion pins, half of which were pinned in the last 6 months. (Big momentum)
  • 75% of usage is on their mobile app. (In solid shape for the mobile migration)
  • Pinterest sharing grew 58% in 2013, beating Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn. (ShareThis)
  • Pinterest is the 3rd most popular sharing platform overall (over email), with 48% of all sharing on tablets.
  • Users referred by Pinterest are 10% more likely to buy on e-commerce sites and tend to spend twice that of users coming from Facebook. (Shopify)

To be fair, brands haven’t had any paid marketing opportunities on that platform…until recently.

Users are seeing Promoted Pins in both category and search feeds from rollout brands like Gap, ABC Family, Ziploc, and Nestle. Are the paid pins annoying users? It seems more so than other social networks, they’re fitting right in to the intended user experience and being accepted, getting almost as many click-throughs as user pins.

New York Magazine’s Kevin Roose laid it out succinctly; Pinterest offers a place that’s image-centric, search-friendly, makes things easy to purchase, makes things easy to share, and puts users in an aspirational mood to buy. Pinterest is very confident in the value of that combo and that audience, with CPM rates 5x that of the most expensive Facebook ad, plus (at least for now) required spending commitments and required pin review by Pinterest for quality.

The latest developments; a continued move toward search and discovery with enhancements like Guided Search to help you hone in on what interests you, Custom Categories, and the rumored Visual Search that stands to be a liberation from text.

And most recently, Pinterest has opened up its API so brands can get access to deeper insights into the best search terms and categories in which to play ball, as well as what kinds of pins stand to perform best in those areas.

As we learned in our rundown this week of Social Media Examiner’s Social Media Marketing Industry Report, around 50% of marketers specifically intend on upping their use of Pinterest. If you’re a big believer in fishing where the fish are, that’s probably an efficient position to take.

@mikestiles @oraclesocial
Photo: Adam Lambert_Gorwyn, freeimages.com

Friday Nov 01, 2013

Let Me Show You Something: Instagram, Vine and Snapchat for Brands

PhotographerWhile brands are well aware of how much more impactful images are than text-only posts on social channels, today you’re additionally being presented with platform after additional platform for hosting, doctoring and sharing photos and videos.  Can you play in every sandbox? And if you do, can you be brilliant on all of them?

As has usually been the case, so far brands are sticking their toes into new platforms while not actually committing to them, or strategizing for them, or resourcing them. TrackMaven found of the 123 F500 companies using Instagram, only 22% of them are active on it.

Likewise, research from Simply Measured found brands are indeed jumping in, with the number establishing a presence on Instagram up 55% over the past year. Users want them there…brand engagement has exploded 350%, and over 1/3 of the top brands have at least 10,000 followers. BUT…the top 10 brands are generating 33% of all posts, reaping 83% of all engagement.

Things are also growing on Twitter’s Vine, the 6-second looping video app that hit 40 million users in August. The 7th Chamber says 5 tweets a second contain a Vine link. Other studies say branded Vines are 4 times more likely to be shared and seen than rank-and-file branded videos. Why? Users know that even if a video is pure junk, they won’t get robbed of too much of their valuable time.

Vine is always upgrading so you can make sure your videos are worth viewers’ time. You can now edit videos, and save & work on several projects concurrently. What you can’t do is upload a finely crafted video into Vine, but you can do that with Instagram. The key to success? Same as with all other content; make it of value. Deliver a laugh or a lesson or both. How-to, behind the scenes peeks, contests, demos, all make sense in the short video format.

Or follow Nash Grier’s example, which is to just have fun with and connect to your viewers, earning their trust that your next Vine will be as good as the last. Nash is only 15, has over 1.4 million followers, and adds about 100,000 a week. He broke out when one of his videos was re-Vined by some other kid with 300,000 followers. Make good stuff, get it in front of influencers, and your brand Vines could break out as well.

Then there’s Snapchat, the “this photo will self destruct” platform. How can that be of use to brands besides offering coupons that really expire? The jury is out. But with an audience of over 100 million and a valuation of $800 million, media-with-a-time-limit is compelling. Now there’s “Snapchat Stories” that can last 24 hours and be shared to the public at large. You might be able to capitalize on how much more focus gets put on content when there’s a time limit on its availability.

The underlying truth to all of this is, these are all tools. Very cool, feature rich tools, but tools. You can give the exact same art kit to 5 different people and you’d get back 5 very different works, ranging from worthless garbage to masterpiece. Brands are being called upon to be still and moving image artists. That’s what your customers are used to seeing, from a variety of sources. Commit to communicating with them accordingly.

Photo: stock.xchng

Tuesday Aug 20, 2013

Social Images: How Are Your Brand Selfies?

babyfaceYou’ve heard it again and again.  Using photos and images in your social posts is the best practice to beat all best practices, increasing the likelihood your post will be seen in the news feed and win some engagement.

And while it’s fine to pragmatically know that, you’ll do much better to internalize just how wild the public has gotten about images, and why. Maintaining a constant awareness of this passion is the only way for your brand to match that passion for imagery, which will then drive the effort and quality of the images you use to show the world your brand’s face (your brand selfie).

While blogs and conferences and webinars and ebooks are advising brands on that elusive issue of “how to increase engagement,” the public is jumping up and down right in front of us, showing us the answer as clearly as they can.

  • 300 million photos uploaded to Facebook daily.
  • An average 7.3 million daily active users on Instagram as of August 2012.
  • Instagram's average daily mobile visitors up 724% leap in 6 months.
  • Total unique visitors to Pinterest up 2,702.2% in one year.
  • Average 257 minutes per user spent using Instagram on mobile in one month.
  • Average 1 hour, 17 minutes spent by Americans on Pinterest.
  • One new user gained per second on Instagram
  • 58 photos uploaded per minute on Instagram

Is there still a doubt that images on social can move the needle and get you the attention and engagement you want?

  • Over 80% of Pinterest pins are repins.
  • 59% of Pinterest users bought an item they saw on the site.
  • 79% of Pinterest users are more likely to buy things they’ve seen on Pinterest.
  • Articles with images get 94% more views than articles without.
  • Pictures on Facebook get over twice the engagement of text posts.
  • Facebook posts with photo albums get 180% more engagement.
  • Tweets with images get twice the engagement of text tweets.
  • After Twitter added built-in photo sharing, photo sharing increased 421%.
  • When searching, 60% are more willing to consider or contact a business if an image shows up in search results.


Your fans are taking photos, uploading photos, liking photos, sharing photos, commenting on photos, and shopping from photos. Which means your social marketing success is quite tied to how well you execute on imagery. Brands are starting to get it. Indeed.com found jobs requesting Instagram skills are up 644% from 2012. 25% of F100 companies have Pinterest accounts. And the number of photos posted by brands is up 20% over last year. But just why is imagery so powerful that it (along with video) is key to social marketing?

Aside from pictures being eye-catching, fast & easy to consume, worth a thousand words, and transcending language, Robin Kelsey, a professor of photography at Harvard says pictures aren’t about capturing and storing memories anymore. They’re becoming the real-time way we communicate. Consider Snapchat at 200 million images per day, none of which are meant to survive. Wireless trade association CTIA sees images replacing texting. Texting was down 5% over the year, but MMS (multimedia messages) soared up 41%.

Still feeling stoked about your 50-page, text heavy white papers?

Brain scans
show us that seeing something attractive triggers the part of the motor cerebellum governing hand movement, causing us to literally want to reach toward what we see. Pretty easy to understand why food is the top content category on Pinterest, huh? 67% of consumers say the quality of a product’s image is very important when decision-making, even more important than product info, long descriptions, and ratings and reviews. They want beauty, they want to feel something, they want to be moved. So, your social publishing tool has to give you a canvas that can present your images in the strongest light.

If brands want fans and followers to “reach out” for their products, those selfies need to look really awesome.

Photo 1: Benjamin Earwicker, stock.xchng
Photo 2: stock.xchng


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