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How Brands Can Get Involved on Pinterest

Kirsten McNeill is a Coordinator on the Content and Community team at Social Media Group. Follow @kirstenmcne

With its U.S. traffic skyrocketing to more than 10 million visits, $37 million raised in funding and an unconfirmed valuation of up to $200 million, Pinterest is now one of the top 10 social networking and forum websites. The 2011 recaps and 2012 trend predictions almost all included social content curation as an important continuing trend.

The top social networks are now connected to many third party platforms (websites, streaming services, magazines etc.) making it easy for us to share content with anyone, on any platform, from any location on the web. We (as consumers) can now curate content ourselves, while relying on our own networks of friends, family, industry etc. to provide new content for us to consume and share. It is especially convenient when the content is in an easily digestible form, such as a photo.


Pinterest is the hot new social network that brands and consumers alike are starting to pay attention to, as they should. New data from Monetate shows that referral traffic from Pinterest to five apparel retailers experienced a 389% increase from July-December 2011.

A fellow SMGer invited me (right now the site is still an invite-only social network) and I’ve been playing around with it for the last couple months. So far I’m quite enjoying it; the user experience is very friendly and I find myself checking back daily. Pinterest is an image-based platform, where you can create unique online pinboards, such as “Yummy Food,” “My Dream Style,” “Home Decorations” and “pin” photos accordingly. Pinned photos can come from three places:

1)   Directly uploaded from your phone or computer

2)   Anywhere on the web – it makes it really easy for you to do this by providing a browser plug-in. I have a ‘Pin it’ button on my Bookmark bar that will populate all the images on a page, making it easy for me to select what I want to pin

3)   From within Pinterest – if another user has posted something that I find interesting, I will “Repin” it

From blogs to brands, the Pinterest presence on owned channels is just getting started. Many blogs now include the Pinterest badge on their site, right up there with Twitter and Facebook. Making it easy for visitors  to “Pin” their content or follow them on Pinterest.

Retail, fashion, beauty and food brands have obvious tie-ins that make Pinterest a natural fit. Take brands such as West Elm, Travel Channel or Nordstrom who have seamlessly made the move onto the Pinterest platform. However, other industries will have to get creative in order to leverage Pinterest to benefit their online efforts.

Brands can add a Follow or Pin It button on their owned properties to encourage ‘pinning’ their content which leads to increased awareness of their products and potentially influence or guide purchase decisions. It’s like a magazine, where you see something you like and you fold down the page.

So, how else can brands leverage this shiny new social network? When thinking about adding value to the community, first you need to think about who makes up the community. What would they like to see and pin?

How can brands get involved creatively?

Run a contest

Executing a contest on Pinterest will create buzz among the Pinners and provide a great opportunity to build visual interactions with consumers. A great example of a contest done on Pinterest was the ‘Causes I Love Contest,’ where participants were rewarded with prizes for the best boards and every time a photo was pinned to a board, the company partner would make a donation.

Build Your Brand Profile

Create boards to visually portray your brand personality. Show your transparency by creating boards that give consumers an inside look at your company. Doing so can lead to deeper connections with consumers as they can see what your company culture and values are. A great example of this is Whole Foods Market. They’ve  created a series of boards to show what they support: “We’re Used to Reusing!” “Strength,” “Whole Planet Foundation.”

Pin Relevant Industry Content

Don’t be a billboard ad! We need to make sure that our boards are not strictly promotional because users will see that and likely not follow you. Instead, sharing photos from others in the industry that complement your own photos and enhance your boards will keep your profile community based, opposed to just a promotion center. A brand doing a good job of this is HGTV. They have created boards such as “Every Single Holiday” that combine photos from their website as well as other blogs to complete the board. This helps to develop relationships with the pinning community interested in the specific industry.

Pinterest is a great place to keep up with the market and obtain some insight into what your target market (mostly female, according to the stats above, but that could change!) is interested in. You can get a sense of what your demo is interested in by taking a look at what is being pinned, repined and what people are saying in their comments.

There are many ways for brands to great creative and offer great content for the Pinterest community to pin and share. Just make sure you’re adding value to the community and not just pumping marketing material out—you don’t want a gang of angry Pinners at your door. 🙂

Social Media Roundup for January 13


Kirsten McNeill is a Co-ordinator, Content and Community at Social Media Group.
Follow @kirstenmcne

Social Media Comments in Your Search Results

This week Google implemented “Search plus Your World,” a bit of a controversial change to its searches – it integrates Google+ comments into standard searches. Google+ members or those just signed into Google will be able do a regular search of the web as well as their own Google+ network – circles, photos, posts and more. Jack Menzel, product management director of search at Google explained this as, “search across information that is private and only shared to you, not just the public web.” For example if you searched “Nars,” you will be given their company website, product offering, company history, etc. and if anyone in your Google+ network had any thoughts on the brand, maybe loved their Winter palette, that post will also appear. In addition to these results, public profiles of those that aren’t in your circles will be recommended for you to follow that may be experts in the topic you are searching and you will conveniently be able to follow them right from the search results. But if you’re not into this, you can switch it off by selecting the world icon in the top right, as opposed to the person icon.


Among competitors, Twitter has been most verbal about their thoughts of this announcement, saying that further integrating Google+ into regular search results is “bad for people.” But Google’s Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt addressed this in an interview with reporter Danny Sullivan that it was Twitter’s choice to not continue integrating its data in Google searches by not renewing their agreement that gave the search engine access to public tweets. Check out the rest of the interview below:

What are your thoughts on having Google+, Twitter or any social media data showing up in your searches? Would their inclusion make your results better or would they just be unnecessary noise?

Mashable is running a Poll:

MySpace Making a Comeback?

comScore‘s latest social media report reveals some interesting data – MySpace is bigger than Tumblr and Google+! People are even spending more time on MySpace than they are on Google+.


Justin Timberlake, who partnered with Specific Media in June to purchase MySpace from News Corp, said “We’re ready to take television and entertainment to the next step by upgrading it to the social networking experience.” Is JT bringing MySpace back?

Sponsored Stories in the News Feed

Facebook launched Sponsored Stories in the News Feed this week but there are a number of controls around them to ensure that the user experience is respected. As promised, the ads are marked as “Featured” and they will only be showing up in the Ticker or Feed of user’s that have already liked the page. But these Sponsored Stories will also find a way to promote growth for a Page by highlighting fan activity, such as a Page Like or a Post Like. These ads will be shown to the friends of the person who did the action. ‘Page Like Story’ – ad will show to friends of people who liked your page, and ‘Page Post Like Story’ ad will show up when people like a specific Page post.

Facebook is slowly rolling these out to avoid user backlash and disrupting the user experience, so you will likely only see one Sponsored Story per day and they will not yet be appearing on mobile devices.

If you are a fan of Ben & Jerry’s Page, you likely saw this:

Listen to Music with your Friends – Even if you’re not with them!

Also announced this week from Facebook is a new feature called, ‘Listen With,’ enabling you to share the songs you are streaming via Spotify and Rdio. Users were already able to see what their friends were listening to but now they can listen together in a virtual environment and even sing along together. In the next few weeks you should start to see a music note in your chat sidebar and this will indicate who is listening to music. If you hover over their name you can hit “Listen with x,” which will play the song via the service your friend is using. When your friend changes the song, yours will change accordingly and more than one friend can listen in on the music so the entire group can chat about it together.

Facebook’s $100 Billion IPO

Facebook’s rumored April – June IPO is drawing nearer and its looking like it will be the biggest of any technology company in history (six times that of Google’s!) – its expected to be a $100 billion IPO! Accounting Degree Online has put together an Infographic breaking it down for us.


2011: The Year of the Tablet

Tablets are everywhere. In 2011 they have taken the personal computing world by storm. These thin, power packed devices are portable and allow users to be online, access email, video chat, and play games while on the go, or while relaxing from the comforts of a cozy living room chair (or the iPad chair). These versatile tablets don’t always get used on its own, recently Neilson reported that tablets make great TV companions with 40% of owners stating they consistently use their device while watching television.

Overall tablets can create value or entertainment for almost anyone – especially students, business professionals, technologists, or even Grandma! This post is a summary of major events in 2011 related to tablets and some of my own opinions and experiences.

State of the Nation

The tablet craze started when Apple launched the first iPad back in April 2010. Analysts either thought the product would be a runaway success or an epic failure. I will admit that I was skeptical at first, but that all changed once I had an iPad to call my own (full disclosure – I love it).

Since the iPad launched competitors have feverishly played catch up to try to match or beat the iPads features, functionality, user experience, and content availability. Throughout the last year and half we have had winners, some delays, and a couple of losers.  Overall the iPad still reigns supreme with an estimated 68% of the total tablet market share. Maybe that will change with the recent introduction of the Kindle Fire…but more on that later.

Another important factoid is that tablets are cannibalizing the PC industry. Forbes is reporting that European PC shipments sunk 11.4% in 2011, mainly due to lower demand for netbooks – a product that tablet functionality almost directly replaces.

It’s Not Just for Fun Anymore

Tablets are great gaming devices, so it is not surprising that ComScore says that 2/3 of tablet users play games on them at least once a month with 1/4 of users stating they play games once a day. I definitely sit somewhere in the middle of those stats, as I routinely use mine for gaming, reading, watching videos, and staying connected to friends and family.

Besides gaming and multimedia content consumption, tablets are also conquering the workplace. A prime example is that airlines have replaced heavy and expensive pilot flight manuals with iPads. Not only does it save the pilot from lugging around pounds of paper, but it also allows them to quickly search. Schools are replacing an entire year’s worth of textbooks, Doctors are using a plethora of medical apps to create efficiencies and improve patient care. Welcome to the 21st century.

How to Decide which Tablet to Buy

With a plethora of tablet options deciding which one is right for you can be a daunting task. Of course fanboys are likely to stick with their designated brand regardless of the features, functionality, or more importantly limitations. This resource from Tablet PC Comparison provides a high level overview of a large majority of available tablets. And below I provide my opinion on the subject.

Operating System / Content

The tablet OS is one of the most important factors to consider in your tablet buying decision. Until recently tablet discussions typically involved the great debate between Android’s open-ended operating system, with a variety of different products versus Apple’s closed and content-rich iPad.

The iPad comes with iTunes, which provides users with an almost unlimited amount of apps and multimedia content for their device. Although the Android App market is getting bigger, especially in the tablet app department, there isn’t a single repository where users can rent movies, or download TV shows (legally).

Of course that all changed with the Kindle Fire, which runs a modified version of Android. It is rumoured that Amazon subsidizes the sale of each Kindle Fire device at a loss as they are banking on customers’ continually buying content from them for the life of the tablet. Stream revenue is much better than a one time purchase!

Now we are seeing conversations shift to a debate between the Kindle Fire and the iPad. Will the Fire truly be the first iPad killer? Time will soon tell. Sure, we could also see another drastic change in 2012 with the recent announcement of HP open sourcing the WebOS platform, but that’s a whole other story.


Although all tablets are unique in their own way, many of the industry leaders have very similar hardware specifications. Most devices currently come with a dual core processor, up to 1GB of RAM, and on average 16GB of total storage. Other features to note are camera specifications, BluetoothWiFi, 3G (cellular), and GPS functionalities. For example, the Kindle Fire is cheaper than many competitors, but it only includes 8GB of storage, and doesn’t have GPS, camera, Bluetooth, or a microphone. To most consumers hardware specifications are not always a big deal (see iPad buyers), but for others the hardware specs may be the primary factor in their decision.

Screen Size

This is one of the biggest factors that drive a tablet purchase decision, and it really is personal preference. The RIM Playbook and Amazon Kindle Fire both utilize a 7 inch screen, the Apple iPad has a 9.7 inch screen, and the Samsung Galaxy Tab is 10.1. I love the size of my iPad, but I totally see the value in a 7 inch screen when it comes to portability.


Including price in this list is an absolute must, since most tablet buyers appear to be very price elastic. This observation is based on consumer reaction to outstanding sales of the $199 Kindle Fire, the Hp TouchPad fire sale back in the summer, and more recently the RIM Playbook price drop.

What’s Next?

It’s a given that new tablets will continually become thinner, lighter, and more powerful. Besides that I think the two key areas that will decide the fate of the tablet landscape will be content and price.

Content will be a key deciding factor moving forward. Amazon is placing big bets on their Kindle Fire, and I am excited to see how it all pans out over the next six months. In terms of price, the Kindle Fire seems to be setting the bar for entry level tablets. Consumers are currently gobbling the device up in record numbers, and Apple is rumoured to be working on a smaller, cheaper ‘iPad Mini’ that would compete directly with smaller, cheaper competitor products. I’m excited for 2012 which will most definitely bring a few surprises in tablet land.