We’ve all got used to the idea of using social networks such as Facebook and Twitter as a marketing tool. Many marketers have figured out how to spruce up their profiles, participate in discussions and update wall posts effectively.
However- just when we’ve become comfortable with the whole social media phenomenon – out springs Pinterest from nowhere. Can it be used effectively by businesses for marketing purposes? Or is it just an excuse for slackers to gaze at fancy images all day?
Here is a breakdown of the pros and cons of Pinterest to help you decide if it is going to be beneficial to your business.
Why you should be Pinterested!
Pinterest is a social sharing website that allows users to sign up and pin content they’ve found on the web to share with friends and followers. According to ‘ComScore’ it now has over 11.7 million unique users a month making it the fastest site in history to grow beyond the 10 million a month mark. Virtually all content that is popular is imaged based, therefore Pinterest tends to attract businesses that are able to present its product or services through images – such as restaurants, retail stores and product designers.
One of the reasons Pinterest has taken off (and a major reason why certain business sectors are using the site) is that it offers a value proposition that’s unique from other social networks out there. None of the other social networking sites do exactly what Pinterest does. Of course you can share images on Facebook and Twitter but image sharing is not the primary purpose.
It’s also a great place to connect with female users, one study showed as many as 97% of Pinterest fans are female – making this a good potential marketing opportunity for lots of businesses, particularly if your sector has a higher number of female consumers.
Pinterest also makes it very simple to share content on the web. It encourages users to download a pinmarklet (pinterest toolbar bookmarklet) that allows users to pin any content they find on the web that they want to share, it’s that simple! There’s no need for copying and pasting or switching between windows.
The main advantage of using Pinterest is that it’s an image driven site and let’s be honest, people love images far more than they love words. If you analyse Facebook, images and videos are the most shared content on there. If you’re a product based company, sharing images of your products on Pinterest is a great way to control the tremendous power of visuals on a popular site that is committed to sharing images.
Why you should be unPinterested!
Pinterest focuses mainly on visual content which can make it inaccessible (and irrelevant) to some businesses. Most exchanges on Pinterest are concerned with design, lifestyle and fashion and good quality images are a must. If your business does not lend itself to display through a visual means, then there is probably little benefit of you taking this route. Some B2B companies have taken the risk and experimented on Pinterest but it’s important to note there could be a backlash if you’re perceived as a marketing maniac.
Pinterest also has a lack of dedicated brand pages. Other social networking sites such as Google+, Twitter and Facebook have all developed space designed for companies which has helped rid some of the frustration users feel when being bombarded with advertisement. For Pinterest, businesses will need to figure out how to market without seeming like marketing. In other words create visual content that is valid in its own right – not just as a tool to drive traffic to the site.
The image based site in itself has many flaws when you choose to use it for your business, but on the other hand it’s a free website where you can advertise your business in any way that you want and you are almost guaranteed to have an increase in traffic. So, for product-based businesses with good quality images and stylish products, absolutely – sign yourself up. For service-based businesses I would tend to avoid this site as it could end up doing more damage than good.
How often do you use your smart phone or tablet to search the web? If you’re anything like the rest of the population the answer is more than ever before. Figures show that mobile traffic is increasing month on month and data from Microsoft Tag suggests that:
50% of all local searches are performed on mobile devices
What this means for you depends very much on how your website has been built.
For those of you with older websites, the chances are that your site, designed with desktop browsing in mind, is not going to display well on mobile phones or tablet computers. In this convenience-crazy world we have created your dear browsers (who you have invested time and money to get) will not wait around to decipher your messy-looking web site, they will move on to the next one. This means you are potentially missing out on 50% of all search traffic for your product or service.
How to fix it? Instead of having a desktop version and a mobile version of your site, you need to ask you web design agency about responsive design. In this age of flexibility, having one single website that displays equally well on a variety of devices will maximise the potential of your web traffic and remove a potential barrier to them contacting you. Responsive design aims to make your site easily readable without layout or scrolling issues, giving you clarity, usability and style in one handy, flexible package.
There are loads of different ways your website designer can achieve a responsive design, but let them worry about the technicalities, email email@example.com to discuss your needs.
It’s no secret that our SEO team here at eSterling are gurus with Google (and search engines in general). Whilst we spend most of our time here pushing your websites to the top of Google’s rankings, every now and then, we like to have a little fun with the big G too.
Here’s a few neat little things you can do with Google that you probably didn’t know about:
Facebook has begun testing the use of fancy emoticons in status updates on their site. The new development which was originally adopted by the old Myspace allows users to pick symbols to indicate what they’re doing.
On this front, Facebook is playing catch-up as Google+ already supports animated emoticons on their mobile app and Path allows users to ‘smile’ at each other’s posts. So has Facebook come a little late to the party?
The new options include glasses to show someone is watching films or an event, headphones to indicate that they’re listening to music and a fork a knife to inform people when they are eating. As well as emoticons, users can choose from a list of options- such as Watching: ‘Harry Potter’, Feeling: ‘excited’ or can just enter their own text and thus spice up their status messages.
The social networking giant has kept tight-lipped about the feature but has said:
“The new development is an opportunity for people to visually represent what they’re doing and how they’re feeling through their Facebook posts.”
Before Facebook users get too excited, the new feature is only available to a handful of people during this initial testing phase. If these users report that they enjoy sharing their actions in a more visual way, the rest of us could be free to pepper our statuses with a variety of fancy emoticons.
Some critics claim that if the new development does become permanent the information could potentially be used to target people with adverts and therefore turning Facebook into a goldmine.
Advertisers would be able to know users’ likes and dislikes at a much deeper level. For example, if a user put a status about a particular album they’re listening to, it will become easier for advertisers to target them for ads regarding that type of music, particular concerts and promotions.
Facebook could potentially integrate this new status sharing method with Graph Search to load the new search method with additional information. The new status emoticons are being tested on both the web and mobile applications.
Even though it doesn’t quite carry the same weight this side of the pond, the Superbowl is still by far the biggest (and most expensive) event in the marketing calendar. Huge companies fight for the prime position advert spots in the hopes of pushing their products to the 110 million people watching.
As part of our series on Social Media for businesses, Sentho Pembleton looks at LinkedIn and its benefits for small, medium and large businesses in the UK.
LinkedIn as a Marketing Tool
Unlike other social media sites, LinkedIn is viewed as an online network of influential people all over the globe. Most of us know, it can be difficult to get an audience with those in a position of leadership – Managing Directors and CEOs are well-protected through normal channels of contact. The advantage of LinkedIn is that it brings business people together in a new and unique way. If utilized properly, even an office junior would be able to engage in discussion and build relationships with company CEOs.
Find Business Partners, Clients and Service Providers
LinkedIn can help most businesses build a network of useful contacts. Just a simple search in your field will reveal thousands of experts, service providers and potential clients. Even if you don’t personally know an individual, you can request to be introduced through a mutual contact or you can send an introductory email.
For recruiters out there, LinkedIn can offer easy access to potential candidates. Businesses can locate a particular candidate that fits their required level of expertise and contact them directly. Companies can also post a job ad for a monthly fee dependant on the location.
This business networking site offers a unique tool called LinkedIn Answer. It aims to facilitate information and idea sharing online. The service allows you to post business questions to both your network and the rest of the LinkedIn community. LinkedIn has always been used for knowledge sharing. Users have always been able to communicate through their mailbox to pose questions to connections.
Promote your blog
LinkedIn is a great way to share and promote a business blog. Users have the opportunity to add a blog or website to their individual profile in order to give it more exposure.
The recommendation feature can also be used as a business tool. Once you’ve added a product or service to your business profile, you can request recommendations from your customers. In doing this it will boost your company’s credibility and help you gain new clients.
LinkedIn and SEO
LinkedIn enables you to make your profile information available for search engines to index. LinkedIn profiles do receive a high page rank in Google and this is great way to influence what people see when they search for your business. In addition it now gives users the ability to share content. This activity will influence your search engine ranking positions.
More companies are now taking advantage of this feature for their businesses to network and grow. You can even add your website link in the group profile for great visibility. Sending weekly messages to your group can maintain interest and enthusiasm too. To make the most of your group, you need to find a niche/area business that is under- represented and aim to be the authority of the subject. The more quality content you produce to back this up and the more effectively you run your group, the greater the support you will get from your community and the more likely you are to appear as an authority in your niche fields.
LinkedIn has over 120 million users worldwide and has extensive targeting capabilities to entice advertisers. The business network has followed Facebook’s example and introduced a ‘self service’ system ‘LinkedIn Ads’. This provides an opportunity for all LinkedIn users to advertise on a cost per click or impression basis. Advertisement can be tailored by job title and function, industry and company size, seniority, age, gender or certain LinkedIn groups.
For advice on setting up a LinkedIn profile or any other aspect of Social Media strategy, please contact eSterling on 0121 766 8087 or email to firstname.lastname@example.org
Twitter is renowned for the light-hearted attitude of it’s 500+M strong userbase, and as we all know, humour can be a brilliant way to win over your customers.
Presenting your company in this jaunty, fun fashion can be challenging, but here’s an example from the local Solihull Police force on how to do it right:
Courtesy of @SolihullPolice
The Solihull Police twitter account is a great example of how you can make a potential grey and serious topic a little more cheery quite easily by just injecting a little fun – We highly recommend giving them a follow!
In other slightly less jolly news, disgruntled staff of failing music and DVD giant HMV took to Twitter in a guerilla-style hijacking of the retailer’s account. The peeved employees managed to broadcast several tweets to HMV’s 68,000+ fans, including:
“We’re tweeting live from HR where we’re all being fired. Exciting!! #hmvXFactorFiring”.
The prank didn’t seem to go down too well with those in charge, however, as the renegade tweeter posted:
“Just overheard our Marketing Director (he’s staying, folks) ask “How do I shut down Twitter?”
The higher powers at HMV finally managed to regain control of the account and all of the tweets were removed, but not before the rogue poster managed to squeeze in a final tweet:
“So really, what have we to lose? It’s been a pleasure folks! Best wishes to you all!”
Nearly 190 jobs were axed at HMV yesterday, as the company begins the step toward restructuring. All is not lost, however – restructuring company Hilco have bought the company’s debt, in hopes of reopening half the chain’s stores across the nation. Something makes us think they might not be offering the Twitter troublemakers their jobs back though!