Archive for the ‘Social Media’ Category

Running a Pinterest Contest: Why Your Rules Shouldn’t Be at the Heart of It

Wednesday, November 7th, 2012

Before I dive into how you should run a Pinterest contest, I should probably disclose to you upfront that I have never personally aided in, or ran a Pinterest contest.  That being said, I am one of only a few avid male Pinterest users (look me up here), so I write this not only as an internet marketer, but as a regular Pinterest user.

Pinterest, like so many social networks before it is forcing marketers and businesses alike to really scratch their heads and recognize how to best utilize the platform.  Like Facebook and networks before it, one of the first means of spreading brand awareness on the network seems to be the use of contests.  But if you’re going to run a Pinterest contest in a way that best serves the community, you need to do it in a way that won’t disrupt the community.  So if you’re thinking of running a Pinterest contest, consider the following:

Don’t Use a Contest Image

While I understand that companies want to get their promotional contest in front of as many eyes as possible, an image chock full of your contest rules isn’t doing much to serve the community.  I can’t tell you how many pinterest contest rules have popped up in my following feed and have annoyed the hell out of me.  In my opinion it’s almost as annoying as the spam pins telling me how I can lose weight with some magical weight loss program used by the celebrity pinned.

Below is an example from a Cost Plus World Market contest from a few months back and as you can see, a specific rule is to pin the rules.

Cost Plus World Market Pinterest Contest Image

Instead of pinning an image of the rules, why not integrate a rule to include a specific description explaining the contest and link in the board description or in the pin descriptions.  At least this allows you to promote the contest without intruding on the community.

Utilize Contest Specific Boards

Contest specific boards are going to make it easier for you to track your participants, and even easier for participants to make sure that whatever pin collection you are having them create is themed and easily accessible for themselves and their followers.  It also ensures that whatever it is you are trying to promote will be found in a single collection as opposed to spread out across a sea of Pinterest boards.  In the example below from Walmart Green, they may break the first rule of Pinterest contest club they do at least make users utilize a specific board for the contest.  This not only helps categorize the pins, but also alerts their followers that they are participating in a contest, which is a means of promotion in and of itself.

Walmart Green Pin to Win Contest

Make use of Hashtags

Another positive from the Walmart Green Pinterest contest is the use of the hashtag.  Like on other social networks hashtags help to group items together and are clickable in a description and will provide search results for all listings with the hashtag.  Again, this not only helps you as a business keep track of who’s participating, but it helps users see other pins within the collection that may interest them.

Encourage Pins of Your Own Content

While this may seem like a no brainer, and a staple of Pinterest contests I would strongly recommend you push users to use your own imagery, or imagery related to the contest to help fuel the board’s pins.  Not only will this help create a long term resource for Pinterest users, but it will also allow for long term traffic opportunities to your website well after the contest is over.  Zillow and Pulte homes recently utilized this as a bonus element to their “I want a new home sweepstakes”.  Entrants could earn up to $5,000 bonus cash for creating a “Dream Home” board using imagery from the Zillow and Pulte websites.

Rules and examples from Zillow's Pinterest contest

However, Pinterest is about inspiration.  It’s origins are rooted in creating a place for people to pin things from across the web that inspire them, or can help them achieve something.  So why not take your contest a step further and encourage users to pin images of how they use your product, or how it helped them.  Sure, you probably have some great professional images of your products, but how much more inspiring will it be if your users can see your product being used as it was inteded.  If applicable, consider having users upload their own imagery of your product in action as contest pins that help inspire other users.

Ultimately Pinterest is still very much in its infancy, so how people use Pinterest and how businesses use Pinterest is sure to evolve, but like any social network the key is to become one with the community.  If you serve your community, the community will serve you, especially if you’re pinning and promotion exceptional content.  If you still haven’t taken the plunge with Pinterest, here are some useful links that might help you get going:

 

 

How To Effectively Pin Images from Tumblr Blogs To Pinterest

Wednesday, August 8th, 2012

 

A play off the Super Mario Bros. Princess is in another castle scene

In my Pinterest Guide for the Every Day User I outlined how to get started on Pinterest with a handful of best practices when it comes to setting up your account and pinning content.  But I am seeing an annoying trend on Pinterest when it comes to pins from the microblogging network Tumblr.  Pinterest and Tumblr seem as though they would be a match made in heaven, however even the best visual content can be hard to engage when pinned incorrectly.

The nature of Tumblr makes it a fruitful source of image content, however pins from tumblr are oftentimes taken from the homepage of the blog, a location that the image will not permanently reside.

When you pin an image from a website onto Pinterest, it collects the URL from the website you collected the image from, however while an image may appear on the homepage of a tumblr blog, it will be pushed down deeper into the site as new posts are created.  Chances are by the time someone repins or clicks through to see the source of your pin, the image will no longer be on the blog’s homepage and they’ll need to click deeper into the blog if they want to find the original post.

Pinning from Tumblr So Your Source Can Be Found

How to pin the Dollhouse Workout from Tumblr to PinterestLet’s pretend for a moment you wanted to pin the Dollhouse Workout from Back On Pointe, because let’s face it, Dollhouse was awesome and so is working out.  Two days ago it was featured on the homepage, however today it now rests on page ten of the blog.  If you want to ensure that a user can access the original content on the source site you need to click on the time it was posted and then pin the image.  This will keep the integrity of the pin’s URL and will make sure that a Pinterest user can visit the source of your pin at a later time without having to search for it.

Depending on the theme of the Tumblr blog this may vary.  Sometimes it will display the actual date instead of how long ago it was posted, other times you will need to click on the image to obtain the original post.  However, the key is to access the page where the image is housed so as not to lead users to a location that may not house the image in the future.  This will be the page that shows the entire post along with the history of likes, reblogs, etc.

So the next time you go and pin something from a tumblr blog (or any source for that matter), do yourself and your followers a favor and make sure to pin it from the source and not pin it from the homepage of the site.  Nobody wants to dig for the content your sharing.

 

Finding Quality Users To Follow On Twitter When You Can’t Trust Your Twitter Friends

Monday, June 4th, 2012

Whether you’re just starting out on Twitter, or are a seasoned user looking for some new influencers its easy to want to look to the people we know for people to follow.  After all, that’s one of the big draws of social media isn’t it?  The ability to gain influence and insight from the people we trust?  But unfortunately with the advent of auto-follow the quality of those your friend is following can be decieving.

I’ve mentioned in the past that, while it can be overwhelming at times, I still manually review every follower notification I receive on Twitter.  Each day I’ll get a number of emails like the one below that feature another Twitter follower that I may or may not be interested in following.

A Twitter Follower Notification Email

At the bottom of the email Twitter tries to build some credibility for the user by displaying people you follow that also follow the user.  I used to put some weight into this list, but over time I’ve noticed that thanks to our good friend the auto follower, my trusted friends aren’t really of much help.  In this particular case eight people seem to really be digging on this eBay store.

Hmm, further research reveals that the site blasts a large number of tweets each hour showcasing some of its fine eBay auctions.  Not exactly fodder that most of the folks I follow would eat up.  Yet even Mari Smith is following this gem of an account.  Luckily I know Mari utilizes an auto follow tool, or I might suspect she fancy’s vintage pinup fashion.  Needless to say, I’m not going to be able to trust my social friends on this one.

Don’t Take All Follows at Face Value

When it comes to following users back, or even researching new people to follow do your due diligence.  I personally have a set criteria every person I follow must pass before I follow them:

  1. Do they have a profile photo? If not there’s no way I am following them
  2. Do they have a bio? If not, no go. If they do does it appeal to me?
  3. What’s their tweet to follower to following ratio?  2 tweets, 46 followers and following 999? Something’s fishy. You better sell me pretty damn good in those two tweets to score a follow.
  4. What are they tweeting? Do they use a #hash #tag on every other word or in every tweet? Nothing screams spammer like the over utilization of the hashtag.

If they pass those core elements its time to skim their tweets and learn a bit more about the user.  Are they tweeting content that will actually interest you and resonate, or is it all tweets about their eating schedule and bowel movements?

Twitter’s timeline can get crowded quickly.  Even with hand picking who I follow I’m up to over 1600 people and I guarantee you I miss most of their content.  If you want to cut down the noise do your part to follow only those who you feel will actually have an influence on you.

Ways to Find Quality People to Follow

  • Look at the people your friends engage with most – Who are they retweeting or conversing with most?  Chances are these are the users who are most influential in their stream.
  • Explore Twitter Lists – While I never personally got into the lists game I know they can be a great resource for finding like minds. Visit profiles of users who influence you and explore lists they are featured on.
  • Look for curated lists on industry blogs – Most industries I play in have had a member of their community write up a nice list of influential users in their marketplace. Here are a couple for the realms I play in:
  • Klout – While many question its value, it still is a great way to at least discover people that might actually be topically relevant to your interests.  That being said, the quality of those users can be questionable depending on niche, as displayed in my Top 10 Plastic Surgery Social Media Influencers According to Klout post
  • Who To Follow – A native feature in Twitter, this can be a great resource once you’ve built up a decent group of people you’ve followed.  Again, do your due diligence though and verify they are actually a user who is going to satisfy your twitter needs.
  • Follow Friday, #FF – Though greatly ignored personally, many users I have talk to still value the Follow Friday trend, especially when users give good testament as to why you should follow.  SpinSucks does really cool #FollowFriday blog posts that gives in depth reasons to follow various people on Twitter.
  • Twitter Directories – Twellow.com, WeFollow.com, Twibs.com, and justtweetit.com are just a few of the many sites out there than can help you take an old school approach to finding influential people to follow.

So now that you know you can’t trust your Twitter friends, its time to do your part to make sure you are following the best and the brightest Twitter has to offer.  Do you have your own techniques for finding new people to follow on Twitter? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

Pinterest for the Everyday User

Monday, May 21st, 2012

Pinterest has taken the internet marketing world by storm. Hell, even I caught the Pinterest bug and have written variety of pieces on America’s fastest growing social network highlighting how to resurrect old content with Pinterest, how to optimize for Pinterest search, how to use Pinterest for small business and even shared some great examples of Pinterest in health care.  But as more companies explore Pinterest and more users explore its appeal I am noticing that user ignorance is oftentimes making the Pinterest experience a bit less than stellar.  With that in mind I decided to write a guide on Pinterest for the everyday user.

Mike Wilton's Pinterest Boards

What Is Pinterest?

If you haven’t heard of Pinterest please contact me so I can give your info to the U.S. courts so that they can put your number on speed dial for the next time they need a juror for a high profile crime case.  Joking aside, Pinterest is in my opinion the modern day equivalent to bookmarking.  Back in the day you would click on the little bookmark icon in your browser to save something for later.  With Pinterest, you now have a visual means of saving collections of things you love.  As an added bonus its built around a community of users who also share their passions, allowing you to grow your collections and engage with like minded Pinners.  You can read more about Pinterest on their website, but Pinterest sums it up pretty well when they say, “People use Pinterest to collect and share all sorts of things — wedding inspiration, favorite T-shirts, DJ equipment. You name it, people are pinning it.”

Why bother?

The appeal of Pinterest doesn’t lie in the act of pinning things and saving them for later just because you think they’re cool.  The real appeal lies in the fact that Pinterest was designed to be a point of inspiration, and more importantly, a tool.  Who needs recipe cards when you have a board of all of your favorite recipes?  Why create a binder of all of your wedding planning ideas when you can put it in a single location online?  Need some ideas on your garden planning? Search Pinterest for inspiration.  Pinterest can be a really valuable tool for people in need of organized, portable, and inspirational content.

Getting Started

If you don’t currently have a Pinterest login, you’ll have to request one as the site is still invite-only.  You can request an invite from the Pinterest website, or better yet bug one of your friends who is already using the site for one.  Within a couple of days you should receive your invitation to join.  Once you get it, you’ll be asked to log in with either your Facebook or Twitter account.

With your account created, go into your Settings and take some time to fill out your profile.  I can’t stress this step enough.  Pinterest, though a valuable tool, is also a social network.  The more people understand who you are and what you are about the more likely they are to share with you, interact with you, and follow your pin boards.

Create Topical Boards with Meaningful Names

When you start a Pinterest account you will be given five default boards.  You can begin adding content to these boards, or if they’re not your style you can remove them and create a fresh batch of your own. To edit or remove a board simply click on the “Edit” button at the bottom of the board.

The Default Boards that appear on a new Pinterest Account

As you create or edit boards consider giving them meaningful names.  This not only helps you to remember the topic of your board, but it can help other users identify if they want to follow that particular board.  A lot of users come up with clever names for their boards, which is totally acceptable. But I would suggest trying to hint at the board’s subject matter even in your clever title.  For instance I have a board titled Oh My Goth!, which is dedicated to Goth subculture.  The name doesn’t flat out say “Goth stuff” but if you were searching for the subject matter you would probably identify with it by the name, the contents of the board and the fact that it takes its name from a song by the goth musical artist Razed in Black.

In addition to naming boards you can associate them with preset categories from Pinterest or add a description.  These elements can help your pins be found by other Pinterest users who may have similar interests or are looking for inspiration from boards like yours.  You can also setup boards to be collaborative so that friends or family members can add to it.

Filling Your Boards A la Pinning

Before you go wild on the internet and start pinning I highly encourage you to connect with some friends (You can find friends by selecting “Find Friends” when you hover over your name in the upper right corner) and even browse the “Everything” feed for some inspiration to get started.  As you browse the latest pins or your friends’ pins you can hover over the pin and select Repin to add the item to one of your boards.  Once you’ve gotten comfortable with the site and have hopefully repinned a few things you can now navigate about the internet and start pinning some items of your own.  To pin items from the internet you must install the Pinterest bookmarklet or install the iPhone app, both of which you can learn more about on the Pinterest goodies page.

Tips for Good Pins

Though it sounds easy enough I still see a lot of people mess up pinning.  As you begin navigating the internet and pinning consider the following:

  • Always pin the larger version of an image if you have an option
  • Always pin from the main URL of the content.  Though pins are usually visual there is oftentimes content associated with it, like with recipes, so be sure to pin from the original URL the content is featured on. Common bad URL’s include a Google images URL, a RSS feed url, or the URL of a blog page featuring multiple posts. For best results always click through to the main article. (e.g http://100pounds100days.tumblr.com/post/22397596334 vs http://100pounds100days.tumblr.com/)
  • Don’t pin non-visual content. I see a lot of people do this. They will pin an article that uses some stock photo or generic image in it. This isn’t visually appealing and probably won’t matter to most users. Don’t do it.
  • Don’t upload photos as pins that aren’t your own. Users have already been busted for breaking this rule in the past, so never upload an image as a pin unless its yours. Note: this only applies to image uploads, not pins or repins.

Hanging with the “Pin” Crowd

As I mentioned before, Pinterest is a social community, and while these boards are your own it never helps to rub elbows with the locals.  I treat my Pinterest emails much like my Twitter emails.  Each time I get a new follower notification on Twitter I explore the users profile and identify if they are someone I would be interested in following.  Pinterest is no different.  Each time I get a notification of a new follower or a repin I will explore the users profile.  If they are following me or repinning my content its quite possible they have similar tastes and ultimately may have similar boards that I would be interested in following.  I highly recommend as a Pinterest user you take this approach as well.  It’s a great way to find new content, but also a great way to connect with like minded users.  By ignoring these emails you may be ignoring some awesome inspiration opportunities.

Commenting or mentioning another user in a pin is also another great way to engage with the Pinterest community. Comments are available on a pin and you can mention a Pinterest user by using the @ symbol and their name in the comment or description of your pin.

But Seriously, Why Should I Be On Pinterest?

If this post didn’t sell you, I encourage you just to try it.  I joined Pinterest merely for research and I fell in love with it.  I never thought I’d have a use for the site and now I’m stashing recipes I want to try on an almost daily basis.  It’s also my go to site for dinner recipes when I’m not sure what I want to do for dinner, but I know what ingredients I have.  Join Pinterest because it’s:

  • Beautiful
  • Inspirational
  • Fun

No matter what you’re into, there is bound to be something/someone on Pinterest that will pique your interest long enough for you to enjoy Pinterest in all of its glory.  If you need a place to start you can follow me on Pinterest.

NBC 4′s @RealTimeLARiots a Clever Use of Social Media or Confusing Social Noise?

Tuesday, May 1st, 2012

A few years back I posted about a modern day War of the Worlds that I feared would break out on Twitter.  In October 2009, California was holding a statewide earthquake drill and the Orange County Register was considering running simulated tweets during the event.  The proposed tweets would coincide with the event and would report as though a magnitude 7.8 earthquake had hit the region.  At the time I wrote how it was a clever idea, but it came with risks.  What would happen if someone outside of the loop mistook the tweet for something real?  What sort of paranoia would it create?  The Register never followed through with the tweets, but I have been observing a similar reaction nearly three years later.

“April 26, 1992. There was a riot on the streets tell me where were you?” ― Sublime

Yesterday I stumbled upon this tweet in my Twitter stream:

At the time I saw the tweet I had no idea what @RealTimeLARiots was. All I saw was the words “National Guard officially deployed. #LARiots” and as a Southern California resident who has witnessed a number of riots in Los Angeles both big and small I was concerned.

But before overreacting, I did my due diligence to click through and figure out what all the fuss was about.  In just a few clicks I discovered that @RealTimeLARiots was nothing more than livetweeting of the Los Angeles riots as they happened back in 1992.  I was instantly taken back to my modern day War of the Worlds post and realized that I had almost fallen victim to the exact sort of thing I mentioned back then.

I tweeted my concern and actually found out from NBC 4′s John Cádiz Klemack that another local station had actually called to confirm the report:

But funny as it may seem, I was almost duped into believing the city of Los Angeles was in the midst of a riot, and I wouldn’t be the last to think so.

As many of you know today was May Day and to coordinate with the “Workers Holiday” Occupy protesters were out in force to demonstrate across the U.S. and more specifically in Los Angeles.  As the day unfolded Twitter and news outlets posted about the protest and various police confrontations.  But things got tricky when Twitter users following the events began seeing the current day occurrences collide with the past:

 

 

The above are just a small sampling of the kind of tweets that have been posted about the overlap and confusion caused by the @RealTimeLARiots account and the current events unfolding in Los Angeles, but is @RealTimeLARiots a bad thing?

If you search for @RealTimeLARiots on Twitter you’ll discover a mix bag of reactions to the account.  Many who were too young to experience the riots first hand have been in awe watching the tweets unfold.  Others have commented on how this is one of the most innovative uses of Twitter to date, but at what cost?

@RealTimeLARiots is not the first of its kinda.  Most recently the History Channel ran a real-time Titanic account to commemorate the 100 year anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic.  There is also a popular RealTimeWWII account which is “livetweeting the 2nd World War, as it happens on this date & time in 1940, & for 6 years to come.”  But what sets @RealTimeLARiots apart in my opinion is how it is being tweeted and reported in a way that makes it feel more realistic or actual accounts.  Using #BREAKING hash tags and various mentions these appear much more real and this is most likely why they have become so confusing for many.

It’s a unique effort that I think is both risky, as well as innovative.  For those who are too young to remember it, or never experienced it, it is an education experience.  For those who lived through it, its an opportunity to reflect and look back at those terrifying moments.  For others, its just one more form of online entertainment.  But ultimately it does come at a risk.  Twitter allows information to spread rapidly and all it takes is one group of people to miss the backstory to spread panic among users.  Think of all the dead celebrity rumors that have spread like wildfire on Twitter?  Now apply that to a crisis or emergency and things could get a little rocky.

What are your thoughts on the Real Time LA Riots account?  Is it an innovative use of social media, or is NBC 4 going too far as a news outlet?