Pinterest for the Holidays!

I am not sure if you have checked out Pinterest, but it is a cool, new, and emerging social network. I love it and finding quite useful this holiday season. I have so many different wish lists on so many different websites. From Amazon.com, BandHPhoto.com, Apple.com, and on and on and on…I wanted to have one place to share Christmas list with my family. Pinterest just made sense.

I started checking out Pinterest about 8 months ago when Sarah was using it for Rose (our little girl). She was using it to store ideas for  the baby room, decorating ideas for showers, and also look through other people’s ideas when thinking of ways to get ready for a new baby. Pinterest is a place for Sarah to visually bookmark or “Pin” a link that she might want to refer to at a later date. Pinterest was also a place to look at other people’s “Pins”…to see their ideas.

You can organize “Pins” in categories or “Boards” grouping based on your idea of themes or content areas. So how does Pinterest define a “Pin”?

What is a pin? A pin is an image added to Pinterest. A pin can be added from a website using the Pin It button, or you can upload images from your computer. Each pin added using the Pin It button links back to the site it came from.

Does this make sense yet? Well this is how Pinterest describe their social network:

Pinterest is a virtual pinboard. Pinterest allows you to organize and share all the beautiful things you find on the web. You can browse pinboards created by other people to discover new things and get inspiration from people who share your interests. People use pinboards to plan their weddings, decorate their homes, and share their favorite recipes.

So back to how I am using Pinterest this holiday season…to create a board of ideas and wants for Christmas. My “Christmas Gifts” board is a wishlist to share with everyone…everything in one spot. Then I have a link to share with my family and friends. I do not have to send them to four or five different online retailers to see my different ideas. I can just pin each idea here, each link here, a link directly to the item I would like…then share this board with others. I can even share this link on other social outlets like Facebook. Pretty cool?

People are using Pinterest in so many different ways…I would love to hear how you are using it!

Here are a few articles about Pinterest:

Mashable.com – http://mashable.com/2011/11/27/niche-social-marketing/

USAToday.com – http://www.usatoday.com/tech/news/story/2011-10-28/pinterest-Ben-Silbermann/50979542/1

Peeling back the layers of the social story…

Each time I meet with a new group, another organization, a different business…I am so encouraged by the opportunity that is in front of them. The social space provides us the most unbelievable opportunity…the ability to truly share our story.

Our story…our perspective is one of the most powerful voices. We now have the tools to share this story in a way that allows our audiences to truly see inside our slice of life, our organization, our company, our institution…through our eyes.

The social space allows us to paint the picture for others to enjoy. We share information, pictures, real time information in way that large traditional outlets could not achieve a few years ago. With the ever increasing audiences using outlets like Tumblr, Blogger, Facebook, YouTube and other social outlets…we create our own social space. We can create a message that allows people to connect on our terms, creating the viral effect that repeats our message.

Storytelling is powerful. Whether if it is the use of video, a blog, a Facebook group, a hashtag chat…our excitement can translate for others to enjoy and share.

We will never be able to measure the social space…NEVER. We can create metrics to measure hits, growth in followers, likes, +1’s, and other bean counter important pieces…but nothing can measure the human effect. We are moved by pictures, stories, and the human elements that drive us to connect.

Just today I noticed Mack Collier’s update on Google+ and it had me thinking…

I have to agree…I like the 2nd lesson learned: “People respond better to ideas and experiences they can relate to”…YES! We are humans and we want to connect, so we are telling our own social story. Now we have the tools to reach so many more people in a shorter amount of time. If we spent less time equating the social space to the technology and more about sharing our story…we could really create some tremendous movements.

We want people to pull back the layers of our story…to see life through our eyes!

The social space is changing our web presence…are we lost at sea?

Traffic…Traffic…Traffic…we want some traffic!

We do not want a bottle neck…we want consistent traffic across our web platforms. Guess what, we have lots of them…lots of web platforms. I think back to 2001 when UXD was centered around how we move the eyes around a page…now it all about moving people around based on how we want them to click. The social space is redefining the way we create our web presence. It is no longer just a website…it is a host of social packages included in this online investment.

It was just the other day I was sitting in a leadership meeting with a medical group talking social media outlets, physician practices, speciality groups, web, and a host of other ideas. Everyone wants a Facebook page, everyone wants to have a social presence, everyone wants control of their message. Individuals inside organizations that have a special touch point to their “customers” want to connect and the “website” isn’t providing that interactive experience.

Let’s look at the web/social space over the last ten years. Here is part of a great infographic from the Search Engine Journal:

Look at the social growth starting in 2005 with MySpace and then the tremendous surge in 2008. So where does that leave us with our “traditional” website? Did you notice I called the pre-2008 website traditional. Yes…what happen to this space in 2008. Well…it was about this time we started to see a open source movement to create a web presence on platforms like Joomla, Mambo, and other PHP based content management systems. These allowed us to create content dynamically online, moving us away from the “post card” websites.

These content management systems allowed us to integrate Facebook and other social outlets into our website presence. These social outlets forced us to create more dynamic content in a more expedient fashion. Now we have a Twitter, Facebook, Blog, YouTube Channel, Google+, Email Newsletter…on-top of the website. WHY?

We want traffic to flow to our sites, we want our followers to grow, we want more likes, we want more YouTube views, we want more comments on our blog…we want more traffic. We want people to walk around, completely connect to their devices so that they can consume and engage with us online. We are a bit egotistical…aren’t we?

This is a great representation of how much time people spent online in May 2011 via Nielsen’s Social Media 3Q 2011 Report:

Let’s take a hard look at these numbers: US Internet users spent 53.5 billion minutes on Facebook, 9.1 billion minutes on YouTube, 723 million minutes on Blogger, 623 million minutes on Tumblr, 565 million minutes on Twitter, and 325 million minutes on LinkedIn…all of this in the month of May 2011.

These stats above should tell you about where you should invest a portion of your marketing/pr/new media dollars…but it does go back to audience. If you are connecting with the consumer…enough said. If you are a B2B organization…need to critically think about how you can leverage the social space.

But…is it about traffic, traffic, traffic? A consistent flow of traffic to your web and social properties? Why should you have a Facebook page and how should you communicate differently than your website? I am off the belief, right now in 2011, that the main website presence is still the home base. This is the place you are driving audiences to capture your delivered information. The social outlets are for building community relationships.

Yes…we can create campaigns for the social outlets to build followers and friends, but after the campaigns expire…do you still give those same people a reason to stick around? What are you doing after the give-away, after the chat, after the Facebook event.

The social space has become the biggest marketing tool and community is slowly disappearing. We are spending just as much time hiding and de-friending people as we did actually accepting the invitation. How can we create our online presence in a fashion that builds community instead of segmenting our brand…lots of properties and little purposefule engagement. Or is just a way to have tons of ships out to sea in the hopes we will continue to keep on connecting with many islands of friends.

We race to create a Facebook page, a new Google+ brand page, a Twitter account each time we have a new product, brand, or idea. But are we confusing people to the point they have no idea where to find us…the real us.

***Photo from Photobucket and seraiwallpapers account.

Are social media outlets are loosing the “socialness”, somewhat?

Social media outlets of 2011 are just loosing the “socialness.” Twitter is turning into the AP Newswire for the consumer, Facebook is turning into free websites for businesses, and YouTube is turning into a barrage of content all competing for attention. Yes…48 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute, resulting in nearly 8 years of content uploaded every day.

Google+ gave everyone hope that this new social outlet would provide a closer-nit experience…with less amplification and more connection. But people forgot about Google+ as fast as we ran to jump on board.

The friends I used to connect with via Twitter now do not respond to @replies and emails…so sometimes we connect…maybe?

So here is what I think…the people that drove the Social Media Revolution got jobs. Yes…those people that advocated this social space over two years ago were the same people looking for work and business opportunities. They now have a routine and it is not about connecting online.

More and more people are just broadcasting. Just pushing brand information through their personal social channels. Now we have individual faces that represent brands without the individual conversation the brand is hoping to utilize. Influencers…what is that in the social space. Maybe those who have large numbers of followers are not really influencing the right audiences online…just influencing people that really have no influence at all.

Just chalk much of this social experience to the infiltration of the marketing minds spamming consumers with too much information. For heavens sakes…we are having to re-think how we connect with our families online. Each time we log on to another outlet, we are tracked and recorded as marketing numbers…providing rich information about our purchasing practices. The digital divide is slowly “filling in” with those individuals marginalized based on access to technology now have access with faster connections over the telecom networks.

We are striving to find closed spaces that we can connect with friends, yet not share who/how/when we are connecting and building relationships.

The one thing that gives me hope is the world of blogging. It is still a place to share our thoughts and minds in a potentially low profile situation..even though it is a public space. It is a lot easier to manage an anonymous blog than an anonymous Facebook or Twitter account.

Another place that gives me hope are practices and communities created through hashtags on Twitter. This allows individuals to join a conversation surrounding a simple word/phrase instead of having to follow a particular brand or person. There is still levels of influence built into digital conversations similar to those using hashtag communities, but this movement is still growing.

Word of mouth is still king in the world of marketing and the world of print is starting to find value again. Maybe we will see a swing…not sure. Well, privacy settings are supporting these offline movements like traditional outlets and word-of-mouth. The leaders in the industry like Facebook are creating more and more privacy settings. What does that mean…people are demanding to be more and more private. The larger the audience…the more people can see your socialness…the more people want to protect their information.

We marketers are taking the social out of the media…and making it just another measurable outlet.

Why are we doing “Like” campaigns? Why?

I have one question…why must we do “Like” campaigns? Why?

Maybe I am little skeptical of this practice….but I have found more and more organizations creating “Like” campaigns for Facebook and that is it. So here is my next question…what happens after the people “Like” your page? Do you spend the same, if not more, time invested in the longterm conversation as you did trying to get them to click the button.

So many gimmicks,  so many ploys, so many promises, so many give aways…but what are people going to “Like” after the “Like” button is clicked? Are you going to push your marketing campaign, your consistent updates that bring no value you the feed? Or do you disappear once they do “Like” your page?

We work so hard on numbers…let’s get those numbers up. But what about the community and the long-term conversation. This is a social space right? Do you overload people with your updates that as soon as they “Like” they click “Hide” the next day?

“Like” campaigns are the same Opt-In campaigns for newsletters and blogs. Get people to give information or commit to receiving content.  But is your content “King” or do you build online relationships that lead to digital word-of-mouth?

Do you have a monthly or quarterly newsletter. How did you get the email addresses? So how many people open your newsletter emails? 30%, 20%, 10%, or even 5%? So why are you not getting a larger percentage. Why are the other 70% – 95% not reading? Are you just delivering content or are you engaging a conversation? The “Like” campaign is the same thing…we do everything possible to get people to “Like” our page but have a hard time keeping people engaged?

Yeah…Yeah…Yeah…I know there is case-study after case-study showing the success of “Like” campaigns. Just get them to “Like” your page and all is solved. But what happens after the “Like”? Do they hide you or forget about you? Or did they just “Like” you to get that 10% off coupon they might remember to use?

***Image from VerticalMeasures.com