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Pinterest: the Next Social Media Frontier

By now most brands have (or at least attempted) a presence on Facebook and Twitter. And many companies have added sites such as Delicious, YouTube, Flickr and LinkedIn to their social media repertoire. But what new social medium has risen so quickly that it’s seen site visits increase by 4,000 percent in just six months?

(Hint, it’s not Google+, which is even being outpaced by MySpace when it comes to user engagement).

The answer is Pinterest, an online pinboard for images, where you can link to websites, follow users with similar tastes and interests, and either “like,” comment on, or re-pin their images. Less than two years old, the site is driving more traffic to company websites than YouTube, Google+ and LinkedIn combined, according to a recent report from Shareaholic.

A natural fit for consumers pinning ideas for a home remodel, a wedding, DIY projects and crafts, Pinterest is so addictive it’s been called “digital crack for women.” But aside from a huge time-waster, Pinterest may be one of the best social media outlets to happen to marketing in quite a while. Why? Because a picture is worth a thousand words.

Pinterest presents a visual and easily shareable vehicle for showcasing your product or brand – or for simply sharing content or links that are interesting to your target market. It’s like Twitter for photos. Launching a cool new gadget? Pin a photo of it with a caption, and the photo automatically links back to the source (your website or blog).

We all know there are good ways and ineffective ways to use consumer social media channels for marketing. Here are some tips for brands looking to use Pinterest for marketing purposes:

  • Pin content that’s visually-appealing. Each image you pin should have some sort of “wow” factor that makes people want to click through and/or share with their own networks. Think: innovative, interesting, humorous, outrageous, beautiful.
  • Write interesting captions that recap, explain, or provide commentary on what you’re pinning. When appropriate, mention the name of the company and/or product in the caption. When people re-pin it, they have the option to create their own captions, but many people simply re-pin verbatim. Including the company or product name in the caption gives your brand more mileage than the pin/link alone.
  • Re-pin and comment on others’ photos. Similar to retweeting, it lets them know you’re engaged and that you find their content interesting. Remember, social media is about conversations, not simply broadcasting.
  • Give credit where credit is due. The beauty of Pinterest is that it automatically links back to the site where you found the image, which theoretically ensures proper credit is given. Unfortunately, this process fails when the site from which you’re pinning didn’t give credit to its source in the first place. While most reputable news sites and blogs include credits for photos used, smaller or more amateur blogs and websites may not. To avoid stepping into sticky copyright territory, make sure the source you’re pinning from gives credit – or just pin from the original source to be safe.

As with all social media sites, companies need to closely examine if Pinterest will reach their target audiences. It may not be worth the time for some companies, while for others, it should be a priority in terms of effort. It’s definitely a beneficial channel for companies selling to consumers or companies selling a tangible “thing” that can be pictured. Companies selling services that are not easily captured with an image, though, should think hard about their goals and whether Pinterest would be an effective tool for reaching their customers.

Any other tips you can think of for brands venturing into Pinterest? What brands do you think are doing it right?

Amanda Hoffman can be reached at ahoffman@sterlingpr.com. Follow her on Twitter @hoffmandy.

Follow Sterling Communications on Pinterest at http://pinterest.com/sterlingpr.

Note: Sterling has no affiliation to Pinterest and we were not compensated in any way to write this.

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Happy TweetsGiving!

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What is Thanksgiving all about? Is it about stuffing yourself until you’re sure you’re going to explode, but instead you just go take a nap? Or maybe Thanksgiving is about the football – rooting and cheering for your favorite team until your voice is hoarse or playing your own game out on the front yard. Is it the yams? And the pumpkin pie, pecan pie, turkey, cranberry jelly, rolls, mashed potatoes, stuffing… well, you get the idea. All these things make up Thanksgiving traditions, but are they really what the day is about? It’s important to remember the best part of Thanksgiving is spending time with loved ones and expressing thanks for the various ways your life has been blessed.

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For the last two years, the non-profit, Epic Change, has taken the spirit of Thanksgiving and translated it into TweetsGiving, a global celebration to change the world through the power of gratitude. For 48 hours, people all over the world are encouraged to express their thanks publicly through social networking sites like Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, YouTube and various blogs. In addition to spreading messages of gratitude, people are invited to make contributions, both big and small, to Epic Change. During the inaugural TweetsGiving last year, Epic Change raised nearly $11,000 in 48 hours and built a classroom in Tanzania with the money. This year, TweetsGiving has already raised over $16,000 in just over 24 hours. The money raised this year will help to build other classrooms, a cafeteria, a library and a dormitory/orphanage for the same school in Tanzania.

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As a former elementary teacher, I will always have a soft spot for children and schools. I believe education – in a safe, nurturing environment – should be available to everyone. Maybe that is why I am so drawn TweetsGiving, Epic Change and the Shepards Junior School in Tanzania. All I had to do was look at the photos and videos of the adorable students, to get the inspiration do anything I could to help. Fifth graders at the school are even on Twitter, dubbed the TwitterKids, and supporters are invited to tweet with the kids.
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The best part is simple blog posts like this one will help Epic Change in their endeavors. So lend your support by spreading your gratitude to your network and let them know about TweetsGiving: tag tweets, status updates, pictures, videos and even songs with the hashtag #tweetsgiving. In addition to messages of gratitude, you can make a donation. Contributions big and small are welcome and needed! There is less than 24 hours left of TweetsGiving, so unleash your gratitude now!

Happy TweetsGiving and have a lovely Thanksgiving tomorrow. Enjoy your turkey, pie, football and loved ones!