What You Need to Know About Pinterest

Pinterest, the newest thing in social media, is really exploding these days - people are joining left and right, pinning their favorite stuff to personalized pin boards online.

It's all well and good for it to be so popular, but the real question is, does your business need to be on it? Here's a few facts and figures to help you decide.

1) Who is using it? 

A super-majority of women, which is great, because women make 85% of household purchasing decisions, and in some cities, are better educated and make more money than men.

According to this post on Quora, 80% of users are women, the key age group is 25 to 44, 25% of users have a bachelor's degree or more, and household income ranges from $25K to $75K.

There are three main groups using the site:

  • Boomers and who are interested travel and their DIY Babies.
  • Working moms who are power shoppers and want coupons on upscale or upscale-looking items, and prioritize convenience.
  • Young, middle-class, active families who want to balance work and parenting, need recipes, child friendly activities, advice for healthy living.

2) What are people pinning? 

A quick drive through Pinterest shows people doing a lot of wedding planning, style picks, household and craft things, cool photography, and, of course, kittens. This article from PC Magazine asserts that there's a growing variety of categories on the site. There's a lot of crafting (knitting, collage, etc), food, interior design, and especially fashion and beauty, but also tattoos, cars, art photography, travel, pets, and humor. The better the photographic quality, the more likely it is to get pinned. There's a growing community of teachers on there trading lesson plans and ideas.

Pinterest is also more aspirational than some other networks. On social networks like Facebook, people talk about what they are currently doing, making, wearing, etc. On Pinterest, users can show people what they wish to do, wear, eat, sew, go to, look like, etc., but they may or may not have the means to obtain any of those things. See this slideshow to learn more about what people are doing on the site.

3) Is there an e-commerce connection? 

People certainly are pinning a lot of buyable things, but there don't seem to be any hard numbers out there yet on how much revenue Pinterest could be driving. There's quite a bit of potential, though. A certain number of people who pin things they like will eventually buy those things, and since the URL stays with the image, pinned images do drive site traffic.

4) How many people are on it? 

ComScore reported 11.7 monthly Pinterest users in January, 2012, part of a steep user growth curve. According to this TechCrunch article, there were ten million users on Pinterest as of February 12, 2012, with 20% using the site daily.

5) What's the Double-X Factor?

Per the same article, as many as 97% of these users may be women - a higher number than PC magazine provides. This isn't a bad thing. Though I've heard more than one person describe Pinterest as a "pacifier for women," I think these people are missing the big picture. Businesses have a huge opportunity on Pinterest to appeal to their primary audience demographic -women. She-conomy shares some pretty amazing facts about female buying habits - I think these are worth a reprint:

In the US, women account for 85% of all consumer purchases including everything from autos to health care:
  • 91% of New Homes 
  • 66% PCs 
  • 92% Vacations 
  • 80% Healthcare 
  • 65% New Car
  • 89% Bank Accounts 
  • 93% Food 
  • 93 % OTC Pharmaceuticals 

American women spend about $5 trillion annually…Over half of the U.S. GDP
  • 22% shop online at least once a day 
  • 92% pass along information about deals or finds to others 
  • 58% would toss a TV if they had to get rid of one digital device 

So, women flocking to Pinterest to keep track of things they might like to buy is worthy of sexist ridicule because...? I know, I couldn't answer this question either.

For a rundown of sexist coverage on Pinterest's success, click here for Mary Sue.

6) Are there businesses with successful Pinterest presences? 

Yes, in fact, Pinterest has started its own pinboard of case studies of people who've driven traffic and sales with Pinterest.

A few examples: 

Kate, a hairstylist and jewelry maker had a small blog that now has millions of pageviews because she has been posting photos of her hairstyles with links back to her site to the how-to videos to make the styles.  I posted about how-to videos a few weeks ago. Here's another great way to use them.

A UK flooring company is using Pinterest to show off their product and help people connect with them across other social networks as well. McKay flooring says that Pinterest has driven a high amount of traffic to their web site and blog, even allowing them to find ideas for blogging, and to help them get DIY tips out to customers.

According to Mashable, 9% of the top 300 retailers now have a Pinterest presence. Some of the most followed users are graphic designers, interior designers, and other creative folks.

How are big brands using it?

  • Whole Foods is pinning foods and recipe ideas. 
  • DIY queen Martha Stewart is pinning entertaining and decorating ideas. 
  • Better Homes and Gardens has multiple boards with recipes, decorating, and holiday tips. 
  • Bergdorf Goodman is serving your inner shopaholic 
  • The Today show is one of few non-stuff oriented boards - showing news and related images 
  • Travel Channel - for the aspirational traveler in you. Where would you like to go? 

7) How can you use Pinterest to grow your own business? 

If you have your other social media presences straightened out and you’re looking for new territory, Pinterest might be a good tactic…. If you're in a creative business, whether you're a graphic designer, photographer, interior designer, fashion designer, restauranteur, travel planner, knitter, crafter, or anything else in that vein, take pictures of your stuff, post them to your blog or web site, and pin them on Pinterest. Link it back to how-to-make, how-to-use, or how-to-wear ideas and see traffic climb. Follow and support other users - many PInterest success stories mention that they get great ideas from Pinterest all the time - it's another way to dialogue with people who love doing what they do. According to this Shareaholic study, Pinterest Drives more traffic than Google+, YouTube, and LinkedIn Combined.

Have you given Pinterest a whirl? How was it? Please share.

Commercials I Love - Allstate's Mayhem Campaign

There are many reasons to love Allstate’s hilarious mayhem campaign. Here's a few things that make this campaign especially memorable in a world where insurance companies dominate on-air advertising.

It’s funny – people remember things that make them laugh.

The pitch is simple – other insurance might not cover any accident you might have.

It’s consistent – in each spot, Allstate uses its Mayhem Guy character to demonstrate accidents that may not be covered by GEICO, (“that 15-minute insurance”), its primary competitor.

The call to action is clear – call or click Allstate today to make sure you’re covered, no matter what happens to your car, home, or motorcycle.

Watch below for a montage of Allstate’s Mayhem commercials.

PS – If the actor who plays the Mayhem Guy looks familiar, it’s because you’ve seen him before. Dean Winters has been on several episodes of 30 Rock, as well as CSI: Miami, Oz Rescue Me (where he played Tommy’s younger brother), and Law and Order.

What are you doing to stand out from fierce competition? Drop me a line and let me know.

Information Overload - Getting Noticed in a Crowded Space

It's a jungle out there.

Photo: Flickr user Casimusica.
People send 168 million emails every minute. That's a lot of information.

Email is a fantastic way to reach people with customized messaging about your latest deals, new products, and other goings-on.

But it's totally pointless if no one's reading your messages.

So here are four ways to make sure you get noticed in the overflowing inboxes of the people on your email list:

1) Customize it. Customize messages based on whether or not someone has purchased from you before, and the type of purchase - show past customers similar items by price, type or occasion. Give new customers a reason to try your product.

2) Tell your story. Use user-generated reviews and videos to tell the story of your product. Or put together some rich content - like videos and other how-tos to bring your business to life for your users.

3) Use a great subject line. Subject lines tell readers why they should open their emails. Is there a special deal just for them? More of what they like? A new video or blog? Give them a good reason to open and click through.

4) Be relevant. Use data customers give you about their interests and preferences to provide relevant information. Track trends and time your promotions accordingly. Don't sell skis in June, unless you live in the Southern Hemisphere.

Need help cutting through the clutter? Drop me a line and let's talk about it.

The Introvert's Guide to Networking for Your Business

I spend a lot of time on this blog talking about how to market your business using online tools - be it your web site, email, social media presence, or search engine optimization. You've been working on all channels to bring in customers, get those sales, and meet your goals.

From Flickr user Kevin Shorter.
But who is taking care of you while all of this is going on? What's keeping you from eating breakfast, lunch, and dinner at your desk? Where are you getting new ideas, and with whom are you sharing them?

Yes, painful as it can be, you need to network!

You need some people to keep you sane, keep you inspired, and keep you on your toes.

I know how hard this can be - I am super-introverted myself. Large groups of new people exhaust me, but I promised myself that this year I would do more in-person networking anyhow.

I found out something really important when I began this exercise - if I have a small group of people where I can connect with each person authentically, my shyness disappears, and I'm able to offer value, and get something valuable from my networking experiences.

So how am I doing this? One thing at a time...

1) I looked at networks to which I already belong. I offered to plan some events for a book club I belong to through meetup.com. This seems like a pretty safe way to get to know the people in my club a bit better.

2) I'm keeping in touch with some old coworkers with monthly dinners to keep up on how people are doing personally, and professionally.

3) I'm meeting new people in my field on Twitter and LinkedIn, and I recently had dinner with one of them, which was lovely. Through that dinner, I've been invited to a lunch next month, which will be a slightly bigger, though still manageable gathering.

4) I am NOT attending large network events at bars that have 300 people at them. I know I won't get the value I need out of those experiences. They're designed for extroverts and I'm sure extroverted people have a great time at them.

5) I know myself and I use that knowledge to find the right networking moves for me. I know I'm best meeting people a few at a time, when I can really engage with each one of them. In this way, I can widen my circle gradually, but authentically. These new connections have given me great input, ideas, and inspiration.

What are your networking moves? I'd love to meet you so let's connect!

Which Social Networks Should You Be On?

We're all pressed for time these days, and it can be challenging to figure out how to spend our limited resources. With so many social networks out there - from Twitter to Pinterest to Ravelry to Orkut - where should you be? Here's a quick guide.

So many networks. From Flickr user socialmediahq.
Facebook - if you're a business-to-consumer operation, you'll need a Facebook page. You can target people by age, location, and interests to draw more fans.

LinkedIn - if you sell to other businesses, if you're a consultant, if you need to hire some new employees or vendors, or you're looking for people with whom to make business deals, you'll need a LinkedIn profile.

YouTube - YouTube is a great way to reach people with videos about your products and services. Teach people new ways to use your offerings and they'll value it more.

Twitter - Twitter is another way to connect to fans with current news and to follow trends. Hold events on Twitter and you can generate tons of traffic. It's a perfect place for flash sales and a must if you run a business that changes locations frequently, like a food truck. But if you don't maintain it and engage with it frequently, Twitter is useless.

Pinterest - Currently taking the world by storm, Pinterest is a place where people collect photos of things they like. Whether you're selling clothing, cars, garden supplies, or something else, put your products on Pinterest and inspire people. Pinterest has everything from home decor to hair style to pet costume ideas for you.

Google+ - To me, Google+ seems like a bit of an echo chamber. While hangouts with famous people (like the Dalai Lama and Desmond Tutu) draw big audiences, the site doesn't seem to be sticky for most regular folks. At the moment, power users of Google+ seem to be software developers, bloggers, marketers and other technical or communications types. It's a good space to watch to see what develops. The interface itself is great - it's just a matter of convincing people that they need to visit more often. Using Google+ can also help your search results, and it's a channel to consider for that reason.

Other special networks - If you're in to fiber arts, check out Ravelry. If you sell black eyeliner and and ankle-length leather coats, then it's time for VampireFreaks.com (note: NSFW). And if you want to establish a closed network for people who work at your company only, give Yammer a try. If you operate outside the US, do a little research - people in other countries may use different social networks than they do here in the States.

I'd recommend that most businesses try to maintain a major presence on only three or four networks - maybe Facebook, YouTube, (if you have the video assets), and one or two more.  The most important part about your social networks is that you maintain them regularly. Networks like Twitter and Facebook require daily posting to be effective. Be realistic - if one social network is all you can manage, do that, and do it right.

Where's your social space? Drop me a line and let me know.

Commercials I Love - Super Bowl Edition

I don't know about you, but I mostly watch the Super Bowl for the commercials. This year's game was full of funny, creative and entertaining commercials, as well as the usual lowest-common denominator beer and sexism (please GoDaddy, try something new - we dare you).

Themes this year included dogs and cars. It was definitely a year for a resurgent Detroit, with Chevy especially making a significant investment in their campaign.

So based on a super-scientific focus group including my neighbors, family, and friends, here's a few of the more notable ads this year:

From GEICO:  a group of disgusted junior high girls helps a guy save money on his weight loss plan. Funny and to the point. Consistent with GEICO's branding.

Then, a great dane uses Doritios to bribe a guy to cover up a cat murder. Another one of Doritos' consistently edgy and humorous commercials.

Finally, in this really creative ad, Toyota has not just reinvented the Camry, it's reinvented the couch, police officer, baby, the DMV, blender, curtains, and finally the reinvented rain, which makes you thinner. Bring that on!

What were your favorite ads? Please share. Now, on to the Puppy Bowl!

Related Posts

How Can You Help Your Customers Today?

The most innovative businesses don't just sell their products, they educate their communities.


From Flickr user Ajmexico.
Run a winery? Consider videos on how to select, pour, and keep wine fresh, plus recipes on what to serve it with.

Sell scarves? Try a video on how to wrap them around necks, shoulders, hips, and heads. The more your community is able to use your product, the more they will buy.

Make tools? Videos on how to use them to fix everyday problems help new Mr. and Ms. FixIts be more successful.

You'll notice that I've just used the word "video" three times in the last three paragraphs. Videos are a great way to introduce people to what you do and add sharable content to your website, Facebook, email, and other online channels.

Some suggestions for getting started: 

If you're too shy, find an outgoing person at your company who isn't.

Begin with short videos - just one to three minutes - that demonstrate the kinds of things I'm talking about above - how to use your product in innovative ways your customers haven't thought of so that they can get the most value for their investment.

Be honest and authentic. Use your own people and your own products.

You don't need fancy sets or fancy technology - just good light and a decent camera.

For more interest, you can make videos with multiple people and also use them to respond to common customer questions and requests.

Show me your how-tos - please send me your links so I can check out what you're doing!

Related Posts:

Commercials I Love - Direct TV
What is Story Marketing and How Does it Work?