Sunday 20 April 2014

Build (P)influence: Think like a First Grader

With nearly 12 million unique monthly visitors and topics of conversation starting with “I found this on Pinterest” there is no doubt that everyone wants a piece of the Pinterest pie. The question we are all left wondering is how a beta site, managed by a staff of twelve, became the fastest growing social network site in history? The success of Pinterest is rooted in more than pretty images that catch our eye.

Pinterest represents a platform that connects dreamers and realists in a seamless fashion. It has carved a place for itself in the social media framework of influence, but determining an individual’s influence on Pinterest is where the lines can begin to blur. Before one can start to demonstrate influence on Pinterest, there are rules, questions and Pinterest fundamentals to grasp.

First Grade Projects: 21st Century Tech

Pinning is a new addition to the social media dictionary; however the traditional concept has been ingrained in our minds since grade school. Think back to first grade when the teacher brought out the magazines, passed out the scissors and let everyone loose to create a collage simply based on “what you like.” Over time, the idea of that collage transforms and we never stop bookmarking and showcasing who we are and what we want.

Pinterest managed to translate this traditional experience into a social sharing experience, which essentially allows the first grade version of yourself to look at your friend’s collage and add the pieces you enjoy to your own collection. This common and accepted experience is what makes Pinterest so appealing to a mainstream audience, outside of the digitally focused. It also means that a Pinterest user who carries very little online influence elsewhere can be considered a tastemaker in his or her own right. The platform has succeeded at allowing users to engage with a core network while simultaneously being part of a much larger conversation.

When it comes to Pinterest the use of the platform can greatly differ from user to user. As a food lover, I have several boards dedicated to the food space. On the other hand I have a coworker who uses the site to organize her marathon options for the next year, an idea I never would have thought to use the site for. Pinterest allows us to organize and share a passion, which is the true value of the site, regardless of what that passion is. The key to being successful on Pinterest, whether you’re a brand or an individual, is representing a chosen passion by diving in head first. The rest will follow. Several users have managed to share their passion in successful ways, but how that translates into influence is where true creativity comes into play.

Races

Individuals can carry their influence from blogs and forums to Pinterest by following their passions and connecting with like minded Pinners.

From Influence to Pinfluence

When looking at Pinterest from a numbers perspective, a new site called PinPuff is attracting attention for calculating your level of pinfluence. In addition to providing a qualified number, on a scale to 100, for a user’s popularity, research and reach on Pinterest, it can also determine a monetary value for pins.  However, for users looking to gauge their level of influence from a qualitative perspective, It comes down to having a clear concept, integrating with social channels, creating creative boards, having quality over quantity and thinking outside of the box. Here is a step by step process to exhibit those ideas:

Concept - Random pins are fun to to look at, but they don’t define a clear concept for an individual or brand. For example, when Nordstrom’s and Bergdorf Goodman’s created boards to streamline the shopping process it provided a key focus for other users to connect with and in turn created a level of expertise for the brand on Pinterest.

Social Channel Integration – From the start, Pinterest is connected with a user’s Twitter and Facebook channels, which means that the conversations that have already been developed on other networks can successfully be transferred over to Pinterest. Bloggers who have developed influence in online circles are transferring that influence by featuring blog posts on Pinterest and highlighting specific pins on their Facebook and Twitter channels. PR professionals and brands should take note of this social integration and factor Pinterest into the research of a blogger’s social footprint.

Creative Boards – The essence of Pinterest is expressed by the personalization of boards. A board concept doesn’t have to fit within the core Pinterest categories in order to be successful. Charity: Water, a non-profit organization, created a board titled “Creative Fundraising” filled with images highlighting fundraising initiatives. The majority of the pins have received additional repins and the individual board has attracted double the amount of followers (1,324) in comparison to the total account followers (632).

Charity water pinterest

Charity: Water, a non-profit organization, created a board titled “Creative Fundraising” filled with images highlighting fundraising initiatives.

Quality Over Quantity – A Pinterest user does not need to have 20 boards and thousands of pins in order to demonstrate influence on Pinterest. Despite the visual focus for the network, conversations are occurring via the description and comments on pins. Focusing in on the conversation that develops around pins and boards is going to provide more insight and influence than thousands of pins that end up getting lost in space.

Think Outside the Box – Along with contests that have been demonstrated by brands such as Land’s End and Saveur Magazine, brands are being challenged to think outside of the box on Pinterest.  The users that go the extra level to form a space of engagement on Pinterest are going to see the best results. For instance, I recently learned about a Pinterest Potluck.

A Pinterest Potluck is essentially a community board that allows all attendees to “pin” the dish they would like to bring to an off-line event. By posting the recipes on Pinterest, attendees can then collect and find all of the recipes for a later date. The event information can be noted within the description section of the Pinterest board and through the contributor feature on Pinterest, multiple people can pin to the board through invitation access. While this example is specifically focused on recipes, the foundation for the idea could be explored for several occasions.

Of (P)interest

For the most part, a user’s experience on Pinterest is what they want to make of it. However, with recent coverage highlighting copyright violations for sharing owned images, questions have arisen regarding how to use Pinterest within the law.

Discussions surrounding copyright violations are likely to continue and be examined, but it does not mean a brand can’t continue to make the most of their experience on the site. As we referenced in a post a few weeks back, honesty and full disclosure is always the best method. Using images that you have permission to use and giving full credit is always a recommended method. In addition, brands can look to the bloggers that they have already built relationships with in order to build content for their accounts. Real time is not an issue on Pinterest, and a blog’s recipe post from a year ago is just as relevant from a post yesterday.

Reaching out to bloggers to get permission to use their archived posts will not only provide plenty of content for the brand, but it will provide additional referral traffic to archived blog posts. It will also integrate blogger relationships and provide additional influence in the space.

When it comes to Pinterest it’s all about turning that creative idea into something valuable. I challenge Pinterest users to embark on the memories of grade school collages and remember that level of pure creativity in order to bring it to life once again in a social and shareable way.

Image credits: JoeBalfe and superhoop

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