As Pinterest Hits 150MM Actives, It’s Time to Re-Think Your Social Approach

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Originally published on AdvertisingWeek.com & Huffington Post.

While Pinterest has been whispering about their 150 Million Monthly Active user count since Advertising Week, yesterday marked the first official announcement of their milestone increase in users since 2015.

Their latest product releases—including an innovative new mobile image search functionality upgrade and their launch of Promoted Video ads—showcases Pinterest’s renewed interest in drawing attention to the platform.  But, what’s even more interesting is the “more search than social” evolution they’ve pivoted to.

It’s no secret that Pinterest has remained hyper-focused on separating themselves from other social networks. (We’ve known of their shift toward a more search-oriented experience for some time.) But the platform’s investment in their search experience has never been so prevalent. And considering that Google alum Gunnard Johnson was recently named Head of Measurement & Insights (adding to the list of other former Google employees) Pinterest is now concentrating on perfecting search.

And they’ve clearly thought through how to brand their pivot, so as not to pigeonhole themselves. Their use of the word “discovery” instead of “search” is clever because it highlights the user at the center—seeking out and suddenly happening upon—both sought out and contextually relevant results. And their use of self descriptors, like “catalog of ideas” and “database of taste” sets them apart from both social platforms and search platforms. They seem content on resting somewhere in the middle for now.

But Pinterest’s desire to stay in the gray can be confusing for brands simply trying to navigate, and succeed, on the platform.So, what exactly puts Pinterst in the gray areas between search and social?

1. Self-Discovery & Personalization – Via “personalized recommendations that feel qualitatively different from other services,” Pinterest is able to help users uncover their own tastes, one pin at a time. For example, recommended pins are able to consider all facets of your style (not just one specific pin) to help determine what you’ll want/need next. This makes Pinterest a different user experience than other platforms, but also shows how data-rich it is from an advertising perspective.

2. Actionable Nature Pinterest has created the ability for “passive searching” to suddenly become active. In a nutshell, the platform is able to seamlessly move a user from casually perusing a fashion influencer’s boards, to finding a look they love, to drilling down to the specific blazer they want to buy, to buying it. In fact, 70% of users who find pins take some sort of action. This is the driving force behind Pinterest’s MPS (Motivating Potential Score) – it’s higher than any other social network, because users who see something go and do. That’s powerful.

3. Long Shelf Life – Like traditional search, but unlike social networks, Pin content is relevant much longer than a tweet or post. The content itself is hosted in a repository that was made for this very reason—to be able to keep things around that you don’t want to forget. This has given way to what I’m calling the “Two-Four Rule,” because 25% of all pinning on Pinterest happens 2-4 months before an event or holiday. Usually people in social are searching for immediate or near-term gratification and the same is true with traditional search. But Pinterest seems to lack the expected expiration date because they have cracked the “intent” code, capitalizing on signals early in the consumer journey.

4. Category-Based Search – In conjunction with its planning nature, the search terms we actually type in via Pinterest are very different from those we use on Google. We search more broadly on Pinterest, using categories as cues – things like “DIY”, “Wedding”, “Home Décor”. This allows us to discover new things and be inspired. On Google, our search gets very specific – “red chair mid century mod” which helps us to narrow down our choices, but Pinterest is about just the opposite: broadening our horizons.

5. Co-Screening – When we think about co-screening (watching some form of TV while on our mobile devices), we think of the usual suspects: Twitter, Facebook, and Snapchat. But new research shows that 45% of Pinterest users are likely to hang out on Pinterest while they’re watching TV. But there’s more: 47% of the time what users see on TV sparks activity on Pinterest. And 64% of Pinterest users say they pay more attention to what they’re doing on Pinterest than what they’re watching on TV and 44% of them will engage with Pinterest for the show’s entirety, regardless of whether it’s on a commercial break or not. This not only says something about the types of pins we create, but also about how people are consuming Pinterest content differently than other platforms.

6. Open API & Image Search – Last year Pinterest announced its open API, allowing brands to provide personalized, curated experiences for users, but few partners have taken advantage of this functionality. The most recent and robust use was Burberry’s recent campaign, which allowed users to answer a few questions to inform the creation of a custom board based on their responses. Another underutilized functionality is its image search capability, rivaling Google’s with the ability for users to upload photos and receive similar pins in response. Via buyable pins, the technology is then there to enable users to actually purchase the pair of shoes they snapped on the T (for instance). Imagine a world where you could upload a picture of what’s inside your fridge and then receive an output of recipes which include only the items you already have?

So what does all of this mean for brands? First, bring your search team into the conversation. If people can’t find your content, or your content can’t find people, you’re not taking advantage of what the platform is capable of. Second, content needs to follow all levels of intent, from “just browsing” to “ready to buy.” Don’t hyper-focus on one end of the consumer journey. And lastly, don’t over-think the community angle of the Platform. Yes, friends are sharing and sub-communities are connecting. But, unlike platforms like Twitter and Facebook (where sharing is a key KPI of success) focus on moving people from awareness to consideration as the sweet spot. If they are pinning, you are winning.

Insta-Algorithm: Stand Out or Step Aside

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Originally written & published on Digitas Dose.

Oh how timely.

Right after #PiDay (the number that never ends) and in the midst of the biggest tech nerd gathering of the year, Instagram announces “See the Moments You Care About First”. Read: Algorithm. What they want you to read: Relevance.

Now, for all of us in advertising, it’s no surprise that Instagram would change a user’s feed from reverse chronological to personalized. What’s interesting is that this change comes after Instagram’s ad revenues have increased from $0 in the beginning of 2015 to a projected $5.3B by 2017. A very different approach than its mama bear Facebook took – i.e., implementing an algorithm and slowly removing organic reach from brands to rapidly increase the need for paid Facebook ads. Only time will tell what this will mean for Instagram’s overall revenue, but my only assumption points to more money, more problems.

These observations aside, there are a few other implications for this algorithm (other than our impending necessity to allocate paid dollars) to consider in the coming months:

STAND OUT OR GET LEFT OUT

Millennials are already visiting Instagram around 10X per day – it seems crazy, but I have to tell you it is OH so true. Even so, users miss, on average, about 70% of the posts in their feed. So by optimizing the posts you see first based on your historical interactions with the people and brands you follow, the 30% of posts you do see should be the best ones. And if users are seeing the best, you’d assume they would stay on the platform longer. The longer users stay on the platform, the more ads Instagram is able to serve. The more ads Instagram is able to serve, the more important it is for your brand’s ad to stand out.

QUALITY OVER QUANTITY

Though Instagram is one of the most popular social networks, it’s always been my perspective that it’s a platform more concerned with quality than quantity. Whereas tweeting regularly is important to keep your followers interested, and posting at least daily on Facebook helps maintain a brand’s reach and overall engagement, frequency is of less importance on Instagram. It’s a network that is all about beautiful photography, artwork, fashion, food, etc. And, aside from the Kardashians, the accounts that are followed the most are the accounts that maintain that standard. With their feed change, this difference will become even more important. Brands MUST focus on quality to elicit the highest engagements per post. This is what will keep them top of feed and top of mind for users versus posting every day.

REPURPOSED FACEBOOK & INSTAGRAM ADS

Now, Facebook will tell you that you can use their ad platforms interchangeably, publishing the same ad across both Facebook and Instagram. But this feed change tells me otherwise. If we’re constantly looking at the best of the best in our feeds, then the only conclusion I can come to is that the ads we see would need to be pretty supreme. They will need to be beautiful, be platform-first, and they’ll need to focus on a user’s Instagram habits. Because what are they on the platform for? Inspiration, beauty, exploration. It’s not the same as Facebook, and so it’s important that your production dollars and time are spent focusing on the nuances that make it differ from Facebook.

As this personalized feed rolls out, we’re sure to hear some outrage from Instagram diehards. But as with Facebook’s timeline and every other change we see, that is sure to die down. But will our use of Instagram die down as well? Time will tell.

See more at: http://www.digitasdose.com/2016/03/insta-algorithm-stand-out-or-step-aside/#sthash.xqSfvi3P.dpuf

16 Things I Learned from My Dad: Basic Tenants of Life & Social

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So, if you’ve followed any of my blogs at all, you’d know that I can, at times, get a little sappy (or maybe a lotta sappy). Well, this blog is one of those times. How can you talk about Father’s Day without being a little mushy?

In any case, our fathers will always have a special place in our hearts. And that usually shines through in our work everyday. We may not like all of the characteristics we carry on from our daddy-o’s, but we have to admit that we’re thankful for some of them. And more than thankful for the lessons we’ve learned that help us as advertising professionals.

In that light, here are a few things I’ve learned from my dad:

  1. Be careful. Details are important and my dad taught me that a long, longgg time ago. When he took me on trips to the flea market, I was not allowed to touch anything. Take that back, when he took me most anywhere, I was not allowed to touch anything!!! If he was helping me with a project or craft, he always stressed taking my time – I can remember watching him as he cut the edges of a photo for literally 10 minutes. You better believe those edges were straight. In an age when everything is right now, it’s so easy to rush. But in the digital world that could mean a tweet with a huge grammatical error, or publishing the wrong version of a blog. So this tenant has been one of the most important to my own success.
  2. Never Lie. Well, it seems obvious. But it’s a basic one that my dad could NOT stand. He always would rather that I tell the truth about something I did, then lie. He always was truthful with his feedback to others and to his daughters. And he was truthful with himself. And in the advertising/PR/marketing world it can be so easy for a brand to fudge the truth just a bit about its product, or blow things out of proportion. But I’ve found, transparency and honesty are the things that make the best brands engaging and successful.
  3. Be a do-er. Now you may not all agree with this, but my dad is the ultimate busy body. He always has a list of things he wants to do, and he’s always doing some new hobby, whether it’s gardening, making hot sauce, drinking wine (yes that’s a hobby), fixing something, getting artsy, he’s ALWAYS doing something. Except of course when he’s asleep on the couch. I’d argue that there are times when you should just relax, but I know that I always feel more accomplished when I’m out and about in the world, taking a hike, writing a blog, even doing laundry. And that’s something I’m definitely a proponent of – there’s always something to do.
  4. Disconnect. Kind of counterintuitive given his busy-bodiness, but I have to say that I have never once seen my dad answering a work email or taking a work call when he’s with me. When he’s at my soccer game, he’s at my soccer game (and likely the loudest cheerer in the bunch…something I’m fond of now, but was not so fond of back then). When he walked through the door for dinner, he took a shower and he ate with us. There was no more work…at least no more actual work. In PR this one is a little harder to carry out because news never stops and neither does social media. But the basic principle of taking time to be in the moment and be present, is one that could help us all be that much more creative.
  5. Read the Newspaper. Okay, I admit that I don’t read the physical newspaper every day. Why would I when I have Twitter?! But my dad did. He’d come home and read the paper every night (usually falling asleep to it). I never really realized that this is something he did often until I sat down to write this blog. But his fondness of keeping up on the times trickled into my life and has become a large part of what I do on a daily basis. Social media is always changing. Journalism is changing as you read this. And if you’re not keeping your eye on the world’s broader context, you won’t keep up.
  6. Ask for Help. Almost embarrassingly so, my dad always stopped to ask for directions. I know, he debunked all of the stereotypes. He asked people what their favorite menu item was. He never hesitated to ask my sister or I to help him hold something while he fixed the car. This is something I carry with me everyday. Guess what, everyone has different experiences and different knowledge sets. Asking questions only fosters collaboration and innovation that never would have happened otherwise. So thanks dad, I always ask my coworkers for help or advice. It’s a way of life.
  7. Never get bangs. Pretty straightforward. No bangs allowed in the Wassum household. Why would you want something covering up your eyes?! Same is true in social. Open your eyes. Look around you. Listen to your customers. Be aware. If you’re not, someone else will be and they’ll be all the more relevant because of it.
  8. Turn the other cheek. It’s just too darn easy to retaliate, whether it be in your life or via a Twitter convo. But it never ends up the way you want it to. I learned that from my father, who never struck back with words or let someone else’s behavior affect his own.
  9. Never give up. I think it comes from his athletic background, but my dad never, ever let me give up. If I started something, I was going to finish it. From girl scouts to school to a swim meet. No matter what I was doing, he always taught to give as much as I could. In today’s digital world, it’s easy to look at a behemoth brand and think, “I’ll never be able to compete against them.” But it’s just not true. If you never give up, you can carve your own niche and become something great. What would have happened if Thomas Jefferson got discouraged? Or Picasso? Or Steve Jobs? All of the greatest innovations came from people who never gave up.
  10. Make a to-do list. I sort of alluded to this earlier, but I list everything. I even make most of my blogs into lists (16 things…). Why? Because my dad had list after list after list. My favorite was his chalkboard list of things he wanted to do around the house. I think there are some things still on that list from when I was in high school. But, he does cross things off from time to time. And it helps him remember all of the genius, crafty ideas he has. Now, I have google doc after google doc. I have a list of the lists I want to make (okay that’s an exaggeration). But my best ideas almost never come at a convenient time, so I keep lists in the Notes app on my iPhone. And to make my days more efficient, I create lists of the things I must accomplish the next day, every night before I leave. Sometimes I don’t need to look at it, but the act of just writing things down keeps me from ever dropping the ball.
  11. Embrace Diversity. Enough said.
  12. Get Smart. This one is hilarious to me. Before we could get an aquarium, we had to read a book about taking care of fish. Before we could get birds, we had to read a book about taking care of birds. Before I could get my driver’s license, I had to log 100 hours of driving time and show him I could change a tire. Before I did any craft project, in my dad would come asking “well did you read the directions?” “Did you read the book?” That was a mantra. Don’t start anything without getting smart and reading not just the instructions, but fully immersing yourself in the subject. This is almost second nature to me. We have to know everything about our clients. We have to be subject matter experts, industry experts and media savvy – how else can we help our clients tell their stories? So I always read the book. I always scan for industry trends. I always follow  influencers. And I have my dad to thank for learning that early, early on.
  13. Give to others. Another basic principle of life, but something that’s often overlooked. My dad was so good about giving of his time, talents and resources. Whether that be at work, in the community, with his family, etc. It’s something you can’t miss about him. And now it’s something I bring into my everyday. And it doesn’t mean donating money. It could just mean helping a coworker out. Or, as a brand, making sure to commit a percentage of what you or what you earn to some cause. It makes you feel good, and that stimulates your creativity and your exuberance in life. Something that can’t be missed by those around you.
  14. Recycle. And I’m talking a real commitment here. We lived pretty far out, where the recycling trucks didn’t go. So we hauled our recyclables 5 miles away and separated it into huge bins ourselves. Now, you might wonder what that has to do with social media. It’s simple. Things have several purposes and they shouldn’t just be cast aside after one use. And that tenant is true in content creation. Create content that can be re-used, re-invented, recycled. It’s more efficient for you and it’s more helpful for others. A good story is a good story, no matter how many times you tell it.
  15. Dance. My dad never misses a chance to live it up a bit, liven up the party and dance. He’s even got a signature dance, which I’ve gotten pretty good at replicating. And I think the real point here, is that he’s not too embarrassed to have a little fun. He never lets the status quo dictate how he’ll react. And the same is true in communications. You have to embrace your brand’s personality and stop taking yourself so seriously. In your press releases, in your tweets, in your internal communications, don’t be afraid to do something a little goofy or different, because the most essential part of building relationships and meaningful interactions, is being real. And you can’t be real if you’re stodgy or serious with every piece of communication.
  16. Enjoy a gin & tonic. Or a glass of wine. Or a cold beer. Or a root beer. Or a ginger ale. Just enjoy your beverages.

There are a ton of other things I learned from my dad. In fact, I deleted a few to keep this post under 2,000 words – yowza! Anyway, I’m always learning and I love my ‘did’.

Happy Father’s Day to all!

Allie db&r social media specialist

I’m Six Stories Up at db&r

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Allie db&r social media specialistIt has been such a long time since I’ve posted on socialallie.com. Shame on me! Here’s the deal – Most of my blogging efforts are now through db&r. As their Social Media Specialist, I curate and write for our blog (sixstoriesup.com). I’m still writing!

So, while I think about my next post exclusively for socialallie.com, I thought I’d share some of the most recent blogs I’ve posted for db&r.

It’s All Relative – Social Media Engagement To Stand The Test Of Time | Nov. 6, 2012
Today, I turn 26 years old. Maybe you think I’m pretty young… or just maybe you’re thinking that’s the perfect age (and I’m hoping this is the case!). As I prepared for a simultaneous election and birth-day, I began reflecting on what it means to be 26 in a “social” world: how has my social media use changed over time; how do I use use social media differently from my parents, my older sister, and my co-workers; and most importantly for us at db&r, what does all this mean for social media marketers? Continue Reading…

Must-Read Posts: Presidential Debate, Social TV, Social Style, Pinterest & More | Oct. 18, 2012
It’s been a busy week (well, couple of months really) here at db&r. Even still, we always make time to stay in touch with the latest online conversations. Here are some of our favorite blog posts, articles, or videos from the week so far: Continue Reading…

Five for Friday: 5 Mac Memories in Remembrance of Steve Jobs | Oct. 5, 2012
It’s exactly one year after one of the greatest innovators of our time passed away – Steve Jobs. When we realized it had already been a year since he passed, we had nothing but memories of our first interactions with Apple. So, for this week’s Five for Friday we pulled together our first Macintosh memories. Continue Reading…

Myspace Redesigns & Repositions: New Myspace Features [Slideshow] | Sept. 27, 2012
A few days ago Justin Timberlake tweeted a link to what I call “the little video that could,” which recaps the new Myspace design as well as some of its functionality. This video has the whole social media world tweeting up a storm. And why? Not just because of its “sexy” design. It’s how the brand seems to be repositioning itself as more of a partner to Facebook and Twitter than a replacement. This move could potentially allow the network to penetrate the mass market…quickly. Continue Reading…

Google Reader & Marketing Your Brand: Why & How to Use RSS Feeds & Google Reader | Sept. 10, 2012
Google Reader has been around since a beta was launched in Google Labs in 2005 – I first started using the service about three years ago. But I’ve discovered that not everyone understands or is even aware of what Google Reader is, let alone how to use it for marketing purposes. So here’s your guide to using Google Reader as a marketing tool. Continue Reading…

Demystifying Facebook Advertising: 9 steps to optimize your Facebook ad campaigns for success | Aug. 14, 2012
Ever since GM pulled its ad dollars from Facebook back in May, there’s been a ton of conversation around the worth and effectiveness of Facebook ads. When Facebook became an IPO, the controversy continued. Now the question is not only whether Facebook advertising justifies a major ad spend, but are also whether Facebook will even be around in a few years. Continue Reading…

Steve Jobs and social media

How we can channel Steve Jobs in the social media world

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With my nose in the books last night, I was late to find out that Mr. Steve Jobs passed away. I remember walking home in the cool, fall air thinking how sad it is to lose…well…a genius.

Though Apple is not necessarily associated with social media, I think that the brilliance of Steve Jobs gave impetus to a more connected and intelligent universe. I know that the technology that he gave us and the words he inspired us with coalesce to help us refine not only our “social” lives, but our hard-knock lives as well.

So, I’ve interrupted my series about the new Facebook changes to bring you a few of Steve Jobs’ most famous quotes and how they can help you innovate within the social media realm.

“That’s been one of my mantras — focus and simplicity. Simple can be harder than complex: You have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple. But it’s worth it in the end, because once you get there, you can move mountains.”
-BusinessWeek, 1998

Social strategy doesn’t have to be a Whitman classic. It doesn’t need to be the next Rembrandt. But, what it does need to be is relevant. People (or more specifically your audience), need to be able to not only understand, but to also easily engage with your brand via social media. Each element you add to your strategy adds to the snowball, so it’s important to remember what your original objective actually was. Then make sure that you’re achieving this objective with the simplest strategy and technology possible. Caution: this does not mean to avoid creativity. As Jobs states, “simple can be harder than complex.” Sometimes the simplest ideas are the most creative.

Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart. … Stay hungry. Stay foolish.”
Stanford University commencement speech, 2005

Always, always be transparent. Be a naked brand. Wake up each morning and really think about how you can engage and connect with your audience that day. Always be your brand and that means to give up control.

“Follow your heart.” What’s the heart of your brand? What do you represent to the general public? Be this. “Stay hungry ” – Don’t ever give up or feel satisfied with the status quo. Always search for ways to trump yourself. This is where the really great social strategy originates.

Steve Jobs & Think Different

Finally, “stay foolish.” Pure genius is not afraid to be different. Though you or your clients might be hesitant to try an “out there” idea, remember that no one ever changed the world without the ability to “think different.”

Thanks to Steve Jobs for inspiring and enabling a generation of us to think differently.

5 lessons from my social-illiterate dad about social marketing

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It’s no secret that sometimes my dad wasn’t my favorite when I was littler. He always had something to say or a reaction I was less than thrilled with. But as I’ve grown older, I find myself leaning on my dad’s advice. It’s advice that is applicable to various aspects of my life, but especially so in the social world.

1. Don’t just listen. Actively Listen.
Just like it wasn’t enough for me to sit on the couch and listen to my dad’s feedback, It’s also not enough to monitor Facebook fans or twitter followers. What’s more valuable for brands is listening and responding. I needed to prove to my dad that I actually heard him.  Whether that means tweeting back a nice comment or question or posting another comment in a Facebook stream, brands must interact in order to engage.

2. It’s all about value.
Value yourself. Value family. Value property. It was never the wrapper left on the floor that upset my father. It was the fact that I didn’t value the house or the people in it enough to put it in the trash. The same is true for brands. It’s not enough to engage your community, a brand needs to value its community and fans, giving them content and opportunities to enhance their lives. Perceptions of a brand directly stem from what that brand openly values. In Naked Pizza’s case, all of its followers know it values good health. We know that Coke values happiness. This shapes the way we interact with them.

3. Own up to your mistakes.
And never lie. We all do things we regret. My dad always emphasized the process of cleaning up the aftermath. Fix it. When you take some paint off the wall, don’t just cover it up with some genius 7-year-old artwork, tell somebody. Then work together to patch it up. Sometimes there’s only one person in a company managing its whole social identity. If you’re that person, don’t get bogged down when you misfire. Define what it is you did incorrectly, then find a way to patch it up in real time. This usually includes getting some ideas from your colleagues. They may not be “social aficionados” but they know the brand and what it stands for.

4. Hustle.
My dad is the hardest worker I know. He literally never stops and he never stops pushing me either. He is one of those dads who yells on the sidelines and won’t stop until he knows I’m truly sweating. Supremely annoying at the time. In the social cloud, you have to hustle to give your brand a presence. You have to constantly review your analytics and refine your posting times and content. If it’s not working, you need to go back to the drawing board with your strategy, do it with vigor. Don’t stop until your customers are engaged.

5. Have Fun.
Take your time and be passionate about what you do. Every summer my dad plants a new garden, there’ssomething to plant or pick or till every night. Then he harvests everything and makes amazing canned goods. You see nothing but excitement in his eyes when he says he’s “going down to the garden”. Social Media Marketing is somewhat new. It’s exciting. Keep up with the trends and have fun. It’s not weird that you love hashtags or bit.ly’s or Hootsuite. It’s that passion that helps you make a brand relevant and fun to follow.