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Pinterest for Business Development

9 Feb

When I joined Pinterest awhile back I never knew I’d be reading it’s name in headlines every other day. It seems that it’s the “popular” thing to be talking about.

I use my Pinterest account to stalk my love of fashion and photography. But as I’ve discovered recently the business world is jumping on and engaging too.

Every blog seems to be chatting about how Pinterest is becoming the next big thing in social media for business. PR professionals are discussing Pinterest as a trend and how it can be helpful in promoting your business. Everyone is talking about it — even those who think it’s a waste of time.

Personally I feel that it is somewhat of a genius idea. Most people are drawn to visual pleasing things — so why not make a site that allows you to bookmark webpages in the most visually appealing way. As a long time user of Delicious I can tell you right now that I’d rather click on a link with a gorgeous description then a few words jumbled together. Of course it can’t be used to bookmark all webpages — I mean I guess it could — but it can mostly be used to trace back to a product or idea you like, or want to use in the future. It’s like a giant creative brainstorming device.

I’ve decided with all this chat about how awesome Pinterest is for businesses that I’m going to test it out for a client of mine — free of charge. The business is a retail surf and skate shop, and I thought it would be the perfect client to try it out with. The business is more small scale but I figure there will be no harm in testing out some of the business development strategies. Stay tuned for how it turns out.

With that I leave you with some of my favorite Pinterest business strategy ideas.

Share Your Products

  • It makes sense, and it is the most obvious strategy. What a great way to share your products with users? Group your pins in product categories. You can create a virtual product catalog of interest for consumers.

Drive Web Traffic

  • It’s driving buyers to websites. According to Entrepreneur, “In the last six months, the retail deal site ideeli.com has seen a 446 percent increase in web traffic from Pinterest and sales resulting from those visits have increased five-fold.

Better Understand the Larger Retail Landscape

  • Pay attention to who is pinning what, and from who. What products of yours are being re-pinned, and what isn’t.

Engage With Users

  • As any social network does it gives you the opportunity to engage with other users to get more ideas, and helpful feedback on how to improve and give consumers what they want. Share other companies products, or comment on other users posts you feel signify what your business is about. Encourage customer interaction, and try following users back.
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A Website is Your First Impression

10 Jan

I’m perplexed when I google a business today and find no website, or one you don’t know the slightest clue how to navigate. With the way our society is integrated in digital technology you would think businesses would want an online presence. My opinion is they should have one. Even if it’s a simple site with the business hours and location. Apps and online review sites may be giving your business a presence with out you even being aware of it. I can’t stress how important it is for businesses to have an online appearance, or at least be aware of it — and a great one.

One of my biggest pet peeves is having a poor looking website. As a consumer if I came across your website and I can’t understand what is going on I quickly hit the back button and I’m onto the next. Sadly the site was probably built by someone who charged them a lot of money too.

This morning as I was job hunting I came across a list of top public relation and advertising firms. I scrolled through the list and clicked on every single website browsing for anything that resembled “work here.” I was amazed at how many of those websites were cluttered, messy, hard to read, and overall frustrating to look at. I was especially put off because most of these agencies work at being digitally creative — so why can’t I read your website?  A website is your first impression. Some of the agencies could be phenomenal to work for, but because of their confusing or jumbled websites I quickly turned around and ran (scrolled). In business your first impression can make it or break it more than people like to admit. Wieden + Kennedy is my favorite example of what a clean and aesthetically pleasing website should be. There isn’t any flashy words flying across the screen, the white background allows you to see what you’re looking at clearly, the side bar changes textures and colors, and I can easily navigate the site.

Next time you’re browsing the web pay attention to the little details that make a website good, or bad, and in the future use those observations to make a great first impression.

Three ideas for making a clean easy accessible website:

Embracing social media before it was “cool.”

29 Mar

Threadless.com: Online community drives company

It’s hard to imagine that a company who has been around for ten years has centered everything around their growing online community, but that’s exactly what Threadless has done and continues to do. Threadless is a prime example of a company who has embraced social media as a business platform. Great part about this — they did it before social media was even “cool.”

The site started off offering anyone a chance to submit artwork, then having community members rate the designs. The best ones were printed on T-shirts. It’s all very similar to what the company does now. The online apparel store has built a loyal open-sourced community that actively submits new t-shirt designs for the chance to win cash prizes, votes on favorite designs, and purchases limited edition shirts (Stein,). Basically, they print awesome designs on T-shirts created and chosen by you. It’s a multimillion dollar empire and the biggest community centered T-shirt store on the web (Lindberg).

“Instead of just dictating what should happen, I have a really open philosophy when it comes to both managing and working with our customers. I mean, that’s the whole point of the company: we trust them to tell us what is right and we agree with the general consensus of the community and adapt to it,” Jack Nickell, Threadless founder, answered this when asked,”What’s his philosophy? (Lindberg). His idea of business is what makes social media so poplar today. Social media gives the customer a voice. It’s ran by communities, and revolves around social interaction, discussion, and content created by users who engage. Nickell’s company survives because of social media.

It’s no surprise that they don’t like advertising or pushing their brand on people who wouldn’t want to hear about it. Without intending to, the founders have successfully tapped into word of mouth marketing on the Internet aka social media (Quinton). Cam Blazer vice president of marketing says that traditionally the company has done no advertising (Quinton). People can’t help talking about the awesome T-shirt they see someone wearing. His mission? To amplify that buzz. That success has continued, with the Threadless community growing from 10,000 members in 2002 to 70,000 in 2004. Today the community stands at 1 million members and counting (Quinton).

The company has a Facebook page that currently has almost 254,000 fans, and a Twitter account that has nearly 1.6 million followers. To compare, Starbucks — who is commonly known to have great social media campaigns — has roughly 1.3 million Twitter followers. That gives you a perspective of how large their loyal online community is.

Not only is the company continuously holding regular design contests, but now they are holding challenges with a specific theme that are judged by a panel from Threadless, and a sponsor. One example is the recent challenge sponsored by Thermos. Challengers were asked to create a T-shirt and a Thermos bottle. The winning design receives $2,000 in cash, $500 Threadless gift certificate, iPad 64 GB with Wi-Fi, $200 in Thermos merchandise, and their design on a Threadless tee plus a Thermos bottle. By offering their community a hard to beat deal such as this one, more, and more, people start participating.

Another way Threadless is becoming socially popular is jumping on board to support causes. The most recent challenge got people involved in designing an inspirational tee around the theme of “Sunrise,” to help those affected by the Japanese tsunami and earthquake that hit last week. Net proceeds from the sale of each tee will be donated to The American Red Cross’s Japan relief fund. March 11th, the day the earthquake hit, Threadless posted this challenge. Within seven days over 640 people had tweeted about the challenge and over 1,000 liked it on Facebook. This is saying that from each individual who reposted that post there are another hundred or so pair of eyes seeing their name, their product, and learning about their company. In a Forbes article about the “Best Social Media Campaigns” the writer says that, “the bottom line is a successful social media campaign requires creativity, a clear message and needs to make a splash at the right time,” and that is exactly what Threadless has been doing for years.

In a 2009 interview with Nickell he mentioned that Threadless had been around so long that he felt that the company was hitting a point where they weren’t keeping up with what newer Web 2.0 companies were doing (Lindberg). Since this interview the site has grown, and done a very good job of adding more community and socially driven concepts. A great example would be the Threadless Meetups — similar to Tweetups. “Threadfans” get together to collaborate on ideas, trade tees and get to know their online pal in real life. You can earn points towards your Threadless purchases, watch Threadless Tee-V, or hear from designers just like yourself. They’ve continued to evolve their company over the years and change with consumer wants and needs. Their online store is a great example of how social communities can be built and integrated into a company’s business model to powerfully drive awareness, encourage company evolution and impact a company’s bottom line (Stein).

My original thought was that it seemed silly that Threadless had never advertised, and I felt that this definitely was a negative aspect of their company, but I changed my tune. Nickell explains, “We’ve experimented with advertising pretty recently and have had mostly negative reactions to it. It’s always been something that we’ve felt is not right for us. Me and Jeffrey (Kalmikoff, Threadless’ chief creative officer) used to work at four ad agencies, so we have a pretty strong understanding of what advertising means and how evil it is. With our company it’s all about trust and honesty and we just don’t like the idea of pushing our brand on people who otherwise wouldn’t hear about it (Lindberg).”

In a world where the consumers voice is hard to silence, Threadless prospers. By trusting their customers, online community, and word of mouth advertising Threadless has led the way in how social media has changed the way companies handle business.

Sources

Lindberg, Oliver. “In-depth Interviews: Jake Nickell.” Net Magazine. Issue 198. 10 Dec. 2009. Web. 17 Mar. 2011. <http://www.netmagazine.com/interviews/in-depth/jake-nickell>

Taylor, Victoria. “The Best-Ever Social Media Campaigns.” Forbes.com. 17 Aug. 2010. Web. 17 Mar. 2011. < http://www.forbes.com/2010/08/17/facebook-old-spice-farmville-pepsi-forbes-viral-marketing-cmo-network-social-media.html/>

Stein, Daniel. “6 Ways Brands are Using Social Media For Real-World Action.” Mashable. 08 April 2010. Web. 17 Mar. 2010. <http://mashable.com/2010/04/08/social-media-real-world-action/>

Quinton, Brian. “Crowd Pleasers: Threadless.com gives buyers what they want — by asking them first.” ChiefMarketer.com Magazine. December/January 2010. Web. 17 Mar. 2010. <http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/penton/cm_20101201/#/20>