Better Before and After Pins

I created a before-and-after pin to illustrate photo cropping for my Improve Pinterest Images post. In order to manage the way text flows in a WordPress post, I created a one side-by-side image image with both the before and after versions in Photoshop Elements. That way, I didn’t have to worry about how WordPress would align the images and the surrounding text.

Horizontal Before and After Pin

Horizontal Before and After images in pin format.

I pinned the image to the Pinterest Photography board so it would point back to the blog post. The pin looked pretty insignificant on the board, because it was wider than it was tall and Pinterest formats all pins to be the same width.

OK enough, but not really eye-catching enough to drive traffic to the blog post, which was the point of creating the pin in the first place.

The next morning, I thought about the problem while I was writing my Daily Pages.

Because you can edit the link in an “uploaded by user” image to point anywhere you want, you don’t HAVE to use exactly the same images on both sides of a Pinterest board-blog post pairing.  I could create a vertical before and after pin, load it to the board, and edit the link to point to the blog post.

The new pin is shown below.  It stands out much better on the Pinterest board.

Vertical Before and After Images

Vertical Before and After Images in Pin Format

Here’s a picture of the board before I deleted the horizontal image:

Pinterest Photography Board

Pinterest Photography board, showing both versions of the before-and-after cropping pin.

Understood, this exercise took way too much time for the potential value. I’ll know better next time. Stack images vertically for pins; horizontally for WordPress. Edit the link. Repeat.

Improving Your Pinterest Images

Professional product photography is a wonderful resource. If you can afford to have a professional photographer take images of your products, services, and events, use them. (Make sure you have have permission to use those images on Pinterest, according to your contract with the photographer).

However, you can spend a lot of money on good product photography, and Pinterest is hungry for more images than many smaller businesses can afford.

You can improve the photos you take.  This post talks about how to train your brain to think about images differently; plenty of pins point you to information about the technical elements of improving your images through camera settings and lightroom processing.

Crop!

When in doubt, crop your image! Cut out as much of the background as possible and get in close to what matters to the pin.

Pink bicycles example of cropping

Example of cropping to remove most of the sidewalk and show more of the color.

If your photo processing software offers a 3×3 grid during the cropping process, get one of the intersections of the grid close to the center of interest in the image.

Real world lesson: TV close-ups of a character (Law and Order pre-commercial fade-out) ALWAYS show the character’s face on one side or the other of the screen, NEVER in the middle.)

Educate Your Eye

Before you can create better images, it’s helpful to be able to recognize better images. As you read trade magazines, end-user retail advertising, or any other source of images including Pinterest, notice which images catch your eye. Tear out pages from magazines and keep them in a notebook or file folder. Pin interesting pin images to secret boards if you don’t want to do your learning in public.

From time to time, look over your collection and let it talk to you. You may find that the images group themselves into categories, by distance from object; time of day, color scheme.

Ask yourself:

  • Where is the camera?
  • Where is the light source?
  • Is there more than one light source?
  • What time of day is it?
  • What’s in the background and how did the photographer make the background look that way?*

*It’s possible to blur a background by changing the apeture on your camera; it’s easier to make sure the background is as simple and plain as it can be (or at least, interesting and deliberately selected) before you take the picture.

When you’re ready to create your own images, take this information with you and your camera.  Chances are, simply thinking about how an image you like was created will help you create images that you like a lot more.

Books

The board below shows pins about books and other sources of information about improving your photography. I focus on shifting your point of view and general artistic understanding rather than the technical information about how to use software.

Photograph Daily

See Everyday:  A Year Long Photo Diary, by Byron Wolfe.  Anohter book that has the same effect on me are Speck:  A Curious Collection of Uncommon Things, by Peter Buchanan-Smith.

Wolfe is a photography teacher who set himself the assignment to make one good image every day.  Lisa Creed did the same thing with her paintings.  Julia Cameron teaches this about writing daily in The Artists Way.

Carry your camera / smart phone everywhere.  Allow / force yourself to stop and take photographs whenever something catches your eye.  Photographing the same thing every time you pass it will have much the same outcome, if that is easier to do.  (I have a series of the nuclear power plant plume; another of a highway intersection construction project in process.)

If you’ve ever watched a professional photographer work, you may have noticed that he or she took HUNDREDS of photos in order to get the 20 that appeared in your wedding album, or the three that were used in the magazine article.

The point of these exercises is to help you let go of the idea of “one good image” and move into an understanding of “lots of images will lead to one good one.”

Jim Krause’s Index Series

Jim Krause’s Index Series

Jim Krause Book image

Books that can help you be a better designer.

I love all of Jim Krause’s books.  People doing their own product photography should buy the Photo Idea Index (bright green plastic cover in the picture on the site). The chapters in this book take you through 350 ways of looking at the world (and products!) around you and taking pictures that will make people stop when they see them on the pin flow.

If your business is more specific and you KNOW you only need landscapes, or people, or products, you might want to look at one of Krause’s focused idea books.

If you do nothing but set yourself the exercise of duplicating each of his images with your landscape and/or products, you’ll have 14 boards full of images that work. Add your paid professional shots in with your own images, and your business account will look as good as any big business.

Caveat: I have not been able to duplicate professional interior design photography worth a hoot.  The pros use lights; more lights than you can image.  Using the homeowner’s in-home lighting is NOT enough.  If you pin in the interior design trades, pay for professional portfolio images.  Focus your own photography on close-ups and products, rather than finished installations.

Pins about Pinterest Photography

This is a board where I collect pins about how to create better images for Pinterest; not pins about photography in general.
(Board keeps disappearing, and I’ve submitted a help ticket into Pinterest. Stay tuned.)

Pinterest for Home Improvement

Insider’s joke about green building

One energy company experiments with Pinterest

Drywall board

Replacement windows from an end user’s (client) perspective (look at what else he is pinning and think about how you might also intersect with him, or at least, understand him when you’re in the sales conversation)

As expected, the window treatment companies (in this example, Levelor) are already playing well in the Pinterest.

Eugene is another user with an interest in home improvement, although these boards might also be created for his SEO clients.

Vic Resto pins home improvement information to feed his website design business.

Garage doors

Security doors and related products. Good pins, account needs logo or headshot.

Insulation

Boards found while searching on “insulation”  (Note that most pins called “insulation” are pictures of glass electrical insulators.  Fiberglass, foam and foil insulation falls way down the chart.)

Underfloor acoustic and heating

Basement waterproofing: GREAT use of before and after! (or at least, “afters”)

How To Showcase Clients’ Work on Pinterest

Last month’s newsletter from the NextGen photo gallery plugin for WordPress contained an invitation to showcase a gallery on the NextGen Pinterest account. I use NextGen on two sites to manage large numbers of photographs, and Pinterest sends lots of traffic to one of those sites, so I jumped at the opportunity to create additional pins.

Their system could be used by anyone who makes a product / app / system used by other creators to further their work.  First, create a board named for the most common name of your product (the name your users call your product = better SEO value).  Use the description of the board to spell out the steps your users need to follow to be invited to guest pin.

Then, add a logo pin to that board.  In this case, anyone who comments on the logo pin will receive an invitation to be a guest pinner on the board.

Because NextGen is a live photo display system, they are asking users to pin screen shots of the software in action, rather than any actual live gallery display.  Anyone who uses the NextGen plugin will know how to do this; it’s possible that people who make other apps may have to provide more detailed instructions.

Because the screenshot images will, most likely, be uploaded from the users’ PCs, the instructions include a reminder to edit the pin so that it points back to the original website.  Again, NextGen users who play in Pinterest will probably know to do this already; other users who are uploading images may need a few more instructions.

The board is fairly new and I expect it will grow quickly.

NextGen Gallery Board

Board showing screenshots of image galleries created with the NextGen plugin for WordPress.

How to Photograph Jewelry for Pins

Look at the following boards:

Diamond jewelry on white background

Diamond jewelry against white background looks flat.

and this one, from Michaan’s Auctions:

Jewelry on a black background

Jewelry shown on a black background shows up.

Any one of the pins on the first board is probably worth more than everything seen on the second, but which one are you more likely to repin?

If you don’t have Harry Winston’s brand recognition or advertising budget, make your jewelry do your marketing work for you.

(I’ll write a whole ‘nother post about all those “uploaded by user” tags that leave clickable URLs on the table…)

Pinterest for the Conway School (CSLD, Conway, MA)

A discussion on the Conway School of Landscape Design Linkedin Group about “what projects are you working on?” prompted me to offer, “we should have a Pinterest account for this…”

Volunteering….

People weren’t sure how we could use Pinterest as alumni, and what putting projects on a CSLD account would do for their own business.

Here are some ideas for boards:

  • Board showing the school, inside and out.  Might need someone with a smart phone & Pinterest app on the ground to load this; not sure if there are enough on the school website.
  • Board about Conway the town (need someone on the ground locally if Conway doesn’t have an image inventory on its website)
  • Board with pins showing the staff; linking to the Faculty pages (or other bio information)
  • Board with this year’s students, linking to whatever website they want to point their pin to
  • Board with the 2013 projects
  • Alumni board (Would have to do some web research plus work with the alumni list; realize I’m volunteering to do this bit)
  • Group board with alumni projects; if we have enough activity on this I can see it being subdivided in to different types of projects.  I’m not working in landscape now but I certainly have enough projects.  Link to Behance or other portfolio site; Pinterest can pin video, presentation, audio.  Could be a lot of material.
  • Group board with books written by or recommended by faculty and alumni
  • Board about attractions / points of interest in Western MA.
  • Board with pins about other landscape programs in the area, or in the country.

One person said, “I’m not sure how I’d interact with a CSLD account” (paraphrase).  My thoughts:

Benefits of participating (following AND pinning to) a CSLD account:

  • Additional recruiting tool for the school (mixed thoughts on whether it would be cost-effective compared to everything else the staff does to recruit)
  • Access to different / more followers (presuming we can make the account rich enough & active enough to hit the magic “100” number where followers start growing exponentially (OK, they do at any level, but the first part of the curve is virtually identical to a straight line, not a curve)
  • Access to different sources of ideas
  • Traffic to your own website.  What you do with it there is up to you.  (I could write a much longer rant about the need for marketing if you’re self employed; alums either know this first hand, or don’t need to know it because they’re in jobs that don’t require self-marketing.)
  • More active connection with the alums
  • Where the FB page is linear, a Pinterest account is horizontal and less prone losing information “below the fold”
  • Where the FB page tends to lose information quickly (within days, once new stuff is added), Pinterest pins have an internet half-life second only to YouTube videos

That’s enough for this morning.  I’m willing to do some of this work; need someone locally to be the official contact if this will be a “business” account (and it should be).  I’ll be away over Thanksgiving but can get back to it in early December.  Ideally, comment on the LI group entry because I have moderation turned on for this post and won’t be able to read or approve any comments while I’m gone.

 

 

Pinterest Business Accounts!

ass=” wp-image-259″ title=”Pinterest widgets” src=”http://pinterestdone4u.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/11Great news, we don’t have to pretend anymore! Pinterest released a Business category of accounts today, and you can either create a new account under the Business type or convert an existing one to the business category. Add a snippet of code to your business website (root directory) and get verified, and you’re set.

Mostly, nothing else changes, but putting yourself in the business category means you will receive different education material (short term) and business marketing opportunities (longer term) in the future.

Rather than rewriting what a lot of more well funded bloggers have already written, I’ll simply refer you to Hubspot’s article about the change. I expect they will keep it up to date as / if anything changes in the near future.

Two nifty new widgets are available from the Business Pinterest pages:

Pinterest business widgets

New widgets for Pinterest Business Account users


Those last two are fun: you can embed either a board, or your 30 most recent pins, in any page of your website. You can embed each board on a related page of your website, if some of your boards relate specifically to work you create.

For Karen Tiede Art Rugs, I’ll be linking each color board to the appropriate page showing rugs in those colors. See the Purple Rugs page for an example of how it will work.

Pinterest Marketing for B2B Companies

I gave a basic Pinterest Marketing introduction at the Capital City Club in Raleigh this week.  New-to-me group of people, all men, in a variety of positions.  CPA opening a new satellite office in Raleigh for a larger firm, Equifax Commercial, Time Warner Cable, PC maintenance services, web site management software developer (large catalog sites), two non-profits, others.  Mix of solopreneurs, small business, and big business people.

A few of the attendees had Pinterest accounts for their business; most of their wives and/or girlfriends used it.

One man said, “The car pictures there are SO GOOD!  not like the junk you find in Google images.” (We do reveal ourselves…)

Everyone was surprised to see how much Pinterest activity CSC and SAP had.

Afterwards, a tiny bit of business heresy floated across my mind.  I’ve had this battle before, and lost more than once, but I believe:  Businesses don’t buy from businesses.  People buy from people.  “Business” may be the wrapping, and the logo on the sales order and invoice, and I fully understand that no-one ever got fired for buying IBM.  That said, the direct marketing people have been teaching businesses that sell to other businesses to use the same techniques that move merchandise on the Home Shopping Network, and they can’t be all wrong.

If there is any chance, any chance at all that the person you want to reach in a B2B setting MIGHT be a Pinterest user, or her admin or her sister or her brother the designer might, you owe it to your BUSINESS to have a marketing presence in Pinterest.

I understand that it can be hard to think of some businesses in terms of pinnable images.  But here’s a question:  is your business MORE B2B than CSC (Computer Services Corporation)?  They run NC Medicare claims processing, among other LARGE. IMPERSONAL. HIGHLY TECHNICAL systems.

Pinterest is (currently, briefly, temporarily) full of midwestern Morman mothers (in other words, that will shift).  Fine.  Many of them have day jobs.  Some are purchasing agents.  Some are electrical engineers.  Most of them are married, to men who have day jobs (and if they’re not married now, they may well be planning a wedding…).  Anyone whose partner uses Pinterest has heard the phrase, “I saw this pin that ____.”

Make sure the next time someone says that about a business in your industry, it’s your pin they’re talking about.

afterword:

An article on MarketingProfs discussed “How to Evolve Your B2B Customer Experience Using Images” The article is over a year old, and Pinterest was too small in 2011 to be a player in the B2B space.  If the article were written today, the research would be conducted with Pinterest contests–design a board that reflects your understanding of our brand.

Want to talk about how your B2B can be marketing through Pinterest?  Call me.

Pinterest and SAP

An acquaintance runs a business that sells an analytics program that can determine how employees are actually using the SAP system. He said, “SAP support services is not a Pinterest marketing opportunity…” The challenge was on.

Cut to the chase: Board Suggestions

SAP Solutions Partner

  • Employees
  • An office; in a city
  • SAP certifications / awards
  • Reports from their software
  • FAQ
  • Customers (both logos and people)
  • Epic fail stories about implementations gone wrong (use with care)
  • LOL and inside jokes (also use with care, but if CSC can create them, so can anybody)
  • Blog posts, illustrated with screen shots of the software
  • Convention information

That’s 10 Pinterest boards right there, and the only thing I know about SAP is that it used to deposit my pay in the bank.

Why Pinterest Over SEO & Google SERP?

Search Google for “SAP Consulting,” first page SERP:

SERP SAP consulting

First page Google SERP for “SAP Consulting”

Same search in Pinterest Pins:

SAP Consulting Pins

Search Pins for “SAP Consulting”

Same search in Pinterest Boards:

SAP Consulting Boards

Boards found on a search for “SAP Consulting”

And one more time, for Pinners:

SAP Pinners

Pinterest accounts with “SAP Consulting” in their name or description.


Now, you tell me which search provides more instant information, and which results page distinguishes your business from all the others more, for free? (Ok, not “free;” somebody’s maintaining those accounts. It’s not PPC rates, either.)

More Research

A quick search found 50 pins about the company SAP and its product (excluding pins about maple syrup, victims of cons, and other spell-alike captions.) (Deeper diving into the accounts and boards that contained those pins yielded much more information which did not use the “SAP” term in the caption.)

Corporate users

A board called “Production Users” contained an SAP logo pin.  This account is maintained by 10gen / MongoDB, which offers a high-performance, open source, schema-free document-oriented database.  Presumably, SAP uses their database.

The SAP Super Users Group has a Pinterest account with only one pin, linking back to their site.

By looking at the Super Users’  followers and following listings, I found the IBM SAP Alliance Pinterest account, with 33 pins on five boards.  It is an “official” IBM account.

ConsultantBox SAP Consulting (Sweden) has an account, introducing their services and some of their consultants.  Their followers and following lists have a large number of accounts related to SAP. Brainarea is just one of them. Panorama Consulting, from Denver, specializes in ERP work and has a fairly active account.  (Check the list of people they follow for LOTS of business journal and other technical accounts.)

By following a pin, I learned about the SAPWeb2.0 service that allows you to pull tweets into a presentation.

One user maintains a board about SAP Training, but I can’t get a feel for why from the rest of the account.

ConPlus Mittelstandslosungen collects SAP information, including videos. They are an SAP business partner in Germany.

CSC Australia is one major technical services provider using Pinterest reasonably actively.  They have an SAP pin on an “Know Our Partners” board.  I recommend following this account to see how a business in the technical services space can use Pinterest as a public face.  They are only following CSC accounts from around the world; it is clear there is significant corporate investment in their Pinterest activity.

The SAP HANA datamining engine is represented by a pin on a Datamining board.  (Can’t read his captions but can tell it’s a technical account.)

SCM systems have a board of their own. CRM systems (including SAP) have a board on a very interesting account.

Chris Herbert, a #B2B marketer for technology companies with the Mi6 Agency, develops content, networks, communities and business for clients. He collects SAP information on his Big Data and Analytics board.

Incidentally, Cisco and IBM Research have Pinterest accounts. Salesforce has a GREAT business account. Accenture and Deloitte have accounts with no pins.

Graphic Design

Nick Smith, a desginer, collects SAP Advertising on a Graphics Design board.

A graphic designer has a pin about an SAP how-to manual on her Portfolio site.

Another designer, more technically oriented, has a pin of an SAP interface, labelled “disappointing,” on a Windows Phone UI design board.

One user maintains a board of “enterprise iOS designs I don’t like.”  They are all SAP versions.  (His “likes” are all from much newer applications that have been created in the past five years, without having to build on history or even enterprise-wide integration.)(I’ll bet he never coded COBOL, or ran punch cards…)

Another graphic designer maintains a board about Signage that includes pins of interior navigation sign from SAP USA properties.

Personal accounts with SAP pins

A board called “Work Information” contained a pin linking to a Harvard Business Review issue highlighting Competing on Talent Analytics.  (I’m guessing the pinner is an HR professional.)

Someone is maintaining an account titled “SAP ERP” .  The URL for this account is /breakingnewz10/, which makes me suspect it’s not an “official” SAP account.  However, the Books Worth Reading board is loaded (300+) with mostly-technical books about programming in enterprise systems including SAP and Oracle, as well as ERP and eHR theory. The user maintains a related board called SAP ERP Modules, which is solely about ERP.

Recommendations

To tell the truth, I found much more about SAP and its cohort of associated services than I expected to.  Few of these boards / accounts have significant followership, but it’s also not clear how many followers or leads it takes to succeed in this business.  There are, after all, only 500 companies in the Fortune 500…. (who employ some 20 million people, however).

It crossed my mind that selling SAP and its services is not too far from selling an airport financing deal.  Readers of Pitch Anything will see where I’m going with this.  Both transactions are traditionally considered completely logical, rational decisions.  Neither is, at least to the winner of the financing package for the new San Diego Airport.

As I write this post, I don’t have my copy of Pitch Anything at hand.  When I get back to it, I’ll review and make additional, more specific recommendations.  The general direction is to use images on Pinterest to set the frames for the opportunity:  how will my friend’s services help THE PEOPLE who will use the system, rather than the business numbers that make moving to SAP a good idea.

 

Pinterest for a business coach

One of my clients runs a small business coaching center, where he facilitates monthly peer advisory groups segmented by number of employees. He teaches a monthly class “100 Days to Abundance” class that helps small business owners develop effective client attraction and lead generation practices to keep their pipelines fille.  He is interested in learning how Pinterest can help generate leads for this business.

I suggested the following types of boards for this business:

  • A 100 Days to Abundance board, with individual info-spins explaining the various components of building a business woodpile, and other lessons
  • A board for each flight of the 100 Days to Abundance class, containing pins that link to attendee websites, as well as in-class images uploaded from the Pinterest app for phones
  • Images from the holiday party, uploaded from phones and edited to point back to the business website
  • A board about scouting (he is a Scout leader)
  • A racquetball board
  • A small business resource board, including pins from local support such as the SBA, the SBUs, the SBTDC, and so forth
  • Small business owner of the week
  • Pins from the Small Business Insight magazine
  • Business wisdom pins using a text-to-pin tool such as Quozio.com, including some of the graphics used in the classes and peer advisory groups
  • Images of the meeting space that is available for rent will be displayed on the “Gift” list, increasing exposure of the center as a rentable location
  • A board about the other Team Nimbus centers around the country