Pinterest for a Local Newspaper

When people ask what I do, I say “Pinterest marketing.” The other evening, I met someone who was adamant that Pinterest had no place in local news marketing; that readers went to the newspaper’s event listing via Google and that Pinterest was only useful a source of craft ideas.

I didn’t argue. I don’t push string.

The business of a local newspaper is to drive traffic to its advertisers. Newspapers use stories as reader-bait. Some local newspapers are famous for stuffing their articles with the names of townspeople; others use the slogan “relentlessly local.”

Readers visit the newspaper website for information about what’s going on in town this weekend. This particular newspaper website maintains a top-ranked listing in the Google SERP because of the backlinks accumulated over time and the huge number of stories they have run featuring on the keywords of city and town.

Local news by Michael Avory (avorym)) on 500px.com--how local newspapers can use Pinterest to drive traffic
Local news: Man keeps up with the local news on a Roman street wall by Michael Avory

Pinterest won’t contain the most timely information, but on the other hand, it’s GREAT for sharing information that has a long shelf life. Local feature stories, in particular, have enormous shelf life, much longer than stories in the state and national papers. Grandma will still be interested in the twin’s softball activities long after the dust has settled on the latest international security threat.

Pillar articles about local points of interest (in my town, this is the railroad museum) never outdate and instead, accumulate traffic and visitors over time.

Newspapers can EASILY use Pinterest to expand their internet reach, driving traffic directly to the newspaper home page and from there, to advertiser’s links.

The newspaper website may own the top SERP position for events listings. Who owns the top listing for RR Museum? What if people don’t know to search your town for that story? What if people who collected railroad images would visit your town if only they knew you had a RR museum?

I watched a coffee shop crumble many years ago, back when allowing indoor smoking was up to the business owner. Every time someone complained about the atmosphere, the owner would survey the patrons to learn that most of them wanted him to continue to allow smoking. By the time the state law changed to ban smoking in commercial spaces, it was too late. All the non smokers had gone to the new coffee shop on another corner. They didn’t come back.

It’s good that a local newspapers’ readers know to search in Google for the local events listing. However, that paper is missing out on traffic from people who are searching in Pinterest for stuff that the town offers, but isn’t provided in a way that these searchers can find.

Don’t assume the way you use Pinterest is the way everyone uses Pinterest.

Hydraulics on Pinterest

Example board for Hydraulics on Pinterest

This is an example of the types of content found on Pinterest for the keyword “Hydraulics.”  Created for a demo for a demo for Central Hydraulic, a supplier of hydraulic equipment and repair parts.

Pinterest Boards about Hydraulics

Heavy Equipment

Girls and tools

Hydraulics

Construction Equipment

Instruction

Fishing Vessels

Verde Classics (excellent CsTA in the description)

Diesel Generators Nepal This is a board on a business account, linked to a site about diesel generators in Nepal.  1100 follows at this writing.  Not bad for a pretty obscure topic.  (See user accounts at the bottom of this list.)

Pinterest Accounts with Heavy (pun intended) Hydraulic Content

Related Fluid Power

Liebherr Group

Power Equipment Direct

Platypus Marine

Ronstan (including Anderson Winches board)

Custom Dredge Works If this were my board, I’d dress up the presentation a little bit and adjust the board cover pins to show a more cohesive presentation across the account. However, “hydraulics” is a “slow field” in terms of graphic design sophistication. You only have to outrun your fellow hikers, not the bear…

R + L Carriers

This is a GREAT account for the heavy equipment trades!!!!! Their account description:  We’re a global freight transportation provider that loves what we do. We’re about shipping, small business and all things trucking. Join us!

Rock and Dirt

Another great account.  Excellent management of images on the board cover pins to make every board look attractive, and to give a cohesive look to the entire account.

Pinterest Users

Jithu Varghese:  His account links to a site selling Diesel Generators in India and Nepal.  The range of other images he’s pinning may be personal interest, and/or may be pin-bait to attract viewers to his account, where they would then see (and possibly be interested in) his diesel generators.  Just like you might see something on an end cap in the hardware store on your way to buy what you came in for…

 

Outrun the Bear

Two hikers on a trail came around the bend to find a great big mama bear with a cub up the trail. Mama Bear sees them and starts moving toward them. One hiker sits down, yanks off his boots, and puts on his running shoes.

European brown bear and cub by Peter Cairns (Northshots)) on 500px.com
European brown bear and cub by Peter Cairns

The other hiker says, “What are you doing? You can’t outrun the bear!”

The first hiker says, “I don’t have to outrun the bear…”

If you’re in a trade with a lot of sophistication about graphic design and photography (weddings), yes, you have to outrun the bear and your Pinterest account will need to be stunning.

If you’re in a trade that hasn’t adopted high-end graphic design and formal product portraits (most heavy industry, agriculture, most services except dentistry and spa/appearance), home improvement, business advising), you simply need a bigger and marginally better footprint than everyone else.

WSJ Real Estate Section

Section D of the Friday Wall Street Journal has great real estate coverage, with lots of articles about how agents stage and sell VERY high end homes.

However, the WSJ is an expensive paper, and if you’re not reading it for business and stock market information, it can be a lot of money and content just to get the real estate news.

(The Friday paper also has a GREAT crossword puzzle, with lots of fun and tricky clues, and movie and TV reviews that align with my taste.)

Here’s how I manage what would otherwise be an overwhelming influx of paper and information: buy a 3 month subscription, which is about $100.00. Then, I put my subscription on vacation hold Saturday through Thursday every week. The new account management website makes this pretty easy to do.

If the paper on arrives on Fridays, a $100 subscription will last two years. I read about high-end real estate around the world over the weekend and don’t feel bad about not keeping up with the rest of the paper.

Don’t stress over your precious images

I have heard people say that they “don’t want to go near Pinterest because of their Terms of Service.” Hum, I thought. That’s your choice.

Pinterest’s terms of service (TOS) are shifting and changing frequently, by the way, so I can’t be sure which version anyone saw when they made that decision. The TOS on the site as of today are the most clearly presented I’ve ever seen. Pinterest has good graphic designers.

But later, I wondered. I run a site for a balloon twister. As a rule, event planners don’t exactly Search for these entertainers. They see a clown working one party, and they save the idea, and then they try to find the person they saw at the last event, and if they miss or lose the business card, they get whoever shows up in Google.
From a balloon twister’s point of view, being seen by an event planner, working parties in Pinterest, is almost the exact same thing as being seen working a real in-person event.

Ubi the Clown

Ubi the Clown’s Pinterest Account

What’s so bad about letting people copy your images, if you’re a balloon twister? You’ll be in the picture. Most balloon animals are stock items, known to all in the trade. Twisters have to be seen. Why not be seen in Pinterest? An image of a line of children waiting their turn for their own balloon animal, –what twisters call a “45-minute line? THAT’s good marketing!!

The problem, I believe, comes down to a mistaken evaluation of the dollar value of images.

Few pictures are “worth something.” The photographers who create images with resale value work VERY hard to market and sell them. I am not talking about professional photographers or their work in this post. I’m talking about pictures taken of balloon twisters at work entertaining children or convention-goers, when the photographer is the spouse or partner, and the camera fits in a pocket, and the lighting is ambient. What we used to call “snapshots.”

Understood, “Pinterest wants GOOD images,” but “good” is defined by your market. Trust me, the balloon twisting market will accept snapshots. If you’re marketing to the wedding crowd, God bless you; you need good photography. Child’s party planning? Not so much. You can go a long way with a well-planned snapshot. (Photoshop Elements helps. Crop. Crop. Crop.)

I can drive 100 visitors to a clown’s website because they saw a picture of him twisting balloons at a church picnic. If one of those people calls him and book a party, the picture is worth the party fee, which is 100% MORE than he would have been able to sell the image itself.

I don’t know about you, but I do not search the web so I can decorate my home with pictures of balloon twisters working at parties. For that matter, I don’t print and frame pictures of granite countertops, or place settings, or chimineas.

But really: what are you worried about losing if someone repins your image?

Caveat: I am NOT writing about professional photographers, fine artists, or jewelers, or anyone else whose work can be knocked off by a factory in China using only an image.

I’m talking to the balloon twister here. The professional seamstress selling steam punk. “They’ll copy my ideas.” Yeah, somebody will. But anyone who can sew that well would have copied them anyway once she saw the dress at RenFaire. Just as many might want to buy one for themselves, and they might find you through a good image on Pinterest.

So go ahead. Don’t put yourself in Pinterest. I can use all the lack-of-competition I can get.

Follow Your Customers

If your business is closely aligned with the kinds of items your clients will pin, consider putting a form on your website or a sign-up sheet at the front desk:

May We Follow You?

May We Follow You? Sign up sheet for a brick-and-mortar business

For some businesses, this is a non-starter.  If you sell children’s music lessons, you may see more crafts and recipes than you can stand.

However, for a business selling home decor items from a brick-and-mortar store, it’s an instant winner.  The owner can keep an eye on what her customers are wanting, pinning, and sometimes buying.  Because “following” is often reciprocal, individual users she follows will generally follow her store account back.

Notice that you must include a note about what you are using the email address for and that you will not (or do, if you do) share the email address. Use text that works for your business about why they may not want to be subscribed to your list.

“Following” Etiquette

If most of the people you will follow this way have personal accounts, consider following them at the account level (follow all), and then unfollowing any individual boards that are outside your  business interest.  This way, Pinterest will tell your customers that you followed their account, and they won’t know you unfollowed individual boards.

If you only follow the boards that fall under your business category, Pinterest will tell those clients that you “followed their ‘living rooms!’ board,” and some of them may feel a bit hurt that you didn’t like their “brunch recipes” collection. Better they don’t find out…

Website “Follow You on Pinterest” Experiment

I’m testing this on my Rugs site now using one of the Fast Secure Contact forms.

DIY Follow You form

DIY “Follow You on Pinterest” sign up form for a website.

If my programming skills were better, I’d create a button that performed the same function. It would look better.

I may have to go back and add a captcha. Will post here when I have results.

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 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 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.