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Stay up-to-date with the continuing sagas and dilemmas involved in the online marketing industry.

       

Kaitlynn Snyder
With Andrea Schultz

There's a new player creating a lot of buzz in the world of Social Networking. Since the introduction of Pinterest in 2010, its popularity among Internet users continues to climb and is proving to be a top competitor when it comes to Social Network sites. The great part about Pinterest is that users are able to personalize their accounts by creating a variety of theme boards based on the topics they enjoy. Pinterest can also be used as an effective Social Media Marketing tool to showcase a company's brand image. However, before we discuss why brands should take advantage of the opportunities Pinterest offers; it is important to understand what Pinterest is and how it's being used.

Pinterest is a virtual pin board, which lets users organize and share the 'things' they find on the Web that interest them. When users join Pinterest, they are provided with a few basic boards to help get them started: Products I Love, For the Home, Favorite Places & Spaces, etc. As users continue to pin, they'll most likely find themselves creating new boards based on their individual taste, and will essentially begin to build a 'Pinterest personality'.

Pinterest gives users one place to store and share the inspirations, pictures, recipes, etc. they come across on the Web and want to save for a later date. Many pinners use Pinterest as a resource to find unique wedding planning ideas, new recipes they'd love to try, fashion trends, and creative DIY (do it yourself) projects. Before users pin something of interest to a themed board, Pinterest asks users to create a 'thoughtful' description for other users to reference when they come across your pin. Users can also re-pin or 'like' what fellow pinners have already pinned. Another great aspect about Pinterest is that every picture, DIY idea, quote, etc. is linked back to the original source. Pinterest is an interactive new Social Media channel that is gaining popularity every day!


Why should your company become an active Pinterest user?

Pinterest is a great place for you to share more about your company's brand. During a Q&A with Evan Sharp, Pinterest Designer and Co-Founder, was asked how Pinterest should be used by brands as an effective marketing tool. He stated, "They're not just sharing the produce available at Whole Foods, they're sharing [images of] a healthy lifestyle. West Elm isn't just sharing the furniture they sell, they're sharing interior design tips." Pinterest gives you the opportunity to showcase the idea behind your brand and help consumers better understand your image. Providing these boards gives brands the chance to show consumers what they are all about, not just what products or services they provide. This shows the value of a brand, in a fun, social way.

Pinterest connects strangers from across the globe based on similar interests and things you love. In order for Pinterest to be a successful marketing tool, not only should you be an active pinner, you should follow people who are interested in ideas that revolve around your brand. For example, if you're marketing a fitness center, follow people who are interested in health, wellness, exercise, etc. It is important for you to know and understand the type of audience you want to present your brand to. You can also link your Facebook and Twitter to your account to help reach an even larger target audience.

Considering Pinterest's visual design layout, the images you pin should speak for themselves. The quality and nature of the image should capture the attention of the viewer so they will be intrigued to read the caption. It's essential that the description is well thought out and contains keywords that are relevant to your business.

Pinterest's popularity is growing quickly, in November 2011 the number of users exceeded 3 million, and it's important for your brand to take advantage of this rapid growth. Pinterest is a great way to reach your audience by illustrating your brand's worth and goals. Pinterest can also enhance your company's search visibility and should be incorporated into your company's Social Media plan.

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As the number of Facebook users continues to grow, more and more brands are flocking to this top Social Media site to interact with their audience. Establishing a strong presence and creating a large group of loyal fans on your brand’s Facebook Page takes time and effort. Luckily, Facebook has created tools that can help make both of these things a little bit easier.

Facebook’s Sponsored Stories can help increase brand exposure, bring new fans to a Page, and increase interaction with the brand. When someone “likes” a Facebook Page and becomes a fan of the brand a News Feed story is created for that person’s friends to see. Those News Feed stories often get buried in the clutter and are rarely noticed by others, offering little to no exposure for brands. Sponsored Stories help increase the visibility of News Feed stories by promoting them either to the right side of the page or to the Ticker in the upper right hand corner; making them more noticeable to Facebook users. Beginning in early 2012, Facebook will also introduce Sponsored Stories into News Feeds.

Sponsored Stories are only visible to the friends of your Facebook fans. When individuals see a Sponsored Story on Facebook it will appear as though their friend is endorsing or recommending a brand or business to them, making the individual more likely to take action and become a fan of the Page. Sponsored Stories make it easy for Facebook users to take immediate action by allowing them to "like" a Page directly from the ad, eliminating any abandonment that may occur between the ad and the Facebook Page.

Of course, none of this great exposure comes for free. Facebook charges for Sponsored Stories the same way they charge for other Facebook ads, either by number of clicks or impressions. According to Inside Facebook, a Facebook test showed that Sponsored Stories have 46% higher click-through-rate, 18% lower cost-per-fan, and 20% lower cost-per-click than Facebook’s standard advertisements.

Sponsored Stories aren't just available for Page likes. Stories can be generated for all types of user actions, including post likes and check-ins. Learn about all of the opportunities
within the Sponsored Story section on Facebook.

Facebook's Sponsored Stories are a great way to bring new fans to your Page and increase brand awareness. But remember, once you get them there it’s your job to keep them there. Without engaging content and consistent interaction, your fans won’t be fans for long!

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