7 Girly Pinterest Marketing Tips

At my “big girl job,” I’ve been spending a lot of time optimizing our company’s Pinterest profiles. Now that I’m actually getting some work done here on the blog, I decided it was time to apply the same tactics to my own Pinterest account.

It was actually kind of a trip; I started using Pinterest literally as soon as it was available, so cleaning up my pins and pin boards was like going back in time. It was exhausting, but pretty awesome. Now, I’m finally ready to use it as a business tool!

If you’re using Pinterest for your business, you’ll want tofunny-pinterest-someecard make sure that you’re not just blindly pinning content. Pinterest is definitely overlooked as far as social media marketing tools, but if you have the right audience and you do it right, it could easily be one of your top influencers.

I’ve done quite a bit of research to prepare the optimization of my boards at work, and I’ve compiled my top tips and things to think about, so that you don’t have to sort through all the long articles I read.

Pinterest Tips: Spark-noted

  1. KEYWORDS EVERYWHERE: They’re super important for your board descriptions and even more important for individual pin descriptions. Be smart with your keywords; Be vague, but also clear and concise. Protip: Pin descriptions perform the best when they are between 200 and 500 characters. 
  2. Use hashtags sparingly: The same way you want to be strategic with your keywords, apply the same with hashtags. Don’t use a million of them (3 to 5 will suffice), or it looks like spam.
  3. Make your boards pretty! Since I was pinning as an adolescent, I ended up going through and deleting a ton of pins that were blurry or just looked like crap for one reason or another. You want people to like browsing your boards, and they won’t do that if you have a ton of ugly pins (as girly as that sounds, it’s the cold-hearted truth and just how girls are).
  4. Don’t forget about board topics: This is crucial for Pinterest searches. When you go to edit your board, make sure your board isn’t listed as ‘other’ under topics, unless it doesn’t fall into any of the other topics. If it’s a DIY board, you best be sure it’s listed there so that your pins and boards appear higher in Pinterest search results. 
  5. Put your best pin forward: Once your board is up to par, go back to edit the description and choose the main photo. Make sure it’s not cut off in a weird place, that it’s pretty, and is a good overall image-description of the board.
  6. Keep your best boards near the top: If you own a boutique, you’re going to put your prettiest (and probably more expensive) garments in the windows and on display. The same principle applies to where your boards are placed, so re-arrange them based on what your audience likes and where you’re pinning the most.
  7. Utilize Secret Boards: I used this as a way to move my pins around without overloading followers with pins, but it’s also a great tool for starting brand new boards. Start pinning to it and, once it’s ready, make it public. That way, you don’t have a handful of pins on the board. You also don’t spam your audience with content as you create it.

Check out my improved Pinterest profile.

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Your Guide to More Creative Posts

One of the most common questions I’m asked by potential clients (and former clients at my last position) is “What types of things should I be posting?” It may sound silly when you say it outloud, but it can be extremely frustrating.

One thing you’ll find, and I’m sure I’ve said it before, is that you do NOT want to only post promotions for your business. While it’s certainly important to keep your followers up-to-date on your business’ news and offers, only posting this type of content will come off as “spam” to your follwers. You’ll notice a decrease in followers and/or a drop in post reach if this is your page’s only type of post. In order to keep this type of content “clickable,” I’ve also got a few prompts to help make your promotions more creative.

So…what can you do?

Well, first things first: Take a step back & out-of-the-box.

Are you feeling a bit more creative? Separated from your business? Good. Now check out a few prompts to get your brain going.

Post prompts (for any platform):

Be a bit random.

  1. Do you have any tips or tricks that just make life easier? If you don’t, you may consider looking up a few Life Hacks…but either way, share them! You may even have a follower or two who recommends something amazing in return. Share their tips as well and credit them (see, we just got two birds with one stone, here!).
  2. Have you read a good book lately? What did you think of the latest Leo DiCaprio movie…and does he deserve an Oscar for it? Is there a blog you follow whose updates you love? Feel free to make random, “lifestyle” recommendations to your followers. You may even receive responses recommending great books to you!
  3. First things first: Don’t be afraid to post something totally unrelated to your business. Some of the most popular posts on my own business pages have been random gifs about things like coffee or my favorite TV shows, and my highest performing Instagram posts have been inspirational quotes. So, browse iFunny, Instagram, Imagur, BuzzFeed, Pinterest…or your own personal favorite Facebook pages. Look for something that simply appeals to you (or your family). Find a cute video or a funny meme and share it! Don’t be afraid to be yourself.

Show-off your expertise.

  1. Think: “A Day in the Life.” Give your audience a behind-the-scenes tour of your offices or a step-by-step video of how your products are created or delivered. If your company partakes in events, snap a few photos (selfies!) with your phone & take a minute to upload them in-the-moment…or just show off what goes on to make your events happen.
  2. What’s going on in your industry? Post news articles, videos, or photos to highlight any changes that may be happening. You may even want to do a bit of research to learn more to share with your followers. Show off your expertise!
  3. Do you love working with a certain company? Whether they’re a supplier or even a competitor, post occassional recommendations in your industry to demonstrate your connectedness.
  4. Put together a quick video or infographic as a tutorial on any products or services you offer (especially if they’re new!).
  5. Has your business recently received an award? That should definitely be posted. Include a photo of the award as well as what it is & what it means!
  6. If you have any amazing case studies, consider sharing links to them! This is a great way to promote your business by saying you’re awesome without actually saying it yourself…you know what I mean?

Keep your followers up-to-date on your business (yes, a few promotions are still OK!).

  1. Do you have a fan-favorite product or service? Have you received/been tagged in photos or videos from your followers? Shoot them a message and ask if you can share their post – they’ll likely be honored & excited! Make sure any photos you post are good quality!
  2. Have you just received a shipment of a new product? Post a teaser photo (ie; “big news coming soon!”) or a professional photo of your new offering.
  3. Share a photo or video that has nothing to do with your business but is still interesting to your audience (such as a picture of a couple holding hands on the beach)…and then link it back to your company’s products or services!
  4. Don’t forget to remind your followers of any weekly coupons/deals you do!

Ask questions (& give answers).

  1. Ask your followers simple, silly, or personal questions such as their chocolate preference (a great Valentine’s Day or Easter post).
  2. Start a debate (but don’t be TOO political).
  3. Do you have an FAQ section on your website? Post answers to these in graphic, video, or infographic form!
  4. Are there industry questions being asked that could be important to your audience? Think about any industry changes that may spark questions to you or your followers.

Turn your business into a family (or at least make your team relatable).

  1. Here’s an easy one: Is there anything you use or bring to work that you couldn’t do without? Take a picture of it and post why you need it (for me, this item is coffee. ALL the coffee!).
  2. If there are any holidays (even silly ones like #NationalCoffeeDay), post photos of your office celebrating! At RxWiki, we coordinated with the office to wear red on Go Red For Women Day, and then posted a photo to our office Facebook album…and not only was it popular because of the trend but it was also popular because it put faces to the company.
  3. Show your employees some love! This can go a few ways: Feature an employee profile (weekly or monthly) with a quick interview and photo, or share something cool (and possibly not-work-related) that they’re doing. Is your cashier a marathon-runner extraordinaire? Does your accountant foster dogs? You may need to really get to know your employees or coworkers for this one…but personally, I don’t see that as a bad thing, either! 😉

Keep your eyes peeled.

  1. Watch your page analytics to see what types of post your audience engages with the most…and post more of that! Make sure you check your analytics regularly, too, because social media is always changing.
  2. Don’t forget to keep track of which platforms your audience engages with the most, that way you can put most of your creative juices into that platform!
  3. Look at your competitors for specific ideas on what to post. You don’t need to mimic their posts exactly (and of course, you shouldn’t), but allow them to give you ideas. Pay special attention to which posts receive the most likes or shares!

Hopefully I’ve given you a few ideas on how to get creative with your posts. This post was initially inspired by something I wrote for the RxWiki Solutions project I worked on at my last job. For more ideas & inspirations, shoot me an e-mail at mariercarlson@gmail.com and check this post out.

Happy posting!

Engagement 107

Well, we’ve made it: I’ve run out of topics concerning engagement, so here’s the final one! I’ll be short ‘n’ sweet, since this one is pretty low-tech.

Going offline.

…You didn’t think the point of social media marketing was to not do any marketing in real life, did you?

If you did, it’s cool. It’s a pretty common myth and a lot of people think that spending a few bucks on Facebook ads means they don’t need to do anything in their store. But guess what. If you’re not interacting or promoting your social media channels in real life, you’re missing out on a crucial aspect of marketing.

How to Promote Your Brand Offline

  1. Just ask!
    • Don’t assume your customers know you’re on social media.
    • Tell them why they should follow you.
      • Will you promote special offers?
      • Will you offer a discount on-the-spot?
  2. Be resourceful
    • Create a “follow us” poster to place near your point-of-sale.
    • Consider creating coupons or cards to give customers with their receipts, offering discounts or simply promoting your social media accounts.
  3. Customer Appreciation
    • Host a happy hour at your store and promote it online and in-person!
      • Keep it simple – you don’t want to spend too much money – but customers will love being spoiled by you.
      • Consider promoting a cause to show you care and want to give back (this also gives customers another reason to show up).
    • Hand out coupons that are exclusive to those who follow you on social media.
  4. Partner up!
    • Is there another local business you love? Reach out to them!
      • This is a great way to network and share your customer base and help another local entrepreneur…not to mention it can make events more affordable!
      • Ask if they’ll co-host a Customer Appreciation event with you or are willing to donate goods/etc. in exchange for being promoted throughout the event.
      • Partnering with local vendors and photographers on a photo shoot is a great way to cross-promote everyone involved (if you’d like to learn more about this, e-mail me at mariercarlson@gmail.com).

So…what do you think?

Have you tried any of these ideas? Have you tried something I haven’t mentioned? What did you do to make it successful?

Let me know! E-Mail me at mariercarlson@gmail.com with any comments/feedback!

Engagement 106

So, we’ve moved on from the Christmas/New Years part of Engagement Season to my least favorite part of the season: Valentine’s Day. Nothing makes me gag more…but that’s beside the point.

Last week, I gave y’all a quick crash-course on Twitter Chats and this week, I’ll give you a few tips on how to host your own.

If you’re willing to dedicate about two hours per week (less than that once you really get rolling), hosting your own Twitter Chat is a great way not only to connect to your audience and potential clients but also to establish a good rapport with other businesses and influencers in your community.

That said, here are a few things to consider when hosting your own chat:

Practice first.

This is super important because Twitter Chats tend to be fast-paced, so it’s important to learn the ropes before you dive in and create your own. You’ll want to get a feel for how the chats operate, what your audience is like when they participate, and what other Chat hosts do to keep their audience interested.

Participate in as many chats as you can while you brainstorm what you would like your own to be. This will also help you to figure out which tool you prefer to use (ie; TweetDeck, Hootsuite, BufferApp), that way you’re not scrambling to make a decision at the last minute.

Pick a cool topic.

I think this goes without saying but you’ll want your topic to be somewhat relevant to your business or industry. After all, it would be very confusing if a local hardware store was hosting a Q&A about the best skin care products for dry skin. That said, you do want to pick a topic with an angle your audience will want to participate in. During flu season, @EverydayHealth hosted chats about the flu vaccine and ways to stay healthy. Even though it’s a classic topic that’s talked about every year, it still gets their audience interested because they angled the topics in a way that made them seem “new.”

Figure out the timing.

Feel free to experiment with this at first, but do so wisely. When choosing a time to host your chat, take note of the times of day and which days your audience interacts with you (ie; favorites, replies) the most.

Don’t forget to keep time zones in mind! Even if your business is local, remember that Twitter is global. If you choose your chat time based on PST, make sure when you begin promoting your chat that you indicate the time zone.

Create your #hashtag.

This is the fun (or frustrating) part! You can get creative here but make sure you keep it brief and clear. You want to communicate your topic in a way that gets people interested, but you also will need to use it in ALL of your tweets, and you only get 140 characters per tweet.

You can relate your hashtag to your industry or more specifically, brand it to your company or yourself. Don’t be afraid to ask friends, family, or coworkers what they think and bounce ideas off of them – that’s the best way to come up with something new and intriguing!

Once you’ve decided on a hashtag, you may want to register it on Twubs so that people can learn more about what it’s all about.

Promote it (duh).

This works the same as it would if you were promoting a sale, event, or even your other social accounts. Even though the chat will happen on Twitter, create graphics to promote it on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, or any other platforms you use. If you have an e-mail newsletter, don’t forget to promote it there, too!

Consider special guests.

You may want to bring in an additional host who is an expert on your topic on a given week. Not only does their participation widen your audience – since they’ll be promoting your chat on their own account – but it can also help to establish credibility for your business and/or chat. In general, it’s also a great way to collaborate with other influencers.

Encourage engagement.

Tweet Chats typically start off with introductions, which is the initial way to get your audience participating. Introduce yourself, your co-host (if you have one), and ask the participants to tweet their own “hello my name is” as well! Just like when you host a party in “real life,” you want to connect everyone and make them feel welcome.

As the Chat goes on, keep your audience in mind. If they seem more chatty about one question than another, move on and ask something related to what they’re chatting about. Share resources and ask them to do the same. Finally, don’t be afraid to ask them what they’d like to discuss! Whether it entails an immediate conversation flip or topic ideas for future chats, asking your audience not only gives you an idea of what they like but it also can eliminate some of your work load as well!

Have fun!

Sorry, that was cheesy. But really. Tweet Chats are super fun, fast-paced, and exciting.

 

Oh, and happy Valentine’s Day…I guess…

Engagement 105

Okay, so I may have fibbed a bit the last time I posted. I underestimated just how busy I would be with my recent move and didn’t quite make it to posting a Social Solutions post last week…sorry!

The good news is, my new apartment is finally in order, which means I can actually focus on writing! I promised a post on Twitter Chats, so here’s an FAQ:

First of all, what is a Twitter Chat?

Just as it sounds, a Twitter Chat is a live event on Twitter, usually hosted by one or two accounts. They’re typically scheduled at the same time every week and users can join the conversation by using the custom hashtag created for the chat. Most chats take a Q&A format, where the host(s) pose a question and their audience tweets their answers.

Also known as a Tweet Chat, it’s a great way to find users in your community and interact with them. This is because the conversations are moderated with a focus. For example, Everyday Health (@EverydayHealth) hosts the chat #HealthTalk (a broad topic) and sets a specific topic for users to discuss every week.

Where can I find a good Chat for my business?

Honestly, the simplest way is just to google “Twitter chat [insert business industry here]” or by noting if anyone in your industry is tweeting about a chat, but there are also legitimate resources you can use. Tweet Reports has a slew of chats archived that you can view by day and time, industry, hashtag,  or moderator. ChatSalad is also a great source for chat lists. I’ve also found a few goodies by searching topics on the BufferApp blog.

How do I participate?

Simply stated, tweet using the chat’s hashtag during the appropriate time (note which time zone the chat is in). You can follow the conversation by searching the hashtag in the Twitter search bar.

If you actually want to dig your nails into it, I’d suggest starting by following the moderators to show your support, if you don’t already. Make sure your tweets add value to the conversation and don’t hesitate to retweet/favorite/respond to others throughout the chat, even if they’re not the host.

This seems like a lot of work.

The rate at which chats happen can be hard to keep up with at times, so I’ve definitely found myself feeling stressed or overwhelmed, but in the best way. There are also some pretty cool tools out there that you can organize to help your focus during chats. Personally, TweetDeck is my favorite, but other scheduling tools like Hootsuite and BufferApp work as well.

Are there rules I should know about?

Technically, no. But like all corners of life and social media, there are practices that are considered to be faux pas on Twitter, like tweeting too many times within a short period of time. For this, many experts suggest tweeting a warning to your followers to let them know that you’re going to be posting a lot for the next hour or so. The BufferApp Blog has a great infographic with Twitter Chat tips, and frankly, I couldn’t say it better myself:

10-Tips-for-Twitter-Chats

What if I want to create my own Twitter Chat?

This is a great practice for any business! Like I said, it’s a great time to interact with your existing followers as well as reach out to new ones. My first suggestion would be to start by participating in a few chats before going off on your own, meanwhile thinking about topics you’d like to focus on. You’ll also want to begin brainstorming a creative hashtag for your chat as well.

Coming Soon: Starting Your Own Twitter Chat

 

 

 

Social Solution Saturday: Engagement 104

Alright y’all: Today, let’s keep this short ‘n’ sweet. I’ll go over Twitter Chats next week as well as a few other fun engagement tips but this week, let’s take a breather and focus on an obvious (but no less important) side of engagement: Responding!

I briefly mentioned a bit about responding to comments in Engagement 102 but I think it’s important to go a bit more in-depth. Conversations are critical for socialization and as I’ve said before, social media is social, even as a business.

This means that you need to do more than just talk at people. You need to not only listen but also respond. On a personal level, this doesn’t mean that you need to individually thank every single one of the 150 “friends” who wished you a happy birthday on your timeline. A simple “like” of acknowledgement should suffice or even a blanket-thank you status, if you’re really lazy. However, if you’re scrolling through your birthday wishes and you see that someone – maybe an aunt you haven’t seen in a while – has asked how you’re doing, what you’re up to, or who the girl in your profile picture is, you might want to actually respond. After all, it’d be rude to ignore that, right?

The same rule applies as a business. If you can keep that conversation going, do it. You never know what might come of it. Plus, it shows your customer that you care. As an added bonus, you may even gain some insight on your audience. I’d say that’s a win-win.

All that said, here are my rules of interacting:

Respond quickly, but be thorough.

This is where you may get annoyed with budgeting your time. Responding quickly (mostly in the case of a negative comment or review) looks really good to your audience. It shows that you’re listening and making an effort, without making them wait forever.

As a bonus, it also gives you a better chance to keep the conversation going! You know what this means? You’re furthering that relationship and opening up the doors to build more.

Please. Don’t be a robot.

I repeat: Social media is social! It’s conversational. You may be a business but you’re still a human, talking to other humans. So check your spelling and grammar but don’t forget who you’re talking to.

To aid this, use first names. Address your audience by their first name but also sign off (should you choose to) with yours as well.

Don’t be selfish; Everyone LOVES recognition.

Highlighting your own content is definitely important but sharing content from other outlets can be humbling.

When you post a link on Facebook to a major publication (especially if it’s trending), your post will likely get a greater reach.

Make sure you tag & credit the original account to sustain loyalty and build trust, whether you’re sharing a link from the New York Times or a local mommy blogger. Tagging a major publication or account will also help your post reach because it will likely be added to peoples’ news feeds who follow both you and that page.

If you come across another small business or a blogger, sharing their content will boost their exposure and they’ll likely notice it and appreciate it.

Guess what? It’ll encourage them to like/share your content as well!

You may even consider chatting with them about partnering up on social. It’s very “I’ll scratch your back if you scratch mine.”

So, what do you think? Social media can be a full-time job if you’re doing it right…are you up for the challenge?

 

 

 

 

Social Solution Saturday: Engagement 103

Engaging with your audience daily is important but if you’re looking for a boost, hosting a contest is a great way to spike your exposure and engagement, while simultaneously building your brand’s reputation.

How to create a successful contest:

Step 1: Pick your platform.

The beauty of hosting a contest online is that you can use nearly any platform; however, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter tend to be the best platforms to use. I recommend keeping it simple and only using one platform to host your contest. You can use multiple platforms to host your contest, but if you choose to do this, keep in mind that it will be more work and it will be more difficult to keep track of.

Step 2: Create the rules.

Once you’ve decided which platform you’d like to host your contest on, you will need to determine the rules. This is a critical second step because in order for you to effectively communicate the rules, you need to have a clear understanding and decision of them. Make sure you keep the rules simple. Very few people will want to read through several pages of rules, just to get a free t-shirt. Also note that you may need to look into certain legality measures; for example, if your audience is under the age of 18, you may need to specify that they have a parent or guardian present in order to enter.

How will they enter?

There are a few different ways an audience can enter a social media contest:

  • Sweepstakes:  Nothing is required
  • Connect: Like/follow your page
  • Like/share a piece of content: Either a specific post or anything
  • Vote: Also a great way for you to learn more about your market
  • Create: Have your followers upload their own content

Determine your timeline.

You will need to have a start and end date included in your contest rules, to alleviate any confusion there may be in that respect. If you’re having the contestants create something, you may also need to determine the date/time that you’re going to be judging the content. In your own records, you may also want to determine if you’d like to do the contest regularly (weekly/monthly) or seasonally.

Step 3: Decide on an incentive.

Let’s be honest: Humans are motivated by free. And if “free” is fun and easy to obtain, it’s even better. So what will your audience’s incentive be to participate in your contest? This may even help you to theme or name your contest, so putting just the right amount of thought into it is important. Here are a few tips:

  • Know what results you want: This will help you know how much you should spend on your incentive. If your goal is to go viral, you’ll need to offer more than a simple coupon.
  • Keep it targeted: If your market is high school athletes, they probably won’t be interested in a gift card to McDonald’s. Theoretically. Targeting your contest will also help to activate people who are interested in your company, not just “contest hunters.”
  • Tie it to the company: You want more than just page likes and clicks, right? You want followers who actually care about your brand, so make sure your company is on their radar.

Step 4: Name it.

For some people, this is the fun part. For me, it’s the most difficult – I can barely title a blog post, for Pete’s sake. But it’s a necessary evil: Having a catchy contest name will definitely help to increase submissions, so keep it short and relevant. You can also highlight your incentive or theme, if you’d like. After all, “Free iPad” definitely grabs peoples’ attention. If your contest name isn’t terribly long, you can also #hashtag it! Hashtags are a great tool, especially if you’re having participants submit their own content. You may also opt to have your followers hashtag your company name instead, to keep the conversation going once the contest is over.

Step 5: Plan your posts.

Since I’m all about using time wisely and efficiently, I’d recommend at least outlining your promotional posts along with when they should go live. If you dedicate an afternoon to planning out your contest, it will take you less time to write out all your posts while the idea is fresh in your head.

Pay close attention to how you word your list of contest rules – it may even help to have someone read over them before you post them – you want all participants to have a clear understanding. It would be a shame for someone to misunderstand, make an attempt at participating, and then have negative feelings about your brand, wouldn’t it?

You may also want to draft some ideas for graphics, especially if you choose to do an Instagram contest. Keep them simple: Adding your logo to an image that relates to your theme may not be the most creative graphic, but it’s definitely effective. Infographics depicting the rules are a great way to communicate them because they’re easy to read.

Finally, if you have an advertising budget, you should consider allocating some of that to promoting your contest. This will help to amplify your post reach, especially on Facebook. Then decide how you’d like to advertise and design it!

Theme ideas:

Your goals (or the season) may help you to decide on a theme for your contest. You can be as simple or as creative with your theme as you’d like.

  • Celebrate! If there’s a holiday or anniversary coming up, use that to your advantage.
  • Q & A: This is great on Twitter. Ask a question and offer your incentive to the person who answers correctly, quickest.
  • Caption It! Personally, I love these. Post a funny photo and have your followers comment with what they think the caption should say. You may want to decide how you’ll judge this before moving forward, as it is definitely more subjective.
  • Create something: Whether they post a photo of a design they drew on a cup (see Starbucks…) or they post a photo or video with their bestie, having your followers compete with their creativity is a great way to increase your brand’s exposure. Come up with a fun hashtag and have participants tag you in the photo to enter, so that you don’t miss a post! Just make sure you’re not asking for something super extensive. Keep it simple and you’ll get better responses!
  • Vote: Consumers love giving their opinion and offering an incentive for filling out a short survey is a win-win for you. You get to learn more about your market while also increasing your post reach and engagement. You can ask for input on your products, services, or even what they’d like to see offered in the future. Keep your survey simple: The less effort that needs to go into the survey, the more responses you’ll get, and offer coupons to participants as a thank you.

What am I missing?

Have you hosted a super awesome social media contest? I’d love to hear about it! And if you have contest tips that aren’t in this post, you should definitely let me know. Just shoot me an e-mail at mariercarlson.gmail.com and let’s chat!

Check out the links below for more tips to make your contest super successful.