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How a Pinterest Board Gained Popularity After I Stopped Pinning

November 19, 2012

@dshiao's MLB 2012 pin board on Pinterest

Read my prior post: 5 Things I’ve Learned About Pinterest

Introduction

At the start of the baseball season, I created a MLB 2012 pin board on Pinterest. Throughout the season, I’d pin images (mostly of players) as I read articles about the teams I follow.

I’d see a modest amount of Likes and Repins. I’d get more activity around popular or “interesting” players – injured closer Brian Wilson (of the San Francisco Giants) fitting into the latter category.

As the regular season drew to a close, my activity on Pinterest waned. My last pin was on September 30, 2012, before the start of the post-season. Throughout the playoffs, I’d continue to see modest amounts of activity on my board. And then the San Francisco Giants won the World Series.

Current Events Drive Interest in Pins and Boards

Once the Giants won the World Series, activity on Giants-related pins increased

While I’m a diehard New York Yankees fan, I reside in the Bay Area. And that means that I follow the local teams, the Giants and the A’s. Not surprisingly, you’ll find lots of Yankees, Giants and A’s in my MLB board.

The Email Settings menu in Pinterest

My Pinterest account is configured to send me email notifications for activity on my boards. And let me tell you, ever since the World Series ended, I’ve been receiving a daily stream of emails. Users are finding images I pinned (of Giants players) and they’re Liking and Repinning quite a lot.

Of course, shortly after the World Series comes the post-season awards (e.g. Cy Young, MVP, etc.). So it’s not a coincidence to see activity (on my Board) related to the award winners: Mike Trout and Bryce Harper (rookies of the year) and Buster Posey (NL MVP):

Activity for pins on Bryce Harper, Buster Posey and Mike Trout

What Makes Pinterest Unique

I found the result counter-intuitive: that activity would pick up on a social network after I ceased my own activity on it. That would not happen on Twitter, Facebook or Google+. And that’s what makes Pinterest unique. Let’s consider the reasons.

It’s Both Timeless and Timely.

I’ve written before about how Twitter rules the roost on the real-time web. Real-time content, however, is “forgotten” a minute, hour or day later. On Twitter, it’s quite rare to receive a retweet on content tweeted a few days (or weeks) prior. On Pinterest, as you’ve seen with my MLB board, the activity continues to occur on images I pinned weeks (and months) earlier.

And while the unit of content (an image) is timeless, interest around that content can be tied to timeliness (e.g. the Giants winning the World Series). So as far as content sharing goes, you have content that “lives longer” than real-time content – and, can spur activity around events happening in real-time.

It Drives a Different Consumption Model.

Twitter (and Facebook, too) is all about the “scan.” I have hundreds (or thousands) of items in my feed and I quickly scan for items of interest, not paying particular attention to any one item. Pinterest also drives “scans” (of images), but because of the timeless aspect, there’s more browsing than scanning.

On Twitter, the half-life of content is short: current events, sports scores and the like, and that adds to the “quick scan” consumption model. On Pinterest, users are more apt to browse, discover and take their time.

Its Attribution Model Facilitates Curation

Let’s compare the retweet to the repin. Here’s how a retweet (that I performed) appears in my profile:

How a retweet appears in the user's Twitter profile

You’ll notice that the original tweet is preserved, including the “author” of the original tweet (@AllthingsIC). Now, let’s consider a repin. I originally pinned this image of Brandon Crawford and here’s how the repin appears on another user’s board:

How a re-pinned pin appears in the user's board

You’ll see that my original caption (about Brandon Crawford) is preserved (although users have the option to change it when repinning), but notice that, unlike in a retweet, my identity (as the original author) is not listed. You have to click on the pin to see the attribution:

The original pinner has attribution listed on the pin detail page

This attribution model facilitates curation because it leaves a “cleaner” board, while providing proper attribution one level deep.

For Marketers, It’s The Gift That Keeps Giving.

My MLB 2012 board has taught me that on Pinterest, content can have nine lives. Online marketers using Facebook and Twitter should consider a Pinterest strategy. Pinterest can create an annuity around your content: an investment that continues to pay out over time.

And here’s the kicker: you pin content from pages, which means that users who find your pins have the option of clicking through to the page (on which the image is found). What does that mean for online marketers? The ability to drive page views – and even product sales, for online merchants.

Conclusion

Let’s recap. Pinterest is an entirely unique social network. It all starts with a timeless “sharing unit” (an image), which can gain popularity around current events. The consumption and attribution models help to drive sharing (via curation). And users (i.e. pinners), can receive ongoing returns for activity they generated months (or even years) prior.

Note: I invite you to connect with me on .


The Cost of Convenience on Social Networks

October 11, 2012

Introduction

Technology can do great things. It can save you time and save you money. With social media, it can connect you (via the device in your pocket) to people around the world – people you otherwise would never have “met.” But is there a drawback or cost to the convenience that technology provides?

An Example: The GPS

Consider the GPS (Global Positioning System). When I purchased my first GPS unit in 2005, I thought it was the world’s finest invention. Whether I was driving near home or in a remote town, I could plug in a street address and this magical device would take me there, turn by turn.

When I moved to the West Coast a few years later, my handy GPS helped me get around my new surroundings, from the department store to the movie theater to my new favorite restaurants. But now that I’ve been out West for five years, I’m finding a “cost” for the GPS that goes beyond the retail cost.

The “cost” was a dependence on this technological marvel, which meant that I didn’t truly know my own surroundings. Instead, I’d have the radio on, take the turns that the GPS called out, but not pay attention to the route I was taking (and, as a side note, I’ve since switched from a GPS device to the excellent Waze app on my iPhone).

Now, if I’m driving locally to a place I’ve never been before, I’ll plug the destination address into Google Maps and review the route. Then, I’ll drive to my destination without any technological guidance. And I find that curbing my dependence on the GPS has helped me better learn the local roads and routes. And not to worry, Waze – you’ll still come along for the ride when I go out of town.

Now, let’s consider the cost of convenience on social networks.

Liking a Comment on Facebook.

In 2010, Facebook rolled out the “Like” button on Comments. At first, I found this a bit curious: you have a button to “Like” the original post and now, Facebook is allowing you to “Like” interactions beneath that post. As I started using it, however, I discovered its elegance: you (the poster) could acknowledge interesting or witty comments with the click of a mouse.

The person whose Comment you Liked would see your action and perhaps they’d become more inclined to comment on your subsequent posts. There have been occasions where I ponder how to respond to a comment I’ve received. If it was a witty comment, I feel the need to return the favor with something equally witty. I’ll occasionally get “stuck,” and not know what to say. So instead I simply click “Like” (on the comment) and I’m done.

So what’s the cost? More substantial and meaningful interactions between you and the commenter.

Twitter’s Retweet Button.

In 2009, Twitter rolled out the retweet button (and function). The retweet (or, “RT” for short) was a capability conceived by Twitter’s users. And prior to the retweet button (or, the equivalent function in Twitter clients), users had to manually compose retweet’s by copying the tweet content, then sticking a “RT @USER” in front of the tweet.

The retweet function made it super convenient. With two clicks of the mouse (the first to retweet, the second to confirm it), you just published a tweet, while promoting the original tweet content. Because the retweet preserves 100% of the original tweet, the cost of this convenience is an absence of commentary (from you).

When I want to add my own thoughts (e.g. “Great post” or “Excellent points”) on a retweet, I’ll manually compose it (with a copy/paste of the original tweet), then change the “RT” to “MT” (for “Modified Tweet”). This makes the process less convenient, but I find the additional commentary worth it (and I bet the original tweeter may as well).

Location-based Checkins.

Location-based check-ins began on services like Foursquare. Their purpose was to alert friends (on the service) of your location. Perhaps you’re at Happy Hour and you see that some friends just checked in from the watering hole down the street. So you go there to find them.

So that was the original point – and a fine point it was. Soon, services such as Foursquare enabled you to broadcast your check-in to your social media accounts. And our tweet stream started to get filled up with tweets, like those shown above.

So the cost of the check-in convenience is a proliferation of rather trivial tweets. If I’m following you on Foursquare, then yes, a check-in is meaningful. However, if I’m following you on Twitter (only), your location at this particular point in time isn’t meaningful.

Facebook Check-ins

Similarly, Facebook has a check-in feature that enables you to list your location, along with tagging Facebook friends that you happen to be with. For friends and family on Facebook, I am, in fact, more interested in where you happen to be.

But, the convenience of the check-in means that more significant and meaningful descriptions (of  your location) go by the wayside. For instance, compare these two Facebook posts:

And here’s the more convenient one:

“Climbing to the peak – at Mount Everest”

Photo Uploads.

Don’t get me wrong: photos are great and pictures are, in fact, worth 1,000 words (or more). Sometimes, however, the convenience of uploading 50 pictures (to an album on Facebook) gives you the “excuse” that the pictures can tell the story (on their own). If a picture is worth 1,000 words, couldn’t you at least tag each one with 140 characters?

Conclusion

On the social web, we’re able to make connections and have interactions with people from across the globe. For me, that makes old fashioned, face-to-face interactions all the more meaningful. Similarly, the ease with which we can post, share, re-post and re-share on social networks means that we miss out on more meaningful dialog and interactions. This “cost tradeoff” is something to keep in mind as social networks continue to grow and evolve.

Note: I invite you to connect with me on .


5 Things I’ve Learned About Pinterest

March 5, 2012

Check out my Pinterest Boards: http://pinterest.com/dshiao/

Introduction

Pinterest, an online pinboarding site, has gotten a fair share of press lately. In fact, TechCrunch shared exclusive data from comScore indicating that Pinterest hit the “10 million mark faster than any other standalone site in history.” Wow.

I’ve recently joined Pinterest, maintaining pin boards on Major League Baseball and social media, among other things. Based on my experience to date on the service, I thought I’d share five things I’ve learned about Pinterest.

1) Sharing Begets More Sharing.

I currently have 143 pins across 5 boards. Across those 143 pins, only 8 have received interactions, in the form of Likes, Comments or Repins. In some cases, those interactions were quite “strong” – a pin on Jeremy Lin received 24 Repins and 4 Likes. That being said, those 8 pins represent 5% of my total pins. This tells me that, while folks may visit and peruse my boards, the interactions stem from users seeing the pins on other users’ boards.

A few users Like and Repin a given pin, which then “promotes” that pin to their followers, who in turn share it with their followers. It’s not surprising, then, that a few pins receive the most attention and interaction.

Side note: it’s been reported that 80+% of Pinterest users are women. And it seems that the pins attracting interaction on my MLB Board (from women) are those of up and coming players, such as Mason Williams of the Yankees and Wes Timmons of the A’s.

2) Spend a Lazy Weekend Afternoon Shopping (Online).

Pinterest detects when you type a price into the description of a pin (e.g. “$100”) and overlays a price tag on top of the pin image (for example, this $5 Disney product). They then provide a “Gifts” option in the main navigation. When you click on “Gifts,” you’re able to select a price range (for instance, this $1-$20 set of gifts).

This is a neat way to browse through assorted shopping items curated by the Pinterest community. Beware, though. Another thing I learned is that Pinterest is inserting affiliate links in pins, which means that they may be earning money on the pins that you post.

3) The “Pin It” Button Makes All the Difference.

If you’re getting started, be sure to add the “Pin It” Button to your browser’s bookmarks bar. It made all the difference for me. When I first started, I’d find an interesting image, copy the URL, go to my Pinterest page, click “Add,” and paste the URL. Then, I’d have to click through the images that Pinterest found and select the one I wanted to use.

Now, I simply click the “Pin It” Button from the current page and it overlays all the images on top of the page (including the dimensions of each image). I click on the image I want, select my Board, then write the description. I’m done. And it’s made a huge difference.

4) Categories Are Selected by the Pinner.

When creating a new Board, Pinterest asks you to select the category (e.g. Art, Sports, Technology, etc.). Pinterest then allows you to browse by category, both on its web site and in its mobile app. While users have been pretty good about matching their pins to the corresponding Board’s category, it does mean that occasionally you’ll see an image that has nothing to do with its assigned category.

5) Boards of the Rich and Famous.

From the Pinterest site, you can select “About” -> “Team” and view the “Team” page: http://pinterest.com/about/team/. On this page, you’ll see photos of (presumably) the entire Pinterest team. And with a nice touch, they list an assortment of their pins and link to their Pinterest page (see this page for team member Ryan P). I’d like to see companies do this more often: let us get to know the team and let the team show the world how they’re using the product.

Conclusion

It’s been fun being a part of the Pinterest community. I’ll be interested to watch the assorted use cases that arise. We’ve already heard about it being used for planning weddings and sharing information at events. And oh, speaking of weddings, I have an anniversary coming up soon, so I’m headed to Pinterest to … do some shopping!

Related: 5 Things Virtual Event Platforms Can Learn From Pinterest

Note: I invite you to connect with me on .


The Virtual Book Tour

January 21, 2011

Introduction

I recently read the excellent book “The On-Demand Brand: 10 Rules for Digital Marketing Success in an Anytime, Everywhere World,” by Rick Mathieson. In addition, I published my own book, “Generate Sales Leads With Virtual Events”.

To uphold the “on-demand brand” of the new book, I’ve decided to forego the traditional book tour. Instead, I’ll embark on a virtual book tour.  I consider the virtual book tour a “virtual event”, which is what my book is about, after all.

Virtual Book Tour

OK, so it’s not even a full blown virtual tour, I admit. That may come, some day.  In the meantime, I will be handing out 5 free copies of the book.  Here’s how you can grab a copy:

  1. Visit the book’s Facebook page.
  2. “Like” the book’s Facebook page. If you’ve previously “Liked” the page, I thank you for that – as a special reward, skip to step #3.
  3. Post a “valid question” about the book to the Facebook page’s Wall.

“Valid questions” must show that you’ve read the description of the book – and, understand the premise. I promise to answer all questions deemed valid.

How to get your copy

The first 5 people to complete the three steps (above) will receive a free copy of the book, which includes free shipping to the address of your choosing.

Unfortunately, I need to restrict the free shipping offer to continental U.S.  only – I’ll contact you to arrange shipping if you’re a winner who resides outside of the U.S.


Virtual Events And Facebook

May 20, 2010

With 400 million active users worldwide (and counting), Facebook is enormous – in fact, Facebook recently surpassed Google as the #1 web site in the U.S. (as measured by visits).

While recent announcements have stirred up privacy concerns and caused some users to delete their accounts, Facebook continues to generate millions of new sign-ups per day.  All of us know friends, family and colleagues who use the site on a daily (or hourly) basis.

Let’s consider avenues for virtual event planners to tap into the power that Facebook can provide.

Integration 0.1: Share on Facebook

More than half of my Facebook friends (54%) are work-related acquaintances – current colleagues, current business partners, former colleagues and former business partners.  The balance (46%) are friends and family.  I’m by no means the “average” Facebook user.  I believe the typical user tends towards a 65%/35% split between family/friends and work – and, uses Facebook for a family and friend focus rather than work.

That being said, it’s clear to me that Facebook users “friend” their work contacts – and I believe that over time, a growing percentage of your Facebook friends will be work-related contacts, as our personal and work lives blend and mix online.

What does this mean for virtual events?  With a B2B focus (today), this means that a “viable” audience exists (on Facebook) for you to share the virtual events that you’re attending.  Virtual event platforms should make it easy to “share the event” on Facebook, in the same way that users share a web site’s movie review, restaurant listing or product listing.

To make virtual event sharing effective, the “shared items” should include:

  1. A simple and easy to understand title (Facebook grabs the “page title” from the virtual event page you’re sharing)
  2. A suitably sized image (on Facebook, the “sharer” can choose among the images listed on the shared page)
  3. A hyperlink for interested users

If done right, 20 attendees might share your virtual event with their 200 Facebook friends – and you’ve just allowed your audience to promote your event (on your behalf) to 4,000 potential attendees (who otherwise would not have known about your event).

Integration 1.0: Live Stream Box

CBSSports.com used it for live streaming of NCAA March Madness – so did CNN.com for the live stream of President Obama’s inauguration.  As the name implies, Facebook’s Live Stream Box is useful for the “streaming” of “live” events or occasions.  The stream box provides an “Everyone Watching” tab – to submit a comment to that tab, users must authenticate to Facebook.  Even if you don’t have a Facebook account, you’ll still be able to view the running commentary from “Everyone Watching”.

Comments posted to the “Everyone Watching” tab (in the virtual event) also appear on the submitting user’s Facebook Wall.  Thus, participation in a Live Stream Box helps promote the virtual event – users’ comments appear in the News Feed of their Facebook friends, which generates awareness of the virtual event.

Facebook members have the added benefit of a “Friends” tab, which allows users to view their Facebook News Feed, right there from the stream box.  In a virtual event, the Live Stream Box can be placed in the Auditorium (where live sessions are broadcast), the Lounge (where visitors drop by to engage with one another) or Exhibitor Booths (where booth visitors can engage with the Exhibitor – and, one another).

Integration 2.0: Open Graph

“Share on Facebook” goes in one direction (the sharer -> her friends); “Live Stream Box” combines multi-directional interaction with a corresponding one-way share.  Facebook’s Open Graph API, announced in April 2010 at Facebook’s F8 Developer Conference, takes things to the next level.

Now, users can go beyond sharing “the event” and be much more granular in what they “like” (recommend/share) in a virtual event.  I may “like” a session, a virtual booth, a document, or even another user.  And with the Open Graph, I need not share each and every “like”, posting it to my Facebook Wall.  Instead, the “likes” can be aggregated (e.g. by the virtual event platform).

Now, when I login to the virtual event, I may choose to view the activities (and likes) of Facebook friends who opted in to the sharing service.  When I’m making a purchasing decision on a complex product or service, I can poll my Facebook friends to see who’s in the same boat.  If a former colleague attended a virtual trade show in the morning, I may login during the afternoon to view the sessions and exhibitor booths that she “liked”.

Taken at a more granular level, I may choose to see the specific product collateral that she “liked” in the virtual event, or seek out the exhibitor representative that she chatted with and “liked”.  By leaning on those whom I trust, my journey through a virtual trade show just got more productive.

Conclusion

Facebook and its 400+ million users cannot be ignored.  There will be more and more business decisions guided (and made) on Facebook – it can be a great place to “share” your virtual event, both the event as a whole and individual elements within it.

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