written by Tony Mamone
ADOTAS – Every morning, our style editors comb through their favorite fashion blogger’s Tumblr sites, while our marketing team pores over Pinterest at work and on their own time. Seeing this, I challenged our marketing department to brainstorm how we could engage as a brand, and we’ve since become prolific pinners, held a productive Pinterest Fashion Week Contest, were cited as a brand to follow on Pinterest, and have seen a substantial rise in traffic from these sources to our own sites. From Pinterest alone, we have seen an 819 percent increase in monthly referrals in the last six months. While Facebook still drives the most traffic to the majority of sites, brands would be ill-advised to ignore these exciting new social platforms.
There is little question that Pinterest and Tumblr are today’s hottest social platforms. After Etsy announced that Pinterest was their number-one traffic driver and comScore shared that Tumblr’s 15.9 million visitors were spending, on average, 141.7 minutes a month on their countless blogs, marketing VPs everywhere took notice. As companies have subsequently developed presences across these platforms, there have been exceptional examples of engagement and marketing efforts. Here, we bring you several — from a fashion brand to an online publisher and a even a print powerhouse founded in 1922 — all going to show that social platforms are for everyone.
Kate Spade New York – Inspire & Engage
Kate Spade has been recognized across the industry for its exemplary social strategy. While accepting the award for the “Top Innovator” category at the Fashion 2.0 awards, Johanna Murphy, vice president of eCommerce, underscored Kate Spade’s approach of including non-company imagery on their social media channels. “It’s really an extension of our brand personality and our brand voice,” she said. Remember those 12 very important words, and act on them.
Murphy added: “But… social media today is connected, and people talk to each other. If you’re going to participate in that forum, that’s the context. They expect you to talk to them and they expect you to listen them, too.” This is not a novel idea. You can find it in every social media hygiene guide. The nuance, however, is that brands need to remember it becomes even more important on platforms like Pinterest where there are so few comments, making responses from companies drastically more important.
• On social platforms like Pinterest and Tumblr, your readers come to expect more than just your product. Share things that inspire your brand, whatever your team gets excited about, and give readers a behind the scenes peek into your company. They’ll love you for it.
• Respond. If someone makes a comment or asks a question about an image, make sure there is someone tasked to respond.
StyleBistro — A Little Friendly Competition
StyleBistro, a fashion and beauty site, as well as many other brands, has used Pinterest to run contests. In StyleBistro’s case, participants were directed to pin their favorite 20-plus images from the company’s Fall 2012 Fashion Week albums. With over 33,000 images to choose from, participants were able to deeply engage with a wealth of photography the company aimed to promote. With multiple chances to win beauty items hand- picked by StyleBistro’s editors, engagement was high and thousands of new pieces of content were introduced into the Pinterest ecosystem. Since 80 percent of pins are re-pins, the content has a much longer lifespan than if it was living solely on the brand’s site.
• Determine how social platforms can be used to create fun engagement opportunities with your content while also practicing normal usage of the medium.
• Connect with and observe companies that have successfully run contests and learn best practices. Remember, this is new for everyone — sometimes you have to just try things.
Better Homes and Gardens – Appropriate Content
According to comScore, in Feburary 2012, 63 percent of Pinterest’s U.S. users are women. Better Homes and Garden’s customer is also predominantly female. With a brand-focused content strategy, BH&G is at an advantage, since the brand’s highly visual content is perfectly suited for Pinterest.
Meredith, the publisher of BH&G, has disclosed that 40 to 50 percent of its digital users are new not only to BH&G, but to Meredith as a whole. By actively utilizing platforms such as Pinterest and Tumblr, they are providing another vehicle with which to communicate with readers, but they are also inviting a large new group of individuals – and hopefully customers – to engage with their brand.
• Discover the platform where your customers are engaging. Pinterest skews heavily female, while Tumblr is almost evenly split.
• If your content is ideal for a specific platform, embrace it. It’s more than likely you’ll gain a new audience that’s unreachable via your current outreach efforts.
Oscar PR Girl and Nina Garcia — Go Big
For some brands, it’s become all about personalizing social media. And oftentimes, that means one person is in charge. Nina Garcia, the current fashion director at Marie Claire Magazine and judge on the Lifetime reality program Project Runway, manages her own social media platforms. Erika Bearman tweets, blogs and Pins under the pseudonym Oscar PR Girl and is, in fact, the director of communications for Oscar de la Renta. Perhaps learning from Steve Jobs, who maintained company personality by responding to emails himself, these two brands understand that assigning your company’s voice to a young intern because they “get” Twitter is not necessarily a wise idea. After all, you wouldn’t let your summer intern design an ad campaign, right?
For those hesitant about dedicating such valuable resources to efforts with a not-so transparent ROI, take note of Bearman’s comments to the Wall Street Journal: “(They are) going to happen anyway and I think I’d rather be part of the discussion.” The public is going to discuss, analyze and pick apart everything your brand does — and much of their conversation takes place on social platforms. A senior-level individual will be well-equipped to jump in with messages that are on-brand while still retaining the human voice that is often lost with canned responses. Allowing your brand’s voice to shine makes you more accessible – for proof, just refer to Oscar de la Renta – whose merchandise ranges from a $570 blouse to a $20,000 hand embroidered gown.
• Ensure that those tasked with communications for your company, regardless of the platform, are qualified to speak for you.
• While the focus should be the brand message, allowing your ambassador’s personality to shine through makes your company appear more accessible — particularly important if you are a luxury brand.
Christine Martinez — Miles of Style — Thoughtful Captions
Part of the beauty of Tumblr and Pinterest is how easy it is to share content you find and love. When you do this, the formerly assigned caption travels with the image unless you edit it. Christine Martinez, one of the 10 most-followed people on Pinterest and a lifestyle blogger at MilesToStyle.com, teaches a class about brands using Pinterest as a marketing tool. She stresses the importance of search-friendly captions and notes that in order for your content to surface in searches, the title and topic of the board you pin it to are important, but even more critical is the caption you choose to include. Additionally, double-check that your profile description, which now appears front and center, is not only search-friendly, but fun and engaging too!
Visually, the square thumbnail of your profile image is placed beneath each item you pin, making your brand immediately associated with the image as well as the caption. This realization even further illustrates the importance of accurately representing your brand’s voice on social media platforms.
• Write search-friendly captions for your pins, particularly when it is your product.
• Compose your captions in a voice consistent with your brand.
Barney’s — Using the Whole Toolbox
Pinterest offers many features, many of which are overlooked by brands. One of these is the ability to share pins on other social networks. Here we see Barney’s of New York, a high-end department store, using this feature to share a pin on their Facebook page. Barney’s does an excellent job of utilizing the platform’s features. This tactic allows Barneys to cross-promote across their various social platforms. Instead of having an outright “Please follow us on Pinterest” status update, the brand exposes its fans to another place where they can learn more.
• Utilize the ability to share content across platforms.
• As features are added, consider how you can use them to your best advantage.
Whether you are jumping into these new social platforms with two feet or just beginning to dip your toes in the water, there is no question that given the impact of Pinterest and Tumblr, responsible brands will have to evaluate how they can participate. As you plan or assess your strategy, use the lessons demonstrated by the companies above, namely:
• Behind the Scenes: Give your customers a peek into what inspires you, what influences your brand, and your company culture. Extend your focus beyond your own content or product.
• Time to Bond — Consumers expect to be able to interact with your brand on these platforms. Make sure someone with the appropriate brand voice and license to speak for the company is tasked to respond and engage.
• Low-Hanging Fruit – Engage on those platforms whose demographics match your brand’s first.
• Fun Times — Develop fun promotions, contests and activities for your customers on both Tumblr and Pinterest. The opportunities are vast.
• Be Human – While it is important to maintain your brand’s voice, allow the personality of those managing your platforms to shine through. Customers will find it endearing.
• Minding Your SEO – Keep in mind that search engines look at your captions, profile text and board descriptions. Using keywords that people search for will help your material to surface.
• Be Thoughtful — Look at your profile images and make sure that they are optimized for the different formats each platform requires.
• Taking Advantage – Check out all of the features on any platform you engage on and determine how each can be used to extend your story and brand!