Monday, April 16, 2012

New Media: Pinterest - Social Media Platform

What is Pinterest?

Pinterest is a new online media platform used mostly among women. Just recently only becoming popular about two years ago, Pinterest is, according to their website,  “a virtual pinboard. Pinterest lets you organize and share the beautiful things you find on the web. People use pinboards to plan their weddings, decorate their homes, and organize their favorite recipes.” It is a new and free way to share and store your ideas with other people online without suffocating your computer with a library of photos. You can pin photos of anything you’d like found on any website with photos. Obviously, you want to make sure you pin appropriate photos since these will be public. Similarly to Twitter, you can “follow” and can be inspired by friends, family or strangers. Other people who “follow” you, may see what you pin on your board. They can comment on or like the photos, or repin it onto their boards. Each pin will also have a direct link to the product or idea found by the original pinner. It is very much like a Tumblr, but based only on photos – no blogging and organization is much easier. It is a simple idea, posting small images and eventually building a collection of photos to define a board - and yet has become very popular and can be an addicting way to kill time. Pinterest, while simple, is also very easy and friendly to navigate through. There are very limited navigation buttons to click on, which makes it very user friendly. There are many other sites similar to Pinterest, such as Wanelo, but Pinterest has prevailed because it is an interactive website and anyone can pin their special photos.
            Anyone can join Pinterest and they only require that you log in with a Facebook account. Then once you are a member, it syncs and lists all the friends you have on Facebook that have Pinterest and allows you to follow or unfollow these friends. This way you can continue to stay connected with friends online in other places other than Facebook. On Pinterest’s Home page, one can begin to pin their favorite things that they like. On their Account page, they can organize and name folders, or pinboards. This way, they can pin their photos onto the correct board. Pinboards can be named by one’s heart consent: “My Style”, “My Wedding”, “DIY”, etc. Because Pinterest has their users log in with their Facebook account, everything syncs and when a photo is pinned, liked or comment, it usually shows up on the person’s Facebook. Pinterest was smart to use the piggyback method to gain recognition and trust, especially because one can go back and forth from Pinterest and Facebook.
The reason why there are more women members than there are men members is because Pinterest first targeted women as their audience.  Most pins are of women’s interest such as wedding ideas, do-it-yourself crafts, fashion styles and/or trends, décor, etc. There are, of course, photos catered to men as well, but these photos will only build if men begin to pin these to their boards. Most men who do use Pinterest pin photos of cars, women and work-out ideas. While most women can repin work-out photos, most men would not repin wedding ideas or do-it-yourself craft photos. Therefore, it is much easier to target women who have a lot of interests.
Advertising on Pinterest
Most photos are repined for their great ideas, visual aesthetics, colors, and quality. Most photos without these qualities will fail and will not get that many repins, therefore it does not get circulated. Circulation is the most important aspect of Pinterest. Small and large companies are adopting Pinterest as their new advertising platform. They can pin photos of their product on Pinterest and others can comment, repin and like these photos. Eventually these photos circulate and begin to advertise on their own. Forever 21, a retailer that offers the most current fashions for women and men, have their own Pinterest. They recently started pinning their seasonal and popular apparel on their account and can link their Facebook and Twitter to their Pinterest account. This way, within a quick glance and scroll, their followers can see what is trending on Pinterest and can click on the photo which would immediately send you to their website, ready for you to add the product to your cart.
Other Effective Ways to Advertise Thru Pinterest
Although this is a very effective way of using Pinterest to advertise their products, Pinterest can be used for much more than that. Of course, it is easy and popular for a business to post pins for the products they sell. But eventually that will get old and all their boards will just be of their products. New ways that advertiser can take advantage of Pinterest is by posting interesting news tidbits, tips and products from other companies. This way, their account is more versatile and will not overwhelm their followers with blunt advertising. Plus, businesses can eventually build relationships with their consumers with these tidbits and tips.
Building relationships with the brand is a more successful way to get consumers to purchase their products. As soon as the brand is little more personable, people will be more interested. As the brand become more popular, more and more people will want to support it. For most small companies, raising awareness is one of the biggest goals. Pinterest is very similar to Twitter in the sense that when a person follows a popular figure, and that popular figure follows that person back, other Twitter users get the message and follow the leader and eventually the amount of followers build. As an advertiser, it is important to find out who is “pinning” your products and to follow them to establish a relationship with your followers.
After you have built these relationships with consumers, they will keep coming back. Another way advertisers can use Pinterest to their advantage is by posting photos or designs of eye-catching coupons or promotions. Because people receive so much email these days, email blasts from businesses tend to be looked over and sometimes are never opened. Sometimes they even get sent to the spam folder. On Pinterest, advertisers can create a sort of flyer, and pinners can repin the sale. This way, it can get circulated, and even if it does not get repined, a friend following a friend who repined it, will still see it. Take Forever 21 for example. Say they have a sale, “20% off $75 Purchases!”  All it takes is for one friend to see this, and once they repin it, it will be on their friends newsfeed on Facebook and Pinterest. And even if their friends do not repin it, they would see the pin. Very effective.
Success Story
Just from personal experience, I often find myself on Pinterest. Usually it is to kill time, but sometime it is to find new inspiration in décor and design. A few months ago, I came across a piece of apparel that caught my eye. Since I did not want to lose the photo through all the other pins, I repined it to my own board, “My Style”, I clicked on the image and found myself on a site I am surprised I have never come across before. I found myself clicking through the different apparels and signing up for their email list. I eventually ordered from this online apparel website and got my friends hooked, since they have great deals on designer apparel. Needless to say, I probably would not have stumbled upon this website on my own if it weren’t for Pinterest and the people I follow on Pinterest.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Development of New Facebook Ad Format

Currently, Facebook is allowing existing small and large companies and brands to create advertisements and share them with their targeted audience to gain awareness and build relationships. Facebook allows companies to do this by creating a small section off to the right of their website for these advertisements and sponsors so that each time a person maneuvers around their website a new advertisement will pop up catering to each persons preferences. Companies realize this is one of the best strategies and formats to use to advertise and take advantage of this cost-efficient and productive way to advertise.

            A company that I am currently working for recently decided to take advantage of Facebook’s advertising media. Surprisingly, we came up with really great results. First we had to establish what it was about our company that we want to advertise. We decided that if after this experiment our “LIKES” went up by at least 5%, we would continue to use Facebook’s advertising platform and use it to publicize other parts of our company. For now, we just wanted to bring awareness about the general information about our company. So, while we were developing our ad, we had to come up with a statement for the body context.

FB has made it convenient by adding an example of the advertisement down below. Once an image is uploaded, Facebook shows the full version of the ad. After the design is complete, the next part of the creating the ad campaign is to determine the target audience. As you go through the categories to pick and choose from, the right panel to the side shows how many people the advertisement could potentially reach. Our ad could potentially reach 103, 794,060 users:
·      Who live in the United States
·      Age 18 and older
·      In one of the categories. Dancing, Education/Teaching, Health & Wellbeing, Hip Hop/Rap, Jazz/Blues, Children’s Music, Country, Dance/Electronic, Pop, R&B/Soul, Reggae, Rock or Mobile (All)

After selecting the specific population we wanted to reach, we had to determine the budget and also the scheduling of the advertisement. For our company, we decided to set a budget of $100 per day. And we would have to pay $0.82 per click. This meant that for each day that we ran our ad, we are paying for each person to click on our ad. Once the ad has been clicked for $100 worth, the ad stops running on Facebook and does not continue to run til the next day at 12:01am. Please note that we may not have to spend $100 per day if we do not get enough clicks. We could potentially only have $55 worth of clicks, which would equivalent to about 62 clicks. We agreed that because we are such a small company, and are a little hesitant about trying this advertising media, if we hit that budget a day then we will have a bigger budget for next time.

Once everything was established, we had to input our credit card information and an email was sent to the administrators of the fan page about how to manage our ads. Upon clicking on the link to managing our ad, these were the charts and diagrams that were given to our company as a way to track our clicks and how many people liked our page after they had clicked on our ad. 

For the next few hours we began to track our clicks and realized that a good portion of people, more than expected, did click on our ad. We were able to see how many people saw our ad; how many people clicked on our ad; how many people “LIKE” our company after being led to our page by the ad; how many people who saw that their friend liked our company; and also how much we’ve spent from our budget.

Honestly, we did not expect more than 100 people to click on our ad and we really did not expect more than 5 people to “LIKE” our page after click on our ad. The next day, we found that:
  • the campaign had reached 520, 417 people
  • we gained 19 “LIKES” after people being exposed to our ad
  • 193 people actually CLICKED on our ad 
  • and we had spent $149 total ($49 on the first day and $100 on the second day)  

Obviously, we were more than happy with the results and realize if we had a bigger budget and ran our ads for a lot longer, we could potentially bring more awareness to our fan page. Another thing worthy to note is that our sales from our actual website also went up. Not by much but we did get more orders than usual.

Just by one day’s worth, our company could tell that the strength of Facebook advertising as a platform is more than worth it. It clearly is a way to bring awareness to any small or large company and reaches a huge amount of demography. Because Facebook has access to so much of the consumer’s personal information, we have to take advantage of it. There is not anywhere else that allows businesses and brands the opportunity to advertise a short amount of information for such a small amount of money. Our budget in comparison to other companies and brands was a measly hundred dollars. Bigger companies who had the budget to spend thousands of dollars must get bigger and better results. Allowing companies to be in control of their own target audience, budget and scheduling is a huge strength on its own. Allowing companies to track their campaign with immediate results is another strength as well.

Facebook is continuing to perfect their advertising formats. They are very successful in creating ways for businesses to excel. After observations and research, it would be very interesting to see if Facebook could implement a new way to help companies advertise. Right now, they are helping companies reach people on Facebook to view companies Facebook page. What if Facebook takes it a step further and allow companies to pay a larger amount to advertise their actual websites? Currently, on Facebook, people can check into restaurants, venues, etc. What if through GRAPH API, people can start to check into websites? And when they check into a website, it shows on their friend’s page on the right hand panel under check-ins? And also companies can code in a button using Facebook’s GRAPH API on their webpage to allow users to check-in their websites and earn coupons. This would be a great way to create traffic directly to webpages instead of fan pages.

Using our company as example, we could have the option to create either a campaign ad for our fan page, or we could pay a little extra to advertise our website. We can schedule a time and even a budget. There would then be an area to enter our link to our page and upload a small image of our website, or even just a company logo. Once people click on the ad that links them to our actual website, they will see a “Check-in” button and their check-in’s will eventually add up. They can only check in once every 6 hours or so. There could be an incentive to visit often, like a coupon to save or special advertisements only users can see once they’ve reached a specific amount of check-in’s. Of course, Facebook only wants users to navigate throughout their website and want users to spend their time only on their site, so this idea is only hypothetical.