Pinterest drives enormous blog and business success


Guest Post by {grow} community member Lauren Schaefer

This is Kate.

She’s a hairstylist, jewelry maker, and all-around crafter based in North Carolina. Kate started her blog (thesmallthingsblog.com) exactly one year ago. And like most of us, it was a labor of love without a whole lot of “community.” In fact, for the first eight months, she had a grand total of seven readers.  But between August of 2011 and today Kate has had over 10 million page views!  How did she achieve this amazing success in just five months?  Pinterest!

Pinterest is the hottest social media platform around right now. Created in March 2010, it’s still only available by signing up for a waiting list. Pinterest is probably best described as a “virtual pinboard.” Based on the idea that many people have magazine clippings of their dream vacations, weight loss goals, or perfect weddings, Pinterest allows users to create “boards” and share content by uploading images, “pin” from other sites, or “re-pin” from other user boards.

And there is an important social element too as you can comment, like, share, email content, and search based off of your customized interests.

If you snoop around Pinterest, for a little while, chances are you’ll run into a high-quality image of a beautifully coiffed hairstyle from Kate.  “My whole goal behind the blog was to share my ideas and information,” she said, “so I thought Pinterest would be a great way to share video tutorials of my hairstyles.”

“I pinned a photo of a completed style, which directed Pinterest users back to my blog to watch the tutorial video. And then I sat back and watched as the numbers rolled in.  I was stunned as I watched my blog quickly approach the first 100,000 page views! My husband and I sat at the computer, hitting refresh over and over until it hit 100,001. We were amazed.”   Since then, Kate’s success with Pinterest has continued to skyrocket. Thanks to Pinterest, Kate has now gained 16,000 blog subscribers and 14,000 Pinterest followers in just a few months.

“Almost daily I get a comment or email saying ‘I found you on Pinterest!’,” she said. “My top 10 traffic referring URLs are all Pinterest.”

Kate believes her success comes down to a careful balance between her original content and self-promotion for her blog and business.

“I think there is a fine line between self-promotion and obnoxious self-promotion. I decided to only pin hair photos to my own boards [from her blog], and a maximum of two per week.  The rest of the week, if any blog readers want to pin things from my blog, it’s up to them.”

“What I don’t want is for my 14,000 Pinterest followers to log on to Pinterest and see all the photos from my blog. I think that would be obnoxious,” she continued.  “I had one instance where I was following a blogger on Pinterest and she would pin things from her posts multiple times a day. I stopped following her.”

Beyond the blog numbers, Kate is also obtaining new business due to her Pinterest success.  In September, she took on her first blog sponsor. She also has had interest in her private hairstyling business. “It’s brought so many people to my blog who now want to be my clients!”

One of the reasons for Kate’s Pinterest success is that her hairstyling photos create intrigue.  If you pin an image of a dog, you know it is a dog. But with a hairstyle, a recipe, or a DIY project, there is a backstory.  You need to keep digging if you want to know how to do it. That “intrigue” is an opportunity to drive people back to your blog or website.

How about you?  Do you have an opportunity to create intrigue for your blog or business through Pinterest?

Lauren Schaefer is a recent college grad, NYC resident, and nonprofit event planner with an interest in all things social media. She documents her new journey as a young professional at her blog From the Fifth Floor. Twitter: @leschaef

7 reasons every job-seeker needs to blog

 

Have you ever considered the ways a blog can help you get a job?  I meet a lot of young people entering the work force and I always recommend blogging as a way to get ahead … in almost any career. Here’s why:

1) Show what you’re made of.  In any interview, you normally have to try to convince people that you know what you know.  In a blog, you can SHOW them.  Blog about current events in your industry, your view on trends and developments and demonstrate your areas of expertise.

2) Build a professional network.  There are lots of examples where people found jobs through connections in a blog community.  Just last week I helped connect a young woman into the professional marketing scene in Chicago because I was impressed with her blog. Your blog community can certainly become a professional network.

3) Engaging versus advertising.   Let’s face it. No matter how creative you get, a resume is still an advertisement. I struggle reading carefully through a lengthy resume. However, I will read interesting stories on a blog all day long.  Compelling content is a way to engage prospective employers in a way that will hold their attention.

4) Point of differentiation.  In today’s world, blogging may be an expectation of many entry-level jobs. Demonstrating an ability to create content may just be the difference that gets you the job over a non-blogger.

5) Sharpen your professional skills. If you’re going to blog about a subject, you need to know your stuff. Putting out thoughtful content requires that you stay on top of your game, which will certainly be an advantage to you, especially if the job-hunting process is a long one.

6) Expand your reach. Building your personal brand means showing up in all the places a prospective employer might find you. Of course that usually means LinkedIn.  But having a link to a blog on your profile, as well displaying a feed of your recent blog posts, gives a potential employer stalking you on LinkedIn more ways to connect with you and learn about your skills.

7) Extend the interview. Here is the last thing you say to your interviewer: “I’ve enjoyed our time together but there is so much more I could tell you about my abilities. I hope you’ll take a look at my blog (the web address is on my resume) so you can see for yourself the way I think about things.”  And you know what? They’ll do it.  You have just extended your interview by another 15-30 minutes and that may make all the difference!

What do you think?  How has blogging helped you in your professional life?

Is New Google like the New Coke?

A guest post by {grow} community member Helen Brown

Let me tell you a story:  Back in the 1980s there was a brand war, and it was a big deal at the time.  Named the Cola Wars, it was a knock-down, drag-out fight to decide which of the two mega brands of cola was better, Coke or Pepsi.  Both felt that neither could survive while the other lived, and you, the consumer, had to choose.  Which did you like better?  Side-by-side blind taste tests were done in supermarkets, on beaches, Main Streets and college campuses.  It was the Duke-Carolina and the Yankees-Red Sox of marketing wars rolled into one.  It was huge.

Then in 1985, in a moment no consumer could figure out (and no major company should ignore), Coca-Cola decided they would ditch their cash cow and make an entirely different product.  The venerable “Old Coke” was gone overnight and “New Coke” was the Coke to beat Pepsi. There was just one problem.  Nobody liked it.

There were practically riots in the streets.  People started hoarding “old” Coke when they could find it.  If you weren’t around then (and I suspect most of the Google decision-makers weren’t) I know it’s hard to believe that consumers actually rose up and made such a stink that a mega company completely reversed course about something, but they did.  In a matter of a few months, New Coke was gone and “Coke Classic” was resuscitated.

So now we’ve got the New Google and for professional searchers it tastes about as good as New Coke.  Here’s the vanilla article from Lance Ulanoff at Mashable, announcing its birth: Google Merges Search and Google+ into Social Media Juggernaut.  He says:

“Now we know Google’s master-plan for integrating Google+ ever more deeply into the Google ecosystem: Pour the whole thing into Google search. Starting today, Google+ members, and to a lesser extent others who are signed into Google, will be able to search against both the broader web and their own Google+ social graph. That’s right; Google+ circles, photos, posts and more will be integrated into search in ways other social platforms can only dream about.”

Short version: when you type a search into Google, what you’re going to get for your first results are everything you or your friends have ever written or shared publicly on Google Plus on anything related to the item you’ve just searched.

If you’re on your mobile device looking for a restaurant in San Francisco, you’re treated to a gold mine of your friends’ and acquaintances’ recommendations.  Nice!

But if you’re a professional 9-5 researcher like me using Google, it’s another layer of non-relevant stuff to wade through before you get to what you need.  We’re not “social” searchers — we use these tools to provide reliable answers to others.  Relevant search is our job.  And Google has always had the largest database of legitimate, relevant resources that professional researchers need and use every day.

THE EXPERTS WEIGH IN

In a Search Engine Land post, Danny Sullivan argues that besides making relevant search results harder to find for professional  searchers, the potential trouble on Google’s horizon is legal: if they highlight information (mainly) from their own properties – including Google+ and YouTube they could be charged with abusing their power as a monopoly.  Also, there’s that teeny little issue of privacy – what if something you thought you were posting privately to Google+ got shared without your permission publicly and then emerged as an answer to a search query?

On the Epicenter Blog, Tim Carmody describes the problem this way:

Fundamentally, it’s how Search Plus appears to privilege Google+ results — not links suggested by your Google+ contacts, but Google+ pages themselves, regardless of your social graph — in three categories:

  • Ranking of pages to determine their relevance, in the main body of search results;
  • The placement of those results on the screen, and the amount of screen real estate alloted to each result;
  • The right hand “recommendations” sidebar, where Google advertisements — not just the old text ads, but big graphics that follow you as you scroll down the page — have been joined, and in many cases replaced, by links and photos of “People and Pages on Google+.”

Effectively, Google has bought itself a huge amount of prime advertising space on its most popular platform for the product it most desperately needs to succeed.

FIXING WHAT’S NOW BROKEN

I’ve seen comments saying “what’s the big deal, you can turn Search Plus off!” and yes you can, and here’s how.

And you can also turn Verbatim on, which forces Google to allow you to use your exact search terms instead of Google trying to correct them for you (in case you didn’t really mean what you meant).  Here’s how:  Do a search, go to the search options sidebar, click “show more search tools,” select “Verbatim” and Google will keep your search string like you wanted it to be.

And you can turn filtering off, too, so that your world on Google doesn’t keep getting narrower and narrower.  And yes, it does.  You don’t even know what you don’t know, but you will if you read this and watch Eli Pariser’s jaw-dropping TED talk. 

But all these turning offs and turning ons are a total hassle.  Just to do one search in Google the way I used to just last year, I have to turn off two things and turn one on.  Every. Single. Time.  This is progress?

I’ve read other comments saying, “Google’s free and they can do whatever they want to with their product.”  And that’s true, they can.  I’d argue that Google is “free,” but whatever.  We can vote with our feet.  And Bing’s the next logical choice for database size.

Mat Honan at Gizmodo has this to say: Google just made Bing the Best Search Engine.

Trouble is, Microsoft has always run hot and cold on search.  They kindasorta want to compete with Google, but Bing’s not their core business and it’s never going to be.  There’s no Coke vs. Pepsi thing going on here.  It’s Coke vs. Shasta.  Google’s still got the largest database lurking inside all that growing social stuff, and Bing just doesn’t.  It’s big, but it’s not Google big.

So will Google create two products – one for professional searchers and one for social searchers?  Or, in the words of the immortal SNL writers, is it just to be “No Coke! Pepsi!” for us?

Helen Brown is the founder of The Helen Brown Group, a firm that helps non-profits with their donor research. She blogs at The Intelligent Edge.  Follow Helen at @AskHelenBrown.  The Helen Brown Group is a client of Schaefer Marketing Solutions.

 

Illustration: loichay
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