April 13, 2012
I ran across another great article by one of my favorite sources for Marketing info – Hubspot, that I thought did an excellent job of explaining two of the most popular new Social Networking Sites. I thought it was so thorough and easy to understand that I had to share it with you!
We’ve all gotten used to the idea of using Twitter, Facebook, and even YouTube for marketing — even if the platforms aren’t always as brand-friendly as they could be. And why should they be? They started as social networks meant for people to talk to people, not companies to talk to consumers. But in the struggle for monetization, they’ve had to adapt and continue offering ways for brands to market and make money using social media.
And we have! Many marketers have figured out how to generate leads via social media, start discussions with leads and customers, and even venture into the territory of social sales. And just when we got comfortable with this whole social media marketing thing — BOOM! — out comes Google+, followed shortly thereafter by Pinterest.
Great. Two more social networks brands need to figure out how to use for marketing. We all saw what happened with Facebook and Twitter; a small segment of savvy marketers figured out how to use the social networks for marketing successfully, and businesses that lagged were left playing catch-up years later. We’re not going to fall victim to that again with Google+ and Pinterest!
But do we need to figure out how to use them for marketing? Are either of them actually useful in that regard? Like most generic questions of this nature, the answer is … it depends. Pinterest and Google+ have their strengths and their weaknesses. And while in an ideal world you’d have the time to play around with both to see which, if either, is right for your business, we figure that you’re just trying to find enough time to write your next blog post.
So if you just can’t decide whether Pinterest or Google+ is really worth your time, here’s a breakdown of the pros and cons of each social network. Hopefully the side by side comparison will help you prioritize whether you should pursue them as part of your internet marketing strategy.
First, a quick review. Pinterest is a social network where users share (or ‘pin’) images and videos of items that interest them. They are either their own images and videos, or ones they’ve found on others’ pinboards or on the web. The pins are aggregated on ‘boards’ that often follow a common theme. If you decide after reading this post that Pinterest might be a good fit for your business, reference this ebook about how to use Pinterest for business.
Why Pinterest Rocks
You don’t want to spend your time on a social network nobody is using, so let’s start by taking a look at Pinterest’s usage stats as an indication of its usefulness, courtesy of Media Bistro and comScore. As of February 2012, Pinterest had 10.4 million users. And in January, not only did Pinterest reach 11,716, 000 total unique visitors, but the average amount of time spent on the site per visitor was 97.8 minutes. Or in highly technical marketing terms – the site’s really sticky. Why does this make Pinterest a great potential social haven for marketers? It means that the site provides significant value to its users, enough so they’re willing to set aside a large chunk of their day to spend on it. And if those metrics continue to go up, it’s an indication that Pinterest is not just a passing fad.
One of the reasons Pinterest has probably taken off – and why marketers should be excited about it – is that it offers a value proposition that’s unique from the other social networks out there. If someone asked you to define what all the major social networks did – Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube – it’s pretty easy to differentiate them from one another. And Pinterest is no different! None of the existing social networks do exactly what Pinterest does. Sure, you can share images on Facebook or via a Twitpic, but image-sharing is not those sites’ primary purpose as it is with Pinterest.
Pinterest has also made it very easy to share content on the web, something content-crazy (in a positive way!) inbound marketers should get excited about. Pinterest prompts users to download a pinmarklet (a Pinterest toolbar bookmarklet) that allows them to pin any content they find on the web that they want to share; it’s just that easy. No copying and pasting links or switching between tabs and browsers. If you’re investing in visual content – infographics, cartoons, videos, etc. – Pinterest just made it even easier for that content to be disseminated by your readers to a brand new audience.
Which brings us to one of the best parts of Pinterest – that it’s an image-driven site! And people love images, far more than they love words. In fact, images and videos are the most shared content on Facebook. If you’re a product-driven business, sharing beautiful images of your products on Pinterest is a simple way to leverage the tremendous power of visuals on a booming social network that is dedicated solely to sharing beautiful and interesting images.
Where Pinterest Falls Short
One of Pinterest’s biggest strengths, its emphasis on visual content, is also one of its biggest weaknesses for some businesses. Frankly, most people think of Pinterest as a place to look at things like clothes, hairstyles, furniture, crafts, and other visually stimulating images. If you’re not a B2C or product-oriented business – or you’re like HubSpot and your product is inbound marketing software – it’s a stretch to find a use for Pinterest. That’s not to say you can’t be successful on Pinterest; HubSpot got creative and combined pinboards of our visual content, like infographics, ebook covers, and inbound marketing graphs, with pinboards that reflect our brand, like “Fun Orange Things” and “Things With Spots.”
And while relatively unsexy B2B businesses have found success on Pinterest, it has also resulted in some backlash from pinners about whether Pinterest should be a safe space from marketers. We wrote a blog post that discusses that debate in much more detail, but if you’re considering experimenting with Pinterest, it’s important to note that you very well may experience some backlash for it if you’re perceived as, well, marketing (even though Pinterest has wiped any warnings against using the site for marketing from its ‘Pin Etiquette‘ since we published that post).
It makes sense; one of the other weaknesses of Pinterest is the lack of dedicated brand pages. Google+, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and LinkedIn all eventually developed space specifically for companies, which helps alleviate some of the frustration consumers feel when they feel like they’re being marketed to in their personal social networks. The challenge marketers will face on Pinterest, then, is figuring out how to market without seeming like marketing. In other words, create visual content that’s so cool, people won’t care that it’s also driving referral traffic and inbound links to your website. Visual content creators out there know doing that is much harder than it looks.
Now that we know Pinterest’s strengths and weaknesses, let’s do a quick review of Google+ before continuing our deep dive. Google+ is a social network many have described as similar to Facebook. It lets users — and since November, brands have dedicated pages for the same purpose — share status updates, links, images, and videos. These updates can be commented on, shared, or receive a +1, which shows up in search engine results pages. We also have a Google+ for business ebook for your reference if you decide it’s a worthwhile social network on which to spend your marketing time.
Why Google+ Rocks
While users don’t expect Pinterest to be used for business, marketers on Google+ aren’t met with any surprise from others on the social network. Even when Google+ initially launched without dedicated brand pages, it wasn’t strange to see businesses promoting their content – probably because the network worked so similarly to Facebook (more on that later) which has long since integrated brand conversations with personal updates. So if you’re concerned with being met with consumer backlash on Pinterest, Google+ is certainly a safer space to try out a new social media venture.
Google+ also allows for better targeting of content with its Circles functionality. You likely have several personas developed for your business, and if you’ve done any content mapping you know that while some content is ubiquitous, much of it needs to be tailored to the audience. Instead of blasting updates to your entire Google+ following, Circles allows marketers to let their followers identify the topics they’re most interested in. This is the kind of content targeting inbound marketers relish, because it leads to higher click-through rates and a more engaged social following.
But perhaps the best argument for getting started on Google+ is its integration into search results. Google+ status updates and content people have given a +1 to now appear in the organic search engine results on Google.com. So whether you simply have a +1 button on your blog or you’re actively publishing content to Google+, your content has a much greater chance of dominating search results than it did before your participation in Google+. If you’re interesting in seriously dominating organic search results with Google+, reference this blog post that will teach you the tricks of the trade.
Where Google+ Falls Short
Just like Pinterest, Google+’s strengths also contribute to its weaknesses. Namely, some people find it really confusing. What’s the difference between just posting to Google+, and +1’ing content? If I do either of them, does it mean I show up in search? How can I use Google+ to share content without making it indexable in search? These are all valid concerns that, as marketers, we understand, but we also easily take for granted that our target audience may not understand the intricacies of how Google+ works. And if they don’t get it, they won’t use it.
Perhaps that – plus a lack of clear value proposition – is why Google+ usage has leveled off after its initially skyrocketing adoption rate. While Pinterest has users on its site for over an hour at a time, eMarketer reports that users spent an average of just 3.3 minutes on Google+ in January. Ouch. So while Google+ has more users than Pinterest, those users aren’t actually spending time on the site each month; do marketers really want to spend time on a social network their users aren’t?
For Google+ to provide the same kind of value for its users as Pinterest, it needs to provide a unique value proposition like Pinterest has. Remember when I said it was easy to define the major social networks, like Pinterest, LinkedIn, YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter? I have a confession. I had a difficult time coming up with the words to explain Google+ in the beginning of this section. All I could think to say was – it’s pretty much like Facebook. And until Google+ can differentiate itself further, it’s not likely users will spend more than a few minutes a month on there, either.
So, Which Should You Choose?
Pinterest has the opportunity to be extremely valuable for retail businesses, or anyone who sells an aesthetic-centered service — think hairdressers, for example. But it can also have a lot of value to businesses that are willing to put in the time to create visually stimulating content — we’ve written an entire post about how B2B organizations can thrive on Pinterest. But your time will be wasted if the only time you have to give, at this stage in the game, is sharing links to written content you and others are creating. Realistically, that’s what many businesses are doing on social media (and that’s okay!), and Google+ is a much more appropriate social network for such sharing.
But I would be remiss to close out this post without mentioning one key difference between Google+ and Pinterest that might affect your decision to participate in the networks: Pinterest users are mostly women, while Google+ users are largely men. Okay, let’s dive into some data and raging gender stereotypes for just a minute, courtesy ofRemcolandia:
- 83% of Pinterest users are females between 18 and 34.
- Most Pinterest posts and photos are about design, fashion, and home decoration.
- 63% of Google+ users are men, who tend to post about technology.
- Two of the biggest user groups on Google+ are college students and software developers.
Does your business’ target audience have a similarly heavy skew in one of these directions — either by industry, job type, or gender? If so, this data may be key in deciding whether it’s worth your time to pursue marketing on Google+ or Pinterest.
All of this isn’t to say you should use Google+ or Pinterest, or that you should limit your usage to just one. If you have the bandwidth to experiment with both, finding opportunities to present your information both verablly and visually, take on the task! (And share the results with us, please!) But since we know how strapped for time and resources many marketers already are, hopefully this side by side comparison of the pros and cons of the two newest social networks makes your decision to participate just a little less agonizing.
Which social network — if either — do you find more helpful for your business, and why? Do you think one or both will fade into oblivion as a marketing tool? Leave your comments below.
Image credit: Louis K.
June 6, 2011
I wrote a blog a couple of weeks ago called “‘I don’t have a time’ is a lame excuse”… (for not Marketing your small business). I basically wrote that if we think something is important enough we’ll find the time to do it. And I know this because I do it all the time… I constantly say, “I don’t have time….” But what I realize is that really means either “I really don’t want to“ or “It just isn’t a priority right now“, because trust me, If I REALLY want to do something, I’ll find the time. Am I right???
So with that blog post behind me, I started thinking: What I really need is not more time, but a way to manage the time I have more effectively. And I bet other small business owners could use the same thing! So, I asked my friend and colleague Sandy Stelter of Strategic Organizing Solutions (SOS) to give us some tips on how to manage our time better. Sandy is an expert in time management and small business productivity and a co author of the book “Get Organized Today”.
I hope you will apply these 3 easy steps in your own world so that you can find the time to market your business and become the small business you always dreamed of!
I don’t have time…
How many times do you find yourself saying these words…”I don’t have time to ….” You fill in the blank.
“I don’t have time to read.”
“I don’t have time to take a vacation.”
“I don’t have time to go to that networking event.”
“I don’t have time to write that article.”
Actually we do have the time if we step back and realize that we’re actually talking about managing our lives, not just our time. The lines are blurred between, home, work and leisure. It’s not clear where one ends and another begins.
So doing more important tasks with the time we have has become crucial. Once we set our goals, then planning and scheduling the tasks to meet those goals are the most important.
Here’s one thought that I find extremely helpful when I’m planning and scheduling my day.
Schedule your day around high-payoff activities. Whatever time is left over, schedule the low-priority activities then. I find it interesting that high-value activities do not proliferate as quickly as low-payoff items. I can find 101 little tiny low-payoff tasks to do instead of that one high-value activity.
For instance, rather than writing this article, I found myself reading email, balancing my checkbook (yes, I really do enjoy it), and updating Quickbooks. So here are three tips that help me schedule my day around the more important tasks and stay focused.
1. If the activity requires concentration, get away from the distractions in your office and on your desk. I listen to an instrumentals only radio station that I set up on Pandora.com (free version). No words, so I can’t sing along. No multitasking!
2. Establish deadlines for completing major portions of the big project. Chunk it into small units. I actually divided this task into two chunks – one was thinking and researching and the second was the actual writing.
3. Choose the time of day when you are most alert. There are two times a day that I’m alert and able to concentrate – mornings and then between 8:30pm-10pm. So I schedule many of my important tasks during those times. Notice when you are most alert and schedule your high payoff activities then. You’ll be amazed at the results!
Sandy Stelter, Author and Owner of SOS – Strategic Organizing Solutions has worked with hundreds of clients to help them create and maintain a productive environment anywhere. SOS provides consultation and hands-on professional, customized, productivity coaching to individuals and businesses. Work toward your goals from an environment that supports you and who you want to be. For more information visit: http://www.sos.com
What do you think? I’d love to hear your thoughts on this!! Leave your comments here.
By the way, if you liked this post, I’d really appreciate your Retweet!!! Thank you.
May 24, 2011
Below is a reprint of an article by Scott Kindred at Safehouse Web. He took a comment I posted on Facebook and turned it into a blog. I think he did a nice job of expanding on the subject and showing a very tactical view of how it’s done by sharing what he will do to promote his brand.
How to Build Your Business Credibility Online
by Scott Kindred of Safehouse Web
Starting today with small steps to build yourself and your business’ credibility is an easy thing to put off. Right? You may procrastinate as often as I do, but today is a new day! Yes, cliche, but true. This post is simply a quick and powerful way you can give your business a boost – TODAY. And in no more than 15 minutes of your valuable time, I say!
So does Carloyn Higgins, President of Fortune Marketing Company:
“What are you doing to increase exposure for your business? Today, spend 15 minutes promoting your business.: comment on the walls of 5 target customers (especially B2B biz), comment on a blog related to your product or service, write a quick article, or answer a question in an onlne community. These activities boost awareness, increase credibility and lead to more customers!”
The truth is that these small steps, when done regularly and consistently over a period of time – let’s say 6 months for the sake of conversation – will produce measurable results. They will produce more traffic, more visitors to your website. I know because I have tried them myself and have seen a marked increase in website traffic, visitor quality and even a few business leads. Good stuff. I know because I continue to use them today; I want my business to keep growing and becoming more profitable.
Does that sound like something we have in common?
Below are my goals for today. I will accomplish them, and I’ll also do them again on my next appointed “rounds.” Take a look and start thinking about something similar for your business. Posting your ideas and results here is always welcomed!
Comment on the walls of 5 target customers:1. Freelance Switch
3. Cartoon Thunder
4. Big Brand System
5. Fortune Marketing Company
[Those are their websites. I will choose to post on their blog, forum, Facebook or Twitter, depending on what subject matter I can make the best contribution on.]
What do you think? I’d love to hear your thoughts on this!! Leave your comments here.
By the way, if you liked this post, I’d really appreciate your Retweet!!! Thank you.
About Safehouse Web:
Safehouse Web is a small business focused on providing services to their peers. Building, deploying, managing and maintaining websites for small businesses is their primary purpose. With “service is our salesman” as a motto of their approach, you can be sure your business’ website will receive consistent and timely attention. The level of service they provide, and the reputation they develop with you, is what they stand upon to sell to other businesses like yours. You can visit Safehouse Web at: http://safehouseweb.com/