This article was originally published in Brand Quarterly.In the summer of 2014 Pinterest unveiled its much-anticipated business model, Promoted Pins. The company recruited around twenty beta partners, such as Target, Kraft, General Motors and Expedia, each of which invested significant dollars to get first taste of this new media channel. Six months later on January 1st, 2015 Pinterest announced that the program was a success and that it would expand. Something must have worked. Our company had a chance to work directly with a significant percentage of the beta partner marketers. We worked with brands to set strategy, source content, and optimize pins. While specific results are proprietary data, Pinterest has started to share impressive numbers publicly. Through our work with brands’ earned Pinterest accounts over the past two years, we have also learned several lessons on what it takes to succeed in this exciting new media. Marketing Must Be Meaningful Easily the number one lesson from Pinterest is that informative and useful pins are the key to winning on the platform. People use Pinterest to find inspiration and ideas, so marketers win by offering content that meets these needs. In fact, according to Pinterest, a majority of all pins come from businesses. These are not ads and product images, but useful content such as recipes from a food brand or lip-gloss looks from a makeup product. On Pinterest, brands can be more trusted and appreciated than content from other sources. If you look at the collection of Promoted Pins on this board, you will see that marketing messages take a second priority to ideas and inspiration. Financial services companies do not pay to pin their loan rates, but instead share tips on how to plan for buying a home. Travel brands do not pay to pin airfares, but instead share tips on what to see in Thailand. Our experience suggests that including branding on a pin is neutral to positive, but make sure you are delivering added value first. Re-Pin Rate is the Prime KPI Since success on Pinterest comes from delivering value, the best way to judge the performance of a pin is the number and percentage of people who chose to re-pin it. Getting a re-pin is very powerful; it combines the best features of a search (sends traffic) and social (drives shares). In our experience, Pinterest’s re-pin rate is highly correlated with the click-thru rate, so optimizing for one tends to get to the other as well. There are various ways to judge re-pin performance. This is straight-forward with a promoted pin buy, as Pinterest reports the percentage of people who saw a pin and chose to re-pin. If you are just looking at activity from your brand’s earned activity this is a bit tougher, as total pin impressions are not reported. In these situations we prefer to look at the number of re-pins (the number you see tallied on the pin itself), divided by the total followers of a Pinterest account. While less precise, followers can be a way to estimate initial impressions. Earned Activity Informs Paid Success Many promoted pin beta brands had been active on the platform for months or years by the time they launched a paid campaign. They discovered that frequent pinning allows the best content to bubble to the top and be worthy of promotion. Our research shows that 18% of pins drive 80% of engagement on Pinterest, meaning the best content gets viral-like growth. As a result, advanced brands pin often across a variety of content to let the most successful pins rise to the top. Interestingly, you do not have to own a massive amount of content in order to be highly active and gather insights to maximize results. Active Pinterest marketers pin to external content multiple times a day across their boards. By watching how their Pinterest audiences react to this external content, they can see what is resonating and then direct their creative content resources accordingly for branded pins. Paid Drives an Earned Bonus Perhaps the least-publicized but most amazing benefit of Pinterest is that it is the first marketing platform where paid media can lead to a massive amount of earned activity. In other social media, like Facebook or Twitter, sharing is a secondary user choice; we read the promoted item and must choose to click a share button. But with Pinterest, a social share automatically happens whenever something is pinned to a personal board. According to Pinterest, promoted pins saw an average 30% bonus in earned (free!) impressions. Since that’s just an average, it suggests that companies that work hard to optimize can see even stronger results. Even better, this earned bonus does not stop when your Pinterest campaign ends. The pins you promote at scale continue to sit on thousands of people’s boards. Traffic and re-pins continue weeks, months and even years later. Your effective CPM keeps dropping and ROI keeps rising with promoted pins. Little Things Mean a Lot When you closely examine Pinterest from the consumer’s perspective, you learn that it is much more of a search tool than a social media platform. People decide to open the Pinterest app when they are looking for ideas and planning for projects. They frequently type into the prominent search box at the top of the Pinterest app. Even when scrolling through our home feeds, we are unconsciously scanning images and descriptions for relevant needs. Just like search engine optimization, successful Pinterest optimization depends on attention to the little things that mean a lot. Marketers that win take the time to crop images, carefully craft pin copy, and ensure their mobile landing pages are optimized—after all, 75% or more of the traffic from Pinterest is mobile. ROI is a Work in Progress Probably the biggest challenge for marketers is that return on investment with Pinterest is still a work-in-progress. For ecommerce companies it can have a noticeable impact, but others still need to fit it within their measurement programs. The good news is that Pinterest connects with consumers across the purchase funnel, and people use the platform with high intent to buy. One mistake is to immediately throw Pinterest into the direct response budget and compare last click economics. The problem here is that people often see your brand content months before buying, but most marketers lack long-term purchase measures. Another error is to assume that the CPM price of Pinterest should be the same as a programmatic banner ad buy. People want to interact with your brand content on Pinterest, while banner ads are wallpaper at best and interruptive at worst. As any salesperson can tell you, this warm content lead is much more valuable than a cold call pitch list. In addition to the fascinating lessons of how paid pinning performs, we learned that the Pinterest partnership team is passionate about marketing. While some startups look at advertising as a necessary evil, Pinterest has built a team of brand strategists that are looking far beyond how many media dollars they can book this month. This commitment to partnership with agencies and brands is key for long-term success of the platform. The year ahead will be a big one for Pinterest. The company recently announced new advertising features, such as more precise targeting and access to intent data. Now could be time for your brand to apply these lessons and begin the learning journey. Bob Gilbreath is co-founder and President of Ahalogy, a leading Pinterest marketing company, and author of The Next Evolution of Marketing: Connect With Your Customers By Marketing with Meaning. Follow him on Twitter. More
Hear more from Screenburn’s point of view when Tom Raffe speaks at the start-up portion of our Social Music Summit on Thursday May 8, at 3:45PM.
Back in the “olden days” before the internet came along and changed pretty much everything, the business model for the music industry was a relatively straightforward one. The artist would record a song and the label would work to promote it. However, as the market becomes increasingly fragmented across any number of new and emerging platforms, things aren’t always quite so simple.
For the latest music news, many fans these days turn to social media; expecting the latest tracks and videos to be uploaded or promoted in some way across Facebook and Twitter. Many fans have become influencers in their own right, holding easily as much weight as major music journalists through blogs and Twitter accounts.
Things have changed within the industry itself too. Now it’s just as important that artists themselves are heavily involved in the marketing process. Many of the world’s biggest stars such as Katy Perry and Rihanna maintain their own social media accounts to stay in touch with fans in the same way an unsigned artist will look to craft their own digital voice to grow their audience both locally and online.
At Screenburn, we look to work with all manner of content owners to market their video online and there are similar conversations and strategies that we talk to marketing teams about across the board. This blog post highlights a few of those to give you a flavour of how social media and music are evolving together.
How integrated is your digital strategy?
Practically every brand has a social media team these days. A report last year by Altimeter revealed that 78% of companies have a growing dedicated team. However, the same report showed that only 26% of the businesses surveyed had a holistic approach to social media. It is becoming increasingly important to monitor the results of your social media activity that can then help to inform the wider marketing strategy and maybe even the position of the brand. Using tools such as Facebook Insights, for example, you can begin to see what kind of content your fans respond to the best and at what times of the day. This can be useful when you’re planning your upcoming marketing focus for a new release for instance. Does your online audience prefer images over links? Which video outperformed all the others and what were people saying about it? Do women tend to respond to the latest updates more than men? Where are the most popular countries and towns? In many ways, your audience response is a piece of real-time market research and it should really be treated as such.
Informed marketing with added value
When you have a good idea about the demographics that make up your online fan-base, you can begin to tailor and target content and ads towards this. This could come in the form of providing some real added value for fans. Makeup brand Essie saw that their customers loved to make style decisions using the in-store colour wall. This was replicated online and saw an uplift in organic Pinterest pins as a result. It doesn’t necessarily have to be revolutionary – maybe you’re able to provide some useful information about a gig or some behind-the-scenes information about a music video. West Hollywood’s legendary music venue The Roxy worked with other local venues to offer fans special deals and discounts through Twitter and Facebook. Understanding who your fans are and what they’re passionate about is key to driving your social media activity.
Perhaps one of the best aspects of digital is that it’s auditable. You can see how many people have accessed your social media page or website and it’s possible to track conversions and streams too in order to attribute an ROI. This means direct remarketing can be incredibly powerful. Many e-commerce sites will target ads at users who have abandoned items in their baskets. Knowing who has expressed an interest in your brand already can be a good way to begin to build an engaged audience that’s keen to know more about you. One of the obvious ways this has been done in the past is with email mailing lists and this is still a good way to keep your latest work front of mind. MailChimp isn’t huge for nothing!
With social media, you can take this a stage further. If you’re already sitting on an email list of fans that has grown over time, using Facebook’s Power Editor is a good way to target ads to this same group through the platform too. Although we couldn’t cover all the advertising options with Facebook in a single blog post, there are numerous possibilities to tailor an ad that will work well for a certain audience whether they’re using desktop or mobile. This traffic can be tracked through to your website depending on how you would like it to convert. Screenburn works with clients to build their potential to market directly on Facebook by retargeting users who have opted in using the VOD platform and engaged positively with content.
Measuring the online conversation
As more and more fans become vocal online, it’s vital to keep an eye on the conversation that might be taking place beyond your own social media page. For starters, Social Mention is a great free tool that keeps an eye on social media sites for you. It captures some of the recent posts around your chosen brand and also gives an indication of post frequency and unique users to provide you with a picture of how passionate or influential some of the conversations are. IceRocket is another tool that organises blog, Twitter and Facebook monitoring, allowing you to see the period of time you’re interested in. Organising your influencers into Twitter lists is also a good way to ensure you don’t miss out on anything important. This could be split by music genre or fans of a particular artist. Many marketers swear by TweetDeck and it is a good way to organise your lists in one place so you can monitor the conversation in real time.
Tom Raffe is the founder and director of Screenburn, a Facebook platform enabling artists and brands to sell music, videos, and more directly on their Facebook pages. He gives us a deeper look into the impact of social media on music marketing today.More
@scott_jaworski - Head of Buzz Marketing, Intel
What do you do?
The industry and space in which I work is moving at warp-speed; to the extent of which I truly live AND work real-time. Based on this, the best answer I can give is a directional one. I’m a part of Intel’s Incubation Marketing Team where I focus on driving non-traditional, digital, and social programs aimed at driving buzz, awareness and demand for our new product lines. My role has many touch points both internally (cross-orgs) and externally (consumers, influencers, partners, and retailers) and it’s the collective effort of all parties involved that net results. One day we’re diving deep on a content strategy, the next we’re focused on community engagement. The one thing I’ll stress is there’s no cut & paste equivalent that will lead to success. Each program, initiative and target goals/audiences has a unique finger print; however unlike finger prints, they keep changing.
Which companies or partners do you conduct business with as part of your day-to-day job?
It runs a wide spectrum based on the varied programs I’m running at any given time. Here’s a few:
- Influence Marketing: CollectiveBias, Dynamic Signal, and SocialChorus
- Maker Space: Arduino, Crowd Companies, Make Media (aka Makezine), and TechShop
- Digital Agencies: Noise, Ogilvy Interactive, Razorfish, Vice, and W2O
- Social Platforms: Jive, Sprinklr, and Sysomos
What are your goals when participating in networking events and conferences such as Digital Media Summit?
I have three primary goals:
- Education – as it pertains to the industry, case studies of real-life experiences, and new tool sets (sites/communities, apps, and softwares)
- Forging relationships – the social space is great for this, but what’s better is when you get to put a face with a name. In essence, changing your relationship from a “connection” to a colleague (my definition of colleague extends outside the confines of Intel). My friend Mike Ambassador Bruny (@ambassadorbruny) has a great saying: #hashtagstohandshakes
- Experiences – we all know the best way to learn anything is to experience it. I try to dive in deep, no matter how uncomfortable or new. If you hit this threshold, you know you’ve done something right and will benefit from the learnings.
What is the one thing you aim for your panel discussion to cover?
Understanding the challenges of information overload at events like these, we’re not only looking to address the larger social content strategy, but we’re hopeful we provide succinct nuggets of actionable items/tactics the audience can take away and deploy (or investigate the opportunity of).
Dos and Don’ts of approaching you regarding business opportunities?
- …your research to ensure relevancy with my line of work and industry
- …know your product inside and out (hint: I may take us straight into the weeds J)
- …be professional and respectful of one’s boundaries in regards to your persistence and methods of outreach; it simply might not be a good fit at this time
- …pitch your opportunity. If you’re pitching, you’re fishing. If it truly resonates, you’ll be able to have a discussion about it showcasing an example of it in action; better yet, the example will be relevant to my brand
- …send me a large PowerPoint or PDF and think I’ll be excited to hammer through it
- …think if we can’t work together now that it will never happen or I won’t recommend you to someone else
What Do you Do?