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Pinterest has got my interest

One from the old blog…

So I’m back on the blog today after a long absence. I’ve been busy with baby and business, and suddenly it’s February 2012. Facebook’s rolled out timelines, Google Plus has launched pages for business, and the next big thing in social media seems to be Pinterest.

For the uninitiated, Pinterest is basically an online pinboard where you can share photos or images from around the web with your followers and other Pinterest users. Each photo is pinned to a particular board, with a theme you’ve defined. So if you’re planning a wedding for example, you can have a wedding style board. If you like to bake, you could have a cupcake inspiration board with recipes you’d like to try. You could have a quotes to live by board or a infographics board; the possibilities are fairly endless.

As an example, here’s my Need to Read board. Over the past few weeks, when I’ve been browsing online bookstores, I’ve pinned the books I’d like to read here – just in case I ever get time to read again.

Pinterest screenshot

At first, I thought this was all a bit of fun, but somewhat limited compared to other social media channels which allow a greater focus on text. Then I read a Shareaholic study showing that in January this year, Pinterest referred on more traffic to the websites in their sample than Google Plus, LinkedIn, and YouTube combined.

Therefore, if you operate a business that deals in products or has a strong visual element, you may want to investigate Pinterest as a way to bring new visitors to your website. Of course, the fundamentals of social media still apply here. Social media is all about connecting and communicating with others, and if you just use Pinterest to pin photos of your merchandise, you’re unlikely to get results.

Think about how you can bring value to the Pinterest community. If you run a local business, can you use Pinterest to showcase the best of your town? If you’re a photographer, can you pin photos and add your tips? Follow others you’re interested in and learn from how they’re using the tool.

For more tips on how small businesses can use Pinterest, take a look at Sarah E. Needleman’s article from The Wall Street Journal Online: 6 Tips for Tapping Pinterest’s Surging Popularity.

If you’ve seen a great use of Pinterest, whether it’s by a business or personal user, feel free to share a link in the comments below.


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Rediscovering StumbleUpon

StumbleUpon screenshot

Despite my total lack of coordination in real life, I haven’t stumbled on the web for a while. It’s just one of those things on the internet where, for a month or two, I’ll be spending all my spare time clicking on the stumble button, discovering new sites and leaving reviews. Then – as has happened this time – I’ll get distracted by some other web tool, and my StumbleUpon account will remain inactive for almost a year.

However, on Thursday last week, my 5 essential iPhone applications for pregnancy article was published on Being the social media geek that I am, I kept returning to the page during the day to see how many tweets and Facebook shares it had received. While those social media numbers went up little-by-little, I was amazed to see that the article very quickly had 57 views via StumbleUpon.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with the tool, StumbleUpon is a people-driven website discovery engine. As users browse the web, they like or dislike and categorise the websites they visit. Then, when you click the ‘Stumble!’ button on the site or on your installed browser toolbar, you’re taken to a random website which matches your interests.

For me, the excitement of StumbleUpon is that you don’t know what you’re going to get. Of course, this means that a lot of time you get things you’re not interested in. But sometimes you stumble upon a useful blog post or a funny video or a great website that you wouldn’t have found any other way.

StumbleUpon can also drive a significant amount of traffic to a website – particularly if the site is ‘liked’ by a number of well-established Stumblers. While it’s not great etiquette to create an account just to promote your own content, if you take the time to establish a profile and a significant list of favourite sites, the odd bit of self-promotion shouldn’t do too much damage.

Alternatively, businesses can set up a paid discovery campaign, paying from US$0.05 per visitor, to add themselves to the randomly-generated site list. This seems to be a way of guaranteeing your site will be seen by like-minded Stumblers, without having to invest the time in building a StumbleUpon reputation.

Either way, of course, it’s important to have useful content on the page you’re directing Stumblers to. That ‘dislike’ button is just next to the ‘like’ one and it’s just as easy to use, and people’s negative reviews will be available for everyone to see.

For more information about using StumbleUpon to promote your website or blog, check out this article by Viktoria Michaelis. As always, if you’ve got any questions or want to share your experience of using StumbleUpon, please feel free to leave a comment below.

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