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7 ways to be more engaging (and repinnable) on Pinterest

So, you’re on Pinterest (or you’ve heard too many times that you should be). That’s fabulous. You’re officially part of the fast-growing website (per Comscore) that refers more traffic than Google+, YouTube and LinkedIn combined (per Mashable), and keeps visitors passionately engaged for countless hours. That’s the good part.

The great part is that people love to re-share great images and information on Pinterest through repins. In fact, 80% of the pins on Pinterest are repins. Why are these so valuable? Repins recirculate through the Pinterest stream to generate additional repins and traffic. And, repinned images/links are posted permanently on pinboards which, unlike the four-minute half-life of a Tweet or 30-minute life of a Facebook update (per Socialbakers), will stay on a themed Pinterest board indefinitely. Weeks, months or years later, people interested in that topic may re-discover your pins/links/website.

Awesome! Right? But, how can you ‘pin well’ and capture the coveted Repin? Here are seven ways to be more engaging on Pinterest:

Know your brand – and stick with it.

For example: If you’re a Realtor, pin positive things about your city/community or DIY and home repair projects and ideas. Small businesses should feature business tips, local events and business organizations. Veterinarians or pet stores can pin cute animal photos, local dog parks and helpful information for pet owners. Unless your brand is political or religious, avoid controversial pins/topics.

Create pinboards that reflect your brand and appeal and interest your target audience. Knowing your brand means sharing what appeals to and benefits your audience/community, and avoiding what may turn them off.

Be Interesting & Engaging

Stand out with interesting, engaging images. Explain what the picture is by including a graphic on the image so it makes it easy to identify. For example, an easily-readable, colorful font that says “Gluten-Free Brownies” over a gorgeous shot of brownies helps people to know what it is INSTANTLY, and makes it very easy and quick to repin.

Show off your brand’s personality by creating pins and pinboards that take a different spin on the topic. For example, create interesting pinboards of animals who look like their owners, three-ingredient recipes or DIY/craft projects from Pinterest you’ve attempted. Share pins and pinboards that fit your brand and are of interest to your customers/clients.

Share Amazing Photos/images

On Pinterest, you’re competing with countless other beautiful pins and pictures. You’re up against professional photography, celebrity images, clever quotes and hilarious memes. Your images are displayed alongside exotic travel destinations, beautiful wedding shots and amazing food photography. You’ve got to put your best photo forward with a focused, well-lit, well-cropped image. Find a unique angle, plan for the right time of day for good light, maybe even get a ‘real’ camera and take a photography class to get repin-worthy photos.

Do your research

What images are other users pinning that get repins? Look at which of your pins are being repinned and by whom. How? Check the following url:

  • pinterest.com/source/YOUR URL — e.g.: pinterest.com/source/girlfriendology.com — my URL

What are people pinning from your site? What are they pinning from your competitor’s sites? If you’re a coffee shop and your potential customers are repinning beauty shots of coffee drinks from your competitors sites, you *MIGHT* want to add some amazing photos.

Learn from others – no one will know and you might be surprised at what gets repinned.

Size matters

Vertical images get more repins than square or horizontal photos (generally recommended up to 5000 pixels long, but may exceed that). So go long with your photos (or photo compilations), rather than square or wide. Keep it brief! Pinterest allows descriptions up to 500 characters, but those around 200 get the most repins (about 1-1/2 the length of a tweet).

Key words, key words, key words

What words will people search to find you or your pin? What short phrase(s) show up frequently when you do you research on other similar pins/sites? Use these keywords in your description, in your image name, and in your pinboard names.

Make it easy for people to find you by including popular and descriptive words/terms. Add a #hashtag to popular words/phrases that people may search for. (Hashtags can be clicked to search for similar pins.)

Engage in the conversation

Put the ‘social’ in Social Media! Follow your followers and those who repin you. Repin some of their pins. Say ‘thanks’ to those who comment on your pins or who repin you. Make comments. Engage in conversations.

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The First 4 Questions Every Founder Needs to Ask

I get your profile. You’re in your twenties or maybe early thirties, starting your first business, and have a short runway before it either takes off or crashes and burns.

You’re convinced that your initial focus should be on attracting the best people to build out your team, landing the first anchor customers to grow revenue, and forming partnerships to spread the word. Or, maybe you’re still focused on sharpening your positioning and tweaking the product so that you can secure that round of funding.

These are all necessary steps in launching your company. But you’re getting ahead of yourself if you think these are the building blocks of startup success. Instead, your most important first moves are not transactional, but rather psychological—not about rational decision making, but more about making relationships and experimenting.

Listen up if being an entrepreneur is part of your DNA. Or if going to work for “the man” is a nightmare. Or if the sweet smell of success gives you swagger, and the fear of failure keeps you up at night.

While I hardly have all the answers, as the late country star Waylon Jennings sang, “I got a couple more years on you, baby. That’s all.” So after almost 20 years of working with hundreds of entrepreneurs, and in that time starting a few companies of my own, here’s my list of four questions for you as you embark on your new venture.

1. What’s your attitude when it comes to long-term commitment? I’m not talking about being positive, passionate, or even having a winning personality that attracts business. It’s hard to always feel that way after one of those long and disappointing days in trying to get a new company off the ground. Instead, I’m talking about the insane amount of persistence that you will need to stick it out as an entrepreneur.Many years ago, a guy named Daniel came to my office for some advice. He struck me as highly intelligent, creative, and idealistic, but a bit naïve and all over the place.   I lost touch and until recently didn’t realize that it was this Daniel who is the mastermind behind one of my favorite brands. Yes, after struggling for over 15 years, full of doubts, triumphs and setbacks—Daniel Lubetzky founded KIND bars and has grown it into one of the most popular food products. He wrote about the kind of grit that kept him going in his new book, Do the KIND Thing.

2. Do you know what lane you’re in? Some people have a magic touch for certain types of businesses. My good friend Dave Schwartz, the founder of Rent-A-Wreck, is a genius when it comes to cars, real estate, and the storage business—talking about the offline category he helped invent. And he’s humble about what he doesn’t know and is a fanatic about staying in his “lane.” He warns about people who achieve some success and then think they’re “bulletproof and know everything about anything.”While your lane might be wide, stick to fields and skill sets that come naturally to you. Focus on what you do best, rather than trying to reposition yourself to be a better fit with the latest category.

3. Do you really know which people you need to hire first? Forget about the first employee. Sometimes even before you find your co-founder, you’ll need a great accountant, lawyer, and insurance guy. These outside professional advisors are key to laying a solid foundation for a sustainable business.

When my long-time accountant, Steve Frushtick, unexpectedly died while exercising earlier this year, I was devastated, as were countless of his other clients. Sure he helped us file our taxes, but that was the least of it, as we didn’t make a move without him—from constructing compensation packages for employees to negotiating business deals. It prompted fellow clients to rightly describe Steve as our “financial rabbi.” So who’s yours?

4. Is your significant other truly supportive of your entrepreneurial spirit? There’s one person who’s the most important of all, and ironically, you don’t usually even work with her or him. I’m talking about your husband, wife, partner, girlfriend, boyfriend, etc. I have a new friend who’s delaying meeting someone until his business really takes off. Wrong, I told him. Finding that special person will help drive your success and put your life in balance, provided he or she is supportive and helps empower your dream to be an entrepreneur rather than have you play it safe as some suit.

While usually not as risk-tolerant as you, your significant other knows how to ride the roller coaster and make you appreciate how far you’ve come, while reminding you that you and your startup are not the center of the universe. Sometimes, when all else fails, your partner might encourage you to put things on hold and just get a job that pays the bills. But both they and you can never lose faith in your ability to do your own thing.

If you forget most of this advice, let this one word be your takeaway: Alps, as in the mountain range. Being a founder is an uphill climb, but once you get traction and look how far you’ve come, it’s the most exhilarating journey on earth.

Photo credit: Apps for Europe/Flickr

 

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4 Ways to Turn a Floundering Business into a Thriving One

My business nearly tanked in 2012.

When I launched Transcription Outsourcing in 2010, our primary focus was providing transcription services to medical practices and hospitals. My business started out on a strong growth track for the first couple of years, then profits began to trail off. As many businesses in the medical industry moved to voice recognition systems, new leads began to shrivel and our projections sank.

I realized we had to make some serious changes to avoid going under, and began a complete overhaul of the services that we offered. We also diversified our client base, and today only half of our business is in the medical industry. The rest is legal and law enforcement clients, along with a good number of small businesses.

The good news? I was able to save the company by following a few simple rules and my gut instincts. Even better news? These particular rules are applicable to any business in any industry:

1. Admit that failure is an option. One of the hardest things for a CEO to admit is that the product or innovation that launched the company may not be the one that sustains it long-term. It is hard to give up on the idea that launched 1,000 ships, but sometimes that idea can’t keep the ships afloat. Admitting that your business could go under if changes aren’t made is often a very difficult thing to do. But once you admit to yourself that the company is floundering, you have opened the line of thinking that is needed to eventually save your company.

2. Sometimes trial and error is necessary. Once you realize that your business needs to adapt to a changing market, you can begin to look for ways to save it. Though a scary proposition, sometimes trial and error is the only way to make any headway. If your tried-and-true radio advertising campaign suddenly isn’t bringing in new business, maybe it is time to try social media. If your current personnel aren’t bringing innovative products to the table, maybe it is time to bring in some new blood. When I realized it was time to make changes to my business, I tried various new methods of marketing, advertising, and hiring personnel. Some changes worked, others did not, but through the process I was able to streamline my business and utilize fresh techniques to get my company out of the red.

3. Realize that nothing will go as planned. Many times a CEO’s vision of growth and a profitable future can become the company’s Achilles heel. There are so many factors affecting various markets that are out of your control. That said, you have to be prepared to scrap visions and start fresh. When my company began to lose revenue, I had to figure out other sources of income aside from my medical clients. I focused on my bottom line. If you can’t pay your bills, you won’t be open for long. For every dollar or client lost, I looked for a creative solution to replace streams of revenue.

4. Listen to experts. If your company’s profits begin to head south, it is time to start listening. Focus on clients and what they are telling you, either verbally or with their wallets. Listen to media, other influencers in your market, and other businesses that share relationships with your clients. Find out where needs have shifted. Focus on communicating with your employees as best as possible. Often times your “feet on the ground” will have a better understanding of the pulse of the industry. Start asking questions and keep your ears open.

All businesses will reach a point where they need to diversify and adapt—or else face the possibility of failure. This rule applies to both the tiniest corner shop, as well as behemoths such as Apple and Google. Often, the simple acts of listening, observing, and trying new things can save a business from failure.

Photo credit: Shutterstock

 

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A Spider Weaves His Way Through the Art World

A Spider’s Heart is “a kid’s art book for adults. And vice versa.” In the words of creators, “it is about choosing a path that is right for oneself and not giving up. It is also about creativity and how it can help anyone solve any problem.”

If that weren’t enough to make me fall in love, the protagonist, Little Pablo (named after his grandfather, Little) is a vegetarian spider artist. His story begs the following questions: What happens when a spider refuses to kill other bugs? Will he starve to death? What about his urge to web, and how will art save him?

Written by Alon Seifert and illustrated by Eitan Cohen, the story is as beautiful and brilliant as the illustrations are.

Little Pablo webs art so major he lands himself a solo show at Bugosian Gallery and honestly, just thinking about him makes my heart swell.

The fact that we actually get a chance to meet Little Pablo in real life is like the chance to meet Kanye West before he turned into Yeezus. In other words: a once in a lifetime opportunity.

On June 2, Little Pablo will be making an appearance and signing autographs (or webbing them) at WeWork’s SoHo West space at 175 Varick Street from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Seifert and Cohen will be creating Little Pablo’s art works in thread, creating a spiderweb-like 3D pieces on two large-size canvases. They will also project their animated film as well as the entire book, so people can flip through it.

I believe it is entirely possible that as Kanye has said of himself, this also applies to Little Pablo. “I am Warhol. I am the number one most impactful artist of our generation. I am Shakespeare in the flesh.”

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Get That Cool Job: Social Media Manager

Are you always wondering how people get those really cool jobs? Like a social media manager who gets paid to play on social media all day? With billions of people on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram daily, we should all be getting rich, right?

But there’s a long list of specific skills needed to successfully manage a social media account. Savvy companies know that in order for an account to be beneficial to their business and brand, they have to hire a professional to get the results they want and save money and time in the long run.

First off, what does a social media manager do? A person with this job title (or a similar title, like social media strategist or social media coordinator) designs and administers a social media strategy that’s in line with a company’s brand.

What sort of experience do you need? According to Lia Zneimer, social media manager for WeWork, you don’t necessarily need a tech-heavy résumé.

“I think a variety of backgrounds can be helpful: communications, marketing, English (or whatever your native language is),” says Zneimer. “Millennials born into the digital age know it inside-out and use it in their daily lives, so in that regard, they’re building experience naturally. That said, I think solid writing skills can help, as can the ability to be resilient and think on your feet. I think social media is more about a natural skill set than it is about past experience. “

Those skills often include being a people person. Most individuals with this job love to meet and interact with people. It’s important, as they often spend hours each day interacting with customers and getting to know their client base.

Zneimer says that doesn’t necessarily mean all social media managers are extroverts.

“I think the kind of person who’s drawn to this job is someone who loves connectivity and relationships,” she says. “I don’t think social media managers necessarily have to be super outgoing; a quiet strength can help you in managing a social media channel. There’s lots of listening involved, lots of creativity, and lots of opportunity for meaningful one-on-one connections—all of which can appeal to those who aren’t extroverts by nature. “

The key word to the job title: personality. Be fun, outgoing, and have a sense of humor. You may think, “Hey, I’m behind a computer. Who can see my personality?” But people can see it in your words and interactions. They’ll be able to tell very quickly if you are a bore.

Knowing the right kind of content is key to being a great social media manager. You need to provide content that underscores the main points the company wants to get out there in the world. You will be writing across multiple platforms: blogs, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and any others your company decides is a valuable way to spread the word.

While everyone can post, tweet, or share a photo for their own benefit, not everyone knows how to utilize social media for a more general profit. This is where social media managers come in. Their job is to create a strategy for each social media handle and explain how each one can be beneficial to the growth of the company’s business.

Most companies will hire you based on your experience and results, rather than having a specific degree. Have a proven track record. Start with your personal account, and show that you can stand out.

“Develop your own social media presence, and make sure it’s up-to-date,” says Zneimer. “I’ve worked with social media managers before who don’t understand how Twitter works or who don’t have a LinkedIn profile of their own.”

Freshen up your skills by registering for classes on digital strategy, marketing, or social media. If you can contribute visuals for content posts, that’s a plus. And always look at what everyone else is doing.

“Familiarize yourself with all of the major platforms and create accounts on each,” says Zneimer. “Don’t be afraid to experiment. Start checking out the brands you admire and see what they’re doing on their social channels. Read voraciously—there are so many great resources out there. Even if you don’t have experience managing a corporate account, I think you can learn a lot from case studies.”

Photo credit: Lauren Kallen

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