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Pinterest For Business To Business: Interview With Joel Windels of Brandwatch


Last week I attended my first Pinterest meetup. Max pinterest tshirt

It was great fun and I even won a Pinterest T-shirt. Seems appropriate that Max should model it since he has his own Pinterest board. Don't you think he makes a cute model?

Anyway, needless to say, I was excited to meet fellow pinners and talk about strategy, cool tools, what works, what doesn't.

"Were you on the PinChat when host & founder Kelly LIeberman brought in Lizze from McDonalds?" I asked a few people. My question was met with puzzled looks. "Oh big corporations are pinning?"  Now I was surprised. Ah..yes. 

Granted, I only spoke with a handful of people, but it seemed most were pinning for fun or using Pinterest in a very limited way for business e.g. one board among many personal boards.

My big take aways: Pinterest, as a business tool, is still in the beginning stages of adoption .. even for the pioneer pinners. Even more than the idea of pinning for business, is the concept of putting a focus on pinning for business by creating and maintaining a variety of boards that support a brand.

When it comes to social media, we learn most from the people who have stepped out before us and generously share their experiences. In this Pinterest Pinning For Business Learning Series post we take a look how a business-to-business company, Brandwatch, is using Pinterest as an inbound marketing tactic.

About Brandswatch: Launched in August 2007, Brandwatch  develops tools for monitoring and analysing social media conversations. The company is experiencing huge growth in the young sector.

 Joel Windels_Brandwatch

Our interview is with Joel Windels. Joel is the Community Manager at Brandwatch where he is responsible for all of Brandwatch’s presences online, including social networks like Pinterest.

Diva Marketing/Toby:  In a world that began as a social network to share images of food and fashion Brandwatch is one of the early business-to-business brands on Pinterest. What did you see about the platform that caused you to actively participate?

Joel Windels: The key thing to remember with social media is that it is not only incredibly new, but it is also changing at a rate that is almost impossible to stay totally on top of. At Brandwatch, we’re obviously very interested in making sure we’re keeping track of all of the most popular social sites, so once Pinterest began to show itself as a rising star, we had to take notice. The meteoric rise of the network and simplicity of the image-sharing idea struck a chord with me, so I decided to test the waters.

Diva Marketing/Toby:  From a high level, what is Brandwatch’s  Pinterest strategy?

Joel Windels: We generally see Pinterest as a traffic-boosting network, with site referrals from Pinterest forming a small part of our wider lead generation strategy. As an inbound marketing tool, it’s an excellent place to house links to lots of our content in a visually appealing and clever way, in a way that’s not centered around our own website.

Diva Marketing/Toby:  Understanding that Pinterest is still in its infancy, especially in terms of b2b, what are your measures for success?

Joel Windels: As I mentioned before, we’re just testing the waters and, for the moment at least, we’re measuring its value in referral rates. There’s something to be said for the qualitative worth in having a presence, such as using it as a resource for curious prospects and simply for broadening the visibility of Brandwatch, though the primary measurement is through number of visits to our own site from Pinterest for the time being.

Diva Marketing/Toby: With any social network initiative there are risks associated with active participating. What were Brandwatch’s challenges and how did you overcome them?

Joel Windels: One of the more interesting ways we’ve been using Pinterest is through the use of our ‘social media monitoring’ board. We’ve created it to house a board of our main competitors, as we regularly get asked about the other options in the market, so it gives us somewhere to point people to. Using our own tool, we also search the web for individuals and companies that are enquiring about SMM tools and the industry, so we often step in to offer advice, sometimes via our Pinterest boards.

While it may be a cliché, we think that our tool is the best around and that people will come to that conclusion by themselves, so in pointing our prospects to our competitors we’re not approaching marketing in an orthodox way. The risk is that we’re not as good as we think we are (very low, of course)!

Diva Marketing/Toby:  If you’re not a visual thinker it might be a “content challenge” for a services business to sustain pinning over time. What is your content strategy .. In other words what are you pinning?  

Joel Windels: Pinterest is a supplementary channel for us, so we don’t have a content strategy for the platform. We’ve created one-off boards, such as the monitoring one and a set of pins to support our Superbowl project back in February, though we are now using the site as a seeding channel for our main content – namely our eBooks, our case studies and our blog posts. Essentially our Pinterest content plan mirrors our general one.

Diva Marketing/Toby:  In social networks there are two paths we can take:  passively providing content and actively engaging within others. At this point, most people seem to be sharing content/pins but there is not a lot of conversation happening. How active is Brandwatch in terms of engagement e.g. commenting, repining, likes?

Joel Windels: This is a very good point you’ve made, as they are indeed two very different approaches. There are 1001 different social networks propping up and lots of guesswork involved in determining how to spend your ‘community time’. Therefore I decided that, for now, we’ve tried to keep our primary focus for engagement on tried and tested platforms like Twitter, whilst using Pinterest for its own strengths.

For the moment, we’ve walked the first type of path in passively providing content, though as the site progresses and we hire more community staff in the coming months, we may well take a look at the second approach. Brandwatch

Diva Marketing/Toby:  One of the big questions that I’m asked is how do you find time to include another social network into your communication outreach? Would you give us an idea of the resource structure (people) and approximate time you’re investing?

Joel Windels: Our team is split across the UK, Germany and the USA. Understandably we’re still putting together the processes that divide the community spread, but at the moment it’s just me on Pinterest. We’ve pulled a bit of focus away from the likes of Google plus and other networks for the time being, as we’re seeing more referrals through Pinterest. We’ve had other monitoring companies repin some of our pins, and plenty of staff members contribute to the content that our pins link to, but as far as actually maintaining our profile and our uploads, that task currently sits at my desk.

Diva Marketing/Toby:  In any new social media endeavor, they will not come unless you tell them. How is Brandwatch creating awareness for its Pinterest boards?

Joel Windels: Well, you know what? They have been coming anyway. Like I mentioned before, we often link people through Twitter and other sites to our collections – good articles, our eBooks, competitors when someone wants an overview. We haven’t really pushed our Pinterest presence very strongly; it seems to have grown organically, with users sharing it amongst themselves because they like our boards/content rather than us trying to draw attention to it.

Diva Marketing/Toby: Pinterest provides interesting consumer insights. From the point of view of a research company, I’d love to hear your views of what marketers can gain from analysis of pins and boards.

Joel Windels: Well, Pinterest is a bit of a pain with its API so it’s very hard to work out exactly how much coverage we offer. Obviously it’s the best possible, but we are aware of some pins slipping through the net. Useful features like sentiment analysis and author metrics can help analysts work out how companies are faring on Pinterest, and how they might be doing that.

 As with all of the data we track, searching the web for social media mentions of your brand, your industry or your competitors will allow you to get a much greater understanding of what your customers are saying. Even if people are pinning and engaging positively on your brand page, doesn’t mean people aren’t indicating otherwise elsewhere. The only way of truly gleaning insight from the social web is through monitoring tools and the features they provide. Exactly what each company will discover from an analytical point of view will differ in each case.

Diva Marketing/Toby:  To wrap this up. what lessons learned can you share with us about business-to-business companies coming jumping onto the Pinterest train?

Joel Windels: As with any new and untested platform, it’s quite fun to test the waters with what works and what doesn’t; it’s certainly good advice to poke your toes in before diving in at the deep end. Furthermore, we’ve found that through being open, interesting and experimental we’ve managed to get a good ROI from being on the network.

Note: #PinChat is held Wednesday at 9p Eastern Time.

Pinterest Pinning For Business Learning Series 

10 Reasons Avon Is Not Too Late To The Social Media Party


Avon good housekeeping oct 1953

In 1886, Mr. D. H. McConnell launched what was to become one of the most beloved brands... Avon

Let’s flash back 126 years when women were expected to be housekeepers, wives and of course mothers. In steps a man who defies convention when he builds his sales force with a team of women. D. H. McConnell intuitively understood that as salespeople women could relate to other women and bring a passion to his new perfumes better than men. 

Based on its direct sales approach, which was built on developing relationships and sharing conversations, Avon has been called the original “Social” Brand. However, its competition has left it in the 18th century “social media” dust.

Avon has seen a 75% decline in operating profit over the last decade. A Wall Street Journal Avon sales stats article, Avon Is Late to Social Media’s Party, reported sales for cosmetic products have steadily moved online. Although Avon does have online channels it's not been as aggressive as other cosmetic companies.

Recently Warren Buffet and Coty experssed interest in this iconic company now in crisis. In a 5/13/12 media release Avon said it would  "..consider Coty's letter.."

Update: 5/14: Coty has back off of its offer. "Your total lack of engagement with us leads us to believe that you remain reluctant to explore a friendly, negotiated combination on a reasonable timetable," Coty Chairman Bart Becht said in a letter to Avon dated Monday and made public. "Two months is enough." - Reuters

When my pal and social media colleague, Rob Petersen, founder of BarnRaisers and co-writer of this blog post, invited me to collaborate to bring Avon some 21st century social media ideas I was there. So Avon bebe .. this one is for you! 

10 reasons Avon Is Not Too Late To The Social Media Party

Subtitled: But the clock is ticking, the cake is getting stale and the tinis are getting warm.

1. BUSINESS STRATEGY: Of any brand, Avon has one of the most powerful social business strategies available. They have a brand community of  5.8 million reps. There are great examples of brands that put their community to work and turned their business around. Take for example, Harley Davidson. This may seem like an odd comparison but stay with us.

On the brink of bankruptcy in the 1970's, Harley Davidson overhauled their business to realize their most valuable asset was their riders. In other words, the people were even more important than the product so Harley: 1) Spoke to the shared interest of their community before product benefits 2) brought advocates together and let them help build new relationships. Avon needs a business strategy, not a social media strategy. Now, here's what they can put it to use.

2. "AVON CALLING" ONLINE COMMUNITY: Avon's famous slogan could now be a live, online community where their sales reps offer daily advice about Avon products, deals, help customers with a cosmetic question, refer someone to the Avon rep in their area and talk about who they are as people (e.g. where they like to go on vacation).

By the way, this is what Harley does daily at HDTalking.com, a customer created content community of close to 400,000 members.

P&G also has a highly successful online community, Being Girl, for their Tampax and Always brands that has achieved a 4-to-1 ROI over traditional channels. Avon even has an online community in the UK, Avon Connects, demonstrating they are not late to the party, they just need to join in.

3. "LIKE" US ON FACEBOOK (AND SEE WHAT HAPPENS): Every brand wants you to "Like" them and Avon has a pretty robust but commercial Facebook page that 660,000 people already like. They could use their sales reps more and show a human side.

For example, Kraft Macaroni & Cheese, recently produced a video called "Likeapella" to celebrate the people who like them. Not to suggest that Avon do the same thing but to make the point that major brands need to use social media to make a more personal connection. Here's what Kraft did.

4. AVON CUSTOMER APPRECIATION DAYS (VIA TWITTER SEARCH): If Avon representative wanted to build 1-to-1 relationships in larger venues, they could go to high traffic locations in their area like a mall; then, if they use Twitter Search, they could find other women in the same mall and begin a conversation they very same way with the very same techniques they use when selling door-to-door.

5. KLOUT PERKS: With 5.8 million sales reps, they must have a very large number who have high Klout scores. Why not demonstrate to how powerful they already are in social media. Put this social influence to work and see how many rewards Avon reps can get through "Klout Perks." This would show how much social influence sales reps already have.

6. AVON PINTEREST: The newest darling of the social networks, Pinterest, aligns with Avon’s targeted female demographic. Online products provide Avon with the base for creating a Pinterest page that has multiple benefits from reinforcing community with boards that highlight new and seasonal products, provide lifestyle the “Avon way” with beauty to showing the caring side of Avon through its nonprofit work. In addition, likes, repins and comments offer Avon new consumer insights.

7. AVON PINTEREST CONTEST: Taking Pinterest one step further is the idea of a “Pin It To Win It” contest. Avon has the opportunity to engage with its customers in creative ways that includes both customers and sales representatives. For example, many of Avon’s products are colorful from its nail polish to lip glow. A red, white and blue Fourth of July themed challenge could create fireworks of fun.

8. AVON SALES REP SOCIAL MEDIA TRAINING: Avon has created an innovative online training program, Beauty of Knowledge, for their sales reps. Topics range from how to start your new Avon business to money management, logistics, goal setting and traditional marketing support.  However, in my research I came across sales reps who had posted on social networks the need and their desire for social media courses to be included in their training.

In April, I had the honor of speaking at the Possible Woman Conference about social media marketing. Among the brands represented, by over 400 women attending the event, were sales reps and leaders from Avon. I saw first hand their enthusiasm mixed with confusion and frustation about how to leverage social media. After one of my sessions an Avon rep spent two-hours talking about her social media efforts with a speaker from the panel.

Sidebar: Founded by the visionary Linda WindPossible Woman is an excting conference that brings inspiration and leadership training to women in business.

Although Avon sales reps are currently involved in social media many still have challenges regarding how to start and/or how to take their initiatives to the next level. In addition to the training we suggest that Avon consider developing a series of template models for Twitter, Facebook and blogs.

9. AVON MOBILE APP: Smart phones and tablets have opened additional eCommerce channels and created new ways to engage with customers. With the ubiquity of smart phones branded apps continue to grow in popularity. Research conducted by Women at NBCU’s Brand Power Index found that women are more likely to have gaming apps on their smart phone (75%of women versus 67 % of men). What fun it would be for Avon to explore developing a gaming app and of course, a mobile commerce app.

10. SOCIAL MEDIA MEASUREMENT: Including social media as part of a marketing communications strategy can help accelerate achieving your goals. However, with so many moving pieces, Avon doesn’t need more measurement, they to identify the ones that matter most, their Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s) and report, track and be prepared to take action on them.

Maybe, if Avon follows this plan, it would let Warren Buffet and Coty know just who they're dealing with .. a Top 50 Cosmetic Brand. No matter how this plays out Avon's legacy of empowering women will be part of history.

Avon ad 2012

Some great brands have turned their business around by realizing and reaching out to their strongest asset .. their community. After all, they call it Social Media for a reason.

What are your thoughts? Do you think it's not too late for Avon and their 5.8 million sales reps to join the Social Media party or is the cake too stale?


Six Tips on How To Make Your Website Pinterest Friendly


Pinterest-triplePinterest. Pinterest. Pinterest.

There I've said it. Now I'm definitely out of the P-closet. That does sound a bit odd .. well you know what I mean. 

Couple of weeks ago I had the pleasure of conducting a members only web cast for the American Marketing Association on Pinterest. The approach I took was a little different than the millions (not an exaggeration!) of webinars, presentations and posts that help you through the logistics of how to pin. Important no doubt but here at Diva Marketing it's a focus on the strategy and tactics versus the logistics.

 I have so much 'good stuff' to share that I thought a series on Pinterest might be fun. Oh no Toby not another Pinterest post! Well, yes but we'll look at Pinterest a little differently.

As my friend Barb Giamanco the diva of social media for sales said to me - I get B2C but other then showing the "human side" of a B2B company I'm not sure of the application benefits. So we'll explore verticals and brands that you might not think "fit" in a social visual communication network.

Social Visual Communication

Vocabulary matters. No more pinboards when you talk to the C-suite please. 

A CMO of a prominent B2B company recently told me she thought of Pinterest as a game for moms and didn't consider a "pinboard" a serious business tactic. Rather reminds me of the days of when blogs were called journals or diaries. Love this quote:  Blog gone pinterest quote snappleface_3 

However, along the way we learned that if we thought a little differently that blogs could support business objectives. The rest, as they say, is social media history.

With Pinterest it's not only a matter of looking at the world a little differently .. but repositioning to include concepts and language that the C-suite (CMO,CEO) can understand and "get." As social media becomes more sophisticated and is integrated into the life style of our customers, it is no longer is a rogue tactic that flies under the radar and suddenly becomes the darling of the company. There is too much at stake. 

I'm suggesting that we use the term Social Visual Communication. 

We'll talk strategy, target market, customer insights of course. However, there are so many people that are off and running that I want to start inside out. With very basic website tactics. 

Pinterest tips

Six Tips on How To Make Your Website Pinterest Friendly

1. When you're planning content on your site include an image as part of each text article

2. If you're not serving videos publicly e.g. YouTube include a graphic near the video. 

3. Graphics should align with your brand promise and values.

4.Consider what images your target audience will feel comfortable pinning. 

5. Consider how your banner is created. If someone wants to pin your page versus an article is there a non flash image that can be taken? 

6. Last, but important since people are still hesitant to pin because of copyright issues*, indicate that you encourage pinning. Best placement would be above the fold. *Poll taken during the AMA Pinterest webcast .. 80% of respondents were hesitant to go forward with Pinterest because of legal issues.

Bonus if you're really forward thinking: I do believe the Pinterest format: horizontal, graphics, sharing will become integrated into websites as the norm. 

Pinnect - Pinnect  Pinterest wordpress theme - Gridline 

Devstand has identified 34 "Pinterest" Wordpress themes

And don't forget mobile --  Pinterest type format mobile _pulse -  Pulse

Read more .. Diva Marketing Interviews with smozy/Kotex and Microsoft

By default this series began a few weeks ago with an interview with the CEO,Yael Linen-Zuchman, of an Israeli digital agency smoyz  and the brand manager of their client Eran Sion/Hogla-Kimberly. They launched an innovative Pinner Relations (think blogger relations) program.

I also had the pleasure of interviewing BJ O'Hare, the woman in charge of Microsoft's Mouse Design Pinterest contest. 

Reach out if I can help you with a Pinterest strategy. As you might guess, I've been sipping the Koolaid on this one (smile).

Pinterest Pinning For Business Learning Series