Does the future of community management lie in transactions?

In our last post, we explored Pinterest’s potential for social media marketing and community management efforts. As the network continues to grow, however, some brands are leveraging the social network in a different manner. Most notable of these instances comes from Gilt’s “unlockable pins” campaign. According to TechCrunch, this new feature allows pinners to access a hidden link once a pin has been repinned at least 50 times. This promotional link remains exclusive to Pinterest followers and cannot be accessed anywhere else on the Gilt’s site.

Sephora provides us with a clear example of the “like-gating” banner (courtesy of Hubspot). 

As we consider the future of social media marketing, these approaches to community management will continually be called into question. Sure, there are undoubtedly short term benefits of these campaigns for brands. Social media managers can pinpoint the ROI of such promotions based on increased (albeit artificial) engagement. But is this transaction-based engagement truly where we want to steer the social media marketing industry? After all, it seems these transactions cheapen the community’s experience. 

Why can’t we focus on the long-term advantages and power of an engaged community? Brands need to be constantly reminded that social media isn’t a simple task. There can be a place for easy to execute promotional campaigns, but true online engagement stems from hours of immersion within your own community. As Ekaterina Walter, social strategist at Intel, writes on MarketingProfs, brands should provide compelling and interactive content. This varies from industry to industry and network to network, but it’s increasingly clear that social media is valid force in marketing. As the industry flourishes, we’ll learn to measure and appreciate the long-term benefits of sustained community engagement. What do you think? Have you tried to justify time spent truly interacting and relating to the community? How difficult was that? 

The Pinterest Appeal

During out #SMOchat, Brittany Morse of Sprout Social share insights on Pinterest. Clearly, Sprout Social understands the need to add valuable content to the conversation. 

Even B2B companies can add value to the conversation. Promote a blog post or infographic that offers industry tips, trends, or statistics. You can even take it one step further and pin videos that highlight case studies or tutorials. Beth Hayden of Copyblogger suggests that since there are far fewer videos than pictures on the site, your videos are more likely to be seen. All in all, these tips may help you create desirable content that engages followers with your brand without alienating them.

Engage Your Community

Similar to other social media sites, Pinterest offers brands ample opportunity to foster a two-way conversation within its online community. Although it’s important to establish yourself as a “curator of taste” or leader within your industry, take time to acknowledge the value your audiences contributes to the topic or niche. Repin content you find particularly compelling onto company boards. Design a board that highlights customer stories, whether case studies or pins that highlight the value your product or service offers. Take it one step further: like and comment pins from your followers, regardless of whether or not they relate to your brand. Don’t be afraid to show followers a human element of your brand’s culture.

Ultimately, we hope this serves as a basic guide for developing your brand’s presence of Pinterest. We’d love comments on readers’ experience so far with the network in the comments section. As a community manager, what are best practices you’ve found so far? As a personal user, do you engage with brands on Pinterest? Why or why not?

We’d love to connect with you on Pinterest! Our boards are still a work in progress but they’re a taste of what’s to come. 

The Forgotten Social Network: Exposing Your Brand on Instagram

When brands set out to establish a social media strategy, they automatically gravitate towards the “Big Three”: Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter. While this is certainly more than a sound gameplan considering the majority of one’s audience will be found on these major networks, one shouldn’t overlook the other up and coming niche networks. Since its launch in October 2010, Instagram rapidly expanded to over 10 million users in only a year. Clearly, it’s here to stay. 

Couldn’t get any crazier than this shot. 

At nearly 99000 followers, Red Bull has fully leveraged Instagram’s potential. The brand posts a “daily awesome picture” from their sports playground in order to stay true to its audience’s nature. In addition, despite its large fan base, it regularly likes and comments pictures posted by users.  

Keep Working at It

While zero followers on Instagram may seem disheartening compared to the thousands of fans and followers you might have already established on Facebook and Twitter, it’s important to keep at it. At the end of the day, you should value the quality of your brand community over the quantity. As a social media manager, challenge yourself to orchestrate the most creative and interesting shots your company has to offer every once in a while. Ready, Snap, Post.