Category Archives: Blogging

7 Tips for Running a Pinterest Contest

7 Tips for Running a Pinterest Contest

pinterest contestRunning Pinterest contests are getting more complicated every day and with Pinterest’s new contest guidelines you’ll find you can no longer run a simple giveaway using pins as entries. Now Pinterest contests have to be about quality over quantity, and they need to showcase Pinterest and its love of pretty pictures.

I just ran my first Pinterest-based giveaway for my blog and it was definitely more tricky than running a normal sweepstakes. Here are some tips on running a Pinterest contest that complies with their rules and that won’t make you crazy.

1. Run Your Contest Exclusively On Pinterest

A lot of giveaways have multiple ways to earn an entry, but it’s clear that Pinterest wants no part of this. Don’t have entries through Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. Either run your contest entirely on Pinterest or exclude Pinterest from your giveaway altogether.

2. Asking For a Follow Is Still Okay

Following you on Pinterest shouldn’t be an entry in and of itself, but you should make it a prerequisite for entry. One great perk of hosting a giveaway on your blog or website is getting more traffic, readers and followers, so if you want to use it to increase your Pinterest followers, go for it.

Keep track of your entries by having particpants repin a contest pin.

3. Have a Simple Way to Organize Entries

As I mentioned, hashtags promised to be an easy way to find entries but it didn’t work the way it should. Having contestants create a board is probably your easiest bet for both your readers to put their entry together and for you to keep track of and judge the entries. It also works best with Pinterest’s goal: to have users pin great content.

You have two easy choices: 1) Using your website or blog as “base”, either have entrants leave a link to their board in the blog comments or use a tool like Rafflecopter to collect this information; or 2) Require the repin of your giveaway pin. While Pinterest doesn’t want people to be limited in what they can pin, having a single pin you can use to track down other pins is great. Plus it will help raise the visibility of your giveaway. Just beware: Pinterest does not want people pinning giveaway rules. So make the pin you’re basing entries around something pin-worthy by itself.

4. Choose Winners Based on Merit

No more random winners. Say goodbye to random.org, now you need to reward someone for their awesome board. So make sure you set clear guidelines. What should they pin? What should their board look like? How will you judge the winner? Leave room for individuality and awesome pinning skills. Don’t require them to repin a bunch of stuff off of your own board or a brand’s board.

If you’re a blogger who knows your readers well, I’d recommend you bring in a 3rd party to judge. If you’re working with a brand, bring the brand in to pick a winner. This was definitely the hardest part of running my giveaway. I opted to narrow the entries down to 3 and then send those off to the brand. But just picking 3 was very tough.

5. Make Sure the Prize is Worth It

Pinterest giveaways take work, you shouldn’t expect as many entries as you would in a giveaway you run through comments or Facebook. So make sure your prize is something people will be willing to work for.

My giveaway was for a pair of glasses from Fetch Eyewear, something a lot of people need and something worth a decent amount of money. Going with Pinterest was a way to highlight the unique and classic style of the brand, a big part of why I reviewed them. And if you’re talking style, Pinterest is a great fit.

A good fit is really important. Pinterest is a great place for food, clothes, home decor and so much more. Giving away a great kitchen appliance? Have people pin the dishes they want to make. Giving away a high-value gift card? Have people pin what they want to buy. If you’re giving away a set of toothbrushes… maybe go another route.

6. Run Your Giveaway For Over a Week

Because people have to work harder to enter, they won’t all enter right away. Post a lot of reminders on Twitter and Facebook, remind people in subsequent posts, and make sure they have enough time to get it done. It’s not always easy to walk the line between being annoying and encouraging, so make sure you don’t push too hard or too easy.

My own board, modeled for my contest entrants.
My own Fetch Style board, modeled for my contest entrants.

7. Model Your Own Board

Your rules need to be clear and easy to understand. The easiest way to do that: make a board of your own to show your readers what you’re looking for. Since you’ll be judging on merit, having your readers create a board will make your job easier. And don’t be too strict when it comes to what they have to call it or what has to be on it. Give them a lot of room to play and use your own board to show them just how inventive they can be.

My contest had readers pin 2 pairs of glasses and then show me their style through the board they built. Here’s what I told them: “I built myself a nice little Fetch Style Pinterest Board and that’s going to be your mission, should you choose to accept it. Finding the right frames means finding something that fits your style, or maybe the style you want to have. Here’s a peek at my Fetch Style board. I pinned the Alex and the Sadie and then went crazy in all directions. Not just clothes and shoes and jewelry, but where I want to go in my frames and the puppy I’d like to take on a walk in them.” By going a little crazy myself, I was telling my readers that there were no real limits, just to do some awesome pinning and to give themselves a basic theme through the glasses. Great exposure for the brand, easy for the contestants.

And make sure whenever you run a giveaway you have a clear set of official rules.

Finally, keep in mind the Pinterest guidelines give you an overview of what they want. The biggest thing to remember is to make your giveaway use Pinterest as it’s intended: to be a showcase for images. If your giveaway keeps that in mind, you’ll definitely be Pinterest-friendly.

drive traffic pinterest

How to Drive Traffic With Pinterest: One Blogger’s Success Story

drive traffic pinterestMy friend Isra Hashmi is the blogger behind The Frugalette, a popular frugal living blog. And as most successful bloggers are, she is also a savvy content marketer. Her top traffic driving channel is Pinterest, where she has over 4,500 followers. She pins strategically, specifically for her brand and with the intention to drive blog traffic. And it works.

I asked Isra to share some of her favorite Pinterest strategies with my readers. Whether you’re a blogger or a business owner, Isra has some great tips to turn your Pinterest account into a traffic driving machine.

The Social Craft: What inspired you to change your Pinterest strategy? Talk about what happened, numbers-wise, after you did so.

Isra: For the first year I was on Pinterest, I looked at it as a great way to curate all those fabulous posts I find online and keep them in one place to check out later. I had boards dedicated to each child and their interests and places I would love to travel and things I would like to buy. It was all about me and my family. I didn’t quite understand how it would bring my blog traffic and it painfully took a year to gain 1,500 followers that were probably not even sure why they were following me either. Two years after Pinterest came out I still kept hearing how much traffic it was bringing bloggers and decided to invest more time in it and figuring it out. In one month of applying all the strategies I learned, I doubled my followers.

How is Pinterest driving your blog traffic now? You mentioned that Facebook was formerly your top traffic source.

Pinterest used to hover around in my top 10 referral sources. Since I switched my strategy it’s by far my #1 source and Facebook, formerly #1, is now #3. Also, the amazing thing about Pinterest is that if you hit just one great pin from your site, it could potentially keep generating traffic for months to come because it keeps getting repinned.

Explain the importance of pinning for your brand vs. for yourself and what steps you took to do so.

The first thing I did was to take myself out of it personally. I re-named my kids’ boards to appeal to others — instead of using my child’s name, I named a board “For Preschoolers” and started pinning things that would be great in that age range, regardless of gender. I deleted boards that followers of my blog would probably not be interested in. For example, a board dedicated to celebrity gossip, while fun to look at, was not something the readers of The Frugalette would be coming to me for.

Isra's Pinterest account on the mobile app.
Isra chooses her two top left Pinterest boards carefully, as those appear prominently on the mobile app.

What is your board positioning strategy? How did you choose which boards to put in the top row?

I focused on what my boards look like on the Pinterest app. The Pinterest app for iPhone is downloaded 200k times a day!  Seeing that so many people are using the app, I saw that when you look at a profile only the 2 left-most boards are shown at the very top, so those are critical. I wanted to make sure one of them was a board filled with my blog posts.

How do you choose a cover image for your boards?

I try my best to pick a cover with words. While pics are great, reading the board cover is still the easiest way to figure out what other pins you’ll find inside.

isra capture arrow
Isra renamed one of her boards with a “catchier” title and gained hundreds of new followers.

How do you name your boards? Describe what happened when you renamed one of your boards.

A lot of tips I read said to name Pinterest boards according to searchability, but I don’t think that’s true. While I like it to be clear what the board is, I also want it to feel unique and catchy. I changed one of my boards from “Blogging Tips” to “How to Rock Your Blog”. I still pin exactly the same things I did before, but many more people regularly follow that board now simply because it sounds more exciting. Who doesn’t want to rock their blog? (Of course it helps to have a good blog to begin with, before you start giving out advice!)

How often do you pin, and how much? What advice do you have for someone who is pressed for time?

Set your timer for 15 minutes. That’s it. The key is consistency. You must pin at least one a day. Pinning too much will leave your followers frustrated. Not pinning at all, or enough interesting content will leave them bored and you won’t get new followers.

How do you find great content to pin? Do you pin content within pinterest or from the web, or a combo of both?

I work very hard to find original content from the web, that is the kind that does the best in terms of building a following. Re-pinning is great too, if it’s a really great pin, but my first choice is to pin organically from a site.

How do you balance sharing your own content with sharing others? What is your ratio?

At least 6 out of 10 pins are others’ content versus my own. Even with my own content, I am very selective to make sure it’s a good fit for Pinterest.

How do optimize your blog content for Pinterest?

If I know the post is good fit for Pinterest — a recipe, a how-to post, etc. — I make sure to add a great Pinterest-friendly image to the post with a text overlay on it. To do that, I use my own photo and add text with PicMonkey. I’ve gone back to older posts and added an image with text and pinned it and they’ve done really well. Again, scrolling through a page with pictures is nice, but when you see big bold text it’s much easier to pin and know what you are pinning instead of looking at that tiny caption under the image.

The Frugalette is Isra Hashmi’s popular frugal-living blog. You can follow her on Pinterest at pinterest.com/thefrugalette.

photo credit: tricky (rick harrison) via photopin cc

A snapshot of the blogger-brand relationship survey.

The Blogger-Brand Relationship Research Report is Now Available!

A snapshot of the blogger-brand relationship survey.
A snapshot of the blogger-brand relationship survey.

I’ve been blogging since 2003. That’s when blogs were still called “weblogs” and no one really knew what they were. I have my husband to thank for this particular foray into digital content creation — he thought a blog might be a good way to chronicle our drive across country that summer. He was right. Our family and friends loved reading about our adventures and viewing our vacation photos online as they happened.

Ten years later, blogs have come a long way, and so have I.  As a former marketer for a parenting brand and now as a digital marketing consultant, I see the immense value of blogs as a marketing tool. And hundreds of the world’s largest brands agree.

The budgets in this space are immense. The business is moving and changing rapidly.

But the data is sparse.

What is actually happening here? Why are brands spending thousands of dollars at blogger conferences and practically throwing free product at them? Why are bloggers’ inboxes filling up with press releases as if they are print magazine editors? Don’t bloggers know we don’t pay for product reviews? Don’t PR firms and brands know bloggers can’t work for free?

Faced with this confusion from both clients and bloggers, I dusted off the research methods portion of my brain (well-developed back in graduate school and the years following) and I developed a survey for bloggers about their experiences working with brands. In designing the survey, I attempted to answer the following two questions:

What is the current state of the blogger-brand relationship from the bloggers’ perspective?
How can brands and bloggers work together for mutual benefit?

I assembled an Advisory Group of Very Smart People (experienced bloggers and marketing professionals) to give me feedback on the survey design. When the survey was ready, I tapped into my blogger network and social media channels to promote it. In other words, I spent about a month begging bloggers to take the survey. And thankfully, 227 of them did.

Before I even had a chance to write up the results I started lining up speaking engagements to share the data. I’ve found that there’s an incredibly eager audience for this information. I spoke to bloggers and brands at Mom 2.0 Summit. I spoke to juvenile manufacturers and retailers at the All Baby & Child Spring Educational Conference. And I spoke to PR professionals at the PRSA Boston Social Media Summit. You can view those presentation decks and read more about what I presented here and here.

And now, I’ve written the summary report. In the report I outline 5 major themes that emerged from the data about the blogger-brand relationship. These themes cover the four topic areas of my survey: Engagement, Compensation, Experience and Demographics. You can download your free copy of the research report here.

The findings may surprise you. However if you’re a blogger, the findings are likely more validating than earth-shattering.

The summary report is just that, a summary. The full report takes a deeper diving into the data and is available for purchase, starting at $199. I can also create a custom report and/or presentation for your business or firm. Send me an email if you are interested in the full report or a custom report/presentation.

 

How brands measure blogger influence

Blogger Influence: How Brands Measure It, and How Bloggers Wish They Would

It’s becoming increasingly clear that a blogger’s “influence” cannot be measured simply with a single number, or even a small collection of numbers. Bloggers today have a wide online (and offline) presence and audience engagement that are not easily quantified with statistics like pageviews and followers.

Today I am speaking on a panel at Mom 2.0 Summit about influence beyond your blog and the trend toward brands and PR firms valuing a blogger’s entire “social footprint” when establishing relationships. My 2013 Blogger-Brand Relationship Survey included two specific questions about measuring influence — What numbers are brands asking for? and What numbers do bloggers wish brands would ask for? It’s interesting to see the contrasts between how brands value bloggers, and how they value themselves. See my presentation deck below for more data and information on this topic. You can also download the free research report.

Bloggers, how do you communicate your value to a brand or PR firm? Are you able to represent all the facets of your influence?

mom 20 blogger

5 Findings About Bloggers and Brands from the 2013 Blogger-Brand Relationship Survey

mom 20 bloggerLast month, I conducted an independent research survey of bloggers to try and gather some research-based information about the often complex (and occasionally thorny) relationship between bloggers and brands.

While I frantically work on the summary report, while simultaneously jetting to the west coast to share some of the findings at Mom 2.0 Summit, I thought I’d share a few discoveries I’ve made since diving into the numbers, just to give you a sense of what’s to come. To get your copy of the summary report when it’s ready, join my email list.

First of all, an overview of the respondents. 227 bloggers responded to the survey during a 5-week period in March and April of 2013. 92% are female, 87% have children. They blog about dozens of topics – however the most frequently named are “Family/Parenting”, “Food, Recipes and/or Cooking” and “Products and Reviews”.

The majority of respondents are experienced, mid- to high-traffic bloggers: 84% have been blogging 3 years or more, and more than half reported having 10K + unique visitors per month.

Finding #1: Bloggers blog, foremost, because they love to write.

Bloggers are occasionally portrayed as money-grubbing opportunists climbing over each other for free swag. Not so. When asked, “Why do you blog?” the most popular response by far is “I love to write.” Even 70% of the highest traffic bloggers, who have the most potential to profit from their blogs, reported that their reason for blogging was for the love of writing.

Finding #2: Bloggers are inundated with pitches from brands that don’t fit their blog.

97% of bloggers get email pitches from brands and PR firms, and 40% of bloggers reported getting 10 or more email pitches per day. When asked how many of those email pitches are “right on target for your blog’s content and tone”, 40% said very few to none were a good match.

Finding #3: Personal communication matters when pitching bloggers.

When bloggers are confronted with an inbox full of pitches that don’t match their blog content, getting personalized emails from brands and PR firms help pitches and opportunities stand out. When asked how they typically connect with brands for the first time, the most popular response was “a personal email from the brand/PR firm” and the LEAST popular response was “a mass email pitch from the brand/PR firm”.

Fact #4: A “chance to win” is nearly never enough to win over a blogger.

Guess what? Offering bloggers “a chance to win” something will usually not compel them to do work on your behalf, despite the popularity of this particular tactic. 78% of bloggers reported having been offered a “chance to win a prize” as compensation for a product post. 90% said they rarely or never accept such an offer.

Fact #5: Bloggers want brands to look beyond the numbers.

The top 3 metrics that brands are asking for as a measure of bloggers’ influence are: Twitter followers, Facebook fans and blog traffic statistics. And although many bloggers agree that those numbers are important, when asked what metrics they wish brands would ask for more frequently, the majority named reader engagement metrics such as comments, subscribers and interactions on social channels.

A blogger with a smaller but loyal and trusting readership often has more influence than one with tons of page views. Some brands get this, but many do not.

I’ll be talking a lot more about measures of influence at the “Influence Beyond Your Blog” panel at Mom 2.0 Summit this Saturday. If you won’t be there, you can view my presentation deck here.

For more data from the 2013 Blogger-Brand Relationship Survey, sign up for my email list to get the summary report when it is released.

photo credit: blancastella via photopin cc