Monday, May 21, 2012

How to Build a Brand with Pinterest

Pinterest is all the rage in social media circles. The words pin, pinning, and pinboard have taken on new meanings, just as Tweet, like, and follow did for Twitter and Facebook. Pinterest promotes itself as a way “to discover new things and get inspiration from people who share your interests.” 

With Facebook's IPO hoarding the news, no one seems to remember the formerly hot Q&A site Quora, and the jury is still out as to the potential of Google Plus. So, can Pinterest endure for the long-term, and what will its impact be on building brand equity?

The rate of Pinterest users is amazing in social media circles, especially because the site is still in its beta phase, and users must receive invitations to set up accounts. According to ComScore, the number of daily users has increased by 145% since early 2012. In addition, 80% of users are female, 55% are between 25-44 years old, and most live in the mid-West. The average time spent on the site by American users is 77 minutes per day vs. 36 minutes on Twitter. In the USA, the top interests include crafts, gifts, hobbies and leisure, interior design, and fashion designers/collections. In the United Kingdom, the top interests are different and include venture capital, blogging resources, crafts, web statistics/analytics, and SEO/marketing.

So while the site is growing, how should brands respond? Should businesses with strong brands jump into Pinterest now? Should small-to-medium size businesses with evolving brands jump in or wait? Some well-known brands with a Pinterest presence include Southwest Airlines, Whole Foods, Nordstrom, The Travel Channel, Better Homes and Gardens, Apple Vacations, and Starbucks.

In order to build a brand presence on Pinterest, consider these questions first:

[1] Is your business a match with Pinterest? If you manufacture duct tape or widgets, Pinterest may not be the best marketing tool.

[2] Do you have a social media strategy, and does a Pinterest presence align with the rest of your social media strategy? In addition, does a Pinterest presence align with your overall marketing strategy?

[3] Do you have personnel to dedicate time to pin images and links and comment on other pins? Do you have appropriate images to share on Pinterest, and are those quality photos?

[4] Does your team understand your competitive landscape well enough to follow what your competitors may be doing on Pinterest?

[5] Do you understand the nuances of Pinterest to generate repeat traffic? Perhaps, a daily theme or different news, tips, etc., should be featured on your page. Can you easily find this information without impacting your team’s other tasks?

[6] Some common board titles include recommended books, inspirational words, cartoons based on subject, places, pets, videos, and technology. Do any of these resonate with your business, and if yes, how can you integrate them into your pins and boards?

Sherry Nouraini, President of Captive Touch, a San Diego social media agency, explains, “I’ve always thought that the most brilliant ideas are the simplest ones. That is the very thing I like about Pinterest – it is simple, yet powerful. In an era of increasing attention deficit, incorporating simplicity into your branding efforts could be a great asset. Pinterest allows you to express the personality of your brand in an extremely engaging manner. Brands that show personality, authenticity, and creativity will have the upper hand in the race for grabbing eyeballs, and Pinterest can help put you in that position.”

Here are some Pinterest pages to visit:

Do you have a Pinterest page? If yes, what do you think about this unique social media site? If no, send an email to me at, and I’ll send you an invitation.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

What Yahoo's Recent Scandal Says About Leadership

By now, everyone has heard about the scandal at the very tip of Yahoo’s leadership iceberg. Hired as CEO of Yahoo in January 2012, Scott Thompson took over the reins of a once-great tech company that of late has struggled to define its core business and mission. However, recently, there was something rotten in Denmark, to quote Shakespeare’s Hamlet.

Thompson’s bio included a computer science degree, but the truth was, he only had an accounting degree. This was not a simple typographical error. It was a major error, and at no time, did Thompson correct the error. And since he was a CEO, not a janitor or hair stylist, and worked for a large company, Yahoo, not a fast food restaurant or gas station, this news quickly became front page news.

Further reports surfaced whereby Thompson was quoted as saying that he never gave a resume to Yahoo, but instead, he blamed a recruiter for providing his background to the search committee – a blatant attempt to distance himself from the scandal. But, enough was enough. Stop the lies!

This scandal has serious ramifications. Why should a leader be given a free pass to make incorrect statements on his resume or curriculum vitae? Why should a leader act in a certain manner while simultaneously expecting different behaviors from his or her employees? And lastly, what does this behavior, in this case, lying about a college degree, say about Thompson’s ability to lead and set an example?

Doug Dickerson, a leadership expert, author, and national radio host, chimed in, “A key ingredient in leadership is authenticity. In order for a culture of honesty to exist in any corporation, the example must be set by those at the top. While many safeguards are in place to prevent these types of incidents, this is an unfortunate reminder of what can happen when leaders bend the truth. The fact that Scott Thompson could rise to the highest position in the corporate world without correcting a significant inaccuracy in his background became the reason for his downfall. The lesson learned here is not so cliché after all – honesty is the best policy.”

What do you think?

Image Credit: Thanks to Ted Goff for use of his comic with this post. Check out his work at

Monday, May 14, 2012

Do you stand up for what you want?

While Selena Rezvani’s new book was written for women, men can also learn a great deal about asking for and standing up for what they want. In Pushback, readers learn to focus on their negotiation skills. According to Rezvani, “The art of asking for something we want is about having a voice. When we advocate on our own behalf, we know that we’re deserving of good things, that we’re smart enough to handle whatever unfolds at the negotiating table, and that we only get what we ask for.”

Consider this situation: you have performed well beyond your supervisor’s stated expectations at work and deserve to be in charge of the next major project in your department. You may also deserve a new title or a promotion, or even a raise. You have an annual review coming up soon and know that your supervisor will commend your work because everyone in the company knows you have surpassed your goals. But you are hesitant about speaking up. Sound familiar?

According to Rezvani, here are some questions to ask yourself:

[1] Will I have regrets if I do or don’t act in some way on this? If I suspect I will have regrets, what are they?

[2] What should I do? Listen to the first answer that comes into your mind.

[3] Imagine that you are 10 years older, how would the “older me” counsel the “younger me” on this issue?

[4] What is the cost of not acting on this issue? What are the potential gains of moving forward?

[5] What would I tell my best friend to do in this situation?

[6] How does my counterpart like to be communicated with?

[7] How can we make this work for both us?

[8] What action can I take to make saying yes easier for my counterpart?

[9] Can you (your supervisor) explain how you arrived at that decision?

[10] Can you (your supervisor) walk me through how decisions like these are determined?

Carol Ann Petren, Executive VP and General Counsel of MacAndrews and Forbes Holdings, Inc., explained about risk-taking, “I developed early in life a comfort level with going out on a limb knowing it could break. Risk taking has served me well throughout my career, and quite frankly, opened many doors that I would not otherwise have walked through.”

The truth is, we may not always be liked. We may not always feel comfortable. But think about the co-worker or family member you admire for their gutsiness or persistence. What makes them different from others? Think about a time when they showed their true grit – what did that look like, and what happened afterward?

Rezvani’s advice is to face your strengths and weaknesses, seek out new experiences, lead an initiative, build up and test your tolerance for risk. Look for opportunities to refine your skills, broaden you as a person, and build your confidence. “Pushback skills can remain uncomfortable and unpleasant, like going to the dentist [or they can become comfortable.] You decide which.”

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Thursday, May 10, 2012

Brands - Part 2: Which brands have fallen flat?

Brands represent products, services, business founders and presidents, and so much more. But what happens when they stop representing their founder, competitive advantage, or whatever makes their product or service stand out in the crowd? What happens when brands lose their magic?

Earlier this week, I shared my favorite brands as well as some of my fellow brand strategist Maren Finzer – connect with Maren on Twitter. Now, here are some brands that have lost value for me:

Blackberry: Despite recent news that Research in Motion (RIM) will discontinue its products for the consumer market and focus entirely on the enterprise market, this brand ignored its once-loyal customer base. Also, last year’s power outages with little-to-no attention to customer communications dramatically lost customers. Add these mistakes to the overwhelmingly more robust Apple and Android operating systems and the plethora of amazing competitive products, and Blackberry will soon be known as the technology equivalent of Ford’s Edsel.

The Gap: This brand is a perfect example of trying to live up to successes of other brands. The logo was redesigned to resemble Facebook’s logo, but the new logo failed miserably. Based on the immediate uproar in social media circles and the mass media, the company abandoned the new logo and returned to the original logo just two weeks later. And where is The Gap today?

Nike: This brand is a perfect example as to why a brand should not have celebrity endorsements. You can never predict a celebrity’s behavior or the affect it will have on your brand – just think about a particular golfer as an example.

And here are some brands that have fallen flat for Maren:

Ohana Casual Wear in Kona: We were drawn into the store by an eye-catching window display, but when we entered the store, the sales person was more engaged in her phone conversation than us. I tried to ask her about the swimsuit in the window, but she looked us right in the eyes as she continued to speak on the phone. No smile, no wave, no greeting, no acknowledgement – no brand engagement at all.

Kodak: Back in the 1980’s, Kodak was one of the world’s strongest brands. Do you remember the images and emotions from “The Kodak Moment” campaign and the “capturing the moments of our lives” campaign? I was once an adoring customer. But Kodak refused to see the writing on the wall and rejected the digital revolution. Kodak was too stubborn to change its business model, and the company fell from grace – an example that even big brands can, and do, fall.

I would like to thank my marketing colleague Maren Finzer for sharing her insights. Maren’s comments about her favorite brands as well as her not-so-favorite brands were eye-opening. Thanks again, Maren, for appearing on my blog!

So what about you? What are your favorite and not-so-favorite brands, and why?