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How Brands Can Convert Facebook Users Into Customers

CITEworld

Marketing is sometimes considered a niche form of storytelling, but its stories mean nothing if they don’t make brands resonate with potential customers and ultimately lead to sales. Many modern marketers view the people who connect with their brands on social media as potential leads that could become customers.

Converting users to customers on social media platforms such as Facebook isn’t always a straightforward process. The journey is often riddled with challenges and unmet opportunities. Using social media to achieve brand lift, loyalty and engagement is typically easier to do but harder to quantify and justify as a business investment.

“No one trusts a brand or brand stories anymore,” according to Cameron Friedlander, marketing technology strategy lead at Kimberly-Clark, a consumer packaged goods conglomerate. “As a brand speaking directly to consumers all you can do is give them facts either about the category, the brand, product or company.”

The most important thing any brand can do to cultivate and eventually convert Facebook users into customers is provide useful facts, insights and ideas, he says. “Doing this requires brands to think differently about content and consumer engagement.”

Consumer Trust Doesn’t Come Easy

Consumers trust and listen to individuals with whom they have personal relationships more than brands, Friedlander says. “Consumers value each other’s opinions, not brands or companies.”

Brands need to build content ecosystems that inspire users to engage with each other and share insights and ideas on behalf of the brands, “to help nudge them towards a brand when it comes to purchase time,” Friedlander says. “Recommendations from people you know are what count when it comes to conversion.”

Ecommerce platform Shopify, which powers more than 120,000 online retailers including Amnesty International, General Electric and Tesla Motors, says Facebook is fueling the vast majority of its orders that come from social media. More specifically, Facebook drives 63 percent of all social media visits to Shopify stores and accounts, for an average of 85 percent of all orders derived from social media, according to Shopify data based on 37 million social media visits that led to 529,000 orders.

Facebook also delivers the highest conversion rate for all social media ecommerce traffic, at 1.85 percent, according to the Shopify data. Conversion rates for Google+, Twitter, Pinterest and LinkedIn were all below 1 percent during the same period.

The average value of sales generated via Facebook for Shopify’s stores was $55, which is below the average value of Pinterest, Instagram and Polyvore sales. Facebook dominates social orders in markets including photography, sports and recreation, pet supplies, jewelry and apparel, but it faces tough competition from other networks in the collectibles, digital products, services and consumer electronics markets.

Continue reading… 

Pinterest has hired its first media partnerships manager. Why now?

GIGAOM

Pinterest has hired a head of media partnerships for the first time. The company has brought on Robert Macdonald, formerly of Google, to do the job. Macdonald previously managed publisher relationships at Dstillery, Scribd and Google. In an interview with the New York Times, Pinterest’s head of partnerships — general, not just media — said, “We don’t think we’ve invested enough yet to totally capture the opportunity and to help these publishers.”

When asked what publishers Pinterest will be courting, a spokesperson told me, “We are looking to work with a wide range of traditional and digital publishers across all verticals, many of which are already using the platform.” A handful of companies swear by Pinterest’s traffic referral potential. For example, Buzzfeed’s second biggest social driver of traffic is Pinterest, after front-runner Facebook. As I previously reported, Pinterest is also looking for someone to manage their relationships with Hollywood, so it’s going after media organizations of all shapes and sizes.

Read on…

Publications See Pinterest as Key Ally

NY Times

Autumn is not yet upon us, but Jill Waage, a top editor at Better Homes and Gardens, has already predicted some of the biggest trends of the coming holidays. Painted pumpkins are about to replace carved pumpkins. Snowman cookies with jiggly eyes will overtake traditional gingerbread men. And decorative ribbons on Christmas presents are going to get much more creative.

But instead of spotting these trends by consulting colleagues or outside experts, Ms. Waage has tapped Pinterest, the social media site that lets its members pin, or post, images of their favorite foods, hairstyles and clothes. Pinterest has forged close relationships with magazines, especially those focused on women, who make up 71 percent of Pinterest users. It is a leading driver of traffic to certain magazines, and in some cases — like Self — it serves as a bigger source of reader referrals than either Facebook or Twitter.

“That’s one more piece of brain food that editors have,” Ms. Waage, the editorial director for home content at Better Homes, said of Pinterest. “It’s just a subconscious part of their lives now.”

And Pinterest is redoubling its focus on working with publishers. On Monday, Robert Macdonald will join the company to manage media relationships for the site, a job he previously held at Google, and it plans to hire more people in the coming months to work with digital and print magazines.

Joanne Bradford, a Pinterest executive who runs all of its partnerships, noted that because the majority of the content on Pinterest comes from what she described as “professional content creators” like magazines, it’s crucial to educate these titles on how best to use the service.

“We don’t think we’ve invested enough yet to totally capture the opportunity and to help these publishers,” Ms. Bradford said. “We think that they make a lot of quality content that pinners are very passionate about.”

Continue reading…

 

Pinterest peaks, Facebook falters in customer satisfaction survey of social sites

TechHive

Billions of people use assorted social networking sites, but just how happy are they with the likes of Facebook, Twitter, and the rest? The American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI), which measures exactly that sort of thing, put out its latest report on consumer satisfaction with e-businesses—that’s social media, search engines, and websites—and it’s an interesting look at just which service’s Like button is getting a workout.

Historically, social media sites tend to rank among the lowest-scoring companies on ACSI’s 100-point scale. This year, social media boasted an overall customer satisfaction rating of 71, up 4.4 percent from the previous study. The 71 rating puts social media companies above airlines (69), subscription television (65), and Internet service providers (63).

acsi rankings social media 100360859 large Pinterest peaks, Facebook falters in customer satisfaction survey of social sites

The American Consumer Satisfaction Index started rating social media companies in 2010. Scores are based on a 100-point scale. In this year’s rankings, Facebook and LinkedIn finished at the bottom, though both saw their scores improve over 2013.

Of the individual social networking sites, Pinterest was the most beloved site in 2014 with a customer satisfaction score of 76, stealing the crown from Wikipedia (74), which coincidentally was the only site to lose ground from 2013, falling 5 percent from last year’s score. Google’s YouTube and a newly-created “all others” category (which includes Instagram, Reddit and Tumblr) were hot on Pinterest and Wikipedia’s heels with a 73 rating, followed by Google+ (71) and Twitter (69).

Perhaps most notably, tied for dead last among social media ACSI still measures with scores of 67 apiece were LinkedIn and Facebook. Yep, you read that right, Facebook, the first network to crack a billion users and widely considered to be the pace-setter among social networking sites, couldn’t manage to top LinkedIn for customer satisfaction. That’s LinkedIn, the social networking site for professionals that most people begrudgingly join for the sole purpose of scoring a better job.

At least Facebook and LinkedIn can console themselves in that they scored an improvement over last year, when both companies scored only a 62 on ACSI’s scale. That makes them big winners in terms of year-over-year improvement.

That good news comes with an asterisk for Facebook, though. ACSI notes that the scores were measured before Facebook revealed it had manipulated news feeds as part of a psychological test on hundreds of thousands of users. (That’s in contrast to the regular manipulation Facebook performs on our news feed.) But customers in this go-around seem happy with their revamped news feed and other enhancements, so maybe it’ll end up a wash. For now, Zuckerberg and Co. can take solace in a strong improvement in customer satisfaction, even if they are still tied for last in the category.

Pinterest’s interest-following feature could be advertising gold mine

Digiday

Pinterest today made it that much easier for consumers to explore specific interests, and agency execs are already looking toward its potential advertising uses.

Previously, Pinterest curated pins around broad categories such as “outdoors.” Now, when users click on “Outdoors,” they’ll be able to find pins curated to interests as narrow as “ultralight backpacking” and “saltwater fishing.”

Pinterest is in the midst of introducing ads to its platform, but a Pinterest spokesperson said there are no immediate plans to allow advertisers to target users based upon the interest pages they chose to follow. But this being a platform whose only revenue source is advertising, it’s fair to assume that, if interest pages catch on with users, ads will be sold against them.

At least agency execs, always looking to target consumers based upon their interests, hope so.

“All we’re trying to do is go deeper based upon targeting people on interest. The ability to hit them in that context makes a lot of sense,” Jordan Bitterman, chief strategy officer at media agency Mindshare, said.

Pinterest’s 32 categories — such “travel,” “animals” and “kids” — were too broad to serve finely tuned ads, according to Jill Sherman, group director of social and content strategy at Digitas. Agency execs routinely describe Pinterest image as a visual search engine. Adding interest collections — essentially more-nuanced tags – can only enrich that database.

“It was basically a collection of boards. Now it’s much more: a very deep directory of interest,” Chris Bowler, Razorfish’s global vice president of social media, said.

Interest pages are also a way for Pinterest to broaden its appeal, or at the very least, prevent it from losing users. Pinterest’s user-base still skews female despite its incredible popularity, Providing more pinpointed collections could attract even more users.

“This is where the entire social world is going; niche communities that have much higher receptivity than your broad-based Facebook and Twitter platforms,” Chris Bowler, Razorfish’s global vice president of social media, said. “This is Pinterest’s way of serving a community of rock climbers versus someone creating another online community around rock climbing.”

Bitterman added that the tool would also likely increase the amount of time Pinterest users stay on the platform in a given session, another selling point for Pinterest as it ramps up ad selling efforts. The prediction speaks to the power of catering to people’s interests: it makes Pinterest more appealing to consumers, and more alluring to ad buyers.

Sharing On Twitter And Pinterest Leans Mostly Mobile

MediaPost

By now it’s clear that mobile and social have become more than a shotgun marriage.Findings from comScore last month showed that more than 70% of time spent in social media takes place on mobile devices (including tablets). And total mobile engagement on social is up 55% in the last year.

In its latest quarterly report, ShareThis took a closer look at sharing activity among top social platforms on mobile. Twitter and Pinterest emerge as the most mobile-centric networks, with 75% of all content sharing on those platforms happening in mobile. By comparison, half of sharing activity on Facebook is mobile.

However, because of Facebook’s size (1 billion monthly mobile users), it accounts for 72% of sharing on smartphones, versus 14% for Twitter, and 12% for Pinterest. On tablets, Facebook’s share falls to 64%, and Twitter’s to 7%, while Pinterest sees a bump to 22%. “There is a clear preference for channels based on different devices. Pinners are more active on tablets whereas tweeters flock to smartphones,” states ShareThis blog post today.

Furthermore, Facebook is where people go to share content about politics and parenting, while Twitter — because of its real-time DNA — leans toward sports and business, and Pinterest sharing is focused on shopping. That’s a natural outgrowth of Pinterest’s emphasis on visual presentation and consumer products.

In that vein, mobile users are twice as likely to interact with desktop content as any other category.

When it comes to mobile operating systems, Android users are more active on Facebook, while iOS users are more likely to share material on Twitter and Pinterest. In terms of demographic trends, sharing on tablets among people 55 and over nearly doubled over the first quarter. And 43% of social activity on tablets is driven by people in that age group.

Social interaction on mobile devices also grew 13% among African-Americans and 6% among Hispanics in the quarter. Overall, sharing from smartphones and tablets grew more than 30%, while that on the desktop fell 5% between the first and second quarter. The mobile gain was driven mainly by activity on smartphones, which was up about 28%.

Across desktop and mobile, Facebook accounted for almost two-thirds (64%) of sharing, with Twitter and Pinterest each claiming 9%. But the two smaller competitors together gained 2% share on Facebook from the prior quarter.

Pinterest ramps up location search

IDG News Service

Six months after adding its Place Pins feature, Pinterest is improving the search technology around the location pins.

The company announced Friday an enhanced and faster version of its places search tool. The result is a more streamlined search for users, with better smarts under the hood. The tool suggests places near where people are searching, and provides ranked results based on geography, population and data quality.

Pinterest’s places search runs on Foursquare data. It’s available on iOS and the Web, the company said, with an Android version coming soon.

Pinterest is known for the profiles or “boards” its users create, filled with images of desired retail items, event planning ideas, or cooking recipes. Since the company launched Place Pins, users have created more than 1 billion travel Pins, and more than 4 million Place Boards, the company said Friday.

Previously, users had to separate their search queries into two different boxes: one for the place’s name and the other for where it was located. Users found it to be non-intuitive, Pinterest said Friday. “We set out to build a more natural place search interface based on just a single text input field,” the company said.

Pinterest’s places search is also designed to be more natural, so people don’t need to type the specific name of a place to find it. If someone has a pin saved on the AT&T baseball stadium in San Francisco, the person can search for “Giants SF,” and AT&T Park will appear as the first result, Pinterest said.

The enhanced technology could help broaden Pinterest’s usefulness as a discovery engine, and also draw in more local advertisers as the company ramps up its advertising efforts.

Facebook Programmatic Whiz Jonathan Shottan Jumps To Pinterest (And TellApart)

AdExchanger

Need more proof Pinterest is preparing for a big monetization push? The social platform has hired Jonathan Shottan, a former Facebook ad product exec who led Facebook Exchange and due diligence on ad tech M&A.

Shottan, who has also signed on as an adviser to TellApart, joins Pinterest as product manager for advertising. His first day was Monday.

According to a Pinterest representative, the company has no specific intention to roll out a private exchange bidding platform a la Facebook Exchange, and Shottan’s role will be focused on assessing the impact of campaigns that run on the platform. 

“He will be focusing broadly to start on measurement and reporting,” the spokesperson said. “We have no plans to build an ad exchange.”

That could mean putting in place partnerships with offline data matching companies such as Datalogix, to attribute offline conversions back to media impressions on Pinterest. It could also mean doing similar measurement through direct relationships with retailers’ point of sale systems, loyalty programs and branded credit cards.

From April 2013 to April 2014, Shottan ran all targeting and measurement for Facebook’s ad products. He succeeded Antonio Garcia Martinez, who led development of the Facebook Exchange and who now works in a product role at Nanigans.

While at Facebook, Shottan evaluated acquisition targets in the ad tech arena and supervised a quarter of the ads team, including about 90 engineers. His LinkedIn profile claims credit for launching retargeting on Web and mobile, for improvements in data quality and for the resulting rapid revenue growth from data-driven ad buys. Prior to that Shottan spent five years at digital ad platform Turn, where he oversaw development of its data-management platform, among other tasks.

Despite Pinterest’s claim it will not launch its own exchange, the hire suggests the company’s early ad products, including the CPM-based Promoted Pins, are just a prelude to larger plans for a platform-driven approach to advertising. It’s too early to say what the components of that system could be, but the road map for other social platforms (i.e., Facebook and Twitter) has included retargeting of website visitors and existing customers (CRM), third-party segments and lookalike targeting through algorithmic audience extension. A “preferred partner” ecosystem also is often a hallmark of the advertising evolution for large consumer platforms.

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Pinterest Opens Up Data Firehose for Marketers

The Wall Street Journal

Following in the footsteps of social platforms such as Twitter and FacebookFB +1.03%, Pinterest will now allow marketers to ingest data from its service to help them better understand and interpret users’ activity on the site.

The company will give a handful of third-party marketing technology providers access to information on how its users behave and interact with content across its service. At launch, the technology providers include Salesforce, Hootsuite, Spredfast, Percolate, Piqora, Curalate, and Tailwind.

Pinterest hopes access to this data will help marketers figure out which of their activities on its service generate the most engagement, and which actions they may prompt users to take “downstream.”

“Many businesses use Pinterest to learn about their customers. You might want to learn which of your products are popular, what types of images work best or which Pins are driving the most engagement and sales,” the company said in a statement.

Pinterest wants to prove to marketers they will benefit from being on its platform so they’re more likely to pay for its ad products as and when they become available. It’s already testing a paid ad product it calls “Promoted Pins” with a handful of advertisers, including home décor site Wayfair, hotel chain Four Seasons and UnileverULVR.LN -0.30%’s TRESemmé and Hellmann’s brands, WSJ reported.

The data will also help marketers better use Pinterest to generate free or “earned” exposure by posting content that resonates well with users. It might also help Pinterest avoid hosting brand content that’s of little interest to its user base.

Pinterest is granting access to its data through a new “Business Insights” API, or “application programming interface.” Ad executives predict the company will eventually open up another API that will allow third-party technology providers to place ads on its service on behalf of marketers. Facebook and Twitter currently offer similar functionality.

At launch, Pinterest partners with access to the business insights API are not being charged for it, Pinterest said.