Social media used to be social. Now, online venues are flooded with sales, business and advertising. Have we gone too far?
It makes perfect sense that companies of all sizes would eventually spot the opportunities afforded by social media and would begin to take advantage of them. If there's a location where people are gathering naturally—and especially in cases those groups are similar in some way and identifiable—then that place is idea for promotions and ads. As with any form of media, paid advertising from larger enterprises helped social media pioneers fund their platforms, and probably no one had an entirely clear picture of the way in which the sales side of these venues would eventually evolve.
As it became clear that smaller businesses, and even individual entrepreneurs, could benefit from the natural filtering process provided by social media, new options were developed specifically for them. This expansion of promotional opportunities for all has grown pretty much to the maximum today. Even the smallest local community groups sometimes consider ad placements, boosted posts, and other promotional options. In addition, new forms of communication are constantly being developed that can be sold to advertisers as a way to reach and engage with today's consumers, who crave the latest technologies and experiences.
So where did all the social go? Only a few years ago, Pinterest was almost solely a curating platform, where folks could create personal collections, enjoy others' galleries and interact with each other based on mutual interests. Personal feeds were filled with images that each individual actually liked. As the platform grew, users started to see ads in their feeds, but these were subtly placed, tended to relate to a person's interests, and you could remove them. Today, not only are feeds overrun with ads of all kinds, but more and more images are being optimized for sales, making both feeds and search results almost useless for anyone not using Pinterest as as shopping mall.
The same sorts of trends are occurring on Facebook, Instagram and elsewhere. More ads, more often, and more people generating promotional posts that have very little to do with personal collaboration and social interaction. In some cases, even humanitarian groups, religious organizations, community service providers and other similar organizations are starting to sound like salespeople online.
For a small businesses, individual entrepreneurs, struggling artists, and other typically unseen folks attempting to make a living, new social media opportunities can provide many benefits. New ways to gain visibility, greater opportunities to meet up with like-minded people, easier ways to learn about selling outlets and methodologies. But if things keep going in this direction, will advertising take over entirely? Will the Internet become one large marketplace lacking any sort of authenticity, reliability, or genuine human interaction?
What's your view? Are things out of control? Or do you have a different prediction for how social media will look in the near future? Feel free to comment. You might also be interested in our discussion on Artist or Entrepreneur? And check the blog for more on marketing, social media, copywriting and SEO.
Need immediate help for your website or Etsy shop? Consider a professional consult or hourly coaching from The Copywriting Coach on Etsy. For larger sites and projects, visit Services here for a free consultation.
Have you ever wondered how people find your pins on Pinterest? Follow these tips to get seen in the right kinds of searches.
Like many other social media platforms, Pinterest has been evolving very quickly, and continues to present new challenges and opportunities for business users. If you're attempting to reach potential customers on Pinterest, it's important to understand how people use it, and how the information posted there is shown in searches.
As a brief overview, let's look at the four major ways in which your pins get seen—and how you can optimize your pins for best results.
1. Pinterest Feed
If you go to the main Pinterest URL, you'll land on your personal feed, which is created based on a lot of factors that we can only guess about, since Pinterest doesn't share that information. It's clear, however, that this feed is strongly influenced by what you've added to your own account, the kinds of pins you've engaged with in the past, the boards and accounts you follow, and the types of searches you've initiated recently.
Your own pins could show up in other people's feeds in the same way. Unfortunately, we don't really know how many people actually visit their own feeds, and can't predict how strongly those feeds will affect your Pinterest traffic.
2. Pinterest Search
Search has become a major factor in the way people use Pinterest. The platform uses its own search engine to make decisions about which pins to show in search results. This internal algorithm might also affect what's shown in personal feeds (see above).
The search engine is still young and unsophisticated, but it pays to optimize all of your pins with platform-specific SEO in mind. The places that are important to optimize are:
All of these locations will be considered when the search engine is attempting to decide whether or not to show a particular pin in search results. There are some indications that the name of your account might also have some impact on search. Make sure to create thoughtful, keyword rich text throughout your account, so that you have a chance to be seen by people who are looking for content like yours.
3. Google Search
You might have noticed that Google includes social media content in search results, and that Pinterest boards and pins often come up as suggestions. It isn't clear how the Google algorithm judges the quality and "authoritativeness" of this content, but it's helpful to be aware that your pin could show up there. If you would like to optimize for Google, focus on all the text in your account, and use the same sorts of techniques you would use for any web page or site.
4. Outside Links
Your pins can also be found via links that appear in other social media accounts, on website pages, in blogs, or elsewhere. This isn't a search function, but does contribute to how customers reach your Pinterest content.
Note that your text should always contain information and statements that will help to engage customers once they interact with your pin. So avoid keyword strings or unnatural sounding language that isn't interesting to customers or could trigger a bad reaction from search engines. Pinterest even recommends that you avoid hashtags. Follow the same copywriting guidelines you would use in other venues.
Does this give you some new ideas about how to attract more traffic to your valuable pins? Feel free to comment or ask a question. And browse the blog for more on social media, SEO, copywriting and marketing.
Need immediate help? Consider a professional consult or coaching session to get you going. Visit The Copywriting Coach on Etsy for details. For larger sites and projects, visit Services here for a free consultation.
Gorgeous Instagram photos, but still can't attract a loyal following? View the screencast for tips on how to fix that!
Instagram and other social media accounts tend to be all about the images. Visuals are what attract attention, but the next step is crucial: Keeping the viewer engaged. Watch the screencast to view a beautiful account that's just sitting there without much love. Great tips on ways to boost your visibility, improve engagement, and hashtag more effectively.
After viewing, feel free to comment or ask a question. And browse the blog for more tips on social media, SEO, copywriting and marketing.
For immediate help, visit Services to find out about consults and coaching options. You might also be interested in The Copywriting Coach on Facebook.
Unfollowing is common practice on IG, so how do you know which accounts to follow back and which to avoid? Watch the screencast for today's tip!
A professional "follow for follow" gesture is often a good move if an account is relevant to you or if you just happen to like it, but what about all those accounts that immediately unfollow? It's easy to become depressed as your "Following" numbers continue to rise and your "Followers" keep dropping. In principle, there's nothing wrong with following someone who doesn't follow you back, but there's no point in completing a "follow for follow" with people who don't genuinely want to maintain a relationship.
Watch the screencast to learn one easy way to spot likely unfollowers and cut back at least somewhat on those followed accounts that you don't want or need on your "Following" list. Since Instagram doesn't provide an easy way to keep track of unfollows, it's safer to spot them ahead of time.
After viewing, feel free to comment or ask a question. And browse the blog for more tips on social media, copywriting, marketing and SEO.
Have you optimized your Facebook business page? View the video critique for a quick overview of goals, content and organization.
Although it isn't entirely clear whether or not a Facebook business page provides much value these days, it's still an essential part of your social media presence. Among other things, it offers:
Here's a critique of a small business Facebook page that promotes vintage decor and fashion. After viewing the screencast, feel free to ask a question or leave a comment. And browse the blog for more on social media, copywriting, SEO, and marketing.
Optimize your presence on Pinterest group boards using these easy-to-follow tips. Refresh, track, interact and experiment to achieve success!
Pinterest group boards offer a fast, efficient way to get seen on Pinterest while you’re waiting for your own account to accumulate followers and generate traffic. In another blog post, I’ve talked about finding Pinterest group boards. Once you’ve selected a few, here are some tips on how to use them.
Get into a regular routine of pinning to your group boards. Followers who like your items will start looking for each day’s new additions.
Different Boards, Different Pins
Pin different items to different boards. Watch for notifications about which pins are being repinned and “tried” so you can start identifying the boards that are getting the most attention for your items. Adjust your activity accordingly.
Not getting much action? Look around for other boards to try. Think outside the box for types of boards that might accept your items but aren’t an exact match. For example, there are hundreds of jewelry group boards that work very well for jewelry. But there are also some general fashion boards that accept jewelry. Those fashion boards can help jewelry sellers, too.
In your store, use whatever analytics are available to determine how effective your Pinterest group boards have been. Do you get more sales on days when there’s more traffic from Pinterest? Did you notice that Jane Doe, who repinned one of your pins yesterday, just purchased an item from your store today? Which board did she repin from?
Maintain Your Own Account
You still want to build up the visibility and strength of your own Pinterest account. For one thing, you want to be able to direct potential customers there to view your items. You also want to have an excellent display to show anyone who decides to click through to your account after spotting something of yours on a group board. Ultimately, you would like your brand’s account to have a life of its own, apart from the group boards.
Interact With Others
Spend a little time each week showing some love for other people on the group boards that you use. “Try” their items, comment thoughtfully on their pins, and repin to appropriate boards in your own account. This is a social networking activity, not a sales activity, but it can lead to more repinning of your items. If it isn’t working on a particular board, you can stop and try elsewhere.
Improve Your Photos
Pinterest is all about beautiful, compelling images. Medium-quality photos rarely get attention. If you plan to use Pinterest as a primary social media outlet, invest in superb photography. Otherwise your time might be wasted.
Start Your Own Group Board?
Having a group board of your own is a great way to drive visibility. But it takes a lot of work. If you’re willing to put in the time, it might be worth it. Don’t expect a lot of followers without a lot of effort.
Have Pinterest group boards worked for you in the past? Any tips you would like to pass on? Feel free to comment. And check the blog for more tips on social media, copywriting, marketing and SEO.
Jump start your Pinterest account by posting to group boards! Watch the screencast for tips on how to find the right ones.
It's a big challenge on Pinterest to build a following that can directly boost sales for a small online business. Luckily, group boards can make that happen a lot faster. Not only can you get seen immediately by the exact people you want to reach, but with great photos, you can gain thousands of new opportunities for repins and follows. Click on the screencast to learn more!
After watching, feel free to comment with a question or pass along a Pinterest tip of your own. Also see the follow-up post: Using Pinterest Group Boards. And take a moment to browse the blog for more advice on social media, copywriting and SEO.
Set goals with social media instead of posting at random. Proactively choose your audience, methodology, content and schedule.
Do you find yourself selecting posts based on what's caught your attention lately, what seems fun, and what appears to relate to the day's hot topics? For personal accounts, this is perfectly fine. But for business, last-minute decisions won't get you where you want to go.
First, you need to identify your primary and secondary audiences, understand them, and know how they operate on social media. Second, you need to pinpoint your specific business goals in connection with these audiences. Do you want to drive traffic to a particular site? Do you want viewers to contact you directly for information? Are you simply trying to stimulate general interest in your social media accounts? Make up your mind, so that you can create posts that will support your goals.
Next, figure out the kinds of content that will appeal to your target audiences and will also direct people to the actions or behavior you're trying to encourage. Finally, set up a posting routine that will reach your audiences at optimum times, and that you feel you can manage successfully based on your available time, energy and finances. If you can't reach everyone on all platforms within your existing budget and personal schedule, set priorities and be clear about where you want to focus your resources.
If you create and follow a smart plan for your social media activities, they're much more likely to deliver results.
Have you already discovered a social media schedule that works for you? Or, alternatively, have you had to discard a posting method that wasn't working? Feel free to comment below. And check the blog for other tips on social media, copywriting and SEO.
For best results, use social media for more than just advertising. Think relationships not transactions.
Social media platforms have become increasingly inundated with sales posts, to the point where browsing never takes place without seeing constant sales pitches. Aggressive sellers are justifiably happy to leverage new opportunities, but it certainly can go too far. And in fact, a sales strategy that neglects the buyer-seller relationship is usually headed toward a dead end.
Customers are human beings. They're emotional, they have preferences, they're impulsive, and they're temperamental. Some big businesses attempt to manipulate these human characteristics. But most smaller businesses are better off learning and respecting how customers think and behave in order to connect authentically, engage, and build trust.
Display your products, run ads, talk about sales. But in between, provide glimpses into human experience that will mean something to your customers. Are you attracting nature lovers to a site where you sell pet supplies? Make sure to alternate your product photos with fabulous outdoor shots such as seasonal landscapes, macro beauties, and, of course, animals. If you make hand-knit baby clothes, pull out those infant pics!
Start a conversation about lifestyle, values, hobbies, everyday concerns, and anything else that matters to your customers. You would like their response to be, "Wow, this person 'gets' me."
Do you sell wall art? There are thousands of sites selling flowery water color paintings. Be the seller that customers remember as someone who—like them—adores color, flowers and the transient quality of nature. They'll think of you first when they're ready to buy.
What sorts of non-sales posts do you enjoy sharing with customers on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter or elsewhere? Feel free to comment below. And check the blog for other tips on social media, copywriting and SEO.
Unless you have 10,000+ followers, it's hard to benefit from social media algorithms. So focus on relationships, not numbers.
First, just a word about common courtesy. If someone dropped off a gift at your home, you'd contact them to say thanks, wouldn't you? Of course you would. And if people were leaving gifts at your door all day long, you might consider spreading the cheer by giving gifts to others, too. Wouldn't you? Well, I hope so.
Most of you are very good at acknowledging comments on social media, so it probably isn't necessary to remind you. But it's always nice to feel that you're doing the right thing. And maybe you haven't thought of returning the favor? Please do. It's a nice gesture and often leads to stronger ties.
I don't recommend "like for like" games of any kind, but if you view people posting on social media as human beings who are just trying to make contact, you can respond in a positive way that will be good for you personally, and also will be good for business.
When it comes to follows, make sure that you're always on the lookout for useful and appealing accounts to follow, not only accounts that you think will follow you. Both situations can result in productive connections.
Remember that Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and so on, are huge systems, and only very large numbers get noticed. Smaller accounts are better off leveraging social media for relationship building. Focus on like-minded people, compatible accounts, complementary businesses, potential customers, and individuals with whom you can develop mutually beneficial interactions.
Feel free to share an experience you've had with business interactions on social media. And check the blog for other tips on social media, SEO and copywriting.
Barbara Clavan provides copywriting, coaching and consulting services to high-growth businesses, high-profile individuals and creative entrepreneurs.
Visit Services to learn more.