Monday, January 30, 2012

The two-part golden rule.

I first stumbled across these words almost three years ago. I immediately fell in love with the simple message and minimalist design. After months of having a screen shot as my desktop background, I decided to invest in a limited edition print as a permanent fixture in my home.
Image courtesy of Anthony Burrill
Anthony Burrill's woodblock poster is my ultimate golden rule, especially for the workplace. Yet, most of us can create a mental list of people who struggle to balance these two principals. No matter how stressful things get, common courtesy and respect shouldn't be an afterthought. It's important to recognize the difference between being bitchy vs. aggressive, strong vs. stubborn, and kind vs. weak. And if you need a reminder, you could could always hang one on your wall

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Pinterest: A marketer's guide.

If you are new to Pinterest, be sure to check out my last post on Pinterest for beginners.

If it isn't obvious by now, the latest social network to hit it big is without a doubt Pinterest. With growth exploding to 4 million users, marketers from every industry should start paying attention. But do so with caution. The reason Pinterest is so different from any other social site is because it is free of ads and spam, and intends to stay that way. In fact, Pinterest discourages business to use the platform for strictly self promotion. So if you are going to use it, get to know the facts, define a strategy, and create a meaningful experience for your followers. Here is my in-depth overview of the platform through the eyes of a marketer and avid Pinner.

Social Statistics.
Before jumping into using Pinterest as part of your social strategy, it's important to understand WHO you would be interacting with.  Again, Pinterest is growing very rapidly. This data can change on a dime, especially if Pinterest moves away from the invite-only model. According to statistics gathered from Google Ad Planner:
  • Daily views are hovering around 1.5 million, with the average user spending approximately 14 minutes curating their boards per day. 
  • Pinterest is one of the fastest growing female-dominated networks, 70% of registered users are women.
  • The largest age group is between 25 - 34 years old (30% of users). The next largest group being 35 - 44 (25% of users)- that's 55%!
  • The average household income is between $25-75k. The breakdown being 35% earning between $25,000 - 49,999 and 34% earning $50,000 - $75,000.
  • Compared to the household income, only 25% of users hold a Bachelors degree or higher. Yet 60% of users say they have had 'some college' education.
  • Users are more likely to be from the Midwest, though Utah, Alabama, and Tennessee account for the states with the most users.
  • If you are familiar with the Mosaic Lifestyle Segments, the top three lifestyles represented on Pinterest are:
 Things to remember for ANY business using Pinterest.
  • Be authentic. Pinterest as a marketing platform isn't for every brand. Consumer-oriented brands will have a much easier time creating a genuine presence. Like every social initiative, make sure you set clear objectives and can define a plan before jumping in.
  • Pinterest takes time. If you are going to use it for business purposes, be sure you are willing to dedicate the hours it will take to curate meaningful boards as well as maintaining fresh content.
  • Don't be a narcissist. It's important to keep your boards from being a walking billboard for your company. Add pins from multiple sources and create boards that aren't 100% centered on your products or services. 
  • Cite your content. If you want to drive traffic to your site and create a valuable experience, make sure to add pins correctly. A follower should be able to click on your pin and be directed to the native site. Failing to do so is a missed opportunity and is frustrating for your followers.  Don't believe me? Check out this interesting infographic.
Define your strategy. 
Mashable put together a great article on this very topic. Start by browsing other brands boards so you can get a sense of how you can make Pinterest work for you. Remember, Pinterest can very easily become time consuming so maximize your efforts by being selective about your strategy.
  • Promote your products. While it is the most obvious use, selectively pinning your products onto boards categorized by consumer type can be very effective. Be sure to include the price so that your products show up under the "Gift" filter.
  • Illustrate a lifestyle. Creating boards focused around brand attributes and your corporate culture is a great way to illustrate your story. Use your boards as a way to demonstrate how real-life consumers or even celebrities interact with and use your products.
  • Get to know your customers. Dive into your followers' boards to discover what makes them tick and use this information for market research purposes. Track pins back to their original source and identify the tastemakers who are your brand evangelists. Not only do those customers make perfect focus group candidates, they will most likely continue to share and spread your content.
  • Create partnerships. Discovering pins that contain more than just your company can be a great eye-opener for potential partnerships. Use pins and boards as inspiration to reach out to complimentary product/services that you can collaborate with and extend your footprint.
  • Engage your followers. Leverage the power of collaborative boards. Use them as a way to crowdsource your next product or service. Allow your followers to add pins to your boards for promotional contests. Be smart about the real estate in the board title and description; come up with a catchy title and be specific about what your followers should be pinning. 
Ideas to get you started.
The most exciting part of Pinterest (at least for me) is the infinite possibility of what you will find on any given visit. That leaves the door wide open for businesses to reach a broader audience and inspire their followers. While it's important to focus on a strategy and the business case for adding Pinterest to your marketing mix, don't forget to get creative with your tactics. Read on for just a few ideas on how you can get pinning. And be sure to check out the cheat sheet of who to follow.
  • Art & Design: From typography to photography, Pinterest is the mecca of all things creative. Create boards that inspire your company and embody your brand values. The sky is the limit on this one!
  • Architecture & Interior Design: Pin images of famous buildings and celebrity homes. Categorize boards by style, room, color, or pattern. Share how-to's and tips for creating a space on a budget, how to go "thrifting", and re-inventing old, tired furniture. And don't forget about the great outdoors! Landscaping and garden pins are essential elements of every dream home.
  • Automotive: Encourage followers to share photos of themselves with their cars. Pin images of iconic models. Create road-trip itineraries complete with places to stop along the way.
  • Beauty & Cosmetics: Create tutorials of how to use products. Share beauty tips from professionals. Organize your boards by eyes, lips, face, hair, and nails. Start and follow the trends. Help your followers re-create an iconic "look" by recommending products.
  • Communications & Media: Showcase your work. Pin editorials with stunning photography. Get inspired by the other boards to help generate fresh content and layout ideas for your printed or online publication.
  • Events: Create boards focused on the event type, special occasions, and holidays. Pin ideas for everything from creating a theme, a menu, the decor, invitations, party favors, the perfect outfit, and choosing a venue. Help your followers manage costs and customize events by posting DIY tutorials. Brides-to-be LOVE Pinterest!
  • Education: For K through 12 schools, encourage teachers to share educational content. Pin books by subject matter or age type. Create boards that will help parents continue education outside of the classroom. Colleges and Universities can enlist students to share pins about campus life, athletics, alumni success stories, and content related to degree programs. 
  • Fashion: Follow fashionistas and trendsetters. Create boards by article of clothing, collection, designer, color, pattern, trends, and season. Run wild with outfits created on Polyvore to showcase how to style an outfit and accessorize.
  • Food & Beverage: Pin recipes, duh! Create boards categorized by holidays or special events with well thought out menus. Organize boards by meal type such as appetizers, drinks, desserts, soups, lunch, breakfast, dinner, and snacks. Or let the food pyramid be your guide. Cooking tips, appliances, and useful kitchen products also help add dimension to your boards.
  • Healthcare: Pin remedies and activities that will help your followers lead a healthy lifestyle. Create boards to share fitness and diet plans. Help connect people who are struggling with the same disease and offer your support.
  • Green & Sustainable Businesses: Create boards with tips on living a "greener" life. Share stories of how others have reduced their carbon footprint. Pin community sources and other organizations that protect wildlife. Encourage followers to share their DIY projects that source recycled materials. 
  • Non-Profits: I won't re-invent the wheel. Check out this awesome article for 42 amazing ideas for every type of non-profit.
  • Sports: Share photos of iconic athletes and stadiums. Create boards around the season, a certain athlete, memorabilia, and the league history. Encourage fans to share pictures from the games.
  • Travel & Tourism: Create boards by destination, state, and country. Each board should contain hotels, restaurants, shopping destinations, and landmarks. Organize boards by the purpose of travel such as Honeymoon, Family Vacation, Adventure, or Sight Seeing.   
Happy pinning!

PS. Follow me!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Pinterest: A newbie's guide.

Over the past few weeks there has been a surge from my online network getting in on the Pinterest action. Its quite possible you are just hearing about Pinterest.  Or maybe you just signed up.  Whatever the case, if you are interested in learning more from a dedicated Pinner this post is for you. And if you are already familiar with the basics, stay tuned for my next feature--  Pinterest: A marketer's guide. 

Launched in March of 2010, Pinterest has quickly become one of the fastest growing social networks. Through my late night cool hunting, I stumbled upon the invite-only beta and signed up. By the time spring turned into summer, Pinterest had changed the way I explored the web. So now I'm officially coining that acronym B.P. which stands for "Before Pinterest" because if you are anything like me, it will truly rock your world.  Of course, don't forget to follow me

A view of my boards. I have 17 total (and counting) all on a variety of "deelightful" topics.
What the heck is Pinterest?
Think of Pinterest as a digital white board. A place where you can "pin" anything and everything that you find visually stimulating, interesting, inspiring, or simply want to refer back to later. Each "pin" can be categorized by a theme which allows every user to have complete control over how they customize their "boards". The Pinterest community is driven by social sharing and the discovery of other users' boards.

Why should you use Pinterest?
Pinterest is all about what you make of it. As you can see from a preview of my boards above, I use it in a variety of ways. You'll find a ton of users who, like me:
  • discover new recipes
  • get fashion, beauty, and style advice
  • learn from easy and budget-friendly DIY projects
  • plan their dream wedding and/or upcoming party
  • find products and companies
  • exchange fitness and health tips
  • share photography, quotes, and little bits of humor
  • explore (virtually) new travel destinations and different parts of the world
  • swoon of the lovely interior design and decorating inspiration
The list can go on, and on, and on, and on so check out my next post on using Pinterest for Marketing in a few days to get some more ideas. 

Know the lingo.
There are a few key terms that any new Pinner needs to know:
  • Pin: An image that is either linked from a web site or uploaded from your computer.  If a pin was added from a web site, you click on the pin to back to the original source- this will come in handy later. You can also add a description of what the image is or why you pinned it to give your board an extra personal touch.
  • Board: The way in which your pins are organized. You can and should group together pins of similar topics a better browsing experience and to help spread your content. Pinterest has over 30 pre-defined themes you can use to categorize your boards. 
  • Re-pin: How content is shared among the Pinterest community. A re-pin signifies that your pin was discovered and added to another users' board.
  • Pinsomnia: The unofficial medical condition for loosing sleep due to an obsession with the 'load more pins' option. You have been warned.
Once logged in, this is the main "wall" that will display the pins of other users you are following. The left sidebar is a feed of your most recent activity (pins, re-pins, and new followers). The menu you see in the middle is a list of all the pre-defined themes you can both categorize and browse your boards by.

How you can sign up.
At the moment, Pinterest is still "invite only". If you would like an invite, leave a comment on this post with your email address. You can also visit the site to request access yourself: Depending on the day and number of newbies registering, it could take anywhere for a few minutes to a few days to receive a confirmation. Once you get a confirmation email, you will need a Facebook or Twitter account to log in.

Discovering content.
The great thing about Pinterest, is that content can be found and shared a number of ways.
  • Followers: If you linked your Facebook or Twitter account, you can find and follow boards of friends you are already connecting with on other social networks. You can also follow the boards of any user from the general community. The more followers you have, the more your content will be shared. The more you follow, the more content you will automatically see. Just be sure to follow the users and boards that you are interested in to keep from things getting overwhelming.
  • Search: The upper left hand corner features a search menu. You can type in anything to generate a wall of pins, boards, or people containing that keyword.
  • Pinners you follow: Is the default view of Pinterst when you are logged in.
  • Everything: Allows you to explore Pinterest by topic to discover new pins and follow other users.
  • Video: Filters the main wall to show video pins only. 
  • Popular: Filters the main wall to the most re-pined images.
  • Gifts: If added a comment that contains a $ sign to a pin, a price banner will automatically appear. This filter is super helpful for finding unique gifts within your budget.
The primary, in-app options for adding content.

Adding content.
You can add content and pins to your board a few different ways.
  • Add Pin: Allows you to add a pin and description to an existing board from a web page. The easiest way to do this is by right clicking an image from the web site and selecting 'Copy Image Location'.
  • Upload a Pin: Allows you to upload a pin from your computer.
  • Create a Board: Allows you to create a whole new board (and add a pin) at the same time. 
  • 'Pin It' Button: Some sites have a special 'Pin It' button that allows you to directly pin content and see how many times it has been shared by others.
  • Social Sharing: You can also share your every pin via Facebook or Twitter.
  • Comment: You can add your thoughts to any pin and even us the "@Username" feature to communicate with a friend.
  • Like: If you are non-committal, or just want to put extra emphasis on your love of a pin use the like button.
Other useful tips.
  • You can edit your profile settings to share more (or less) about yourself.
  • You can always 'edit' or 'delete' a pin or even an entire board.
  • Learn the basic Pin Etiquette to keep the community respectful and collaborative. 
  • Speaking of collaboration, you can allow others to add pins to your board in the Settings menu.
  • Don't forget to download the iPhone app.
  • Go right to the source and ask for help if you need it.
Please note, I don't work for Pinterest (although I would if they asked me too). This information was put together based on my knowledge, experience, and passion for an amazing new technology and social platform. I hope you found this article useful, decide to share it (why not pin it?), and will comment with any questions. Now get pinning!

Monday, January 23, 2012

Don't settle.

Taking the lead from my very first blog post, I've decided to feature an inspirational quote each Monday to help set the tone for the week ahead. Aside from my admiration for Steve Jobs as a marketing genius, I have always been intrigued by his way with words. From his infamous keynote presentations that focused on technology to the far and few between interviews that were sprinkled with his outlook on life, there are too many quotes for me to choose just one favorite.

Admittedly, I usually equate my overall happiness to my fulfillment at work. I'm often torn between feeling inner peace for what I have and the desire for wanting more. So when I begin to bring into question all my life choices, and lately my professional sense of restlessness,  I often find myself re-reading this quote over and over and over again.  
For me, these words fuel my motivation. A motivation that evokes the desire I have to live passionately, to stay inspired by life, and in love with my profession. And when I think of the man who achieved greatness by never settling, inner peace becomes much more of a mindset rather than a final destination or collection of accomplishments.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Minced with love.

I've spent the last six years or so convincing people that I don't know how to cook, simply because I never actually tried. Since moving into a bigger apartment with a much bigger kitchen, cooking has quickly become one of my favorite activities. I love finding new recipes, experimenting with my own, and the sense of accomplishment that is felt the moment a meal hits the table.

Thanks to Pinterest (an obsession that I will soon be writing about), learning my way around the kitchen has brought a new level of excitement and inspiration to simple gatherings with friends. And that is exactly how this past Friday night was spent.

 I had a mini knife technique lesson while learning how to mince garlic. All four of us promptly decided that a garlic press is a necessary and worthy investment.

Jeanette taught us the most amazing gnocchi, sun-dried tomato, and chicken recipe. As soon as I get the recipe I will post it on Pinterest; it's simply too good not to share with others.

In addition to homemade hummus and entire wheel of cheese, we also switched up the recipe for these stuffed mushrooms. Our changes included no parmesan cheese and swapping turkey bacon for regular bacon. The night also included copious amounts of wine and champagne. Which is the precise reason there are no pictures of our Michael Jackson The Experience Wii dance party.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Shopping List: Before winter ends.

While most people are prepping for the first days of spring, I am still waiting for winter. For a city that is considered one of the snowiest in America, Rochester has received only a few flurries and well under 12 inches this year. And since I feel like the season hasn't even started, I'm still longing to stock-up on a few blizzard-friendly pieces. 

1. A practical winter boot, Sorel 'Joan of Arctic 64' Boot, $169.95, Nordstrom
2. My favorite pair of basic black leggings, Sexy Stretch Legging, $29.90, Express
3. Red wine colored skinnies, Skinny Denim Jeans, $42, Fashion Junkee
4. Over-sized, knit sweater,  BCBG Asymmetrical Sweater, $126.65, 
5. Silky pajamas, Gilligan & OMalley Two Piece Set, $24.99, Target

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

My thoughts on: Rochester vs. Kodak

If you are from the Rochester, NY area, seeing Kodak in the news is as common as the snow. The attention on Kodak has caused a lot of eyes (re: business publications EVERYWHERE) to turn towards Rochester- the place in which George Eastman was born, Kodak was created, and has kept it's headquarters ever since. Like childhood friends, Kodak and Rochester basically grew up together. They faced growing pains, experienced great joy, and each making a lot of memories along the way. 

Lately Kodak has been particularly under the microscope amidst bankruptcy rumors and other financial issues. Don't believe me? Just Google it and choose any of the thousands of articles to learn more. But the article I started my day with hit a particular note. The Wall Street Journal recently published an Opinion article titled "Kodak didn't Kill Rochester. It Was the Other Way Around", by Rich Karlgaard. At the time I am posting there are upwards of 136 comments, most of which strongly oppose Rich's views.

Now, it may be the Rochester pride in me since I was born and raised here. But my gut reaction to the article was largely due to my [generally negative] opinion on how Corporate America works. After sharing the premise of the article at lunch, with someone who works at the Rochester Business Journal,  I felt compelled enough to share my opinion as Rich [please note the sarcasm] so graciously did.  Like many who commented, I too disagree with Rich's statements. Here is why:
  1. No one is perfect: Kodak and Rochester included. But as a writer, Rich had to have known the title, let alone the content, was going to piss off a lot of people. While everyone is entitled to their opinion (especially if that is your job as the WSJ), I think the title was a VERY poor choice of words. If the title was meant to drive readership and attention, well, mission accomplished. But I take issue with the content that was presented to the readers to from this opinion. While drawing bleak comparisons to other cities with companies who have faced their downfall, the article cites a mere three "events" that date back to 40 years ago when Rochester, not to mention the world, was extremely different. 
  2. The blame game: Despite Rochester's continuous "brain drain" of the younger population among other factors that detract from the bright spots of living here, I think it is foolish and short sited to blame an entire city filled with people, many completely removed from the inter-workings of Kodak, for one company's demise. As someone who is under the age of 30 and works at another prevalent Rochester-based corporation that was also stated in this article, I've experienced first hand what ineffective management, lack of vision, and political corruption can do to a business. All of these factors have contributed to Kodak's problems. The key to a business' success is it's leaders. Even with a perfect product and excellent marketing, a company can still be driven to the ground with poor management. I strongly believe that management is the primary force behind the tenacity of an organization. Those who have the responsibility of being a decision maker must be creative visionaries who can balance the need to innovate while holding themselves accountable for the actions necessary to disrupt the market, to stay competitive, and ultimately keep their company profitable. I'm sure Jeff Hayzlett would agree. 
  3. The theory of evolution: Contrary to Rich's statements, I believe Kodak's problem was blindness. Like many corporate giants, that blindness is often caused by an ego, greed, and the inability to get out of their own way. Kodak has been crumbling, clamoring to hold on as a heavy weight in the Rochester business climate for years. But as they stumbled, Rochester was far from being left paralyzed. Nor did it turn it's back on innovation and the ability to embrace change as it's friend Kodak did. As one commenter pointed out, Rochester has become the home of many successful companies contributing to both the American and global economy. New leaders have emerged. Jobs have been created. Other businesses have come and gone. That's called life. Survival of the fittest. Rochester has been able to survive, Kodak is clearly proving otherwise.
I am surprised that in this digital era, Rich can blame the place a company calls "home" on a global organization's downfall. I would challenge Rich to come visit the Rochester area. To see how different it is than the picture he painted. So he could talk to those who have built successful businesses here at the same time Kodak was. Shake the hands of today's business leaders that have helped put and keep Rochester on the map. Read aloud his article to the start-ups that have been forged from Kodak's mistakes. And of course, to visit the George Eastman House, the epitome of the Kodak Moment. So Rich could see Kodak did not kill Rochester. And Rochester did not kill Kodak. Like most friendships, they simply grew apart, valued different things, and took opposite paths on the journey called life.

Update: Someone commented on my Facebook post with a link to this USA Today story on this very topic. I would consider it the antithesis of the the WSJ article, plus it backs up my opinion perfectly. Likewise, I want to make it clear that I do not think all Kodak employees or the entire management team is to blame for the state of the company today. Sometimes good, smart people work for faltering, poor companies. My Uncle Bob and NaNa (whom retired from Kodak) being two of them.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Four eyes.

I've been wearing glasses since I was in the 3rd grade. My first pair were thick, powder pink tinted frames that looked anything but chic. Ever since, I have had a love-hate relationship with my glasses, which is the main reason I wear contacts. Every. Single. Day. Yet every two years I go to the eye doctor with the best of intentions. I spring for a more expensive pair that I promise to actually wear, only to shun them to the confines of my apartment.

Until now.

Meet Warby Parker. Vintage inspired eyewear with a free Home Try-On program that allows you to test drive the frames before you buy them. For $95 (+ free shipping) you get the frames and prescription lenses of your choice. And like the good philanthropists they are, Warby Parker will donate a pair for every one purchased.

Below are the five I received in the mail. I'm in need of a peer review.
Images courtesy of Warby Parker

Thoughts? Drop me a line and help me decide which pair to get!

Monday, January 16, 2012

Do something.

In my field, I'm constantly surrounded by big ideas and big personalities.  There is never a shortage of information or something to do. Most days, it's very easy to get distracted by something (ie. a tweet, discovering a new Tumblr page, a coffee run, etc.) that has absolutely nothing to do with the task at hand. But those moments often lead to great sources of inspiration. The type of inspiration that sparks clarity and the focus needed to actually do something.

Which is exactly what happened when I came across this quote during one of many distractions the other day:

It was the exact thing I needed after months of feeling, well, stalled. I was psyched to start 2012 off on the right foot, and even though my creative juices have been flowing, I needed that extra push to actually do it.

So here it goes. The official start to my new blog and kicking off what I hope to be a very inspiring adventure. I can't wait to share all of my daily distractions. And I can only hope to inspire someone else to get out there and c r e a t e.

PS. Follow my blog with Bloglovin!