Thursday, March 15, 2012

Is Business of Interest on Pinterest?

By Joanna Kulesa
The latest social media craze is the pin board-style social photo sharing website, Pinterest. This fast-growing company entered the top 10 social networks in Dec. 2011 with 11 million visits per week, and in Jan. 2012 it drove more referral traffic to retailers than LinkedIn, YouTube and Google+. This year, ComScore reported it as the fastest site in history to break the 10 million unique visitor mark.

With the mission statement to "connect everyone in the world through the 'things' they find interesting,” Pinterest is clearly a fantastic opportunity for companies whose products translate well into images, but my question is this: How does the image-based design of Pinterest translate to enterprise software companies with products that are not as easily transformed into eye candy?

Companies with particularly gripping photos, such as jewelry, cookware, and clothing retailers, have been especially successful via Pinterest. This could have something to do with the site’s general user base. Almost directly in answer to Google+, whose users are predominately male, Pinterest’s users are almost entirely female. In fact, 97 percent of Pinterest’s Facebook likes are women. Lo and behold, it’s not entirely surprising that the most successful companies using the site are marketing glitzy, fashion-forward or home-care-based products that are more traditionally marketed toward women.

So, how are companies with less compelling product photos—tech companies for instance—competing on Pinterest? One way to do it is to make serious use of infographics and eye-catching charts. For example, Constant Contact has a relatively successful presence on Pinterest but their products—email, event and social media marketing—are not naturally converted into imagery. So, they’ve posted a board of infographics, and an array of charts that spruce up their “boards” (which are set up like bulletin boards) on Pinterest. Their Pinterest presence is more focused on displaying their company's overall culture than specific products. In the end, you get a “feel” for, and hopefully connect with, the brand.

So when it comes to Pinterest, if your product doesn’t translate directly into compelling, brightly colored photographs, think about what your product or even your company or team represents and start pinning. For instance, does the company have regional managers with unique backgrounds to share? If so, display those visual stories on Pinterest boards. Post images from seminars or company events, or “day in the life” photos that show off the office culture and individual personalities. Consider getting the feedback of an experienced graphic designer or art director with a keen eye for image, who can help translate your company’s mission, vision, values or culture into something of interest on Pinterest.

Joanna Kulesa is principal of Kulesa Faul, in San Mateo, CA. Kulesa Faul focuses on public relations, social media and communications strategies for enterprise software and consumer technologies companies.—

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Making Room for Nonprofit Work: Every Day is Payday

By Joanna Kulesa
With the various day to day tasks we all have to finish, it is easy to fall into a “business as usual” pattern and forget to make time for those under-the-radar projects we truly want to engage in—like working with a nonprofit whose work maps to your values.

In this social media-driven climate, a company’s overall image matters more each day. What we choose to make time for, on top of what we must do, isn’t only rewarding and fun, but it matters. Many companies are trying to achieve more than mere profits, and people are paying real attention to businesses with a ‘work for good’ side.

I’m a huge fan of Sir Richard Branson and recently downloaded his new book, Screw Business as Usual. In this book, he illustrates how “doing good is good for business.” In the past few years, I’ve come to learn first-hand that setting aside time for nonprofit work is not only fun and rewarding, but also an important component to overall success. The benefits of nonprofit projects are threefold: the nonprofit benefits as a result of the collaboration, you feel good for contributing to something you care about, and your team enjoys a richer work experience.

I’ve always had a passion for animal, environmental and other issues close to my heart. But my interest in working with nonprofits professionally was piqued three years back after my daughter and I watched a PBS special on the story of Koko the gorilla, and the Gorilla Foundation’s efforts to save gorillas from extinction. I was moved by Koko’s story and found myself wishing I could contribute something beyond money to their cause.

So, when an email from the Gorilla Foundation arrived by chance in my inbox asking Kulesa Faul to potentially partner on PR and social media efforts, there was no question in my mind. The Gorilla Foundation became our first nonprofit client.

Both passion and profits can drive you, and I’ve found that the two aren’t necessarily mutually exclusive. By doing good and contributing our talents to causes we care about, we’re building a richer business, a diverse network and an even more passionate team.

And now Kulesa Faul is proud to announce our second nonprofit client, Rock the Earth. Rock the Earth is a fantastic organization that works with the music industry and its fans to encourage advocates of the ecological future of the planet. We are energized by the pro bono work we do for our nonprofit clients and their causes, and every day feels like payday!

Joanna Kulesa is principal of Kulesa Faul, in San Mateo, CA. Kulesa Faul focuses on public relations, social media and communications strategies for enterprise software and consumer technologies companies.—