In The Know
Written by Susan Cartier Liebel (Solo Practice University)
I know. Blogging, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, now Pinterest. Can you handle yet another distraction? Well, when you first heard about blogging it was just for people journaling about their everyday problems…until it wasn’t. When you first heard about Facebook you thought it was just for your teenagers….until it wasn’t. When you first heard about YouTube you thought it was just a bizarre place where Spielberg wannabees posted pointless videos nobody wanted to see….until it wasn’t. When Twitter came on the scene you thought it was just about people tweeting what they had for lunch….until it wasn’t. Now Pinterest is becoming the rage and you’re thinking it is just one more time suck which you have little or no interest in. I felt the same way…until now.
I will certainly not be the first person to write about about how lawyers can use Pinterest. But even in these past few months more compelling information on this Silicon-based company is surfacing explaining why you may want to pay attention even if you are not ready to get involved.
What is Pinterest? ‘Vision boarding’ is an old concept. It is also called a Treasure Map or a Visual Explorer or Creativity Collage. Typically it is a poster board on which you paste or collage images that you’ve torn out from various magazines. (I remember doing one in college!). Pinterest has taken vision boarding and brought it into the social media space. A Pinterest user’s interests are now accessible to the world in a truly visually gorgeous format. Users collect photos which link to products and services they love, creating their own pinboards (or visual boards). They also follow the pinboards of other people whom they find interesting. But I find even this description very limiting as I’ll explain later. Pinterest has the potential for so much more.
As someone just tweeted to me the other day:
How can an attorney use it (Pinterest) effectively? It’s difficult when Pinterest is such a visual medium and the law is not.
What I was so happy about with this question was is it wasn’t the automatic response, ‘what a waste of time!’ At least many have now learned their lesson to not dismiss a new platform out of hand but instead ask the question, ‘ how can I use it effectively if I choose to use it?’
So, why should Pinterest even be on your radar? Pinterest has been one of the fastest-growing social networks to ever hit the web and is now the number-three most popular social network in the U.S. and seems to be dominated by women. It comes up right after Facebook and Twitter, both of which are already known globally and have millions of users. LinkedIn is ranked fourth. Over 80% of ‘pins’ on Pinterest are repins (think retweets) which shows you how viral content on Pinterest can be. It is also rumored to have surpassed Google+ in terms of referrals. (For those who are dismissing Google+ and calling it a wasteland, do so at your professional peril. There is more to Google+ than meets the eye and there is renewed interest in the platform these past months.) But more importantly, the three founders of Pinterest (really unknown entrpeneurs up until this point) have managed to secure financial backing from Silicon Valley to the tune of $37.5 million in venture capital. Money usually talks…and very loudly. Here is a great infographic on how Pinterest may be a game-changer. And now it’s going ‘pinternational’.
So, how can lawyers take advantage of Pinterest? I don’t think you should jump right in at all. I do think it needs to be on your radar and you should be thinking about if you choose to use it, how can you make the best use of this very user-friendly platform to continue your ongoing online marketing efforts. However, at the very least I would certainly recommend you create an account with your name/business name as you should on all sites of this nature.
Here are a few pointers for using Pinterest:
- Repurpose your best online content. The time-conscious smart lawyer will recognize there’s no reason to reinvent the wheel. Repurpose your best online content and pin it up on Pinterest. Take advantage of Google analytics or, if your’re a blogger, find your posts which have generated the most comments or retweets on Twitter or have been shared on other sites. Then pin it. You’ve now repurposed content and presented it to a whole new world of potential clients or referrers of clients. The key: this is a visual board. If you have to take some time to add an appropriate image to a current blog post, do so.
- Be laster-targeted. Remember your key words. When you create and name boards use profession-related keywords. When you start pinning appropriate content to each board you can write a brief description of what you are posting to highlight the content. This description should also contain those relevant key words. The more you are laser-targeted the easier it will be for your audience to locate and share your information.
- Share profession-related content. The same as Twitter and Facebook, share the content of others because, as you already know, in order to be perceived as an expert (and just plain generous, too), you need to show you have the pulse on what is happening in the world, not just your world, and share it with your Pinterest followers. You can have unlimited boards which is what allows you to be so focused within each board. This requires you to truly stay organized, compartmentalize, and share.
- Share your interests: There is no harm in creating a board dedicated to an interest or hobby, too. If you’re a runner or love movies you should share this. The rules for Pinterest are no different than any other platform. I love to tweet on a variety of topics relating to entrepreurship, demographics, economics, and health. I’m doing so on Pinterest, too, and will probably add more boards as I get the hang of it.
- Follow other Pinners and repin their content. It’s visual Twitter. The same rules apply. Pinterest has two critical elements to it: visual bookmarking and social networking. While you are busy pinning your favorites, don’t forget how important it is to also engage others. One way, and it will take a while, is to find others whose pins you enjoy and showcase them on your site in a dedicated board, very similar to retweeting another’s great tweet.
- Don’t start pinning until you know why you’re on Pinterest. This is just good advice for any platform. Know why you are spending time creating a space on Pinterest just as you do with Twitter and Facebook and YouTube. Social Media Examiner also presents a list of the many ways Pinterest can benefit a business. You just need to figure out if and when you are going to spend time here. You can start by checking out Solo Practice University’s nascent presence on Pinterest.
- Make it easy for others to post to Pinterest. Even if you haven’t developed a presence yet on Pinterest, if you have a Facebook, Twitter, Google+ button on your website already, add a Pinterest button so others can pin your content if they want to!
- A little caution should be used. We all know Pinterest was highlighted recently because of copyright concerns. However, it appears Pinterest is addressing the issues, users are apparently creating more good than harm for companies as pinners drive traffic to their sites, and I suspect this will be less and less of a concern going forward.
As a company, we care deeply about creating value for content creators. We’re spending a great deal of time reaching out to content creators to understand their needs and concerns. So far, we’ve received overwhelmingly positive feedback and have created both tools for publishers who want to make it easier to pin their content (the “Pin It” button for publisher sites) as well as tools for those who would prefer that their material isn’t pinned (an opt-out code that content owners add to their site that prevents content from being shared on Pinterest).
Our goal at Pinterest is to help people discover the things they love. Driving traffic to original content sources is fundamental to that goal.”
I’m no social media guru and I don’t play one on the internet. However, now that I’ve done some homework, I find there is a lot of potential here. The numbers are playing out, Pinterest is fun and easy to populate if you’ve already have a body of work on the internet, and we are nation addicted to social media. As solo practitioners, time is precious yet there is a great need to be a part of the environment where potential clients and referrers of clients congregate. It’s why 20% of your time is, or should be, devoted to marketing, socializing, networking. I recommend exploring Pinterest at some point in the not too distant future. Figure out how you want to use it because in my opinion the field is wide open on this one. If you’re already on Pinterest, let me know so I can follow your boards and showcase what you are doing on ours! If you want to follow SPU on Pinterest you can do so here.