Why A Social Media Community Is Like New York City

new york city skyline - Google Search-1-1

New York City. The Big Apple. The city that never sleeps. 8 million stories…Many things can be said about New York City but unlike any other city, if you are doing business in New York, New York wants you to live here. New Yorkers are famously outspoken against outsiders and when they refer to New York, they mean New York City. Long Island and Upstate may as well be another country. This may seem counter-intuitive because New York has, and always will be, a melting pot. But that pot only melds actual residents with addresses in the City. Whether it’s technology or real estate, if you are making money in New York, you need to be part of New York – for better or for worse. And for all the good, there is a whole lot of bad as well. The brutal winters, the stifling summers, packed subways, tiny apartments, overpriced everything, there is a familial thread that ties all New Yorkers together. You see this especially in times of crisis. No city has ever rebounded faster or stronger from a tragedy than New York after 9/11. But even during unexceptional times, if you meet a New Yorker on the other side of the world, you connect with them instantaneously. Even if it’s just for a moment, contained in a single look, it’s palpable. New Yorkers are probably the most ethnocentric breed but that’s because New York makes you feel like you are part of something bigger. You are either in or you’re out. New Jersey, Long Island and Westchester, all think they are in but really they are on the outside looking in. To quote Sinatra, “if I can make it there I’ll make it anywhere” and it’s true. But you need to be here. We want you here!

new york people - Google Search-2

For this reason, a social community is exactly like New York City. If you’re a brand trying to make money off of social, you need to be here. You need to be neck deep in social communities, forums, blogs and platforms. Companies like Coca-Cola, Red Bull and Starbucks all understand this and sure, they are billion dollar consumer brands with limitless budgets, but E.L. James built a billion dollar reputation through book forums long before 50 Shades of Grey, while Zappos relies on ratings and reviews for their outstanding service because they can’t compete on price. One vertical still hasn’t come to this conclusion however and unsurprisingly, it’s Health that’s late to the party. Health organizations would rather play ostrich with their heads in the sand than listen to, or engage in, the social community – petrified by perceived risk and calcified through process and regulatory. What’s more, the third most prevalent internet behavior behind general search and email, is looking for health information. The first step Health organizations need to take is social listening and many have done just that. But this isn’t nearly enough. It’s not a physical address. It doesn’t get you real estate. In order for Health to take advantage of this channel and monetize it, they need to live here, otherwise they’ll never get it. Like Long Island they are on the outside looking in and things will never change unless they decide to “make it here.”

social media health - Google Search-1

A good social agency is like a real estate agent. The first step towards residency is going through a broker. But you’d better select a broker who understands the market. The nuances of a patient population are just like the nuances of SoHo, Murray Hill or TriBeCa. An Uptown broker isn’t going to know all the quintessential intricacies of The Village just like a CPG agency isn’t going to understand all the unique idiosyncrasies of a patient population like MS. So when you do decide to finally make your move, please do two things – make sure you find yourself a good health agency and make sure they specialize in social.

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Pinterest…Where Are All The brands?

After having launched just over two years ago, Pinterest is increasingly becoming integrated into our social vocabulary. True, the demographic still skews older and female, and the launch might not have been as buzzed about as other social platforms such as Foursquare, but the growth rate and amount of time spent onsite is staggering. By now this isn’t a secret to consumers or brand advertisers, so why aren’t brands effectively leveraging Pinterest or incorporating the platform into their digital marketing strategy? In the 25 months since it’s inception, Pinterest has gone from generating 1% to 17% of social media revenue. This still pales in comparison to Facebook’s 82%, but it dwarfs Twitter’s 1% and if other social platforms have taught us anything, it will likely continue to grow at a rapid rate. This only further begs the question – “Where are all the brands?”

Currently the top brand on Pinterest is Perfect Palette, a wedding blog providing color palette recommendations for brides-to-be. Perfect Palette has almost 250,000 followers while the next brands are a distant second. Real Simple and HGTV have 100,000 and 50,000 brand followers respectively. This is a drop in the bucket when compared to the number of followers the top brands on Facebook had amassed after two years.

Take Procter and Gamble for example. With brands like Tide, Febreze, Pampers and Swiffer clearly targeting women as their core demographic, Pinterest presents the perfect platform through which to promote brand advocacy, grow affinity and inspire purchase. The potential to harness communal value, then using it to generate momentum behind a product is tremendous. Add to that, Facebook and Twitter integration points and you have the ability as a brand advertiser, to maximize impact and exposure across multiple social touchpoints.

Buyers referred from Pinterest are 10% more likely to buy something and spend 10% more on average than visitors who arrive from other social networks. Pinterest takes the best of Facebook and creates a simple amalgamation of social features. Sleek design and nice visuals coupled with brief captions, provide the ideal type of platform to host a variety of indirect advertising rarely used as effectively. To further validate this, a branded pin without price is twice as likely to be shared than the same pin with a price. Right now one of the most liked and re-pinnned items on Pinterest is a bra with iPhone pocket aptly named the Joey Bra.  An end user on Pinterest can not only like or repin the bra, but they can also click-through to purchase on the brand’s site.

JoeyBra featured on Pinterest
JoeyBra site, linked to from Pinterest
JoeyBra site, linked to from Pinterest

It’s only a matter of time before an influx of brands bombard Pinterest, similar to the way they did Facebook. With that in mind, it’s prime time for marketers to capitalize on the lack of clutter. A smart brand would make Pinterest a key component in its social strategy.  A highly visual integrated campaign, leveraging the connectivity with Facebook and Twitter to share out content from Pinterest and then link back to it, would be ideal. The way Pinterest lends itself to recommendations and the ease at which those recommendations can be shared while closing the loop to purchase, is an example of the functionality and UI so many other platforms are trying to create or evolve to. That said, at least for now we can appreciate Pinterest for what it is, while at the same time, preparing for what’s to come.