Instagram, WhatsApp, Tumblr, Snapchat, Pinterest… These are just a few of the leaders on an ever-expanding list of social platforms in which visual content takes center stage.
As a small business owner or start-up you may be asking how you can leverage these platforms, many of which are designed for sharing specific types of photo and video content?
The Pinterest example: Reinventing search and discovery
Let’s look at Pinterest. Pinterest is notable for its visual design, with virtual pinboards to which users can add photos, links, artwork and, thanks to a recent partnership with Apple, links to actual apps.
“Pinterest is very much a service built for cross-device usage.”
In a way, Pinterest could be the search engine of tomorrow. Whereas finding something on the Internet has long been a matter of typing a few words into Google (or Bing or Yahoo or DuckDuckGo) and then making your way to whatever website looked most relevant, the entire process could become more image-intensive and integrated with mobile:
- For instance, let’s say you open up Pinterest on your iPhone or Android device.
- You’re looking for clocks, so you punch in “clocks,” and after that the app gives you visual options for narrowing your search, such as presenting only clocks that are blue or only clocks that have a certain type of design.
- You can set this up as a custom category, making it a precise filter for any new pins that meet your criteria.
- From time to time, you might also see some sponsored pins from brands that are woven seamlessly into the results.
- Eventually, there may be a “buy” button that allows you to purchase items that you see on your boards, making Pinterest sort of like a combination of Google and Amazon.
For small businesses, Pinterest is a big opportunity to tell stories, share pictures and reach the service’s growing user base. Companies could use Pinterest to share photos from an event and then link them to products on the corporate website. Or, they could collaborate with others on infographics to post to a popular board, or use their Pinterest audiences as focus groups to test new ideas. The network is a new way to be discovered.
Pinterest is very much a service built for cross-device usage. In addition to its mobile apps, it has a fast website, desktop Web browser extensions (i.e., for sharing photos to boards from anywhere), Notification Center integration on OS X and several third-party clients. To get the most out of it, small businesses will need a consistent content strategy as well as reliable voice, data and video services to ensure around-the-clock connectivity for phones, tablets and PCs.
Beyond scrapbooking: Pinterest, Snapchat and new ways of finding content
We mentioned Pinterest’s recent partnership with Apple earlier. Basically, instead of having to search through the black box that is the App Store to find a particular app or stumble upon something good, iOS users can now find and install apps directly from Pinterest. There are official boards curated by the App Store team as well as Pinterest employees.
This move is part of a bigger trend with social media, one that involves turning social networks as well as mobile apps in general into conduits for news, music, articles, etc. Snapchat, for instance, recently launched its Discover feature, which gives users access to time-limited stories from brands and publications. Facebook has considered hosting more content. Even apps like Starbucks have gotten in on the game, with occasional free app download promotions that aren’t available elsewhere.
Overall, the number of channels now available to small businesses can seem overwhelming. SEO is still important for building a presence in Google searches, but it has to be supplemented with efforts elsewhere. Pinterest, Snapchat and others have millions of users between them and can become powerful vehicles for building brand equity, testing ideas and creating sharable content. Paired with reliable Internet service, cross-platform marketing efforts can go a long way in helping small businesses to stand out in today’s crowded marketplace.
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