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Pinning Down Pinterest Best Practices

Oh the joys of pinning new ideas, trends, videos, and so much more on Pinterest! I’ll admit it…I have a little obsession, racking up thousands of pins between professional and personal Pinterest accounts.

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Use Pinterest best practices to create more meaningful conversations and increase followers.

Just like Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, and other social media channels, Pinterest has its own culture and communication style. After countless hours of reading, pinning, and repinning throughout the past year, I’ve recorded some Pinterest best practices and etiquette tips to share with you.

Here are some best practices to keep in mind:

  • Streamline content (Some Pinterest accounts have a board for every topic, but only have a few pins. Make it interesting for followers by providing broader range board topics that they can follow rather than segmenting topics too specifically. And try not to create empty boards until you have items to post to them.)
  • Leverage social channels (When appropriate, share your pins with Twitter and/or Facebook communities as well. It’s a great way to expand your reach and the conversation.)
  • Use keywords (One of the main features of Pinterest is the ability to search keywords by pins, pinners, or boards. Make sure to take advantage of this feature by using keywords in the descriptions as we do for other social media channels.)
  • Understand policies (Pinterest stirred up quite a bit of controversy regarding siting sources, etc. Take the time to understand Pinterest’s policies as well as your company’s guidelines (if using it on behalf of the brand) to protect yourself.)
  • Joining group boards (It’s flattering to receive invitations to join group boards. However, before clicking the tempting “accept” button, evaluate how many pins you would like to receive from those boards. Getting inundated with pins, from a certain topic each day, may have an adverse effect on your participation!)
  • Share information (Vary the type and format of content you pin to boards. While we all like infographics, they can get a little old on Pinterest if that’s the only thing that’s pinned. Mix it up with videos, case studies, reports, SlideShare presentations (if for business), articles, blog posts, and other types of content. I like to use the 70% new content/30% repins rule of thumb.)

And here are some etiquette tips to keep followers interested and to attract new ones:

  • Site sources (Always include the source, especially for items that have copyrights, etc. If the source is on Pinterest, use the @ format to link to the person/organization.)
  • Include a description (Insert a description, with keywords, to help followers understand the item more clearly, leading to more repins.)
  • Acknowledge comments (I find that 2-way exchanges are still a newer trend on Pinterest versus other social media channels. Since participants are still getting into this feature, it’s important to respond to posted comments. It will go a long way with followers and we can learn from each other!)
  • Pace pins (Space out the number and frequency of pins so that followers do not feel bombarded all at one time. By pacing the pin posts over time, it will also give you the opportunity to share new content without having to do a lot of research work ahead of time. And lastly, try not to duplicate pins. It gets confusing for followers.)
  • Maximize boards (Pinterest is dynamic and social. Leverage it for sharing a variety of information and use Instagram or Flickr for photo postings instead.)
  • Reciprocate information-sharing (Monitor followers and how the content you share is repinned. If you find there are certain followers that consistently repin your content, try repinning their content in reciprocation.)
  • Follow others (The same principles from other social media channels apply to Pinterest. We do not need to follow everyone that follows us. Check on the type of content the new follower pins and evaluate if the content matches your needs and what your other followers are interested in too.)

Lastly, if you are prepping items for Pinterest, here are a few details to consider:

  • Images: Use images in blog posts or other communications to make it easier on Pinterest users to post.
  • Pin Features: Include pinning capabilities as part of your “share” social media icons on websites, emails, and more.
  • Captions: Incorporate a short, but descriptive caption for each photo used to brand information more clearly.

Did the details above “pinpoint” the best practices you were thinking of as well? (Sorry, just had to play on that word!) Do you have other tips you are using as well? I’m interested in reading your insights and learning about the different ways you are using Pinterest too!

And in the meantime, if you are interested in other types of social media training, check out our new complimentary Cisco Social Media Training Program.  Take short on-demand courses or sign up for customized one-on-one team training sessions by emailing ciscosmtraining@external.cisco.com.

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Train Employees And Yield Higher Social Media Results

Here we are…just into the third week of 2013 and questions of how we will use social media in more strategic ways, or measure more effectively, or take our efforts to the next level are already heating up. Goals, aspirations, expectations, responsibilities, commitments…the list goes on. Is your head spinning yet?

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While it may seem overwhelming, indeed these are important questions to ask ourselves as social media becomes even more integrated into the business structure and expands its value even further. While its easy to see the value social media can have for our businesses, brands, and even personal reputations, getting everyone who will be participating in the social stream up-to-speed on policies, best practices, and integrated strategies, can be the biggest challenge!

It helps to take a quick assessment of where we are currently with social media and then build the proper goals, efforts, monitoring, and measurement strategies from there. Here is a quick checklist of questions to ask ourselves:

  • Does your organization have a social media policy in place and are all employees aware of it?
  • Are your social media efforts integrated into the overall business or is it used for specific purposes?
  • Can anyone participate in social media within the organization or is it the responsibility of select roles?
  • How does your organization monitor social streams? And how are responses handled?
  • Does your organization have an established measurement strategy? How are benchmarks created and what’s measured?
  • Are members of management involved in the social streams?
  • Do you feel your organization is maximizing the use of social media or do you feel there are areas of improvement?

These are just a sampling of questions to ask ourselves as gear up for the year. And though many of these questions are applicable to different types of organizations, the truth is that each organization’s social media needs, structure, and efforts are unique…not to mention their employees’ social media skill sets vary across the spectrum. Some organizations have an established footing in social media while others are in the ramp up phase.

To make these questions easier to answer and to help provide further social media insights, we would like to offer a new training program, open to Cisco customers. Whether organizations are new to social media or have established strategies, this new program offers the opportunity to:

  • Become more proficient in social media
  • Empower team members to use social media more effectively
  • Receive guidance around developing internal training, policies, listening centers, and more
  • Meet directly with Cisco social media subject matter experts
  • Get an inside view of Cisco’s social media best practices

Here is a quick snapshot of the complimentary program offering:

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Does this sound like a program that could benefit your organization? If so, we invite you to join us in the social conversation. Here is a link to more Cisco Social Media Training Program details. For those that are interested in getting started with customized one-on-one team training sessions, send an email to ciscosmtraining@external.cisco.com.

I look forward to hearing your feedback to this post and getting the opportunity to work with you through this program!

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8 Qualities for a Good Social Media Training Program

We’re curious…

What do you look for when choosing  social media training programs you will participate in? It can be daunting, given the variety of information, organizations, and strategies out in the socialphere. On top of that, learning methods and preferences are different for everyone, making it even more important that we each find the type of learning environment that works best for us.

We are continuously learning and absorbing new social media insights, news, strategies, techniques, since the landscape changes so frequently. And we gather this information in a variety of ways, from researching on our own to attending formal courses to one-on-one consulting. While we can educate ourselves quite a bit from gathering information on our own, participating in more formal learning settings can push us forward in our social media skill sets much faster. And at the same time, we have to be careful in choosing the right social media training program that meets our individual needs.

So it leads me back to my original question…what do you look for when choosing social media training programs to participate in? We’re interested in your insights around social media learning. Here is a link to a quick anonymous social media training program survey as part of an informal research project to better understand followers’ social media training preferences.

And below is a quick checklist I use to discern which training programs and formats to participate in:

  • Reputable organization and teacher
  • Education format that matches my preferred learning style (self-serve, group, or one-on-one settings)
  • Focused content around learning, not a sales pitch
  • Educational tone rather than just presenting the information as though it was a meeting
  • Mixture of content to help me learn the principles and then see it in action
  • Variety of tangible and credible examples
  • Short durations to keep my interest and not overwhelm me
  • Key takeaways and ideas I can use right away

What does your checklist look like when choosing social media training? I’m interested in your experience!

I look forward to your comments through this blog post and more of your insights through this short anonymous social media training program survey? This survey will remain open until Friday, December 7, 2012 by 5 p.m. PT. Thank you for your help and participation!

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Bridging the Participation Gap – Networks, Learning, and “Play”

As much as the industry talks about social business and the need for organizations to become more “people-centric”, our conversations too often focus on the merits of social applications and platforms. While technology plays a critical role in enabling new ways of working, those new practices should also be complimented by management and community-building strategies that encourage employee participation. Fostering a more participatory culture and work experience that motivates people to contribute beyond the minimum required of the job requires leadership teams to re-think the ways we engage and recognize employees.

At the Enterprise 2.0 conference in Boston, I moderated the “Organization Next” workshop that explored different tactics strategists can employ to close the participation gap that occurs when employees disengage from their jobs. Instructors and panelists explored a variety of topics, touching on issues related to motivation, behavior, culture, and the role of technology. The centerpiece of the discussion revolved around the pro’s and con’s of potential solutions such as “gamification”, social networking, and “in-flow of work” learning. Attendees left the workshop with recommendations on how/where to get started, common pitfalls to expect/avoid, and best practices to consider (based on the real-world experiences of instructors and guest panelists). Highlights from two sessions conducted by our instructors included:

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Three Ways a Free WebEx Basic Account Can Help Kids Learn

The new WebEx Meetings is here and with it comes a free basic account that anyone can get and use. We invite educators to get their own account and start using it in the classroom. Here are three ideas to get things started – and we have more here. We’d also love to hear your ideas. Please comment on this blog!

Interview an Expert

Use WebEx to bring an “expert” into your classroom. Distance or location is no longer a barrier. Use the video conference capabilities of WebEx to take your students into studios, laboratories or even into the field! All the other person needs is an Internet connection and a webcam to broadcast from wherever they are. They could even engage with you via their iPad or iPhone or Android. Anyone can get the mobile application at no cost.

Classroom Connect

Share your classroom with another classroom! You can aim your webcam at your students and have your partner aim the camera at his or her classroom and away you go. This is a great way to demonstrate to the students that they are similar and different from students in another location. You can also use desktop sharing Read More »

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