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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

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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

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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10 tips to kick off your Digital Forum

Who is running digital marketing in your company? Your company’s social media team? The web marketing team? The product marketing team? Your bloggers?

Truth is, everybody in your marketing organization should be engaged in digital marketing today; the marketing message, vision and goals of your company should be reflected in everything your employees do that is related to the product and your customer.

With that being said, wouldn’t it make sense for your marketers pertain to understand how these digital channels come to life? Wouldn’t an educated and able internal workforce help you build integrated marketing programs and break down silos?

Here at Cisco, our answer was yes. And with that the Digital Marketing Forum was born. The Forum provides a communal place where we can demonstrate, educate and enable our internal workforce to use digital marketing, while encouraging best practices and the opportunity to share learnings.

After successfully pulling off our first Forum, we want to share 10 tips which will help you plan yours:

  1. Get executive commitment. Work with your executive team on topics and get their support for the forum.
  2. Make it count. Research the groups that should be invited, gather email alias and names and send out a save the date ahead of time. Be aware of global teams and their time zones.
  3. Plan for success. Treat this internal event as you would any external event and plan ahead of time with firm deadlines.
  4. Pick one topic or message. Don’t overwhelm your audience, keep it to one simple message or topic of great importance.
  5. Be flexible. Have a back up plan in case a speaker or topic falls through.
  6. Be mindful of the event length, date and time. Try to limit your event to 2 hours maximum and pick a day and time of the week that is not crazy busy (don’t try to get people Monday morning… )
  7. Put on your teacher hat. How can you present your learnings and best practices so people can easily follow and remember? What worked for us was 10-minute case studies.
  8. Use digital channels. Make sure mobile and onsite workers can attend through online channels.
  9. Get an outside speaker. Share industry thoughts and knowledge from a different perspective; define topics beforehand.
  10. Evaluate and adjust. After the event solicit feedback trough surveys, polls, chats, comments on your community sites; ask people for ideas and new topics.

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WebEx Social Is Here

This last weekend Cisco launched the new implementation of our enterprise collaboration platform, Cisco WebEx Social and what an exciting update it is! Read More »

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