Tag Archives: social media

A Beginner’s Guide to Pinterest, 2014

Pinterest: Not Just B2C Anymore


Pinterest: Not Just for B2C Anymore

Pinterest is one of the fastest growing places to be on social media now, and there’s a lot you can do on it. If you’re thinking about starting a Pinterest account for your business, though, you’ll get more out of it when certain things are already in place:

  • a website on your own domain that Pinterest can verify. This will let you take advantage of Pinterest Analytics for all images hosted on your domain. With such a website, you can also implement rich pins, which will make pins of your content stand out on your followers’ Pinterest feeds.
  • prior content, especially content that can be hosted on your verified website. This includes images, slideshows, videos, audio recordings, reports or whitepapers, and blog posts (especially those with accompanying images; if you’re not already including relevant images in your blog posts, start thinking about doing so!).

As Jay Baer (no relation, as far as I know!) said, “Content is fire, social media is gasoline.” But what can you do if those parts of your content strategy aren’t ready yet? You can still get started on Pinterest!

  • Create your account. Fill out your bio and add an icon (ideally at a 160×165 resolution). Keep your bio simple, but readable; use keywords so that you can be found in Pinterest search but write for humans, not for Google search. Use your company logo for your icon, if you have one. The red and white pin icon is the Pinterest equivalent of the Twitter egg icon. It’s important to make your Pinterest page look like you’re participating in the community.
  • Follow relevant people and companies.You can connect your Twitter, Google+, Gmail, and Yahoo accounts to your Pinterest. This will let you see if any known-to-you colleagues are already on Pinterest. You can also use Pinterest’s search function to find new-to-you people and companies to follow. Type in relevant keywords and terms, click on pertinent results, and then you can choose to follow all of an account’s boards, or just specific boards. What are boards? More detail on boards in a little bit.
  • Be conversational. When somebody comments on something you’ve pinned, respond! If somebody you’re following posts an interesting pin, comment to their pin and participate in the discussion. A repin doesn’t necessarily require a response, but it’s worth paying attention to what the pinner is saying about your pin, especially if they’ve taken the effort to change the text you originally pinned with. You’ll get the most out of Pinterest by being social and community-oriented.

This is a familiar idea from our previous Twitter for Beginners post; create your account, follow, comment, share (whether by retweeting or repinning). The big difference: in order to share things on Pinterest, you need to create boards on your account.

What’s a board? A board is a collection of pins, usually created with a specific theme in mind. It can be run by just one account, or it can be a group board. There are boards for social media, big data, data warehouse, Platform as a Service. (The first three of these links have primarily relevant results. The last one, Platform as a Service, has a fair number of results, but not all of them are relevant. It’s a good opportunity for someone in the PaaS space to get in there and create a quality PaaS board!)

Following other companies’/peoples’ boards is good fodder for thinking about what sort of boards you’d like your account to have. What are others pinning? What kinds of boards are they creating? Who are they following? Does any of it resonate with the type of content your followers would like to see and the message you would like to share?

What should you share? Again, similarities between what you can share on Twitter and Pinterest; just slightly different approaches. You have more space in Pinterest descriptions (up to 500 characters); use it wisely to provide guidance and recommendations that you can’t provide on Twitter.

  • Share relevant things that you create. You can create boards specifically to showcase your own content; you can even pin said content to multiple boards. And you’re not limited to images – you can pin videos and slides, too. You probably have more images as part of your company content than you think – charts and graphics from existing whitepapers and blog posts, screenshots of your website or images of your product or service in action, photos from events, staff photos and bios.
  • Share relevant things that others create. You cement your business’ reputation as an expert in your industry, and you show that you’re a member of the community by pointing out when others have made awesome things. It’s also a great way to supplement your own content. Just be sure to credit properly generously share the wealth.

Once you’ve started pinning content to your boards, it’s also worth considering following some of the people who comment to your pins, and those who repin your pins. Look at their boards and take their comments to you in context – are these potential or existing customers? What do their interests tell you about them, and why your products and services are important enough to them to interact with you?

So if those are the similarities, what are the big differences between what applies to Twitter and what applies to Pinterest?

  • Images. On Twitter, image dimensions and orientation don’t matter that much, nor do you have to include an image with every tweet. On Pinterest, you cannot pin without including an image, a video, an audio file, or a slideshow. And tall images will display more prominently in Pinterest feeds than wide ones will. You do want to be careful with ultra-tall images such as some infographics – Pinterest will hide a portion of those images behind an “Expand Pin” trigger if they’re really long. Their proportions can also affect your followers’ ability to repin and to comment on those images – if your image’s width-to-height ratio is less than about 1:3, it may be too long for easy repinning. Still, infographics are quite popular on Pinterest.
  • Hashtags. Pinterest search does not currently support hashtags. Adding hashtags to your bio, board descriptions, and pins doesn’t help your account show up more in search results; it’s the keywords that matter. Make sure that you use appropriate keywords in your descriptions, and in the file names of your blog posts and associated media. Hubspot wrote a great guide to Pinterest SEO about a year ago (it’s the #1 Google search result for “Pinterest SEO”), but some things have changed since then – especially around hashtags. Their example of the #KnowlesChapel hashtag search only yields five results today; searching for the two words “Knowles Chapel” yields 104 results. Time for an update!
  • Using Pinterest on the go. With 75% of all traffic to Pinterest coming from mobile apps, there is a lot of pinning activity being done on phones and tablets! However, on mobile Pinterest, you cannot change descriptions of repins, or add your own description of pins of web content. So, be aware that many of your followers will likely be pinning on the go and only able to use your text description! The more complete your description, the more likely your pin will place high in relevant Pinterest search results.

So you’ve already set up your Pinterest account and are pinning, repinning, and conversing away, great! If you haven’t yet, get started – at last count (July 2013), Pinterest had 70 million users, and you probably have an opportunity to own your niche. If you’d like to learn best practices for using these tools, or have further questions, please contact us at connect@datahiveconsulting.com to schedule a free consultation.

A Beginner’s Guide to Twitter, 2014

According to Sandy Carter of IBM, 77% of Fortune 500 companies are on social media in some form, whether just to listen, or getting their feet wet. If you’re not on board, you’re getting left behind. When you bring up social media, people-in-the-know keep mentioning Twitter, and you’re not sure why – what makes Twitter different from Facebook?

When people start considering social media for their business, they tend to have at least some familiarity with Facebook, which is generally about connecting with people you already know. On Twitter, that’s a good starting point. But Twitter is more useful for connecting with people you may not already know personally, but share common interests with.

On social media, your username is your brand. If you’re creating a Twitter account specifically for your business, use the name of your business. If you’re creating a Twitter account for your professional self, use your name. Sometimes, though, you may find that you’re unable to do this – your name may be too long (more than 15 characters), or it’s a popular name that’s already been taken. In this case, consider variations that incorporate useful information. Include your industry: Andrew Borg of e3C Consulting, a mobility consultant, goes by @TheMobileBorg on Twitter. (@andrewborg is a different person.) Another example would be to include your business’ location, such as @ArtBarCambridge for the ArtBar restaurant in Cambridge. (@ArtBar belongs to an unrelated person.)

Fill out your bio and add a userpic. If your profile looks incomplete, especially if it still has that egg picture, people tend to not take you seriously (at best), or assume you’re a spammer (at worst). With a business account, use your corporate logo; for a personal account, a headshot is fine. Don’t forget to customize your profile design to coordinate with any existing websites for your business. And send out that first “Hello, world!” tweet! You’re here to engage.

Follow your colleagues and others in your industry, including competitors. At IBM’s recent Entrepreneur Day in Cambridge, Bobbie Carlton of Mass Innovation Nights put it this way: “Where is your audience? Where are your influencers?” I would add: where are your peers? Following others is key; when you don’t, you’re perceived as being on social media solely to broadcast announcements, not to have conversations. That’s not what social media is best used for, and others will think you’re out of touch. On Twitter, you can follow and reply to anyone you’d like. This is a great way to keep up with current discussions and breaking news in your industry, as well as networking and starting conversations with people who share your interests. It’s fairly common now for people to even list their Twitter accounts on their business cards; you can look at their tweets before deciding to follow them. At DataHive Consulting, we put our Twitter usernames on our business cards, as seen below:

Business Cards

Share relevant things that you create. Whether that’s blog posts, software, pottery (assuming you run a pottery business), you can share links and images and video of these things. Even short-form thoughts can be conversation starters. If you’ve got a sneak preview for an upcoming project, share it and get feedback. If you want to offer a discount on something you’re selling, share that! Something special on tonight’s menu at your food truck or restaurant? Share a picture and get hungry people lining up to eat it.

Share relevant things that others create. One of the people you follow wrote a really thought-provoking blog post about an issue in your industry. Tweet about it! Somebody made a tool that’s changed your everyday workflow for the better. Tweet about it and tell people why. Your colleague tweeted something smart and succinct. Retweet it!

Keep up with your interactions and mentions.. In the “Connect” tab of your Twitter account, you can see replies to your tweets, as well as tweets that mention you; who has starred a specific tweet of yours as a “favorite;” and who has retweeted one of your tweets. Also, you can use Twitter’s search function to find out who’s talking about you or your business that might not necessarily know you have a Twitter handle. All of these are invitations to further conversation with these people – strike while the iron is hot! Being responsive to people who’ve shown an interest in you on Twitter encourages them to connect further with you.

Use hashtags properly. Hashtags are a powerful tool. They assign a label to a specific tweet, which makes it easier to find in Twitter search. A hashtag can be as generic as #socialmedia, or as specific as #datastorm14. At conferences or in webinars, the organizer will often suggest that you tweet using a specific hashtag. You can use tools like TweetChat and Twubs to track the hashtag of your choice in a chatroom-like environment with near-realtime updates.

Sort who you follow on Twitter into lists. Once you’re following a number of people, it can feel like you’re trying to drink from a firehose just to keep up. Lists can help filter who you follow into useful categories – a list of your webdev compatriots, a list of your information architecture colleagues, a list of all the Twitter accounts of the software you use. This filtering makes it easier to focus on one subject at a time.

Use Twitter on the go. 75% of Twitter users visit Twitter via a mobile device. Download a Twitter app to your phone, whether the official one, or a third-party offering like Tweetbot or Hootsuite. Check up on your replies or mentions in a quiet moment and respond, or just see what people are talking about. You can fit Twitter into interstitial moments without being tied to your laptop! Just be consistent – check in for a few minutes every day.

So that’s our beginner’s guide to using Twitter. Once you’ve mastered these tips, there’s a world of useful tools beyond the basic Twitter website and mobile app: third-party clients that enable more advanced actions like scheduling tweets, analyzing social data, and better brand and hashtag tracking, among dozens of other use cases. We cover some of this in our Social Media Primer series. If you’d like to learn best practices for using these tools, or have further questions, please contact us at connect@datahiveconsulting.com to schedule a free consultation.

My Introduction to Enterprise Software at IBM Connect 2014

I’m a social consumer technologist. My daily routine includes Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Flickr, Pinterest, Tumblr, Pinboard, and a fistful of other social and collaborative information-gathering tools; some of these, I use on their own (such as Pinterest), others, I manage through HootSuite, an integrated social media tool. I’ve spent little time working with enterprise-level tools and companies larger than “medium.” So I was intrigued by the opportunity to be introduced to an enterprise social software, IBM Connections, at Connect 2014, and to compare it to the consumer and SMB environments that I was accustomed to working with.

The common ground between enterprise and SMB companies is that they are all aware that they need to be doing social media now. The enterprise is waking up to the fact that social is something the majority of their employees do anyway – and that there needs to be attention given to the policies surrounding that, and that this applies across all strata in a given company – as far down as front-line, and as far up as C-level officers. The attention IBM is giving to design and its Designcamp is a pertinent example to demonstrate a pervasive business initiative, since Designcamp has been deemed so important across IBM that even C-level officers are attending to ensure everyone in the company’s on the same page. A similar initiative for external social at IBM offices could yield similarly intriguing results.

IBM Connections will be significantly easier to learn if it heads in the direction of Mail Next, announced at IBM Connect, via a similar IBM Designcamp initiative. The Mail Next dashboard is where software design has been headed for awhile – being able to see the most important things up front is better than having to dive through layers of nested contextual menus to find it. (Granted, simplification for comprehension vs. options for power users is an ongoing tension.) I found myself in the weeds a fair bit trying to absorb as much as I could regarding IBM’s existing software, but Mail Next stood out as something more modern and easy to grok.

However, some stark differences also showed up in comparing enterprise and SMB social. When you join an enterprise, there’s traditionally not a lot of sanctioned opportunity to bring your own tools. So whatever you have used at home may be very different from what you get to use in an enterprise, and frequently, enterprise tools are so complex that lengthy training sessions are recommended for their effective use. I’ve tested a large number of consumer tools, both for my workflow and for others’, and the ones that remained useful over the long term typically had a combination of great software design, concise demonstrations or explanations, and benefits so obvious that it motivated me to keep using them. If something felt too complex, it was hard to motivate myself to keep up with using the tools. Bridget van Kralingen, SVP of IBM Global Business Services, pointed out that 50% of employees would pay for better and more collaborative tools. This is revelatory.

At this point, businesses small and large need to have a social presence; it’s expected, and this point was made across the board at Connect 2014. IBM certainly knows the importance of social; they encouraged everyone to tweet and post Instagram photos (and IBM applied appropriate gamification throughout the show for fun and glory). But IBM’s software mostly doesn’t reflect that connection yet; it’s so focused on “internal social,” with “external social” feeling somewhat bolted on. Even though they mentioned that you could invite your partners and clients to participate in your internal social spaces, overall, most of the software came off as IBM-social-centric, when smaller businesses are accustomed to sorting out what types of social initiatives go in varying spaces.

The division between “internal” and “external” social isn’t nearly so vast outside the enterprise world. It’s why the IBM-HootSuite partnership will be intriguing to watch – 80 different social networks are already integrated into HootSuite, allowing you to participate in external social both as a reader and a writer. That’s a lot of third-party social integration! IBM Connections, on the other hand, is just starting to integrate third-party social, and so far, primarily as a means to bring external social data into Connections.

So despite the way social is divided into “internal” and “external” for large enterprises, there’s still a lot of common ground between SMB social and enterprise social, particularly with regards to social being a necessity for all businesses at this point. And Mail Next proves that enterprise social software doesn’t have to be complex nests of menu options to be powerful, yet easy to understand, like the most popular consumer social software out there today. I look forward to IBM Design working its way through the rest of IBM’s software; it’s key for making IBM software easier to learn and close the usability gaps between consumer and enterprise software.

Part 1: Building a Social Media Presence For The Long Haul


Social Media Construction

Michel Filion via Compfight CC-BY-2.0

This blog is the first in a three part series to show you how to build a social media account that will last for the long haul.  Social media can be a powerful force multiplier to get out your message, connect with new people, and find new and interesting ideas, but your social media tactics need to be aligned with your business goals.  And, most importantly, it is always all about the people.

To take a step back, let me explain how I use social media.  Continue reading

How McDonald’s HR Department Screwed Over Its Social Media Director

“Think orchestration … not control. If you are using social media for a brand, you already know that you cannot control the conversation with your customer. In a very similar way you should not seek to control the conversation within your organization as well.”

- Rick Wion, Social Media Director of McDonald’s, in a guest blog post to pivotcon.com, February 2013

“Is social media growing beyond marketing?

We’re working with our HR teams more, using social media as a recruitment tool. … Our insights teams work more with us, as well, taking what we monitor in social and using it to inform operations, culinary and HR.”

- Rick Wion, in an interview with Nation’s Restaurant News, April 15, 2013

And yet, in the last six months, McDonald’s has had multiple social media disasters related to their company’s HR documents and ventures. Continue reading

Instagram Direct vs. Twitter Direct Message Images

Instagram Direct vs. Twitter DMs

Left: Instagram Direct – 1:several. Right: Twitter DM – 1:1. Images from respective press releases.

Both Twitter and Instagram announced similar-sounding new features that were compared to Snapchat last week. Twitter now allows you to include photos in direct messages to your followers (and not just public/semipublic tweets). Instagram now allows you to send photos to a small group of Instagram users rather than making them either fully public or only available to your entire group of approved followers. While adding images to Twitter DMs is a useful feature, Instagram has implemented their version of private messaging in a more intriguing way, and presents a stronger case for many businesses to add an Instagram account to their social arsenal if they haven’t already done so. Continue reading

Where Dreamforce 2013 Missed the Mark with its Social Efforts

Dreamforce DataHive Hub

Dreamforce Social Media Command Center

Dreamforce, Salesforce’s annual end-user event and the largest cloud tradeshow in the world, recently concluded in mid-November. It has become a zoo of a show with over 135,000 registered attendees, which makes it a challenge for Dreamforce to create more personalized experiences for each person on site. This challenge is increased by the fact that the demand for Salesforce-based education is greater than the number of sessions offered, especially with technical topics where expert users are seeking more knowledge and MVP-level tips.

In this regard, Dreamforce had the opportunity to take advantage of both its massive social media audience and robust social media monitoring capabilities to help out attendees, but failed to do so. This was not due to either Salesforce’s or Dreamforce’s inability to support social media, but was based on a poor event-based social media strategy. Based on DataHive Consulting’s experience, here’s what happened and what should have happened. Continue reading

A Place for Pinterest Place Pins

Pinterest board demonstrating new Place Pins feature

Pinterest board demonstrating “Place Pins” from Camberville Chow

Pinterest recently launched Place Pins, a way of attaching location information to pins on boards that have enabled maps. At first glance, they seem primarily useful for people compiling lists of where to get the best burger in a number of cities, or for planning your next vacation.

However, there are a number of ways they can be useful to businesses, even ones not in the travel or hospitality industries. Continue reading

Hello World!

Baby Panda Bear Cub - San Diego Zoo Baby Panda Bear Cub – San Diego Zoo by fortherock is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.

We are proud to bring a new consultancy firm to the market: DataHive Consulting. Our firm is focused on showing corporate end users, PR firms, and technology vendors how to bring social media, data, and mobility together to make people more productive. By bringing the context of location, metadata, and other third-party data sources with the Hive Mind of social networks connected in a ubiquitous manner, we all have the opportunity to become smarter, more agile, and more productive.

The Principals of DataHive Consulting, Lynne Baer and Hyoun Park, have each used social media for over 15 years. For us, the concepts of friending, blogging, and metadata are ingrained into our daily workflows, our personal lives, and our corporate work. As social natives, we have seen countless examples of how companies have harmed their own corporate brand by using social media inappropriately, failed to take advantage of large audiences because they did not understand the opportunities they had, or wasted time and money by fighting unnecessary fights in trying to remove the personalized technology ecosystems of new employees from corporate IT.

To support the technology community, DataHive Consulting will bring our experience to market to help companies in the following areas:

Social Media: Although Facebook and Twitter have existed for eight years and blogs are well over a decade old, the vast majority of social users and community managers still find it challenging to take full advantage of social media. Social monitoring is just a first step in optimizing the value of social. The true value of social media does not simply come from just having thousands or even millions of followers. In a time when Twitter followers can be bought by the thousands and online celebrity often has little to no credibility, social media is no longer simply a numbers game. Instead, social media should allow individuals or organizations to have a closer relationship with their friends, partners, and customers. DataHive Consulting provides guidance on creating a more immersive and effective social presence. At the same time, we know that social media is often an understaffed activity, so we will teach you which areas of social media can be automated and which areas have to be staffed on a real-time basis.

DataHive Consulting provides support and consulting for corporate social media presences on platforms including Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Instagram, and Storify. In addition, DataHive can also help to enhance the social aspects of end user conferences and tradeshows, since we have noticed that the vast majority of events do not credibly unite their social and real-live events.

Personalization of IT: This trend is also called the consumerization of IT, but DataHive Consulting prefers the term “personalization” because it reflects our individual efforts to create a technology ecosystem built around each of our lives. Think about your own smartphone and the apps that you chose for that device. Consider the shortcuts and bookmarks on your browser to make your life easier. This is the personalization of IT and it has transformed corporate IT in many ways. By bringing together DataHive Consulting’s expertise in personalized productivity technologies and with enterprise applications, we can provide a roadmap and integration strategy for IT departments to support the emerging applications that new employees are bringing into the workplace.

DataHive Consulting views the Personalization of IT in multiple aspects, all of which directly affect the corporate environment:

Bring Your Own Device, where employees expect to use their own equipment. Currently, over 70% of companies support some level of BYOD, yet market estimates state that only 30% of companies have formal BYOD policies or strategies. In other words, the majority of BYOD users are improvising and facing financial, compliance, and security risks as a result. Find out how to support BYOD, especially in context of the social, Big Data, and cloud projects your organization faces.

The Subscription Economy, where infrastructure, resources, and services are now rented, not owned. As employees bring new applications into the organization and cloud infrastructure needs to be managed, companies must fundamentally shift from a CapEx to an OpEx model and from a fully centralized model of IT procurement to a complex role-based and location-based model of IT procurement similar to the model of Telecom Expense Management. In addition, companies must shift their billing and invoicing models to fit the increasingly complex models of commerce created by flexible subscription options.

Personalized Big Data: We all use Big Data as Google, Amazon, and Facebook users. We have all grown accustomed to having access to services based on these massive datasets and customizing them to our very specific needs through apps and data integration tools. Now that enterprises are catching up with their own Big Data services and applications, how are they providing the appropriate user interfaces for employees to take advantage of this information? Also, how can companies take advantage of employees’ existing use of Big Data rather than create a separate corporate paradigm of usage that will be more difficult to use and less valuable for the employee? At DataHive, we’ve spent over a decade working with the challenges of using Internet-scale and social Big Data as end users and want to share that insight with you as you develop Big Data applications for customers and employees.

DataHive Consulting provides hands-on implementation, strategic support, and workshops in all of these areas. To schedule a free half-hour consultation to discuss your organization’s needs in any of these areas, please contact us at connect@datahiveconsulting.com.