Category Archives: Pinterest

Celebrating 500 BlackFin Posts

This post is number 500 for the BlackFin360.com/blog. Starting this blog was one of the best decisions I have made professionally. It provided me with a platform to share original thoughts, cover industry trends and serve as a repository for speaking and media coverage.

It has evolved significantly from the early beginnings in 2007. The blog was originally under the domain TheBlackFin.com. Now that domain is simply a redirect to BlackFin360.com. “BlackFin” was a nickname given to me by a co-worker at the time and the blog name came directly from my Xbox Gamertag “TheBlackFin“.

Here is a screenshot of the original look for the blog from 2007-2009. Why green for a blog named the “black” fin is something I still wonder about to this day.

Over the years the look and feel of the blog has changed but the core content focus on marketing, emerging technology, and gaming has remained to this day.

I officially moved the blog from theblackfin.com to blackfin360.com in 2009. By 2011 at least there were black/techie elements in the look and feel.

Now in 2018, the blog continues to serve as the primary entry point for speaking engagements, advisor opportunities, university lecturing, media coverage and over the past year it has shifted to more of a Vlog.

The look of the site will continue to evolve in 2018 and beyond.

Whether this is your first time here or you have been a subscriber since the beginning, I sincerely want to thank anyone who has stopped by and spent time with my content. I am incredibly grateful for this platform and I would highly recommend to anyone to find their industry voice and build their personal brand in addition to their professional.

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Amazon Spark Analysis

Tom Edwards, Ad Age Marketing Technology Trailblazer and Chief Digital Officer, Agency @ Epsilon analyzes the launch of Amazon Spark and discusses the potential connection to conversational commerce through messaging.

The video starts with an overview of the newly launched Amazon Spark, which is a mashup of discovery and inspiration features of Pinterest, combined with the UX style of Instagram for iOS users built on a foundation of a shoppable personalized feed.

The discussion shifts to unstructured social data & Amazon’s relevancy algorithms, the role of image recognition and the power of visual discovery as a foundation for additional data exhaust and progressive profiling.

Next, the analysis reviews the role of social in Spark and the evolution of reviews. From UGC, influencers, and social currency to a theory tied to rumors of conversational commerce through a potential messaging platform. Spark could be Amazon’s answer to a scalable campaign platform driven by WOM.

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Evolution of Social Media Marketing

Here is a preview of my latest take on the evolution of social media marketing.

 

The presentation starts with a trip down memory lane by reviewing the rise of social media platforms across the globe.

Evolution of Social Marketing Timelines - Tom Edwards

Next is a look at the impact social media trends have had on consumer behavior. Everything from viral videos, #selfies and the rise of YouTube celebrities.

Evolution of Social Media Trends - Tom Edwards

Then focus shifts to the evolution of social marketing globally and the role that content plays in today’s social marketing programs.

Evolution of Social Marketing Content - Tom Edwards

The journey wraps with a look at the future state of social marketing.

Evolution of Social Marketing Future - Tom Edwards

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Followers Only a Small Piece of Pinterest Content Discovery

Acquisition of fans, followers and likes was a staple of the early days of social marketing. The issue is that many organizations still map success to their follower count vs. focusing on the real value created by social marketing.

I have written many posts recently on the importance of organic reach, influencer impact, earned media value and the move towards discovery vs. retrieval and I am constantly working with my brand partners to keep them ahead of the curve while being focused on creating value.

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Part of this process is to work closely with publisher & platform partners to stay informed not only on the latest features, but more importantly to understand strategic positioning of their platform and how they create value for brands.

I have worked closely with Kevin Knight of the Pinterest Marketing team for a few years now. He was at Facebook when we initially met and then made the transition to Pinterest. His background provides the ideal experience to outline the role of a follower on Pinterest and he did so with a great post on the Pinterest business blog “Why you don’t need as many followers as you think“.

Pinterest is less about followers and more about discovery with followers being a “gateway”.

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Here are some excerpts from Kevin’s post.

Instead of thinking of followers as your audience on Pinterest, think of them as the gateway to your audience on Pinterest.

Here’s what we mean: People use Pinterest to discover, save and do things that inspire them. Repinning is the action they take when they save things they want to do or buy later. While people’s main motivation to Pin is to save things for themselves, anything they repin spreads to their own followers who are looking at their home feeds to discover things from people with similar tastes and interests.

That means the number of people who actually see your Pins is often far greater than your number of followers. In fact, the average Pin gets repinned 11 times. Don’t forget that if you have a website with the Pin It button installed, there are probably already people Pinning from your website. That means your Pins are getting discovered by people who follow those Pinners and people who find your Pins in search results and category feeds — a group that may or may not include people who follow your Pinterest profile.

So, while it’s nice to have lots of followers, they’re just one part of spreading your Pins to many, many more people on Pinterest.”

In addition to what Kevin’s post outlines is the importance of the Pinterest Interest Graph. To recap, an interest graph is an online representation of the specific things in which an individual is interested. And because the focus of Pinterest is based on what people are indexing on the web and then categorizing by interests, the Pinterest Interest Graph is the foundation for their business

interest-graph

The key to the interest graph for Pinterest is the ability to create personalized experiences that change based on an individuals life stage and interests. The association is less with people and more with things. This may include life events such as marriage, children, etc… and Pinterest hopes that by focusing on interests they are building a sustainable platform that can grow with users over time and continue to provide both utility and relevance based on discovery.

In order to map value, it is important to not only understand the bits & bytes of a platform, but to dig deeper and focus on the role that the consumer plays in the distribution, amplification and discovery of content as this is a key element of driving value from social marketing.

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Pinterest Guided Search Is Just The Beginning

Pinterest has carved its niche as a social discovery platform. Guided search is the next evolution of the platform that will create more opportunities for users to discover content that is relevant to them, especially via mobile while building a foundation to refine Pinterest’s promoted pin ad product.

Pinterest Guided Search

75% of Pinterest traffic is mobile and the primary user experience shift will be focused on gesture based elements integrated within the user experience.

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One of the bigger shifts is now users can track custom categories of interests vs. just pre-selected categories. From a user perspective this is key as it allows more control to the user to further personalize the experience.

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Here is the new user experience. Notice the ability to select a top level category and customize based on different keyword combinations at the top of the ux.

From a brand perspective, the focus on personalization for the user will allow Pinterest to gather additional data that will greatly enhance their targeting capabilities. The new guided search offering is also building towards a more refined discovery engine positioning offering for promoted pins via keywords and new categories where brands can further create new points of discovery with users.

Within the year we should see a more refined Pinterest promoted pin product that is refined based on the new guided search elements that will unlock greater targeting capabilities.

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Pinterest Launches Promoted Pins

I received word from the Pinterest team announcing the limited roll-out of promoted pins. At this time this feature is available to a small group of brands for testing, but the groundwork is being laid to support paid amplification of Pinterest content.

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Here is an excerpt From the Pinterest Blog

We’re going to start experimenting with promoting certain pins from a select group of businesses. I know some of you may be thinking, “Oh great…here come the banner ads.” But we’re determined to not let that happen. While we haven’t figured out all the details, I can say that promoted pins will be:

    •    Tasteful—No flashy banners or pop-up ads.
    •    Transparent—We’ll always let you know if someone paid for what you see, or where you see it.
    •    Relevant—These pins should be about stuff you’re actually interested in, like a delicious recipe, or a jacket that’s your style.
    •    Improved based on your feedback—Keep letting us know what you think, and we’ll keep working to make things better.

For our first test, we’ll promote a few pins in search results and category feeds. For example, a pin for a Darth Vader outfit from a costume shop might be promoted in a search for “halloween.” Nobody’s paying for anything yet—we want to see how things go and, more than anything, hear what you think.

Pinterest Promoted Pin Mock

This is an important announcement for brands that leverage Pinterest. Having the ability to amplify content and associate with topics such as “seasons” is a key step to going beyond organic reach and driving additional discoverability within the channel.

Back in May, I attended the first Pinterest Partner Marketing event. During that session one of the items that was revealed was the Pinterest Interest Graph. To recap, an interest graph is an online representation of the specific things in which an individual is interested. And because the focus of Pinterest is based on what people are indexing on the web and then categorizing by interests, the Pinterest Interest Graph is the foundation for their business moving forward especially with today’s promoted pins announcement.

interest-graph

The key to the interest graph for Pinterest is the ability to create personalized experiences that change based on an individuals life stage and interests. The association is less with people and more with things. This may include life events such as marriage, children, etc… and Pinterest hopes that by focusing on interests they are building a sustainable platform that can grow with users over time and continue to provide both utility and relevance based on discovery. Now, with the overlay of promoted pins, Pinterest will have the ability to leverage the data from their Interest graph and map that to a promoted product suite to add value to potential advertisers as well as a model to drive actual revenue.

It will be interesting to track how this will ultimately be rolled out, but the groundwork was announced in May, this is the next step in the evolution of the platform.

Follow Tom Edwards @BlackFin360

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Pinterest Pin To Save

Back in May of this year I attended the first Pinterest Partner Event in NYC. At that time they spoke about a number of topics from the newly launched Pinterest Interest Graph to the launch of new product innovation tied to Rich Pins. Here is the recap of that event.

I recently received word from Pinterest that a new feature would be announced today. The announcement will feature additional functionality tied to Product Rich Pins ahead of the holiday season.

Here is the note I received from the Pinterest Business Team:

Pinterest Announcement

To recap, Product Rich Pins create direct connections for retailers with consumers by showcasing active inventory as well as price & source reference directly into the pin. This additional data can take a consumer from simply considering a product to potentially enticing them to purchase based on availability of the product. This in turn can add value for the retailer and create a more direct connection between an item & a retailer.

Example of a Product Rich Pin prior to today’s announcement:

Pinterest Product Rich Pin

Today’s announcement shows that users will soon be able to receive notifications when the price of one of their product pins drops. This can help those that may look for savings tied to some their favorite pins to trigger a move from consideration to action on the product.

Here is what the experience will look like:

Pinterest rich pin

According to Pinterest In just two short months there are already tens of millions of product rich pins now on Pinterest. They state the benefits beyond traditional pins as follows:

  • Higher Click-Through rates compared to regular pins
  • Better brand visibility since the brand logo is featured on the pin
  • More likelihood of appearing in category feeds (like gifts, gardening, men’s fashion, etc.)
  • Details – like price changes – update automatically.

Retail & commerce based brands that are considering ways to drive action beyond consideration on the path to purchase should take note and implement Product Rich Pins ahead of the holiday season. Here is how to get started.

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The Move Towards Flat Design

Everywhere I look whether it is working on my desktop or browsing via mobile I am beginning to see recurring digital design patterns. This includes the use a lot of white space, simple and sometimes transparent backgrounds, symmetrical boxes and minimalist styling for user interfaces. This trend actually has a name… Flat design. You may not have heard of the flat design philosophy, but you will definitely recognize it when you see it especially if you have used a Microsoft or Google product recently.

Example from Xbox Live

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Example from Windows 8

Start screen

Example of an HTC Microsoft Phone

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Look familiar? It should. For a long time now graphical user interface (GUI) design has tried to make objects seem more familiar to us by using a design philosophy called Skeuomorphism. This is simply incorporating design ques from the physical world into the digital one. The visual cues and details such as shadows, beveled edges and texture create experiences that are relatable or designed to be visually interesting.

Multiple examples of Skeuomorphism from my iPad

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The icons themselves such as the Tech Crunch app icon almost appear to be 3-dimensional

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The move towards flat design is one that is less about style and more about optimizing functionality and focusing a users attention on the type of content they are about to interact with. The focus is on creating digital experiences that emphasize visual clarity to get the primary point across.

Google has always used a minimalist approach to GUI

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Google Now incorporates flat design principles into Google’s card style interface

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Especially with the move towards mobile first and responsive design, the limited real estate calls for very clear and simple interfaces that allow the reduced size to be maximized across devices. This is evident when you begin reviewing how Google Glass will present information.

Example of Google Glass Flat Design

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Social networks have even begun implementing certain elements of flat design. Take a look at the newly launched MySpace and their use of flat elements to bring their users streams to life.

MySpace has a new UX that features a clean design with the focus on simple visual content boxes

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Example of MySpace Feed

MySpace

Pinterest also incorporates flat design principles in their user experience with the recent redesign.

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Finally, with Apple’s recent announcements that iOS 7.0 will incorporate Flat Design elements into the user experience marks a significant shift as Apple since the 80’s has focused on creating graphical user interfaces that lean towards replicating physical objects vs. focusing on telling the user what type of content they are about to engage with.

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Dating back to the dot com days, I have been a student of all things digital. Flat Design is yet another entry into the ever evolving digital landscape. What was once old is new again. What are your thoughts and preferences? Do you prefer an interface that is familiar or do you have an affinity towards minimal elements with a clear visual cue to what you are about to do?

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