The Shift in Social Media to Curated Content and How You’re Going to Make Money From It by Tony Ford

I’m sure you’ve all heard so much about Pinterest that you’re exhausted by it. Well, either that or you’re using it like an addict and can barely stay away long enough to read this blog. It’s okay, I understand. The drive for novelty is strong; it’s what made us explorers and travelers as a species. But Pinterest is just one of hundreds of similar sites, and just one example of a shift in social media to curated content, which is a shift that many of us in online marketing have been expecting for the last couple of years. I talked about it a bit in my seminar Neolithic 2.0 at the 2011 winter CHA show.

Why were we expecting curated content? Because there is simply too much “stuff” online for any of us to sort through. I could spend the rest of my life just watching funny cat videos online and never see them all, or explain such a pursuit to my friends, for that matter. There are more free movies, free books, free songs and free games online right now than anyone could ever experience, even if we spend every waking hour just focused on one category. Don’t get me started on the things for sale.

If you combine the ease of communication with our trusted friends via a social media platform and the mountain of content out there for review, you will quickly get curated content. Your network points you to the good stuff. You share that content with your friends. Pinterest and sites like it just provide the mechanism and the math to do this on a large scale.

The mechanism and math are the keys to the marketing use of these sites, because every equation can be analyzed. Just like search engine optimization, you can “Pinterest optimize” and use Pinterest to gain interest in your products. In fact, it is harder on Pinterest precisely because it is so large, but the hundreds of other sites out there are a little smaller and a little easier. For example, ArtFire sellers made an effort to engage more actively with a site called this year and we found it quickly became a top 10 referral site for ArtFire and converted to actual sales at 90% higher than our top converting source of traffic (Google organic traffic).

So how do you effectively use these sites to market?

Here are the basics:

1) Maximize your business or personal branding on your profile. Use your business name as your profile name. Mention your website, your products, be a real personality and a brand. Use that space to describe your business. People will click on it to see who you are.

2) Don’t just spam with your product or service. Create a content brand. Think like a magazine publisher. Ask yourself “What kinds of things would my customers be interested in?” Publish, share, post, like and interact around that content brand. The people who like that content will like your product and buy it. Most of your content can be shared from other sources. But original content will have more impact if it resonates with your audience.

3) Interact, give back, and like, share and promote others. This is still a social media tool. The number one rule of social media is BE SOCIAL. Tag other users with @username in the pins you put up to connect with them.

4) Analyze what gets re-pinned, what is popular and what kinds of images are consistently at the top. For example clean, uncluttered product photos, macro shots, and cute animals seem to do well.

5) Pin a lot, but steadily, not in “bursts.” You’re shooting for establishing yourself as a trusted source of great content (who happens to sell some great products). For smaller sites that are less established a “burst” of content can work well to weight the algorithm for popularity in your favor. It takes less to climb up in their results for a small site.

The above are the basics. If you want to learn advanced techniques, and my top tricks and tips for maximizing curated content site marketing, as well as which emerging sites have the best combination of sales conversion plus early adopter advantage, join me at the CHA summer show for my seminar “Emerging Social Media Channels”, Tues., July 17th at 2PM – 3PM.

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