Mar 7, 2012 Social Media and Promotion
Right now, Pinterest is under fire because the platform makes it easy for users to share pictures. Many photographers and artists are up in arms because this is done without permission, so they feel it’s copyright infringement. But the more I use the platform, the more I think Pinterest critics have it wrong.
Why do you have an online presence?
First, I want you to answer that question. As an artist, whether you’re a photographer, cartoonist, etc., why are you online? Forget social media and email and such – why do you upload your work online? Correct me if I’m wrong, but typically, artists upload their work for one of three reasons:
1. To share their work with others
2. To show potential clients what they can do when hired (i.e., they have an online portfolio)
3. To sell the work itself
People who upload their work ONLY to share it with others for the sheer joy of it seem to be embracing Pinterest. So let’s focus on the last two reasons – the pictures are part of an online portfolio or the pictures are showing artwork for sale.
In both cases, the more people who come to your website, the more likely you are to make money. More traffic means you’re either reaching potential clients or potential buyers. And Pinterest definitely leads to more traffic.
Yes, there are people who use Pinterest incorrectly, stealing your pictures and uploading them as their own. That happens with EVERY social media platform, though. People are jerks. Pinterest is not at fault for the assholes of the world. The vast majority of Pinterest users pin pictures correctly so they link back to the owner’s site.
“But they’re using my work without permission…”
Not really. I’m not talking from a legal standpoint here, but rather a practical one. Legally, I don’t know how all this crap with Pinterest will go down. But logically, no one is using your work.
When someone pins something, they aren’t adding it to their own website or making money from it (at least, if they’re using Pinterest correctly). They’re promoting your work. It’s like using a quote from a piece of written work. Pinterest users are curating, creating lists (“boards”) of things they like and – more importantly – recommend.
Would you be mad is people shared a link to your website? Of course not. That’s all Pinterest is – sharing links. It’s just done in a visual way instead of using text. People aren’t using your work. They’re promoting it. They’re telling people buy your stuff or hire you because you do good work. I don’t understand why critics are fighting against this.
It comes down to silly needs to control everything, even if letting go a little can help the cause. I get it. It’s your work. I’m a writer, so I understand the connection a person has to something they create. But if you want to have complete control over your work, get off the Internet. In fact, get out of galleries, get out of museums, get out of shops and stores. Keep your work in a dark, hidden room where you have complete control over who sees it.
Pinterest has Problems
Pinterest is not without its problems. Just like every platform, it has users who are uploading and pinning things incorrectly, and in my opinion, Pinterest can make a few changes to make things at least a little better. Here are the changes I’d like to see:
1. No pinning from Google Image search or other search engines. This does not allow the original artist to get credit or traffic from the pin.
2. When pinning an image, Pinterest should only show/use a thumbnail. This would require more users to click through to the original source. It’s how Google images work.
3. A “report” button where you can alert a user who has pinned something incorrectly. All the time, I see people mistakenly pin something from a homepage instead of a permalink, so when I click through, I go to the homepage which has since been changed. I’d like a button I could click to tell the pinner so they can fix the mistake. If pinners are getting a lot of reports on different pins, this would also alert Pinterest when a user is constantly using the platform incorrectly.
4. When you upload a pin (rather than pinning from another website or repinning), there should be a box you have to check that says you own the picture or have permission to post it. I know it’s in the TOS and it won’t stop everyone, but it will be one more safeguard, reminding people that they can’t claim credit for work they don’t own.
Pinterest already has given users a way to block Pinterest, and while I think this is a bad idea for most bloggers, it is an option – and that’s a start. But regardless, I don’t think artists should be blaming Pinterest – they should be embracing it. Yes, you have to protest your work, but you also have to take a step back and really ask, “is this hurting or helping me?” Don’t cut off your nose to spite your face.
- It’s Not Just Pinterest RE: Copyright & Legal Issues (kikolani.com)
- Seven Cool Ways to Use Pinterest (blogworld.com)
- 26 Tips for Using Pinterest for Business (socialmediaexaminer.com)
- 5 Ways to Use Pinterest as a Community Building Tool (kommein.com)
- Pin It To Win It [Infographic] (mindjumpers.com)
Nov 10, 2011 Monetization
This past weekend, I went to BlogWorld Expo and devoured every bit of knowledge I could about new media. I look forward to checking out even more sessions with my virtual ticket. Of course, one of the topics that came up from time to time was guest posting. Now, I love guest posts…if they make sense. But as a traffic strategy? I’m calling BS on guest posts.
Later, after BlogWorld, I was talking about guest posting with Jordan Cooper, who has guest-posted on some pretty popular blogs, including Problogger and Copyblogger. What you won’t see him do is guest post willy-nilly on every blog out there. Why?
Because guest posting doesn’t lead to tons of monetizable traffic.
Sorry to burst your bubble, because I know a lot of “experts” out there encourage people to publish guest posts. And it can be beneficial. It’s just important to understand exactly what a guest post can do for you:
- A guest post can give you a backlink.
Having links coming into your own site is one way to increase your value in the eyes of Google and other searching engines. Guest posts help you achieve this linking without spamming other bloggers. BUT…it really only makes sense to put in the work if the guest post is published on a site with a fairly higher page rank. For Jordan, it makes sense to guest post on Copyblogger, for example, because that blog has a page rank of 6/10 (which is fairly high). If you’re posting on a site that has a page rank of one or two, it doesn’t make a lot of sense in terms of a backlink.
- A guest post can help you say “thank you.”
I regularly guest post on my friends’ blogs when they ask me to do so. In fact, if we’re friends, it is unlikely that I’ll say no as long as I have time. At the risk of sounding like Bea Arthur, it’s my way of saying thank you for being a friend. I’ve posted on Kirsten Wright’s blog. I have an upcoming guest post on Chris Ducker’s blog. I would love to guest post for you as well – if we already have a working relationship. Don’t come out of the woodwork and request that I write a guest post for you like it’s some kind of sacrifice that you are making to help me.
- A guest post can help with name recognition.
If your blog gets a lot of traffic or (even more importantly) reaches the exact crowd that I’m hoping to reach, it might not bring me much traffic in return, but it will help to put my name in front of your readers. This can be important if I’m applying for speaking gigs, hoping to sell products, and more. It legitimizes what I’m doing in my career. But really, you have to have the traffic numbers for this to be a benefit. If you don’t, writing a guest post for you simply isn’t worth my time. UNLESS…well, the other reason to write a guest post for name recognition is to get on the radar of the blogger him/herself. I may not notice your tweets or remember your name after just a brief meeting just because there is so much noise in my life. But if you submit a guest post? I’m much more inclined to check out your blog and follow what you’re doing.
The bottom line? Stop looking at guest posts as a monetization strategy. I sincerely used to think that guest posts were great for blog traffic, but I’ve since been disillusioned. You might get a little traffic through the link, but a very small percentage of that traffic will actually buy anything from you or subscribe. I think there are better ways to spend your time if you’re hoping to drive traffic that really will convert.
Please don’t read this post and think that I’m saying you shouldn’t guest post at all. Guest posts have value if you think about them the right way. Personally, I will definitely guest post more in the future – it just has to make sense for me and my blog.
So what do you think? Have you guest-posted with success? What made it successful?
- So You Want Traffic? This Is NOT Gonna Help (kikolani.com)
- Guest Posting vs. Community Interaction (sitesketch101.com)
- Picking And Choosing Guest Posting Opportunities (performancing.com)
Oct 17, 2011 Social Media and Promotion
Did that word just send a shiver up your spine? Let me say it again: automation. (Do it again. Automation, automation, automation!)
I personally don’t think that automation is the problem when it comes to Twitter and other social media sites. Rather, like with most things, I think it is what people have done with automation tools that is the problem. It’s like blaming guns for people who shoot other people. Some bloggers rely on these tools or base their social media strategy almost entirely on automation, and that mindset has pretty much ruined it for the rest of us.
I have a confession: I don’t mind a little automation. I know that some of you are shuddering at the thought, but let me explain.
First, to me it makes sense for you to set up things up so that your link is automatically tweeted or updated to Facebook when you initially post it. I mean, if everything you write is awesome (and it should be), you’re going to want people to know about it. Why not cut down on the work you have to do and just automate it? You’re going to post the link anyway, and frankly, people are following you for a reason. I don’t follow a blogger if I’m not interested in what he or she posts. If they don’t post links, I might not remember to read their posts. I’m a busy girl.
So to me, automatically posting your link to Twitter or Facebook is just like your RSS subscribers being automatically notified when you update your blog. No big deal.
But the blog zombies have warped that notion of automatically updating social media. Instead of tweeting a link once, they tweet it multiple times – and they set up automation tools to do it. Dude. I saw your new post the first thirty times you tweeted. I think we all can agree that some bloggers overdo the automation to promote new posts.
And then there’s the bloggers who use automation services (like the Tweet Old Post tool) to automatically promote old posts. I’ve seen this done well and I’ve seen this done in really crappy ways.
In all honesty, I don’t mind if you send out some old links. I peruse Twitter mainly late at night when there’s not a lot of activity, and automating your tweets so that when you’re sleeping you send out some links to awesome posts doesn’t bother me. I like to explore and find links I might have missed the first time around. But here are a few things to consider:
- I don’t need a new link every 15 minutes even at night and I certainly don’t need that kind of link density during the day when you’re also tweeting status updates and sending out links to other bloggers’ posts.
- When you automatically tweet links to time-sensitive posts, like site updates, you look stupid. Use the options to prevent this from happening.
Seriously, automation of old posts isn’t right for everyone. Don’t be a schmuck. If you’re going to automate your old posts, be intelligent about it.
But let’s talk about the worst type of automation of all…the auto-DM.
Talk about a shiver going up your spine! Auto-DMs are something that everyone rants about. They’re the devil! They make you look really bad!
So…why do some people still do them?
I think, sometimes, we forget that as bloggers, we expect different things than our readers might expect. Now, if you blog about social media, blogging, internet marketing, etc. and your followers are professions in the online field, an auto-DM probably isn’t a good idea. But if your followers are a different group? Well, I’m not saying that it is a good idea, but I’m not saying it isn’t a good idea. It depends on your audience.
Don’t auto-DM people because you’re too lazy to connect with your followers. Consider it if you’re using it for another purpose. Once, I followed a company that had a very active social media manager. I got an auto-DM, which surprised me. But it wasn’t the typical “Thanks for the follow! I’m too lazy to actually say thank you, but here’s a bunch of spammy links.” I can’t remember it word-for-word, but it was something like, “Thanks for following. This is an automated DM, but we wanted to make sure all of our followers got a coupon, so here it is: *link*”
Heck yes, I want a coupon! They were transparent about the DM being automated and they had a good reason for doing it, so I approved…and I’m a social media person. I bet that most of their fanbase (non-social-media-people) eat that sh*t up. Seriously, if my mom was on Twitter, she would love that.
The point is, automation doesn’t have to be bad. You just have to be smart about it. Don’t try to trick your readers. Don’t use it because you’re lazy. Don’t be annoying with so much automation that people get sick of you.
Like with everything, do what makes sense for you. Don’t be like the zombie who abuses automation, but also don’t be like the zombie who isn’t open-minded enough to understand that automation can make sense in some cases for some bloggers.
- How I Use Triberr (kikolani.com)
- Lessons Learned from a Twitter Robot (socialmediaexplorer.com)
- Stop Automating Social Media for Better Results (lifehack.org)
- Nobody Said Social Media Should Be Simple (convinceandconvert.com)