Usually our tool of the month is something that you might not have come across before, but this month we want to look at some of the new – or hidden – functionality that you might not have come across in the professional social network, LinkedIn.

If you have the LinkedIn app on your phone and have granted permission for it to access your contacts, you might not have noticed that it will automatically suggest connecting with anyone listed as a contact on your phone. In some instances – meeting a colleague at a conference and only having their phone number but not their company name – this will be helpful, but in others – friends, family, neighbours, former lovers, it may verge on slightly creepy.

Secondly, LinkedIn recently launched its Website Demographics tool, which allows site owners to see the demographics of their web visitors. LinkedIn’s audience segmentation is almost without rival when it comes to B2B marketing, so being able to see the seniority, industry and company size of your site visitors is incredibly useful. The tool will appear as part of LinkedIn campaign manager and is gradually going live over the summer period.

These two tools go hand in hand with LinkedIn’s ‘matched audience’ functionality – essentially identical to Facebook’s lookalike targeting. It’s taken a little while for LinkedIn to offer marketers a sophisticated martech experience, but we’re excited by this evolution and looking forward to whatever the network has planned for the future.

New social networks seem to pop up like rabbits these days, but one that seems to be cutting the mustard is Pinterest, an online pin board of things from the internet.

Social bookmarking is nothing new; sites like Delicious and Digg have been around for years. But the USP of Pinterest is that it’s all about the visuals. It’s a bit like someone has mixed Instagram, Tumblr, thrown in some lists, baked it for a bit and voila! – out popped Pinterest.

Since its launch in 2010, Pinterest has racked up some pretty impressive stats. It reached its 10 millionth user within just 9 months, which is quicker then any other website; and now has 11.7m users worldwide. Some reports have suggested that it has taken over from LinkedIn as the third most popular site in the US, while others state that it is responsible for more referrals then Yahoo!

Not bad for a few images. And it’s not all skirt and no knickers. A recent report stated that 21% of Pinterest users have purchased an item that they found on the site.

When Pinterest first started gaining mainstream press attention, there was a strong media appetite for the copyrighting issues. Owners of online content were disgruntled by the Pinterest community being able to display their content without prior permission. In response, Pinterest quickly took action and looked to rectify this.  On the 20th February 2012, Pinterest issued a ‘nopin’ HTML meta tag which allowed websites to opt out of their images being featured on Pinterest – which seems to have kept everyone happy.

So now that the copyright problem is sorted, and Pinterest is at last available on all devices, what can brands pin? Due to its image content, many brands are using Pinterest as a virtual shop window displaying their products. Just as Twitter has become a customer service hub for many brands, speculation is that Pinterest has the potential to become a real live ‘online high-street’.

Urban Outfitters and Uniqlo are just two examples of high street stores with a great Pinterest presence. While the temptation is there just to throw all of your products on boards, both these brands do well to find a balance between showcasing their own products as well as other content relevant to their target audience. While the conversion rates of Pinterest are high, at the present time users aren’t using Pinterest exclusively for shopping, instead looking to the platform for creative inspiration.  Brands using the network will do well to remember this and provide for it.

But its not just retailers, who can benefit from the platform. Mashable too, as you might expect, has a unique presence on Pinterest. The online news site for ‘the connected generation’ has over 30 boards featuring Web Humour, Infographics and cute pictures of pets.

Like any social media strategy, one of the keys to Pinterest success for brands is creating and posting engaging content on a fairly regular basis. We also recommend that Pinterest makes a great place to display the media coverage that your brand has gained. Pinning stories or blog posts that your brand has been featured in, means that your audience gets to hear about your product, brand or service, while the person who wrote the story will receive the benefit of increased traffic to their story – a nice “thank you” for their support.

With the recent release of the Pinterest iPad app, along with the news that now anybody can join up, now seems as good as time as any to take a closer look at the Yummy Mummy’s favourite social media network. Progressive brands should always be looking for the next kid in the social media playground – and Pinterest is the most exciting one we’ve seen in a while.

However, a word of warning: while the stats are impressive and the possibilities that Pinterest open up are both exciting and wide-ranging, the platform is still very much in its infancy. In the fickle world of social networks you can be riding on a wave of page clicks one month and then scrabbling for any referrals the next.


What makes someone an expert? Can it be a self-declared description or should it be a deserved description, bestowed by others? We all know that people who claim to be cool, immediately vaporise their ‘coolness’. Should this theory apply to self-proclaimed PR social media experts as well?

There are hundreds, if not thousands, of so called ‘experts’ and ‘gurus’ on social media, entire agencies dedicated to it and people with fancy job titles. But what distinguishes them from the other millions people who work in the PR industry? If I blog, am on LinkedIn, use Facebook, tweet a lot, YouTube publish, know how to use Twitalyzer, Google analytics and a few other measurement sites, does that make me an expert? If so, shouldn’t most of us in the industry be experts?

I’ve come to the conclusion that to be a social media ‘expert’ is not just about everything you know… but about how you apply that knowledge to advise clients and brands on how to engage and converse with their audience online, as well as how you can formulate strategies and campaigns that really deliver business results.

At the end though, I think that no matter what title you get in relation to social media, it all comes down to judgement. If you deliver poor judgment in determining whether a communication challenge should be addressed through traditional or online/social media channels, whatever title you have doesn’t really hold up, whoever you are.

Surely, the best way to learn is by starting to do it for your own company. At Firefly, we asked ourselves some questions by Daryl Wilcox (who also drafted a whitepaper three years ago on the subject that we found very useful!), which triggered some discussions and laughs in the office. How well do you stand up to these?

Is it time to shape your reputation?

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