Show Notes: Pin This
Even with all the recent hype over social networking site Pinterest, many publishers may not be fully aware of its enormous potential for magazine and book marketing. Looking to remedy that state of affairs, "Pin it on Pinterest: Driving Traffic to Your Brand," proffered insight and advice to a standing-room-only crowd at Book Expo America (BEA) 2012 in New York, held June 4-7.
Early and successful adopters on Pinterest were Etsy, Whole Foods, Real Simple and furniture company West Elm, according to Kathleen Schmidt, president and CEO of book publicity firm KMSPR. Especially successful book publishers on the site include Random House, Crown, Vintage, Penguin, Harper Collins and Scholastic.
Scholastic is "probably the model I would look at if I were a publisher," Schmidt said. "They really know what they're doing on there."
Wall Street Journal reporter Katherine Rosman, an early Pinterest fan, uses the site both personally and professionally.
When reporting, Rosman asks permission to take pictures of a subject and make a Pinterest board to go along with the story. "I'll put in information in the caption that's not really anywhere in the story, and when you click through the pictures it goes through to the story on WSJ.com. Those things have gotten tons of traffic," she said.
Bethanne Patrick, executive editor of Book Riot and principal at Book Maven Media, also spoke about the site's ability to add a backstory and other elements of interest to a published work.
"Houghton Mifflin Harcourt has done an amazingly interesting Pinterest board about how the designer was inspired for the book jacket of 'Imagine' by Jonah Lehrer," she said. "And it's not just about making [the cover] or putting it together … it shows [the artist's] inspirations for the paper art that's shown on there, and it's wonderful. It makes me think, 'This is really interesting. What is this book about?' And that's what you want it to do."
Followers are built on Pinterest through "repinning," which is similar to retweeting on Twitter. Patrick noted the speed with which a following can be built on Pinterest; while followers may never reach the astronomical numbers of some Twitter users, it is easier for a larger number of users to build a significant following. This can enhance other parts of a social media effort, as has happened with Real Simple magazine, she noted.
"It combines influence, which is very high on places like Twitter, with discoverability, which is low on Twitter," she said. "So that's something that should interest all of us in publishing."
Limitations of the still-new site include what panelists agreed was a poor mobile experience, a need to better define what the service is and questions about copyright infringement. (The site allows websites to block pinning, and pins carry over any watermarks or copyright information included with them. Panelists noted, however, that many photographers embrace Pinterest as a great way to promote their work.)
Rebecca Schinsky, associate editor and community manger at Book Riot, stressed that, like all social media, promotion on Pinterest must put community-building first.
"Don't ever think of Pinterest or any of the social media outlets as purely promotional," she said. "Not all of your pins should drive back to your website. … You build trust by showing other things you are interested in as well."
An example she gave is a recent Book Riot Pinterest board showing author Toni Morrison's many hairstyles. "There is no reason the world needs a Pinterest board of Toni Morrison hair-dos over the years," she said to laughter, " … but it provided our readers who are interested in Toni Morrison with other places to go, other resources they can click through to."
Bell Labs as an Object Lesson For Today's Innovators
The recent MPA Digital: Technology conference at the Time-Life building in New York featured an interview with Jon Gertner, author of "The Idea Factory: Bell Labs and the Great Age of American Innovation."
Innovation as an idea had a high bar at Bell Labs, Gertner said, where new products had to succeed in solving problems efficiently and cheaply.
The transistor, the "great invention of the 20th century," came out of the creation of multi-disciplinary teams trading ideas: physicists, metallurgy experts, electrical engineers, etc. "[Bell Labs' research director Mervin Kelly] created a team with a mission … sometimes that echo system of ideas meant things happened serendipitously."
Gertner said a key lesson from the Bell Labs experience is that we do not always understand the implications of a technology created to solve a specific challenge of its time. The transistor, he said, was conceived as a replacement for large, heavy, breakable vacuum tubes—and succeeded brilliantly. Its long term, revolutionary role in computer chips was barely thought of.
"It's not clear they understood how it would be used in computers," he said. "You can't see around corners. You think you can put a new idea into an old paradigm, and you can't." He compared it to today's questions about the right content for tablets and other mobile devices, and the significance of efforts by companies like Google to increase bit rates to as much as 100 times what they are today.
Bell Labs, he said, solved some problems but created new ones—in no small degree, for itself. Its greatest accomplishments, Gertner said, became "the seeds of its undoing" as its patents were used by IBM and other computer companies to fundamentally change the way information is used and delivered. PE
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Editor's Note: This article draws content from two earlier articles published on the Publishing Executive website.