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Top Ten Instagram Tools

Top Ten Tools – Instagram

Instagram is one of the newer social media platforms on the block, when compared to digital veterans like Facebook and Twitter. However, it is rapidly becoming one of the most popular, with the site reaching the 10 million user landmark within 10 weeks of its launch. The photo-sharing site now has more than 150 million active users, with 55 million images being shared around the globe each and every day.

Increasingly, brands are beginning to recognise the benefits of being active on Instagram, and to aid marketers and PRs, there are a growing number of tools available to help ensure that your account is as engaging and appealing as possible. Here’s my roundup of the very best.

  1. Gram Feed

Gram Feed is Prohibition’s personal favourite; an incredibly handy tool providing the only aspect that Instagram’s creators seem to have overlooked, a fully-functioning website. The tool not only makes it much easier to browse your own feed, but also to share friends’ images on other social sites like Facebook and Twitter. The clever part, and undoubtedly the most useful for social marketers, is its’ location visualisation capability. You can identify exactly where an image was posted, and when. If you enter a specific location, you are able to see posts made within a specific distance and the people who’ve posted them – allowing you to identify your target audience and interact with them on a channel where they’re already active.

  1. Iconosquare

Iconosquare, formerly Statigram, is an extremely helpful programme which provides really detailed analytics of your account, demonstrating in-depth statistics such as follower growth, how engaging content is and the most popular types of content. This allows you to better tailor you future content to ensure it is as successful as possible and in turn, creates better results. Another interesting feature is its ability to promote posts across other platforms. For example, if you haven’t yet joined the Instagram hype, you can easily install the app which enables you to share Instagram content onto your Facebook page.

  1. Postso

Postso is an Instagram scheduling tool. If you’re managing an Instagram account on behalf of a client, and want your content to reach the maximum amount of people, you may want to wait to post something until your audience’s peak activity time. This may well be 2am, and in these cases, a scheduling tool is pivotal. It may not offer much else in the way of tricks, but you cannot beat its functionality and helpfulness!

  1. Twtrland

Twtrland may well have started out as an analytics tool for Twitter, but it has now branched out into the Instagram arena too. It is key for conducting online competitor analysis, as well as analysing your own data and audiences. Not only can you examine what kinds of content your competitor is using, but you can also access a competitor’s network – meaning that you can compare follower statistics and how much engagement they get on a standard basis.

  1. Simply Measured

Simply Measured is the ultimate tool when it comes to Instagram analytics. It allows you to analyse your brands not only on Instagram, but also on Facebook, Twitter and even new(ish) kid on the block, Google+. This tool allows you to extract data from your account and even run individual reports which can be downloaded into an Excel format, allowing you to analyse the data you choose more closely. It analyses most of the same statistics as the majority of other tools, but it also includes some more obscure information like your most engaging filter, location and engagement outside of Instagram – i.e Tweets and Facebook likes, comments and shares on your photos.

  1. Piqora

Piqora is a popular tool and it provides an extensive analysis of both Instagram and Pinterest accounts. For Instagram, it allows you to find and track your most popular hashtags and successful images – enabling you to share them on your other social media platforms. It also boasts another useful advantage: monitoring conversation. As all PRs and marketers will know, reliable tools for monitoring brand conversation are hard to come by, and when monitoring key influencers and competitors, with Piqora, you can also track brand images shared by particular users.

  1. SnapWidget

SnapWidget allows you to easily embed a photo gallery into your website or blog, and you can even customise its appearance. You can choose whether to display the gallery based on either a username or a hashtag, depending on what you want to track.

  1. Picdeck

Picdeck is an extremely useful tool that can be used to organise accounts. It is the Instagram equivalent of Tweetdeck, and it aims to organise Instagram in the same way that Tweetdeck organises Twitter feeds. When you log in, the app creates a column of the Instagram feed, and like Tweetdeck, you can set up other columns for individual users or specific hashtags that you want to monitor – be this competitors or key influencers. Unfortunately, it doesn’t have the same functionality as Tweetdeck as of yet, as you can’t create new Instagram posts through the programme, or use it for multiple accounts.

  1. Totems

Totems describes itself as ‘the most complete marketing suite for brands on Instagram’, and is undoubtedly an extremely useful tool for marketers whose clients are active on Instagram. It offers an array of advanced social analytics for Instagram accounts – invaluable for reporting back to clients on progress of social accounts. This tool allows you to analyse your audience, track all campaigns, and monitor your competitors all in one easy and simple to use programme.

10. Pic Stitch

Pic Stitch is a really useful Instagram tool for when you want to try out different stylistic features on your images. It also allows you to combine a number of pictures into one portrait. There are also 32 varieties of layout and nine photo aspect ratios to choose from, enabling you to customise your image to exactly how you want it, and to have the correct format for each specific platform – creating a really premium image. Pic Stitch also allows you to apply artistic finishes to your photos, from rounded corners to shadows, numerous patterns and filters. This aspect is particularly useful when making a client’s product or venue look more appealing, and which can be tailored, depending on its audience.

 

Are you active on any of the tools above? Which ones do you use or swear by? Leave a comment below, we’d love to hear your thoughts!

 

 

The Prohibition Seven Days of Social

3256859352_cf35412c5f_zFast moving, always adapting and often controversial, social media is an area where many of us have divided opinions. We like to keep our ear to the ground in the social media world, and as the week comes to an end, we’ve put together a few of our favourite pieces of social media content from around the web that you might not have spotted.

 

  1. “Can we auto correct humanity?”
    by Prince Ea (@PrinceEa)
    By far the biggest hitting and most shared piece of social media content of this week (over three million YouTube views) saw musician and rapper Prince Ea take to the camera in a thought provoking video, assessing how social media and modern technologies are leaving us less connected with our ‘friends’ than ever before.
  1. “ I didn’t actually wake up like this (and other Instagram confessions)
    by Amelia Olson
    We’re dubbed the ‘selfie generation’, but are the self facing snaps just an expression of vanity? In this article, Amelia Olson argues that selfies are not a self-obsessed or narcissistic expression, but that Instagram and other social media platforms that allow us to adjust our appearance through brightening effects and filters only contribute to our appearance insecurities. As does the marketing of makeup brands to encourage the public to look ‘photo/TV ready’.
  1. Fortune’s 55 most influential women on Twitter”
    by Caroline Fairchild (@CFair1)
    Social media is a powerful tool, especially for influencers, and with Twitter being the network of choice for some of the most powerful leaders in government, business and industry throughout the world, maintaining a strong Twitter presence has never been more important. If you’re looking for key female influencers to follow on the network, this is Fortune’s definitive guide to the 55 most influential women on Twitter
  1. “23 Tools and Resources to Create Images for Social Media”
    by Kevan Lee (@kevanlee)
    Social Media is all about engagement, especially when it comes to managing a community for a brand or business. Sharing interesting and engaging graphics is proven, especially on Facebook, to drive reach and increase your audience. However, the success of a post often depends on the make-up and design of an image. This week, our fourth piece of social media content provides one of the most the definitive guides available when it comes to social media image resources.
  1. Teens are officially over Facebook
    by Caitlin Dewey (@caitlindewey)
    We all know the Facebook story, created in a university dorm room, coming from nowhere to take the social media mantel from MySpace and within ten years, it’s arguably the most renowned business in the world. We all love to forecast the future of the most prevalent social network, and in this article, the Washington Post’s Caitlin Dewey looks into the trend for teenagers to stray from the site, in search of more engaging content, from the likes of (Facebook owned) Instagram.
  1. 5 Ways to Use Metrics to Improve Your Social Media Marketing
    by Debra Eckerling (@WriteOnOnline)
    Gone are the days when a brand’s social media absence could be glossed over. In the modern, online age, it’s expected that a reputable brand will possess an engaging online presence. With social media marketing being as important as ever, and most if not all brands now taking on newer and more innovative social accounts, it’s important to keep track of those important metrics that showcase just how effective your presence online is.
  1. YouAreWhatYouLike: Find out what algorithms can tell about you based on your Facebook account.
    by Jennifer Golbeck (@jengolbeck)
    Social media users now number more than 1.4 billion—more than half of the Earth’s Internet-using population. We share a lot of information on social media, but it turns out we are sharing far more than we think. Seemingly innocuous information, when analyzed against tens of thousands of other profiles, can reveal secrets you never intended to share.

 

Photocredit: CC image from Rosaura Ochoa via flickr.

Are Snapchat priming their service for advertising with live stories?

Snapchat is becoming big news. Despite being only three years old, the popular ephemeral photo-sharing app has taken off in a big way, and has already rebuffed a lucrative take-over bid from Facebook, seen its user numbers rocket and has now been valued at over $10 billion.

SnapchatLogoWhilst many see the Snapchat service as something for the younger generations (46% of teens in the UK use the app), the service does hold an impressive market standing within the general population of the UK, with almost eight million users.

Despite the clear and growing success of the ‘dancing ghost’ app, at face value, Snapchat doesn’t seem like a particularly viable commercial model.

In the ever competitive app market, companies who boast a unique offering can’t afford to stand still and stagnate. Since launching in 2011, the app has seen regular updates, implementing a number of new features. From the 2013 introduction of ‘stories’, which are available to view for 24 hours, to the more recent implementation of a chat and ‘live video feed’ feature. It’s this constant progression from Snapchat that results in competitors, of which there have been a few (Bolt, Slingshot), being unable to catch up.

Snapchat-Our-StoryHowever, it’s their most recent creation, ‘Live Stories’, which will arguably carry the most importance to the app going forward. To those unaware of this latest progression, ‘Live Stories’ commenced at the 2014 World Cup Final. The new function allows people within the proximity of an event to upload photos and videos to their story (as usual), however these stories are then broadcasted around the world, to all users, under the guise of the live event feed. For the World Cup Final, the feed of videos documented the build up, match and post game activities at the Maracana in Rio de Janiero,  with highlights including Lionel Messi being filmed walk within yards of fans at the stadium.

Since the initial launch of the feature, Snapchat has rolled out the service at a much higher frequency, with live chronicling of New York’s Electric Zoo music festival, the launch of the 2014 college football season for the Oregon Ducks, New York Fashion week and, most importantly, the Apple launch conference from Cupertino, California.

It’s this most recent use of the ‘live’ function which may see Snapchat finally take steps towards commercialising the service for revenue. Whilst the Cupertino Live feed didn’t seem overly advertising led or Apple driven, the service could easily be utilised in the future for advertising, especially around events.

Whilst for the time being, it appears that Snapchat’s live function is simply being used as yet another quirky addition to the ephemeral photo sharing app; with big money backers now behind the project, it will be interesting to see how long it will be before the ‘fun’ social network makes serious moves in order to start bringing in sizeable revenue.

How mobile is paving the way for social media developments

Worldwide mobile phone sales are on fire. Currently, over one billion mobile web users are scrolling through the 1-4G universes, and their massive influence over social networks is becoming increasingly more apparent. If you’re after a good example, look no further than the new Facebook new Messenger app and how hard they’re pushing it on consumers, or how popular the Vine app is among brands for creating simple, snappy video content.

4183229960_edcbb4dd6bSo what does this mean for the PR industry? It means get mobile, quick. Communities online are only going to get more connected via mobile apps such as Snapchat and Jelly, so focusing purely on digital PR that fits computer monitors is no longer the’ be all and end all’, as it’s just no longer enough.

Assessing mobile habits is a good start. Knowing which apps are popular and what makes them so in demand can be done through a quick browse of the Apple App Store or Google Play Store; once you’re aware you can begin applying this to your own strategies on social media, such as what type of content to use for your brand in terms of video, visual, interactive and when to upload it.

It’s also wise to be aware of which apps are useful to use to your advantage for your respective communities, whether they will have a maximum outreach and generate leads and whether it’s worth having a presence on them at all.

Thanks to its global appeal, it’s likely that smartphone use will keep growing in the near future, so keeping an eye out for the latest developments is a must for any PR professional.

Now, go back to checking Facebook on your smartphone.

Photo Credit: 27147 via Compfight cc

What online PR campaigns can teach us about measurement and ROI

It’s no secret that the traditional PR measurement model is woefully ill-equipped to deal with today’s integrated online PR campaigns, and new, data-driven methodologies have emerged to effectively tackle social media PR.

However, while traditional agencies may still judge the success of a campaign on ‘equivalent advertising value’ or a nebulous ‘PR value’, an understanding of digital PR gives us the opportunity to measure almost every facet of a campaign, and crucially, start making that all important link to ROI.

Not only that, but social media measurement techniques give us the opportunity to apply a new analysis framework to traditional PR campaigns, in doing helping drive forward the industry as a whole. Online PR

This debate is not unique to PR; in every marketing discipline, there exists a lively hotbed of opinions and views into how to best measure a campaign, and more importantly, how to effectively demonstrate ROI. And rightly so. We also like a good debate here at Prohibition PR, so it’s really music to our ears.


Analytics

A starting point should be a good working understanding of Google analytics. If your team doesn’t know what this is then they’re in the wrong job. Set up goals so that you can track conversations, whether that’s a sale, a sign-up or some other strategic imperative. Each piece of media coverage you generate should contain a link, if it doesn’t then ask yourself is it really benefiting the client? A half page in a national might do wonders for brand awareness (and probably will result in some sales you can never prove to your client) but chances are a blog post with a useful link will drive far more conversions for you and you can then track these.

Conversions to sales

Also get a good understanding of your client’s conversion rates. Based on average conversions and basket size, how much of the traffic you’re directing to the site could be resulting in a sale? What’s the value of this and how does it compare with the investment your client’s made in PR?

Similarly, find out how much your client is investing in online media spend and PPC. Calculate an average CPC and cross reference with the traffic you’re driving their way.  Suddenly you’re in a position when you can attribute a monetary value to your activity. Cost per Click is great but cost per acquisition is even better.

This is only scratching the surface, and we’re not going to reveal all of our techniques here (you have you be a client or a friend to benefit from that). But as an industry we need to be more honest with ourselves, especially when it comes to working with brands that are prominent online – are we getting media coverage for the sake of getting media coverage because it has always been our currency, or are we helping them achieve real business results?

While of course, PR and social media is not usually a direct response mechanism in the way that e-commerce or direct mail is, that’s not to say we can’t still be accountable for the services we deliver. In fact as an industry we should strive for this, for the benefit of our whole industry otherwise we could be left behind the digital and SEO Agencies.

Image credited to Stuart Miles, thanks very much via FreeDigitalPhotos.net

The Top 10 PR Campaigns in 2013

Time is ticking away and we are now five months into 2013 and after several stonking PR campaigns in 2012 which we shared with you lovely people in our lengthy review last year, we felt it was only right to analyse some of the best of 2013.

Feel free to have a look through our list, we hope that some of these ideas might help inspire you when creating your own campaigns. This is all about sharing best practice.

1. Three ‘#DancePonyDance’

Advertising agency Wieden & Kennedy, launched #DancePonyDance on behalf of mobile network Three. It featured five year old Shetland pony ‘Socks’ moon walking in a field. The video went viral online and proved to be a raging success. The tagline ‘Silly stuff, it matters’ and ‘Keep on intereneting’ was to encourage people to have fun and also to make their own videos via the PonyMixer to revive the nations love of sharing funny things on the internet.

2. Carlsberg ‘Standing up for a friend’Brewery group Carlsberg created an online video, twisting original tag line ‘That calls for a Carlsberg’ to ‘Standing up for a friend, that calls for a Carlsberg’. The video features a few different people, all in the same situation at a very dodgy poker table and the scenario set is that they desperately need bailing out. So the participants call unaware friends in the middle of the night and ask them to come over and bail them out of €300. The sacrificial friends come to the place and it is made to look a little like fight club, boxing going outside, chickens flying about and a scary looking security guard on the door. The moment they get into the poker room, the curtains go down and a crown cheers, the contestant is rewarded with a Carlsberg.  This is a really feel good ad that makes you warm a little bit to Carlsberg intention of building friendship through the drink.

3.Evian ‘Baby and Me’

Following the success of the previous Evian babies on roller skates ad, they have now come back to our screens, a little older and a little cuter. This campaign will work a second time round because the last advert was so well known and focuses on making people laugh. The tag line ‘Evian, live young’ fits the advert and will again stay implanted in our head.

 

4. Renault ‘The first car carried by Likes’

Renault’s PR department came up with a great interactive and creative way of getting people involved in live, real time social media. They put a new Clio on one end of large weighing scales, and a big box on the other. They put up a live stream from Facebook to the car and box, and people could watch and click ‘Like’ and a cardboard Like would be placed in the box until it shifted the weight of the car. The live stream went on for a two week time limit and got around 60k views. One lucky liker was lucky enough to win the car.

5. Durex ‘Durexperiment’

Durex has taken an experiment to a new level. They have created vibrating underwear ‘funderwear’ – bra and pants for girls, boxers for guys. By downloading the Smartphone app, you have the control to the vibrators on your partner. The ad features a couple modelling a long distance relationship and using the new ‘Funderwear’. Because of the nature of the ad and the product, it has attracted a lot of well needed media attention, to show that Durex is still innovating their products and not just a condom brand.  The advert has been banned on television; however it is still being spoken about.

6. Talisker Storm ‘The first interactive storm’

For the launch of Talisker Storm malt whisky, the first ever interactive storm was created to promote the new drink. The 25ft interactive storm was open for people to try out; they were also able to decide on the intensity of the storm. The campaign was focused on younger people as break out of the older age image the brand usually attracts. They used celebrity endorsement using former weatherman Michael Fish to promote the event. It built awareness of the brand by using creativity and making it interactive and free.

7. Air New Zealand ‘Blind Gate’

A good Valentine’s Day stunt this year was made by Air New Zealand and shown on live TV and hosted by Claudia Winkleman. The aim was to attract media attention by hosting a blind date type game show  in Heathrow Airport, whereby singletons were to choose their date and then get on a plane to LA to further carry out the date and basically then have a nice holiday in LA.

8. The Corner Shop PR ‘Chocolate Memory stick’

To promote the New Charlie and the Chocolate Factory musical, The Corner Shop PR created a memory stick in the shape of a yummy looking Chocolate Wonka Bar to send out to journalists with a press release on with information on the new Charlie and the Chocolate Factory at the Theatre. This was a imaginative and personal way to send content to journalists to persuade them to write a story.

9. Doingsomething ‘Wheel of date’

Another Valentine’s Day event was ‘The Wheel of Date’ by Frank PR. The client Doingsomething is a online creative dating agency, so to raise awareness, they sold a limited number of tickets for ‘fun’ speed dating whilst being on in one of the pods on the London Eye.

10. First Choice ‘The best job in the world’

Following the last “Best job in the world” by Queensland tourism in 2009, a competition to be the caretaker to a dessert island, there is now the new “Best job in the world” by First Choice, a water ride tester. Seb Smith, ex Leeds University student is the lucky candidate who won this year. The campaign did work second time round, but didn’t attract quite as much media attention.

Do you think you have a campaign worth sharing? If you do drop it in the comments and let us know about it?

 

This was a guest post from our friendly intern Holly Guest.

It’s official: online marketing is the next big step for British companies

With the news that the majority of digital marketers are forecasting that their budgets will grow significantly this year, it seems that companies are finally understanding how vital it is to have a strategic marketing strategy that works online.

Research in the US, carried out by Best Practices, LLC found in a study of digital marketing firms, at least 72% predicted that their levels of online marketing would increase by a minimum of 10% in the next year. This is a trend that is being mirrored over here in this country, where it was recently announced that companies spent £800 million on online marketing alone last year. Such a large sum is only set to increase, with companies being urged to use social media as a way to market themselves in 2013 but this is nothing new and we have been banging on about it for quite a while.

an article taken from AshdownGroup's websiteWriting on the topic, PRnewswire.com said that “Digital Marketing technologies are transforming the commercial marketplace – challenging companies to develop new marketing skills and employ a broad range of new tools and techniques to engage customers.” As the new technologies are beginning to be used by more and more companies, those who are not yet doing so risk falling behind their rivals.

As a company that understands online marketing, we at Prohibition PR are aware that some companies may struggle to understand how to market themselves effectively.

Eileen Brown, a social media consultant, said that “Whatever you do, do not ignore this sea change. It is now time for your business to evolve and embrace social media – or be left behind to fossilise.”

I thought I would share that quote as I thought maybe she had read our website before she decided on that quote. Ha ha

This view is one that we agree with but social has been around a while now and is therefore not really new anymore. Companies do still need to take the next step by marketing themselves properly online, or else they will fail – it’s as simple as that.

With digital marketing becoming so vital to success for companies, it falls to agencies that specialise in the practice to instruct these corporations on how to maximise their marketing potential online. Essentially though it still comes down to clever ideas that work both online and offline. Clients still want good ideas!

What do you think to the fact that companies are increasing their levels of online marketing? Drop me a comment, all feedback will be much appreciated.

The PR benefits of Google Hangouts

We are all aware of the Skype and FaceBook video call, but the latest of social networking platformsGoogle+ has recently released its own version of video calling “Google Hangouts“.

Facebook’s video calling is only one-to-one calling, with limits on the other activity that you can do on the site once on a call, and on Skype you have to be a paying user to use group video chat. However with Google Hangouts the video chats are free, and up to 10 people can take part, with lots of different apps available (free) to have fun with during your calls, from poker to quizzes.

For purely social uses hangouts are great, they are free and simple to use, you just need to have a Google+ account (is it time to really jump on the Google+ bandwagon?). Michael Arrington at TechCrunch has written a great piece, that really gets into the social benefits of Google hangouts, compared to the other options available.

As well as the personal benefits of hangouts the option to stream your session live on YouTube, personal websites and blogs (all at the same time) means that Google Hangouts has got some great possibilities for small businesses. At this stage live hangouts are being tested by large corporations and organisations. From live hangouts with President Obama to live gigs the possibilities with hangouts are endless; and from a PR and social media point of view this could be a really interesting channel to get your message across.

For the world of PR, this could mean live interviews with CEO’s and key spokespeople from your clients, live product reviews from bloggers all around the world, live instruction sessions showing customers how to use clever products, constant streaming of shops, businesses, and events that people all around the world can join in with. Google hangouts could also really help with crisis management, as you will have the ability to reach your public almost immediately and most importantly affordably.

With Google Hangouts in its infancy it will be interesting to see how it is going to be adapted and utilised by business, especially in the PR world.

Has anyone used Google hangouts already? It would be great to hear what you thought of it.


Pinning Your Hopes On Pinterest

None of us need to be told that social media is a fast-moving world and the site du jour is a vivid example. Pinterest has come a long way in a very short space of time. Launched just two years ago and still in open beta status, Pinterest is already attracting more 1.9 million visitors a month in the UK, and more than seven million globally.

Pinterest is an image-sharing service, based around the design metaphor of a pinboard. Users ‘pin’ images of things they find interesting or products they like onto virtual pinboards with different themes. Despite its focus on visual imagery, Pinterest is closer to Twitter than Facebook in its approach to social networking: users ‘follow’ rather than friend others users to view their inboards, and can ‘repin’ pictures they like onto other people’s boards, just as Twitter users can ‘retweet’ other people’s witty remarks or insightful comments as they wish. Pinterest also supports Twitter-style hashtags.

One of the easiest ways to use Pinterest is as a product moodboard or shopping wishlist and the site certainly brims with pinboards devoted to such topics as home decor, hair and beauty and wedding planning, leading to a popular perception that the site is ‘for girls’. This may sound like a stereotype but in fact the analytics bear this out: a massive 83 per cent of the site’s users are female in the US. Interestingly, the gender split is reversed in the UK, with 56 per cent of users male. Of course, pinboards can be created on almost any visual topic.

Superficially the site resembles flickr in its focus on pictures but the resemblance ends there. Flickr is built to host and display large numbers of photographs and other images in virtual catalogues but these are, in the vast majority of cases, created by the user themselves. Jus its name implies, however, Pinterest by contrast is firmly focused on allowing users to pin and share images which have caught their interest around the web. And of course, many of these images will be subject to copyright. Major stock photography libraries such as Getty Images and iStock have already expressed concern about Pinterest users repining their images without permission, with the former known to be having discussions with Pinterest on the issue. Commentators have cast doubts on the legal status of copyrighted imagery on Pinterest, and it is an uncomfortable fact that site users run a theoretical risk of legal action by pinning such images.

Pinterest has now established a system allowing copyright holders to notify the site of copyright breaches and as recently as last month the site also introduced a HTML meta tag which will allows sites to prevent pinning. Flickr has already begun to offer this tag as an option to its users.

Social media sites almost invariably grow from the ground up: they are created to provide a compelling service for individuals and it is only when (and if) they begin to take off that commercial and business interests begin to explore the possibilities of the site. Thanks to recent explosive growth, Pinterest has now reached this stage, with a variety of firms beginning to slowly and cautiously establish a presence. These include US department stores Nordstrom and West Elm, international clothing retailer The Gap, and popular vintage and handmade e-commerce Etsy, which already has more than 50,000 followers on Pinterest.

Of course, the site’s focus on visuals limits Pinterest’s commercial potential. If you are a lawyer, accountant or sell car insurance, Pinterest is probably not the social networking site for you. But if compelling pictures can be attached to your product – or your client’s products – with some degree of relevance, then a presence on Pinterest could yield value. An attractive product photograph linked to your or your client’s site could easily be repinned by one or more of your followers. In turn their followers will see the photograph, and some may repin and display it to their followers, and so on. This is the online equivalent of that most valuable of all marketing commodities: word-of-mouth advertising. And anyone sufficiently interested in a photograph to repin it is also quite likely to click through to your site and may even make a purchase.

Pinterest is still in its early stages but is already pushing more traffic to commercial websites than LinkedIn, Google+ and Youtube combined, according to a report recently published by Shareaholic.

But Pinterest is not a shopping catalogue and the same rules unwritten rule applies to commercial use of Pinterest as to any other social network: don’t be too strident. Blow your own trumpet too loudly and your are likely to be ignored. Create a sense of community around your images. Repin images posted by your followers if they are relevant or of potential interest, even if they show products you do not sell. Give your followers more than a commercial reason to follow your pinboards.

And of course, don’t forget to make it easy for people to pin your images. Don’t rely on people to acquire the Pinterest ‘pin it’ java bookmarklet themselves – sprinkle ‘pin it’ buttons liberally across your site. They should be as ubiquitous as the familiar Facebook ‘like’ button. A range of Pinterest plugins are also now available for popular blogging platform WordPress.

What is the fundamental difference between Pinterest and other big fish in the social networking pond? On Facebook, Twitter, Quora and Google+ I think it is fair to say that words are fundamental. Yes, you can post pictures and videos but in most cases these only illustrate the words and ideas expressed. On Pinterest this equation is reversed: images are the fundamental semantics of the site. Descriptions and comments serve only to illustrate the pictures and provide them with meaning and context. The image is primary.

Three useful sites for PRs looking to evaluate online sites

This week I have been doing quite a bit of analysis and research into bloggers and online influencers. This has become part of my day job reading, researching and engaging and I am often asked by other PR professionals to give recommendations on some of the tools that I use. So I thought a quick post on a few might help.

1. Searchmetrics Essentials

Now today I received an approach (from a friend of mine) for this blog to cover an SEO website analysis tool called Searchmetrics Essentials. Basically, you enter the URL and you get key metricsimage including the site’s visibility on social networks ( Facebook, Twitter and Google+) as well as data about its organic and paid search visibility. The example you are given is that if you type bbc.co.uk into the site, you can see that the BBC web site is estimated to have 68,007,133 Facebook likes, shares, and comments which link to its pages and 35,706,182 links shared on Twitter. Apparently and I quote:

“it is powered by the largest, fastest databases available for search and social media giving instant access to competitive intelligence in organic, paid and universal search, as well as visibility on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google +1, Delicious and StumbleUpon.”

imageSo do I like it? Yes I do this is by far the best of the three with only one downside. The downside is the fact that the free element shows you some metrics but not everything, you have to upgrade to see the really useful social media metrics. This is clearly its USP and where it feels it can make the money and you can’t blame them for that.

Personally, I like tools that provide you with a lot of information and then charge you for reporting etc. I think I would like to trial the product out for a while with full access before I can give my wholehearted opinion though.

2. URLSPY

A nice and easy free option is URL Spy this is a nifty plain looking site that you simply punch in your imageURL/website address and out of the other end it delivers a number of statistics. To make this test fair I have used a local theme park that my family and I like to visit called Flamingo Land as I thought it would be a bit more fun that the usual corporate stuff.

As you can see on the right URL Spy reveals that the site gets 35,154 monthly visits and is worth an estimated £12,000. The most interesting part of any analysis for me is usually the amount of links. As the more links something has the better the authority it has. There are a huge amount of other factors but that is a good start. I have linked up the image so you can see what else this application provides.

3. Statmyweb

This site didn’t really start very well as you can see I kept getting a not found message but I persevered and then it kept breaking imageand I gave up. I did use it the other day and it gave me some useful statistics but nothing as good as URL Spy so for now I would stick to using that one.image

Finally, if you have some real money to throw into this area the best site of all is https://www.seomoz.org <This costs $99 a month but it is the best software of all for tracking rankings, keywords and links.