Week 5 – Harnessing the Power of Visual Social Tools for PR

This week our assignment was to explore visual-based social tools such as Pinterest, Instagram, YouTube and Viddy, to see how they can be used to build connection, engagement and action with existing and new audiences, and enhance organizational or brand reputation. These tools provide a great way to connect, engage and grow relationships with digital influencers too, which is especially valuable in times of reputation management or crisis communication.

To quote Sarah Skerik in “Using Video in Social Media and Search Engines”, the goal in using these tools is to post content that your audience loves, finds useful, and will share readily. These tools are great places to highlight your best visual content – and take advantage of the fact that visual content elicits emotional responses in your audience. Furthermore, Pinterest, Instagram and Viddy are based on lifestyle sharing and connecting. With ease and speed, fans and followers can click, share and spread the word about an organization or campaign. There is enormous potential for viral spread.

I am a newbie to Pinterest and this week I checked it out for the first time. The “How to Use Pinterest for Business” (Maggie Georgieva, Hubspot e-Book) was a great guide for explaining the value for brands and organizations. I guest curate on a travel and lifestyle website Milk in the City, so I used the Milk in the City Pinterest account to explore the potential for audience engagement, vertical communication, and brand and reputation management.

Milk in the City Pinterest account.

Oh the places you will go… Milk in the City Pinterest board, featuring travel and lifestyle visual content (www.milkinthecity.com)

I like the lifestyle vision and credo of Pinterest, and that it is not an overtly marketing-oriented space for brands. It appeals and entices the senses and emotions. To use it effectively and with correct etiquette, organizations need to select images and videos that showcase the lifestyle their organization or brand promotes.The Milk in the City Pinterest boards provide lifestyle imagery and themes around travel, inspiration, exciting places and discoveries, dreams taking flight, and simple luxuries. Over the coming weeks I am going to put as many of Georgieva’s best-practices and guidelines to work (well, as many of them as I can), to try and bolster Milk in the City Pinterest account.

The best-practices for using Pinterest for brands or organizations that Georgieva pointed out are summarized below:

1)  It’s all about the content you share, not necessarily what you sell. Pin content that represents your brand or identity and attracts visitors back to your website. Find creative ways to show how your brand fits into the lifestyle of your target audience.

2) Leverage and feature user-generated content. Focus on the concept of lifestyle and encourage users to share their tastes and interests with others.

3) Always provide link backs to your website and use #hashtags.

4) Use Pinterest as a tool to understand the interests and needs of your ideal customers.

5) To engage audiences and digital influencers:

  • Again, focus your visual content on the concept of lifestyle and encourage users to share their tastes and interests with others and on your boards.
  • Create a user-generated pinboard – select a few of your top followers, and create a board dedicated to their pins.
  • Hold a contest that asks users to create a pinboard on their own account to demonstrate what they love about your brand. Get them to send you the link to their board, and determine the winner. Or, repin their boards to your Pinterest page, and your followers can vote on their favourite.

According to Sarah Skerik’s article “Using Video in Social Media and Search Engines”, these visual social tools provide a compelling experience to viewers, enable PR practitioners to present visual messages, and importantly, work wonders for search engine ranking. Skerik explains that videos are given extra weight in the algorithms that search engines and some social networks (like Facebook) use to select the content we see in their channels. Learning how to effectively use these video tools is therefore critical to any PR practitioner who wants to effectively drive traffic, awareness, grow audience and connections, and build brand and message visibility in the social web.


2 thoughts on “Week 5 – Harnessing the Power of Visual Social Tools for PR

  1. thinkingaboutsocialmedia

    Great post on Pinterest – I’m also new to using this platform for targeted PR initiatives, though I love it for it’s visuals and the way it shares so many different ideas. Have you seen any changes in Milk in the City’s Pinterest account traffice so far?

  2. StephS - prsocialweb Post author

    A little bit of increase, that’s all! The focus for Milk in the City has been more Facebook and Twitter, but Pinterest and Instagram are great social platforms for travel and lifestyle content — to connect with people in an emotional and compelling way through visuals.


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