Social Media GUI: Pinterest

Pinterest Bridges The Resolution Gap

By Paul Konikowski, CTS-D

If you have not tried Pinterest yet, it’s basically a way of sharing visual tidbits in an electronic bulletin board format.  Like other social media platforms, you can follow posts or “pins” from certain friends, groups, or manufacturers, or search all of Pinterest using key words or hashtags, like #memes.  If you see a Pin that you like, you can add a comment, click on it to see it full-size, link to more information, and/or “repin” it to another special themed boards.  For example, a local non-profit might pin a flyer for a holiday craft fair to their “Sustainable Crafts” board, and a newspaper might repin the same flyer and link to their “Local Events” board.

One thing I really like about Pinterest is that it “bridges the gap” when I use a larger screen resolution.  Most social media platforms are designed for smaller screens, and can waste a lot of space on larger screens.

Here are some Pinterest, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter home pages as viewed in 1280×800 resolution:

Pinterest screen using 1280x 800 video resolution
Pinterest in 1280x 800 video resolution, notice there are five columns across, with small “gaps” on sides
Facebook Timeline screen using 1280 x 800 video resolution
Facebook Timeline screen using 1280 x 800 video resolution. Let’s call these “medium gaps”
LinkedIn Home screen using 1280 x 800 video resolution
LinkedIn Home screen using 1280 x 800 video resolution; again, medium gaps on sides
Twitter news feed using 1280 x 800 video resolution
Twitter news feed using 1280 x 800 video resolution; looks good with medium sized gaps

The above four pages all look pretty good on my MacBook Pro in 1280 x 800 resolution (sorry, no Retina display).  Each has an appropriate amount of white space, grey space or background photo filling in the gaps on either side of the news feed.  But look what happens when you view the same pages in 1920 x 1080 pixels:

Pinterest Screen shown on a PC with 1080p resolution
Pinterest Screen shown 1920 x 1080 pixels; notice there are eight total columns, and the gaps are small
Facebook Timeline shown on a PC with 1080p resolution
Facebook Timeline shown in 1920 x 1080; the medium blue side gaps have grown into large gaps
LinkedIn Home page as displayed in 1080p resolution
LinkedIn Home page as displayed in 1920 x 1080; also suffering from LGS ( Large Gap Syndrome)
Twitter feed using Chrome on a PC in 1080p resolution
Twitter Feed as seen in 1920 x 1080.  My background photo is not even large enough for the gaps.

The Pinterest interface is designed to grow and shrink, adding or deleting columns depending on the screen resolution, making it look great on any screen. Some webpages like Facebook and Spotify will hide their chat windows or banner ads when the screen is not wide enough, making them somewhat adaptable in the lower resolutions. But once you are above 1280 x 800 pixels, they all begin to fall apart. In my opinion, one of worst “gap offenders” of all time is Google+.  Below is my G+ home page screen in 1920 x 1080 resolution.  Notice that less than half of the screen is my news feed!  The other space is partially #occupied with people I may know, trends, chat windows, and other things I can do when I get bored with G+:

Google+ in 1080p
Google+ in 1920 x 1080 resolution. I call the white space a “Glacier Gap”

I really want to create a plug-in that will look for giant white space on webpages, and turn them into little sledding hills on my screen, with little people sledding down and walking back up.  Or maybe slalom skiers?

Of course many people who use larger screens will not maximize their windows, because they like to keep two or three windows open and in view at all times.  The take-home of this blog is that the Pinterest GUI (graphic user interface) is intelligently designed to adapt and adjust to different window sizes and screen dimensions.  This tactic avoids the “Am I missing something?” syndrome on small screens, and maximizes the benefit of larger screens and resolutions.  And since Pinterest is so visual, a larger screen allows a typical user to look through a lot more pins in a given timeframe.

Does this mean your wife will spend less time on Pinterest?  Not exactly!  Any Pinterest fan will tell you that the pins will go on forever, and will last longer than you will.  Addicted pinners should still set some time limits before they spend hours looking at pins, commenting, and re-pinning.  But in theory, a wider screen with a higher resolution could help some users save a few minutes each day.  It’s sort of like using a wider straw when you are drinking your soda pop.  If you drink the soda at a faster rate, would you be self-disciplined enough to stop when you finish your first serving?  Or would you be more likely to drink more soda?

Social Media Tools

How To Make Your Own Internet Meme

By Paul Konikowski

If you are over the age of 30, you may have no idea what a meme is.  So let’s start with a quick history lesson: The word meme (pronounced meem) is a shortening of the ancient Greek mimeme, which means “something imitated”.  A meme in its simplest form is an idea passed from person to person, that spreads through society. But nowadays, when most people say meme, they mean a humorous internet meme.

Slowpoke Meme
Slowpoke memes are used with old news, to make fun of folks who missed the boat More on Slowpoke

A typical meme consists of a photo or cartoon along with a caption that acts as the punchline of the joke. The caption is generally placed directly over the photo in white text, and often split into two segments, so that half of the text is at the top of the photo (setting up the joke), and half of the text is at the bottom of the photo (the funny part).

Memes are extremely popular among high school and college students who use Facebook. Memes are often about current events, and generally use a single meme character which matches the joke text. These characters can be celebrities, cartoons, animals, or just random photos of people.  It’s important to match the type of joke with the proper meme character.  For example: Scumbag Steve would leave you the end slices of the loaf of bread, whereas Good Guy Greg would never do such a terrible thing to his friends, or even strangers in society.

One of the most popular meme themes lately has used a black background with six photos to describe what you really do for a living vs. what people think you do.  I made this one using www.uthinkido.com:technical marketing engineer meme

So far, memes have been limited to humor and sometimes political satire.  But who says that they can’t be used for marketing?  What better way to reach a younger audience than through humor that gets passed virally through Facebook and The Twitter? Why not use memes to promote your events, products, services, or causes!

WMC 2012
Most Interesting Man Meme I made about the 2012 Winter Music Conference

The easiest way to make a meme is to use a website like www.memegenerator.net.  First, review the meme characters and decide which one fits your joke.  Next, review this particular character in depth to make sure someone else hasn’t created a similar meme.  You want to be original. Then simply type in your text and save it as a jpg image.

Google+ users can also create memes using its online photo editor. From your Google+ home page, click the camera logo to the right of Share what’s new… and choose the photo or graphic you want to use for your meme.  But before you post the photo to your stream, click Add text and type in your joke caption using the three boxes marked Top text, Middle text, and Bottom text.  The default font is white Impact, which is used for most memes, but you can change the font by clicking the T button. Last, use the Center, Left, or Right Justify buttons, if needed.

I also suggest checking out TheDailyMeme to stay current on meme trends and characters.  Don’t be a Slowpoke!

Social Media: Return On Investment

How to Measure the ROI Basics of Social Media

Guest blogger Melinda Venable, Social Media Consultant
ROI of Social MediaNow that social media has entered the business end of the audiovisual industry, gone are the days when just having a presence and posting a few times a week justifies its continued time suck. If you are spending time, money and resources on social media, what is the value you are getting out of it? Measuring ROI can be challenging, but if you can simplify your process, you will be able to track your effectiveness, keep your finger on the pulse of the AV Industry, and make decisions based on insights you get from your social media platforms like Facebook and [The] Twitter.

Start with the end in mind, by outlining your objectives

To figure out your basic ROI on social media, start by thinking about the outcomes that you are trying to achieve. If increasing sales comes to mind first, then maybe that is your end goal. Now work backward and define the influences and actions that contribute to making a sale happen. Are you hoping to reach new prospects and start a conversation with them? Do you need to improve your relationship with your existing customers to increase their loyalty and word of mouth? Are you hoping to form new business partnerships and network with key individuals?

Each of these actions and influences should be articulated as distinct measurable objectives. Let’s take the example of needing to reach new prospects. We can presume that you need to keep a certain number of new prospects in your sales pipeline per quarter and that your marketing strategy includes who qualifies as a solid prospect. With some investigative research, find them on Facebook and/or Twitter and make it an objective to learn more about them and start a conversation.

All of this activity should roll up to a measurable objective like this: Find and recruit 20 new qualified prospects as followers on Twitter and 20 new likes on Facebook per month. For this example, 20 new prospects represent the metric that you will track and measure.  Think of it like a sales goal or quota.

Let’s take another example objective – Improve the relationships with existing customers so that they will increase their loyalty and word of mouth. Showing loyalty can be demonstrated by your customers in many ways: from being an advocate and frequent commenter on your business’ Facebook page, to clicking through on a link about a new promotion. What can you do to reward their behavior?

Your part comes in by providing well-planned, engaging and valued content, and listening and responding on a consistent basis. In this case, your measurable objective could be: Provide engaging content daily and respond to comments and questions in order to yield at least 100 comments on Facebook and 50 @mentions on Twitter per quarter.

Shoot for a number

Hopefully, you are starting to get some ideas on how to create specific measurable objectives that will help you achieve your end goals. One common question at this point is figuring out what number to shoot for. Is 20 a good number? 200? It may seem so arbitrary, but in fact, you can make some good educated predictions just like you do in estimating sales quotas. One starting point is by looking at your competition or a similar sized organization: How many comments are they getting a week on their Facebook page? Be sure to look at proportional numbers by doing a quick percentage calculation of the size of their community versus the number of comments. How does this compare to your current numbers?

Document your numbers and notes

Once you’ve determined all of your measurable objectives, create a simple spreadsheet. Decide the frequency of when you will manually check your numbers and be consistent. For example, every Monday.

ROI on Social Media

Document your current numbers as your “before” benchmark for each metric. Include a notes column by each objective’s metric to document observations about peaks or valleys. As you diligently track your progress over time, you should begin to observe what kinds of content, file types, events, etc are pulling in the most new visitors and engagement and compare to what is not getting response.

Try some easy tools to track your clicks, likes, and mentions

There are many tools available to measure social media progress. For those who are just starting to monitor their numbers, like a new exercise resolution, it’s best to keep things simple and consistent.
Here are three easy-to-use, free tools that will help you  measure your progress:

  • SocialMention – this tool tracks how many mentions your product, company or hashtag has received over a specified timeframe. Enter your keyword in the search field and results will show the real-time number of mentions (@mentions or retweets) on one or all platforms during a specified timeframe. Track this number periodically if your objective is to increase your product’s exposure and attract new community members. You can also see who your biggest advocates are and their influence level.
  • Facebook Insights – built right into the platform, this tool tracks many different metrics about your unique community and content, such as the number of new fans gained or lost over specified time period or the content file type or topic that yields the highest number of people “talking about this.” If you’re interested in building up your audience in certain demographic regions, or males vs females, for example, the Insights data will provide these insights. You must be a page administrator to view the data which is accessed via the “Insights” link under your brand’s profile photo on the left side of your Facebook page.
  • Bitly – this is a tool that creates trackable, shortened links that you can post on any platform. You can track how many people clicked on your posted link over a specified timeframe. If one of your objectives is to generate interest for a new product or service and you have a video or infographic to post, you can create a custom short URL using the bitly tool and be able to track how many people clicked on this link.

Numbers that are important to one group may not matter to another. It may take some exploration to find the right combination of tools that correspond to the exact metrics that are essential to you. Beyond the above mentioned basic tools, this wiki lists an extensive collection of measurement and monitoring solutions, both free and paid. Social media should be part of your overall marketing strategy as long as it is helping you achieve your business objectives.

What tools or processes are you using to track your social media programs? Let us know in the comments.