Pinterest: It’s Big, It’s Growing, and Good for Visibility and Sales

downloadPinterest offers a variety of opportunities for authors and illustrators. It is one of the biggest social media channels for promotion and for sales, and it is drawing record traffic. As of 2015, there were more than 100 million monthly active users, which is more than double the 48.7 million users reported in 2013. While it is still well behind social platforms, Twitter, Instagram and Facebook; Pinterest views itself as having a different role than the others – one that’s more about search and discovery – and it is good for both visibility and sales. As of 2016, Pinterest reported it has 2 billion searches per month, that 55 percent of online shoppers named the site as their favorite online platform, and that there are more than 2 million users pinning on it every day. The demographic is ideal for children’s books given that eighty-five percent of the users are female and 67 percent are Millennials.

While it’s easy to think of the platform as a virtual scrapbook to use to pin and share images and ideas, Pinterest also provides a massive sales channel for business. It enables users to purchase products by directing them to a company or online store website, or by purchasing directly within Pinterest using the “Buy Now” button in conjunction with Shopify. For authors and illustrators, Pinterest offers the opportunity to reach readers, parents and teachers in a variety of creative ways.

Inspiration on what to post about is easy. You can look at author and illustrator boards and also browse some of the more than 30 million education boards designed by teachers and parents to help kids learn in creative ways. Each board that you set up should have a theme or concept. Themes can focus on your body of work, individual books, background research, inspirational quotes, or personal information you want to share about your work or yourself.

Lists are always popular, so you can do a themed board of your titles by genre, by age, by publisher or by series. You can group books with images of related products, like games and toys; or you can group your books with books by other authors and illustrators. You can then encourage others to share the information. If you decide to allow access permission to your boards, you can invite others to add images and information.

Boards are great for highlighting educational concepts, so you can include boards with book recommendations tied to holidays and events, classroom activities or resource recommendations. You can also use boards to provide glimpses into your writing or illustrating process.

When signing up you should be sure to provide a biography, your author photo and then include descriptions with images you share. Once you’re underway, you can make pinning easier by installing a ”Pin It” button on your browser that allows you to pin images while surfing the web. You should also link your account to your other social media platforms, so you can share news of pins as you add them. To encourage direct sales, you can link back to your website or to your publisher’s site if books can be purchased there; or link directly to online booksellers or other online retailers.

In addition to posting your own material and information on Pinterest, you should look for ways to engage by commenting on, liking and following boards other people have. You can also set up group boards for collaborating. As you experiment with different types of formats and engagement, you can assess what’s working well by looking at what has been clicked on and how often your items are getting repinned.

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Influencers –Where to Find Them and What to Do When You Have?

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Influencers –Where to Find Them and What to Do When You Have Influencer marketing has grown in popularity over the last several years. In fact, the Content Marketing Institute recently named it one of the top content marketing trends for 2017. What is it, and where did it come from?

You can think of it as the offspring of social media – and what in simpler days we called word-of-mouth. But today it’s more strategic and more viable in terms of reaching influential people you might not have had access to before. In our field, there are of course the people who are industry influencers – book buyers, key librarians and educators, and others who are opinion-makers about authors and books. They can be found speaking at conferences, attending publisher events, and on the award committees at the national and regional level. They’re also often reviewers, bloggers, and active on social media about education, publishing, and children’s and young adult literature.

But what if you want to reach key influencers outside the field? You should think about doing this because books for young people are also topical – and each topic has influencers of its own. Whatever the topic of your book, look at ways you can reach the people whose voices carry weight in those fields. Betters still, find influencers tied to both that topic and education or children. It’s even more important if many of your books focus on a particular genre or topic area. The value of cultivating these people is that they can introduce you to a broader audience – and commend you to others who respect their opinion.

The simplest place to start is Google Search. Type in related keywords and phrases and see who has written on the topic, what organizations relate to that, and which names you see again and again. You can also check Twitter to see who’s tweeting about your topic and how many followers they have. To come at it from the top down, you can use AllTop to find the most influential bloggers and reporters on a given topic. They aggregate thousands of sources and update hourly to provide links to the most trafficked sites covering hundreds of topics from adoption to zoology. Other sites, like Social Mention, BuzzSumo and the newer EpicBeat will curate social media to tell you which content has gotten the most shares, likes and feedback – and can tell you who are the key influencers in that topic area.

Once you identify people, you have to have a meaningful way to engage. Simple ways to start can be to comment on their posts and share their content. But lots of people are doing that, so it’s hard to stand out. But if you create online content of your own via a blog or other platform, you can try to interest them more directly. One way would be to quote them and link to their material and then let them know via Twitter that you’ve done so. Taking that a step further you can crowd source an article and ask for quotes from a number of people whose opinions you value and who you’d like to connect with, and then share the story back with them when you’re done. As you begin to develop a relationship, you can invite people to provide a guest blog for your site, do an interview with you for a feature, and perhaps later, gain an endorsement quote for your new book.

The results will be that you’ll broaden your base of connections and benefit from associating with people you admire. Your research and time spent following social conversations will also make you better versed in what’s trending on topics you care about. That’s something you can bring back to conversations you have at conferences, publisher events and with literary luminaries who will value your expertise and may also be interested to connect to other influencers you know.

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Meet Your New Customer: The Millennial Parent

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Know your customer is the first rule of business. Millennials, huge in population numbers, are our new generation of parents. While individually, they may tell you they don’t like to be categorized, recent studies have shown as a consumer demographic, distinct patterns are emerging. Millennials are proving to be extremely knowledgeable, discriminating consumers who are more than willing to break with tradition, and who expect a lot from those who sell to them.

According to a new book, “Millennials with Kids” by Jeff Fromm and Marissa Vidler, these children of the Baby Boomers want products that make their lives “faster, better, easier, and more efficient.” They tend to be price conscious, responsive to special offers, and want a lot of personalization and customization. They also take time to research and network to ensure that they get just what they want. If you’re a company or entrepreneur who gets that right, and you provide great customer service, then Millennials are likely to be extremely loyal to your brand. Get it wrong at your peril because they won’t be shy about voicing their displeasure.

The choices they’re making in their careers and lifestyle are helping us understand them as future consumers. At work, one very clear indicator is that maintaining a work-life balance is of primary importance for this age group, and many are prepared to trade financial gain for pursuing their passions and having more control of their time. Two top concerns according to a study entitled, “Millennials as New Parents,” are about environmental issues and about the foods they give their children. The same study shows that in contrast to “helicopter parents” who raised a lot of Millennials, these young parents want their own children to have more free time for unstructured play.

Often cited as one of the most socially compassionate generations, more than half surveyed by Fromm said they “try to buy products that support causes or charities.” Among the things they want to teach their children is that possessions aren’t important to keep you happy. This is consistent with lifestyle choices being made to choose smaller homes, live closer to cities with better transportation, and opting to share and reuse rather than buying.

In terms of family, a Pew study found this demographic willing to challenge traditional thinking about what a family is – in terms of gender, dual or single parenting, parental roles and even the importance of children over marriage. In fact, fifty-two percent said “being a good parent is “one of the most important things” in life; while only thirty percent said the same about having a successful marriage.

But the group is huge and growing – almost at thirty percent of the population, and a new report by Goldman Sachs says, “the rise of this new generation has sent marketers into a frenzy,” anticipating enormous sums they are expected to spend on their kids.

As consumers, preference is for companies or individuals that have “authentic narratives and share their world view,” according to Goldman Sachs. Millennials develop personal affinity for products and brands and this along with the “leveling force of social media, has given a newfound upper hand to smaller, social media-savvy upstarts that are able to use grassroots marketing to push boutique-style products with an aura of social responsibility or healthiness.”

Skeptics contend that this will change when Millennials settle down, but many say they’re playing a new game thanks to technology and social media, that places great importance on ensuring that their voices are heard and that they can effect change to get what they want. “Millennials see technology not just as a device or platform for communication but as a way to improve life, make better choices, and contribute to society….Brands that have a social media presence, manage a user-friendly website, and engage their customers with relevant, fresh content have a greater chance to impact Millennial purchasing decisions,” reports “Entrepreneur.”

“Creating a forum for this group to communicate and share their opinions with each other can create loyal followers and increase sales.” Then hold onto your seat because, as the technology consulting group Accenture concludes its recent report, “we believe retailing will change more in the next five years than it has in the last 50.” And the key to success is in providing a consistently personalized, on-brand experience.

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