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Rethinking (or actually thinking!) Pinterest

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Have you heard that expression ‘never judge a book by its cover’? Well, I should have known better. Until last week, I had never really understood the point of Pinterest. I understood why it was so popular, after all, users do pointless things on the web all day – like browsing YouTube videos for hours or looking at Facebook feeds for no particular reason. I used to see Pinterest in the  same way, a time killer.


One of my best friends from high school is getting married in October, and I’ve decided to go to her wedding. Her wedding is in Brazil (and I live in London by the way), so it’s a long trip. As any ordinary girl, right after I bought my tickets the first thing that came to my mind was: ‘What dress am I going to wear? I need to go shopping’.
It was Saturday night. I got home early, at around 10pm. Turned on the computer and started browsing (twitter, Facebook, emails, Linkedin, my blog… I should write a blog post, ah no, too lazy, Facebook, Google reader, blogs……dresses!). As you can see it was the last thing I thought of. I’m not a shop addict, but once I start browsing for clothes I go a long way. It keeps me entertained all night. When I realised I had around 20 tabs open in my browser with all dresses I thought were ok. Since I went to ASOS, HOF, Selfridges, etc. I knew it would take me forever to find the same dresses again, and it was already late. I didn’t want to make any buying decisions at that point, but I still wanted to go back to them easily in the next days. It was when, it came to me…

…I found a reason to create a Pinterest account

And I did! Basically instead of bookmarking all the URLs of the dresses I liked, I pinned all of them. So next time I wouldn’t have to open each URL to see which dress was which, I could just go to the my ‘maxi dresses’ board and look at them side by side. Also, instead of sending each URL to my sister in Brazil of the dresses I liked, I could just send her my board URL. All of this is amazing… but the best part is, it actually clicks through to the product details page! If I decide, I can easily buy the product without having to browse for it again. Once I realised that, I got excited to start searching for other maxi dresses boards within Pinterest. But then I got a bit disappointed… most of the dresses I found were not clicking through an ecommerce website, and if they were, most of them were not in the UK either.

Even though I know many people (maybe most people) don’t use Pinterest for browsing/buying behaviour, I think there’s a big market out there for that. What if Pinterest was like a ‘saved items’ feature of all the products you’ve been browsing online but don’t know when/if you will buy?

Once I created my maxi dresses board and didn’t find any other dresses I liked, I created a shoes and a jewellery board. If you read the background bit you know I have a wedding to go to in October, and of course, I need shoes and jewellery to go with the dress as well! Once I’ve created those, I was browsing online and saw a bag I really liked… and realised I’ve been wanting to buy a bag for a while. So I create a bags board, and started browsing online for bags. It was when I thought of the headphones I wanted to buy, and started a ‘cool stuff’ board since I knew there were some other things I wanted to add to that as well.

I suddenly went from a dress to my friends wedding to a headphone that I had seen at Amazon a while back and was dying to get!

Pinterest encourages buying behaviour, so why not take advantage of that?

There’s a great article about what Pinterest means for ecommerce from bluecorn, they talk about how Pinterest is one of the highest traffic sources for one of their clients and how to optimise that traffic in order to generate more conversions. They don’t mention in the article, but I would love to know if compared to other traffic sources Pinterest has a higher conversion rate. But I bet it does! If users were browsing for that product type, found the product, they’ve seen the image (maybe pinned themselves or repinned from someone else), and finally clicked on it. You would think they would be a lot more prepared than someone clicking on a link from Google where you can’t see the image at all. But then you could also argue it’s not very clear where you will land once you click on an image, Pinterest has a subtle ‘from…’ link at the top right of each image, but most users probably miss that.

Ok so my point is…

I changed my mind. I don’t think Pinterest is pointless, there is actually a lot of point to it. I’ve now finally seen a purpose for using the tool, I dont see it as a time killer. It’s something I can benefit from, an utility. I’m not saying everyone should look at it in the same way, Pinterest is powerful because it suits different purposes. But I do think there’s an open gap in the market for a similar tool that only allows you to ‘pin’ products from ecommerce sites, where even a filter option per country is available so you can choose to only look at products you can purchase… food for thought!


Written by Cristina Dresch

July 5, 2012 at 1:41 AM

Posted in Ecommerce, Pinterest, Social

Designing for Ongoing Participation

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We’ve all heard, or lived, the fact that relationships are something like a fairy tail at the beginning. Everything is so pretty. Couples are getting to know each other, everything is new and exciting. But when that’s over, what’s left? Hopefully a relationship of trust, stability and happiness. But we all know that’s not as simple as it sounds.

When you’re building a website that’s usually what you’re looking for: a relationship built through ongoing participation. We all know that’s one of the hardest things to do and one of the main reasons why so many businesses fail. Joshua Porter, in his book Designing for the Social Web, wrote a chapter about designing for ongoing participation.

What do you need when the momentum is over?

Answer: Motivation

Yes, that was an easy answer. Unfortunately that’s not the right question to ask. You should be asking yourself: “What really motivates my users?” And that, my friend, it’s a hard question to answer.

What makes us feel unique?

Answer: Having an identity

It is about profiles. But it’s not only about enabling personalisation. It’s much more about allowing people to interact with others through those profiles and being flexible. The information needs to change, otherwise the profiles won’t be interesting anymore. Facebook has done a great job here by introducing notification, status and news feeds. But what I love about what Joshua says is that “managing profiles isn’t itself a reason for an application to exist. If managing profiles is the only activity your social app is supporting, you probably won’t last long.”

How to make people contribute?

Answer: By leveraging reciprocity

“Reciprocity means exchange for mutual benefit”, says Joshua. It’s pretty simple. When people benefit from other’s contribution, they will be willing to contribute as well. Once they relate, they quickly understand the reason to do it. It’s important that the interface allows this to happen without much effort, it needs to feel natural. In the book Josh uses Linkedin’s example of recommendations. “Browsing the site makes this abundantly clear — many of the recommendations are indeed reciprocated.” It’s about returning the favour.

How to get an accurate impression of someone else?

Answer: Allow for reputation

“A person’s reputation is the set of beliefs or opinions that others hold about them. We each have a reputation, even if it is a small one.”

Designing the features that allow for reputation depend on the type of community you’re building. Remember, you don’t want to allow negative reputation, so focus on the good and simple things. Common features are – number of friends/fans/followers, ratings,  recommendations, likes, etc.

It’s also interesting when the application itself contributes. Foursquare does this extremely well by using the ‘Superuser status’. This is given to users who have checked-in a lot or added lots of new venues. It’s a nice way to show the user you are paying attention and giving something in return – reputation.

What to do so users feel productive?

Answer: Promote a sense of efficacy

Users need to feel they are actually doing something. The worse feeling is going to work and not do anything the whole day. You are still getting paid, but you feel crap. It’s the same here, it can be lots of fun to look at other profiles and see what the others are doing, but if you’re not contributing it’s less fun and you’re more likely to get bored.

The sense of efficacy can easily come from reputation, it’s the “feedback provided to people about how valuable their contribution was”. You need to make sure the users know when they are contributing and how much they have contributed in the past. Twitter does a good job by saying how many tweets you’ve sent, your personal timeline is a good way to keep track of that.


Designing for ongoing participation is about allowing for basic motivations – identity, uniqueness, reciprocity, reputation, efficacy, control, ownership, attachment to a group, and fun. You need to clearly outline a mix of these motivations in the features you design so users won’t lose the interest and hopefully, keep coming back.

Written by Cristina Dresch

February 5, 2012 at 12:02 AM

Did You Google Your Name Today?

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Do you believe in personal branding? No? I bet you believe in SEO then.

I’m sure you’ve already tried to Google your name before. We’ve all done it, even back in the day when Google was not even a verb yet (by the way, Google is a teenager now, happy 13th!) It’s funny how things change. At the old days when social media was not around, you would only rank if you had a personal website. Then, not long after, everyone who had a blog with decent amount of views or a very distinguish name, would also rank. Those days are now over…

Ok. My name is easy. It’s Cristina (no, not cHristina). And even though I’m Brazilian, most of my accounts are set to English. So not many CRistinas around. My point is, I’ve got results that were actually me in every single link of the first page (and the second, but I don’t think there are any reasons to brag… nowadays with social media that’s incredibly easy!).

So here’s what I searched for: Cristina Dresch
And here’s what I’ve got:

  1. Twitter – I liked this one!
  2. Facebook – who cares? My friends won’t Google my name to find me on FB
  3. Facebook – who cares? My friends won’t Google my name to find me on FB
  4. Blog from work – my welcome post, from my previous job, ooops!
  5. Google profile – wouldn’t you expect this to be in the 1st position? a bit ironic ;)
  6. Econsultancy’s membership – which recently expired
  7. Quora – does anyone still use Quora?
  8. Awesomize – which btw I’ve got to delete, I don’t actually use this
  9. Meetup – this one is ok I guess

I will confess, while going through my results I had to update at least 4 profiles. It’s been a month since I started in my new job, and as you would expect (or not!) I didn’t update most of my bios.

My question here is – Do I really want these results to be there? Where is my precious blog? My Linkedin profile? My about.me page? My tumblr? The interesting stuff is simply not there. And that freaks me out a bit.

Did you Google your name today? The results also freak you out a bit?

Written by Cristina Dresch

September 27, 2011 at 9:36 PM

Posted in SEO, Social, Web 2.0

Social Media and Customer Engagement Cycle Stages

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As I already said here, social media is a great way to engage with your current and prospect customers, creating a more meaningful relationship that will hopefully lead to higher loyalty and awareness, resulting in increase of sales. Basically this means social media can be influential in any of the customer engagement cycle stages – awareness, interest, conversion and advocacy. But don’t try to do it all! You want to focus in one stage, which will hopefully naturally lead to the others.

So, before starting to use social media it’s necessary to identify which goals you, as a business, is planning to achieve. Let’s check some different scenarios:

1. Returning customers level is low

You managed to achieve one of the most important goals in any business, gain customers! Unfortunately, you’re not keeping them, which is a huge issue. This might be happening because of different factors: (a) your product is not good enough (b) there’s no value to the customer in keeping a relationship with your brand (c) customers are quickly forgetting about you. You can solve any of these issues through social media, by engaging with your customer and asking for feedback. Why not create a channel for customer service, which will be responsible for contacting the customer after one week he purchased from you? This way you make sure he doesn’t forget about you and that he actually enjoys the product. But remember, you need to add value for him as well. Depending on your brand, value can range from offering good content to giving good discount in future purchases.

2. Business needs more clients

Your sales are simply not good enough? And you have already tried reaching to current customers and offering them deals to make sure you increase revenue over one single customer? This might not be enough. You need awareness! People need to know your business exists in order to gain new customers and reach a new audience. Social media is the perfect place for that. First you need to clearly understand who your audience is. Then go through different channels (Twitter, Linkedin, Facebook, etc) and find them! You need to know who they are and then create your social media presence around that. Don’t wait for customers to go where you are, you need to go where they are. Then you need to start reaching out to them, don’t be shy; you must be confidence about your product. If you believe it’s going to be beneficial to them, why not? If you’re targeting the right audience, they will thank you for that!

3. Customers are not converting

So, you’ve got traffic but people are not doing what you expected them to do. This sucks. There are so many different possibilities for why this is happening, so first, research. This might be solved without any help of social media. Analytics is the best tool for that. Make sure this is not an usability issue. If it’s not, move on the content strategy. People need to understand what your business is about. Ask friends, family, and colleagues to go through the content and make sure at least they understand what is going on. You might realize your product is not easy to market, and there’s when social media can be a strong player. Social media is a great place to educate people about your product, make people interested. You can do that by creating multimedia content, which always helps with interaction and engagement. Identify people from your company or in the market who can add value, are passionate about the products. If you can’t think of anyone, do it yourself! What a better advocate then the business owner? Of course, don’t be too selly. The whole goal is to educate people and make them interested, and then they need to find the value by themselves.

So what does that mean?

If you work on specific goals your business is trying to achieve, the success in social media is always going to be more measurable and reachable. Again, don’t try to do it all! Hopefully by focusing in one specific stage of the customer’s engagement cycle you will then influence the others, leading to a complete successful cycle achieved through social media.

Written by Cristina Dresch

June 17, 2011 at 10:00 AM

Posted in Planning, Social, Strategy

Ben and Jerry’s Social Media Strategy

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I’ve written this quick analysis about Ben and Jerry’s for my Advanced Social Media class in my Digital Marketing Masters. I’ve chosen this brand because I considere myself an advocate, I really didn’t know ice cream could taste that good before I tried B&Js. Simply ♥ the brand.

Ben and Jerry’s is a global ice cream brand, originally from Vermont, United States. The brand has build different communities around each country, especially because of language, cultural and distribution issues. I’ve analyzed their UK community, where their main platforms are Facebook, Twitter and their UK website.

Global UK
Facebook Fans – 3m Facebook Fans – 200k
Twitter Followers – 10k Twitter Followers – 4k

Interesting to notice that although the regional community has a smaller number of followers, it generates more interaction compared to the global. I believe people are more interested in joining a group where deals are more targeted and members are from the same region. This way there’s more room for conversation.

Fair Trade – Overall Theme

Ben and Jerry’s is currently running a campaign about Fair Trade. At first, by the way they are advertising it, it seems that the campaign is about bringing new flavors from the US to Europe. With a bit of investigation, we can figure out that Fairtrade is actually a foundation that the brand supports. According to the website, Ben and Jerry’s “will be going 100% Fairtrade in the UK and throughout Europe by the end of 2011 and globally by end 2013 – which means that every ingredient they use, from sugar to nuts to cocoa, that can be Fairtrade certified, will be.”

They could have done a better job trying to make this more clear to the customers, since it represents the kind of brand Ben and Jerry’s is in a very positive way. Interestingly, Ben and Jerry’s decided to use Fairtrade as a theme for various campaigns in Social Media, which seems to be working very well.

Unfairly Desserted Flavors Facebook App

  • Goal: Vote in the new flavour for the UK
  • Best interaction bit: Flavour personality test
  • Best aspects: Fun, engaging, sharable and informative

First, the cuteness of the app is great. The brand has a very distinct style and this is well represented in the app. The attention to detail is great and the layout is very easy on the eyes. The app opens with an introduction explaining (in a fun way!) that some flavours from the US have never arrived in the UK, and now its up to the users to decide which flavour is going to make it.

The users should vote in their favourite flavour. In case he has any doubts, since all of them look yummy, he can choose to take the personality test. This is a very fun test (I almost forgot to take screen shots, because I was really enjoying it). There are five very simple, and again, fun questions to be answered. At the end, the ‘Doctor Cow’ shows the user what flavour suits best his personality. The user can easily share the flavour with his Facebook or Twitter friends.

Fairtrade Arcade Facebook App

  • Goal: Play games and have fun
  • Best aspects: Fun, wide audience reach, interactive

The user has five game options. Some of them are inspired in well known arcade games, which makes it easier for the user to interact and start playing. All games are easy and fun, attracting a very wide audience. Again here they don’t forget to add the social bit by allowing users to share their game results on Facebook and Twitter. Even though the app is not about the ice cream itself, everything is very well branded. Several bits are inspired in the brand’s main characteristics such as – fudge brownie, nuts, and milk.

Fair Tweets Campaign

  • Goal: Promote the World Fair Trade Day
  • Best aspects: Supports a good cause, easy to spread, creative

Ben and Jerry’s launched Fair Tweets to celebrate the World Fair Trade Day, which happened on May 14th. By entering in the campaign’s website or using its browser extension, the user could tweet as he normally would and the application would use the characters left to promote the fair trade day, together with a link to an article about the fair trade movement. In this campaign Ben and Jerry’s didn’t promote the brand as much, except for a few details highlighting the logo and a link back to its website. The campaign has its own Twitter account, and even though the day has passed, the application is still running and people continue to tweet about it.

SWOT Analysis


  • Brand is seen as informal and fun which helps with their social media presence, making it a natural environment for the brand
  • Global brand, higher reach
  • The community is segmented by country, which allows for easy content targeting and meaningful conversations

  • It relies on third party platforms
  • The country segmented community should be better advertised in the main page, so customers understand which page they should like in order to receive more valuable content
  • It might be seen as a childish brand, diminishing the brands reach

  • Customers tend to be brand advocates
  • Brand could invest more in brand awareness
  • Promote more in Social Media the Fairtrade Foundation, so the brand can be instantly perceived as ethical
  • Give a better reason for customers to interact with the brand (aka: prizes)

  • Change of seasons can increase/decrease the amount of participation in the community
  • Malicious users can get in the middle and ruin the positive community’s atmosphere
  • Other game apps on Facebook could steal potencial users from the Arcade Game app


Ben and Jerry’s is definitely a successful story with lots of good cases to tell. They are doing an excellent job by interacting with their customers in a fun and innovative way.  It was very smart to create an overall theme around fair trade, which is a global cause that says a lot about the brand’s values and quality. It also helps to connect each separate campaign and channel, giving almost like a narrative feeling to the customer’s journey through the campaigns.

The customers’ response has been very positive, and there’s been a lot of engagement with the brand. Most of the campaigns are aimed at brand loyalty and they do the job by either empowering the customer or engaging him with the brand’s content. Even though the campaigns have a lot of social sharing features, they should go beyond and focus more in brand awareness in order to acquire new customers and followers.

Written by Cristina Dresch

June 2, 2011 at 11:16 PM

Posted in Social, Strategy

Social Media Cycle

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Funny to stop and think about how Social Media evolved from a couple of years til now.

What is Social Media?

Back when I did my thesis in my Bachelors degree in 2009, about the New Market and the Social Web, I still struggled to find a good definition for Social Media (aka Social Web). We had heard a lot about Web 2.0 at that time, but not enough about Social Media.

That’s cool, let’s all be there!

When Social Media started to act more as a global channel and reach a wider audience, was when brands realized – “UH! That’s cool. Let’s do this!”

We need strategy

After a while, not too long, brands realized they needed to build their own strategy in Social Media. It’s not simply about having a presence, you need a plan – set goals, target your audience, figure out a budget and resources.

Wait, is this right?

Now we are starting to ask questions, such as – Should I really be in Social Media? Do I have enough time and resources? And what about my budget? What is going to be my ROI? What channels are best for my business?

… what’s next?

We are being a lot more critic regarding Social Media nowadays. I believe we’re finally reaching a tipping point. Finally, we don’t need to prove things work. There are a lot of success stories out there. But the key is, does it work for everyone? Is it really going to stick as part of our everyday lives for long? Don’t know. Only time will tell. But one thing is for sure, the Social Media Cycle hasn’t closed yet.

Written by Cristina Dresch

May 30, 2011 at 10:00 AM

Posted in Marketing, Social, Web 2.0

What’s Up With Social Media And Friends Recommendations?

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Ok. I get it. We trust friends with recommendations more than we trust brands or people we don’t know. That makes sense. But think about how social networks work nowadays. Do we know everyone we’re friends with? A research just came out this past week saying the average 22 year-old in England has over 1000 friends on Facebook. And now you tell me, do we really know everyone we’re friends with? I doubt it.

Google +1

Not long ago, Google launched Google +1 button. As Google itself describes, the button is a “shorthand for “this is pretty cool” or “you should check this out.” They said you just have to click on it to “publicly give something your stamp of approval. Your +1’s can help friends, contacts, and others on the web find the best stuff when they search.” So basically, it’s a recommendation button.

New Facebook page feature

Rumors this week started about a Facebook page recommendation tool, where friends can recommend friends about which pages to like. Yet again, we are trusting our so called friends with recommendations.

Enough with that

Stop to reflect about it. Would you care about what pages your little brother likes on Facebook? Do you really want to get a recommendation from your best friend’s mother? People have different interests, and that’s perfectly normal. I believe that Google +1 can easily become spam if not handled right. I’ve been using the Google+like extension in my browser (Chrome), and it’s been great. Not for the recommendation bit, where I should believe the content my friends have shared is more interesting (cause I don’t), but because this is great for research. I can see how many likes a link has had, which is great to understand the reach and popularity of online content.

What does the future hold?

Saying all that, I still think recommendation is a great opportunity in Social Media. I think it would be perfectly normal for me to get recommendations from my Twitter followers, and you know why is that? Because my Twitters followers are not exactly my friends, but people who share the same interests as me. I wouldn’t follow them if I didn’t care for what they had to say. Recommendations should be about the relationship you have with someone, it should be about sharing and caring for the same things.

Written by Cristina Dresch

May 26, 2011 at 10:00 AM

Posted in Facebook, Social, Statistics

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