Creating engagement by live-pinning

Posted in engagement, Pinterest, Social Media on September 29th, 2012 by Melissa de Andrade

What is the best social media tool to cover an event?

For the Women in Innovation Summit, I chose Pinterest.

I was the roving reporter live-pinning the most important moments of this amazing event that took place on September 22nd, 2012. Panels, discussions, conclusions, tweets: everything was featured on the “WINS: The Day!” board, created exclusively for the event coverage.

“Tweets, you said?” That’s right! I merged Twitter and Pinterest by using tweets from WINS audience as the description of the pictures I took with my mobile phone and tablet. Whenever the tweet featured a picture, I would pin that picture as well, along with the tweet. I’d do this even when the picture was a low quality shot taken with a mobile device. Demonstrating the audience engagement was more important than the quality of the photo in this case.

Using these tactics, I was able to build a visual record of the event while the event was happening. Not afterwards. From the moment the doors of the Intiman Theatre in Seattle were ready to receive attendees to the final video presented by Reer Grrls. It was particularly important to me that the audience perceived that they were a crucial part of the coverage. The descriptions were mostly written by the attendees. This made the event’s pinboard serve as the attendees’ pinboard. Their vision, their insights, their conclusions. I was “the social media girl” who put all the pieces together.

Of course it is not as easy as it sounds. Not everything is pin-worthy. You don’t want to bug your Pinterest followers with a lot of similar shots. On the other hand, the board has to reflect the event. Just like a photo album that makes you realize the most important moments on a vacation trip, an event pinboard aims to invoke that “Oh, yeah” reaction, a click in one’s memory that brings back the inspiration.

I chose Pinterest as a live record for WINS because Pinterest has a lot of momentum right now. Pinterest extended the conversation and coverage, but of course Twitter played an extraordinary role in our strategy. A big thanks to Solveig Whittle and Connie Rock, fellow members of the social media team who helped me pin among other activities, and to WINS leader, Kristiina Hiukka, who put her trust in us to promote this event on Social Media.

So back to the initial question of this blog post: Is Pinterest the best social media tool to cover an event? My answer: there is no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to social media. It depends on the brand and where their audience is – it worked with Oscar de la Renta and their Bridal Show! But I also believe that you can move a step further and go beyond what the audience expects. Surprise your followers and be open to hearing the feedback. We’ve had a rewarding experience at WINS!

About WINS

The Women in Innovation Summit is a groundbreaking initiative that brings together leaders – men and women – who promote innovation, technology and social change to generate ideas and potent innovations. The goal: solve the economic challenges we are facing today. The #pursepower movement is only one of the outcomes of the event’s first year. I am honored to be part of WINS social media team and help to build engagement by pinning and blogging for 4 months before the summit.

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Social Media means you’re always on

Posted in engagement, Social Media on August 21st, 2012 by Melissa de Andrade

What are your working hours? Mine, I find difficult to keep counting.

Waiting room for my doctor, line at the supermarket, traffic light (I know, it’s wrong). The fact is that any free minute that I have I will check how everything is going on my social media projects. Any comments yet to the 3pm post? How many repins so far? Any messages to answer? New fans?

Each and every good interaction is a thrill. A small victory building a big conquest.

During my leisure time, I might go online and check. You know, just to see how things are doing. Briefly checking in on the important social media accounts and I feel more relaxed to enjoy my activities. Is that a side effect of working with social media? Or is this just me?

I started my career as a reporter and soon became an editor. This means I was always attentive to what was going on around me. Even during chats with friends I could discover something worth writing about. It’s like having a permanent antenna to capture news.

All that to say that I am used to being always on. It may be tiring, but, God, it’s fun.

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Crowdfunding takes violinist to London

Posted in General on August 15th, 2012 by Melissa de Andrade

Meet Marcus Toscano, London Royal Academy’s newest student, thanks to crowdfunding.

This virtuous Brazilian violinist was accepted by one of the most competitive music institutes in the world. Only two spots were available. I was told he beat candidates from 40 countries. Imagine how frustrating it would be if he couldn’t join the program. He didn’t have the money to afford a year of study abroad. That’s when crowdfunding solved this problem for him.

Toscano set up a campaign page at the Brazilian crowdfunding website Benfeitoria. Within three months, the campaign goal of $30,000 has been overcome with more than 400 donations. You can still help for another week.

From an American perspective, the value may seem easy to achieve, but it is a lot of money in Brazilian currency. I come from a middle class family in Brazil and I made sure I had a scholarship in order to fund both my tuition and expenses for my master’s degree in London. I guess I wouldn’t have gone if I had to pay it by myself. A student loan is not a reality in Brazil: interest rates are too high and banks don’t give high amounts to people who cannot prove that they can pay it back – like students.

After this background information, you will have to agree with me that Marcus Toscano made a remarkable achievement. Especially if you consider that crowdfunding is not as common of a concept as it is in the US. I am proud of Marcus Toscano and how he creatively managed to pursue his dreams. He will be the third Brazilian violinist to graduate on the Royal Academy.

Toscano’s challenge is not over though. He guaranteed the first year of study, but he will have to find a way to fund the second year. I hope the internet will help him once more.

Not familiar with crowdfunding?

Crowdfunding is a social networking tool to collect money for projects. You sign up for one of the many tools available, announce the details of your project, and individuals contribute with money. Rules vary from one tool to another, but in general you only receive the money if you reach a certain goal. If not, the money goes back to the donors.

Marcus Toscano persuaded donors by sharing his life story on his crowdfunding page, but a video with a comedian helped spread the word. You can watch the video below. No worries if you don’t speak Portuguese: subtitles are provided. : )

Small business, big social media benefits

Posted in business, engagement on July 14th, 2012 by Melissa de Andrade

Bold Beanies is a home business in the UK based totally in online sales. They started putting on eBay their cotton hats for people with hair loss due to chemotherapy. Nowadays, social media plays a bigger role.

The company is expanding its product line, increasing their production and has just updated their website. “Now the business really kicks off”, says the founder of Bold Beanies, Emilienne Rebel. As a home businesswoman, she is the one who does mostly everything. And that means tweeting and Facebooking as well. Although this gives her independency and autonomy, it also means more responsibility and learning. “I have to learn an incredible amount. And I am doing it as fast as I can.”


I had the chance to interview Emilienne Rebel for my volunteer work at this amazing event upcoming this September in Seattle: Women in Innovation Summit, led by the enthusiastic Kristiina Hiuka. I shared with Emilienne some initial steps to take when starting to apply social media for your business. Here they are:

Issue: “I program my Twitter posts to appear on Facebook so that I save time”
Comment: Twitter and Facebook are different tools with different characteristics and different audiences. You want to be persuasive, but straight-forward on Twitter. Since you have more space to write on Facebook, you can be more detailed. But the main thing is: use images along with your posts on Facebook. Videos and images have a bigger reach.

Issue: “I can’t tell if people listen to what I have to say on Twitter”
Comment: Engaging is key in social media. Talking to the audience and expecting them to listen is so Web 1.0. Make comments. Share content. Search for questions to answer. And, of course: monitor what people are saying so that you know the right voice and tone to join the conversation.

One more piece of advice:
Give Pinterest a try. Your products are beautiful, stylish, unique. Pin them! Ask your clients to pin pictures of them using your products and tell their story. Ask your clients to pin pictures of them holding your products that will be given as gifts.

I wish Emilienne Rebel and her Bold Beanies a happy time using social media tools. Yes, she is doing social media for her business, but I hope she has a lot of fun as well. This will make her communication with clients on the web pop.

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Leveraging Pinterest for brands

Posted in Pinterest on May 29th, 2012 by Melissa de Andrade

“Pinterest is like a spa.”

Isn’t this the best definition ever? It’s a quote from the entrepreneur Melanie Duncan. I learned so much from her in a webinar recently that I couldn’t help publishing here the best insights I had.

(Sorry if I’m talking too much on the blog about Pinterest, but I guess this means that Pinterest is a really hot topic and you should spend more time on it. : )

The following tips are for brands, but your personal Pinterest account can benefit from them. We all want to be relevant on social media, right?

– Use the right name. A name your clients will recognize you easily by
– Use SEO keywords in your description
– State what you are. Clearly

– Use keywords!
– Refer to  trending topics
– Use hashtags – yes, just like Twitter!
– Add links! Pinterest will make them bold and you will stand out

– Take valuable information and make it visual
– Provide value via infographics. Tall infographics get more likes and repins
– How-to’s are the best way to direct people to your site
– Add useful information in your pictures so you don’t lose keywords when repinned

Melanie Duncan also says Saturday morning has proved to be a great time for pinning. She advises not to pin a lot at once. Pin at different times of the day. You will reach more people.

And a final basic tip: Add the Pin it button to your site! Even if your company doesn’t have a Pinterest account yet. This alone can boost your Pinterest presence. Cool, huh?


Melanie Duncan offers The Power of Pinning course at

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Access Pinterest to get inspired

Posted in engagement, Social Media on May 15th, 2012 by Melissa de Andrade


Inspiration. That’s the reason for Pinterest’s success.

Aren’t we all overwhelmed with the abundance of information published on the web? Doesn’t it feel like an oasis when you are in a place where you don’t have to read and analyze but rather see and feel?

That place is Pinterest. And the sudden interest of the audience, especially the female audience, led organizations to build boards, even if none of them are really sure about how to reach ROI using Pinterest.

There are many cases of success when it comes to driving traffic to a website. I have already commented on a previous blog post about the stories of and Where’s the Funding for Lung Cancer?. Since then I’ve heard many more. Jewelry retailer and psychotherapist and wellness speaker JudyBelmont, to name a few.

The reason why Pinterest boosts traffic is related to its viral potentiality. A user’s primary action is to repin an image they like. If the Pinterest account is connected to a user’s Facebook account, every action on Pinterest – repin, like, comment – will appear on their Facebook timeline along with the image itself. That’s an immense visibility for a simple “like”.

The grocery chain, Whole Foods, found in Pinterest a compelling channel to communicate their core values to customers. The eureka moment is when they create an emotional connection to someone in the community based on shared interest. One can hardly find a Whole Foods product among the boards though. And that’s how they are able to develop “organic” experiences with fans.

Everybody is trying to figure the metrics matter out, but the fact is that organizations have reported that Pinterest helps them to develop products, increase cause awareness and empower supporters.

I recommend that you follow the Pinterest Case Studies board by Pinterest for Business if you are interested in the subject (check their other boards as well). I love to learn about the different strategies that organizations are using on Pinterest.

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Security in Social Media Teams

Posted in security, Social Media, Social Media challenges on April 25th, 2012 by Melissa de Andrade

The headlines above are all about scams and attacks in corporations. But whoever is taking care of these companies’ social media presence, they are people. And people can make mistakes and poor decisions when it comes to security.

If you make a mistake in your personal account, it is up to you. But in the business world mistakes cause victims. According to Osterman Research, 1 in 6 companies have fired someone due to social media posts. According to Ponemon Institute, 2 in every 3 companies blame employees for putting the company’s security at risk. On Facebook, for example, users were lead to copy and paste malicious code into their browser bars, probably expecting free or discounted products. Hackers then gained access to their accounts and post whatever they wanted.


If your company starts spreading spam, your fans and followers will be hit and this can defame your brand. Can you imagine the damage a company might face with such an attack? As shown on the above extracts by Veracode (see the complete infographic), hackers watch the Twitter trending topics and sent out spam trend messages with virus. On Facebook, free stuff is among the top categories of spam.

Some ways to be protected:
– Choose secure vendors
– Monitor, monitor, monitor, of course
– Educate social team members

I adapted the guidelines below from Abdullah Saad’s advice to bloggers. I believe these augment security in a social media team:

Fame and Decay on YouTube

Posted in General on April 21st, 2012 by Melissa de Andrade

Finally someone smart enough to sing about their company on YouTube without embarrassing themselves.

It is a good-bye. It is about a Microsoft team. One could expect complaints and nasty jokes, but Karen X. Cheng delivers a touching, emotional parody of American Pie. She seems to have enjoyed the time spent with her Excel team members and builds a creative invitation to keep in touch with them. Apparently she is changing jobs to work for a new startup called Exec, created by the same guy from Justin TV.

YouTube stories do not always have a happy ending.

A guy put his work apron on over his underwear, then gets a guitar and starts singing about his job routine. Two months and 100,000 views later, he is fired. Surprise?

He wasn’t the first and won’t be the last to pay for using social media to point out not so glamorous aspects about his workplace. And Starbucks isn’t the first and won’t be the last company to misunderstand the creativity and humorous mind of its employees.

There is no freedom of speech when it comes to talking bad about your job, face it. It was always like that. The difference now is that your acid comment isn’t restricted to your circle of friends who might tell your boss. On the internet era, fame has its price. The Starbucks guy video has 1 million views by now (and a handful of copies). When he was fired and became famous, Christopher Cristwell  complained that he would have a hard time finding a job when all the interviewers can see him on YouTube and think that’s not the kind of attitude they want to encourage among the employees. Well, he should have thought about that before!

I just have to add that I do like the song. Both of them, actually. You just never know how your employer will take it.

What Social Media is NOT

Posted in General on April 5th, 2012 by Melissa de Andrade

Last month I attended a great conference in Seattle. Promoted by @FreshConsulting and their @MikeWhitmore (thanks!), Social Media Day provided me with lots of interesting insights. We spent the day talking about what Social Media IS, but one of the speakers decided to talk about what Social Media is NOT. Heidi Miller is Chief Conversation Officer at Spoken Communications and here is the list of characteristics that we shouldn’t expect to find on Social Media.

Social Media is not impersonal
Social Media is not one way
Social Media is not about RTs and shares
Social Media is not a billboard
Social Media is not shouting to a crowd.

Doesn’t it make you want to start practicing what Social Media really is about? I remember vividly when Ms Miller advised: “Act like a human. Social Media is about long-term relationships”. I hope I have been making her proud.

Read – and listen to – @HeidiMiller here:

Yes, Social Media provides tangible results

Posted in Social Media challenges on February 21st, 2012 by Melissa de Andrade

Return of Investment (ROI) on social media is almost a cursing term to certain people. It’s hard to quantify abstract values such as brand awareness. That’s why many companies consider Social Media a cost and not an investment.

Although there are campaigns that run exclusively on social media, many others take social media tools as part of a broad strategy to reach customers in many different channels. Those who are more engaged will hear about the campaign on social media tools, but maybe others will see it on TV and that’s it.

Customer services are the next clearest ROI of social media. A company has to reply to the customers somehow. On social media, they are crying out loud for attention. Customers will make a brand reference on social media because it’s trendy, because there are many cases of contact success or because they tried other channels and weren’t heard. Once some brands started to listen to consumers on social media, a lot more people became attracted to the tools.

It is marketing 101: customer acquisition is more expensive than customer retention. Pamper the customers you already have. Even the angry ones. Customer experience matters and can be decisive to their relationship with the brand.

But if your customers are not on social media, maybe you don’t have to be on the platform anyway. Know your customers. Rule number one.

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