The conscientious approach to online advertising. Also: when good social traffic is actually bad for your association.
With so many of our favorite social media outlets under pressure to produce earnings—you’ve no doubt already heard about Twitter’s recent IPO—it probably comes as no surprise that online message board Pinterest has announced plans to begin experimenting with ads. The company’s open letter to users, and more, in today’s Lunchtime Links.
Pinning for success: In an open letter, Pinterest CEO and Cofounder Ben Silbermann recently announced that the online cork board, where users pin collections of images and articles relevant to their interests, hobbies, and passions, will soon begin placing advertisements on its site. Silbermann says the move is necessary to ensure the long-term success of the company. Though it’s not something he enters into lightly. “I know some of you may be thinking, ‘Oh great … here come the banner ads.’ But we’re determined to not let that happen,” he writes on the company’s blog. Rather than junk up the site with flashy banner ads, Silbermann promises the ads on Pinterest will be “tasteful,” “transparent,” “relevant,” and continually improved “based on … feedback.” It’s unclear how users will react to the ads, but Silbermann’s forthrightness is an interesting approach. Does your association place ads on its site? Has it considered how those ads influence the member experience?
Exclusive benefits: For most online community managers, success is measured in numbers. The more people who engage with your association online through its website or social channels, the better. But, as Christina G. Smith, director of content and client marketing at YourMembership.com writes on her company’s blog, there’s a big difference between traffic volume and member benefit. If your goal is to drive traffic to your site, keep doing what you’re doing. But, if the end game is to provide members with exclusive benefits and resources they can’t get anywhere else, you might want to consider walling off some of your more exclusive content, such as job boards, special reports, and member-only events. Forget about numbers and traffic for a second and ask yourself a simple question: Are you giving away for free online the same information and resources that your members are paying you for? If so, you might want to reconsider your approach, suggests Smith.
Mind mapping: Do your ideas feel stale? Do you wish you had a way to be more creative, to unlock your brain’s hidden potential? With mind mapping, you just might. Writing for Lifehacker, Melanie Pinola says the brainstorming technique, which encourages visual thinkers to connect ideas around a single subject, “can help you become more creative, remember more, and solve problems more effectively.” Sounds great, but how does it work? Think of a central object—Pinola says she sometimes thinks of that central object like a tree—and extend other related words and images, like branches, out from that one central idea. Pinola says mind maps are often better than traditional note taking because they are visual, able to hold up under large amounts of information, and easy to organize.
Have you experimented with mind mapping or other unorthodox brainstorming techniques to come up with a big idea? Tell us in the comments.