community building

How to Use Pinterest to Create a Community

Pinterest is a visual way to share, collect and curate information. You can bookmark, or pin, interesting content, how-to articles, quotes or even places you’d like to go. Pinterest isn’t just a great way to showcase your business, your products and your creativity, it’s also a great way to to share great ideas beyond the scope of your speciality with your audience. Finding interesting and relevant information and images for your audience and putting it together in one spot, not only helps to drive traffic to your website but it can also foster good relationships with other, complimentary businesses. And really, that’s what using social media effectively for business is all about: creating relationships.

Curating content on Pinterest means creating specific topic boards. It’s about pinning interesting and complementary information together in one spot for your audience to see. Here are two businesses we think use Pinterest exceptionally well, creating a whole visual story and really engaging with their audience:

Onya Baby

Even though Onya Baby sells baby carriers, they do a great job of building their community with boards that speak to their audience about a lot of different topics that are not directly related to baby carriers. Parents have learned that when they visit Onya Baby on Pinterest, they will always find interesting and relevant information, which, of course, keeps them coming back.

Notice that while only one of their boards focuses on their product, many others feature content that parents are likely to find interesting.

Mabel’s Labels

Another Pinner we think is pretty awesome is Mabel’s Labels. Like Onya Baby, they showcase their labels but also create a community where parents can find birthday party ideas, lunch ideas, recipes, pregnancy and parenting tips and ways to organize their homes.

While there are still many more ways to use Pinterest, what we want you to take away from this is that even when you think that it would be hard to draw in your audience with your products or services using beautiful and striking images, by creating a community that provides your audience with a place to go for tips, information and advice, you will ensure that they come back time and again to see

The Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption illustrates this point well.

Plus, as a bonus to creating your own community resource centre, you’ll be creating a business networking community that will, hopefully, share your Brand with their own audience, too.

Case Study : Project Priceless

I first heard about Project Priceless when Jordan attended Social Capital this summer…  She was a month from her wedding day - a wedding mostly funded through donations, barter and DIY!

One of my favourite parts of their story is that Jordan and Brian were able to do what I love most about social media - bring online community into the real world.  They had people they had never met before starting this project at their wedding LIVE TWEETING it. I love that so much!

I asked Jordan if she would answer some questions about Project Priceless for the blog because I found the project so fascinating.  I think what made it so successful was not simply that they were willing to give publicity to the businesses who were helping them out but that Jordan and Brian are so authentic in the way they portray themselves online (which is authentically fun, quirky and lovable) that people genuinely like them and want to be a part of what they’re doing.

People scrambled to be a part of their story and having recently gotten to meet them in person and have a chance to really start to get to know them, I’m not surprised at all!

Tell us your story

Brian and I got engaged in October 2010. We’d faced some major life events, including some layoffs, so we knew we wouldn’t be a in place to put together a wedding.


The original concept for Project: Priceless was simple: get some former brides and grooms to help us out by offering up their wedding decorations and other leftovers. We started a blog, figuring that family and friends would help out and would be curious to see what we crafted together. It was only a few weeks, though, before the community came a-knockin’: both strangers and businesses heard about us through the press, social media, and word of mouth. Once that started, it only made sense to start offering a trade: anecdotal blog entries about our participants, in exchange for goods and services. The individuals without businesses just enjoyed being mentioned, and the commercial participants found that P:P had enough clout to drive traffic their way.


Within two weeks, we had 1,000 hits on our blog; in the first two months we had 9,000 hits. By the end of the project, we had over 70,000 hits, and over 150 offers of items and services.

Wedding tattoos. credit:

What social media channels were most successful for you and how. Was Twitter the primary source?


We actually didn’t really get going on Twitter for the first couple months of the project. We’d see traffic coming off twitter, but we just didn’t understand the appeal of the thing. I started a twitter account just to be able to keep track of who was tweeting about us, but it wasn’t long before I fell in love with the simple communication of it. Looking back, I wish we’d jumped on the tweet wagon earlier.


The blog grew through twitter and facebook primarily, and through a lot of networked individuals. Most people who participated in the project had heard about us through someone they network with (fellow crafters, work colleagues, classmates, etc). We got a ton of people through good ol’ word-of-mouth, but most people who started talking about us had read about us online somewhere.


What did you learn from the experiment? (I love her answers - I want to turn some of them into blog posts they are so fabulous. :))


Well, first off we learned a lot about social media and how it works for marketing. There’s a big mental shift that has to happen when you’re looking to take your social media practice from playtime to work time. I’ve spent over ten years thinking up cheap and innovative ways to market causes and campaigns for the non-profit sector; social media was an organic progression for someone who’s used to having no budget and only time to invest.


We learned some inalienable truths:


-Rookies are often more fun and flexible…while also making more ‘rookie’ mistakes, obviously.


-There’s a ratio of worry-to-money-to-time when planning a major event: where you save on one, you pay with more of the other two.


-The instant and ‘real time’ nature of social media means that networking is intense, constant, and sometimes not well-worded; a thick skin and a quick apology are must-have tools.


-Social media has made tighter social and network circles. People are in constant contact, building more intimate relationships with colleagues. This is a blessing and a curse. It’s a little bit like taking each group of industry professionals and sticking them in the house on Big Brother: there’s drama, intrigue, and a real need for diplomacy.


-Unlike traditional media, which is usually seen as a bit of a monster, social media is viewed as the ‘feel good’ form of marketing. This made it a very good fit for our project, which was all about feeling good, doing good, and creating something fun.


-What you save in money when you employ social media, you will pay for with time.


-No matter what you do, or how careful you word things, there will always be an internet troll out there. He may have minions. They may all hate you. They are a natural part of the circle of new media.


-Spend time seeking out and interacting with people who do something better than you do. Follow good news-spreaders, trend-namers, and Kevin Bacons: people who are connected with everyone.


We also learned that we love love love doing this. When the wedding ended, fans begged us to continue, and we obliged. We’ve loved adhering to the principles of DIY, COMMUNITY, and ECO-ECONOMY, so we decided we’d spend time blogging a new Project: Priceless blog—the Nest—all about our newlywed journey. We’re cooking food, upcycling furniture, taking classes, and interacting with indie businesses, in a much larger and flexible format than the wedding project could offer. It’s exciting and should make for some great reading.

Adam Pap photograpy:

Do you think this is something people could continue doing or would the novelty wear off?


We get this question a lot. The truth is, we never intended to build a model for others to follow precisely. We just knew we wanted our wedding to be something really different…for it to reflect our sense of adventure, and for it to be a full-out project.


It would be difficult to emulate our project exactly; there have been other weddings in the past that utilized one aspect or another that we used, but none we found that incorporated very facet as we did: social media channels, promo for trade, DIY work, barter, eco-economy, and budget-friendly…not to mention, a new concept we’ve been calling ‘community symbiosis’: indie business supporting people who support indie business.


We’ve got tons of advice to share with other would-be brides and grooms, though, and we suggest that couples choose specific aspects of our project to try for themselves. The main concepts are DIY, COMMUNITY, and ECO-ECONOMY: every couple can implement some aspect of these themes.



Visit Jordan and Brian at their new blog where I am certain we’re going to see many more exciting things from them!


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The little conference that could : Social Capital

Part 1 - Planning a conference

Many of us talked about a social media conference in Ottawa for quite awhile before I finally just called a few of my online friends together.  “Let’s do it!” I said.

I thought I knew how much work was involved (a lot), but it was really way more than just a lot.

I won’t get into the gory details of the planning, nor will I go into the gory details of the things that went wrong (well, I will say that the wifi not being activated as ordered is still something haunting me) but I will say that despite all of the hours of work from an amazing group of people - it was totally worth it.

The excitement, the enthusiasm, and the kudos for the little conference a bunch of women who don’t plan conferences decided to “throw together” in four months…  it’s enough to make us truly believe it was worth it all, and to make us want to do it again (lord help us).

The gals that made it happen (except Vicky who had to go home sick :(

Part 2 - The conference

Turns out when you’re one of the organizers of a conference it’s hard to just sit back and enjoy.  Not that this is shocking, but the day was kind of a blur.  Thankfully, some great recap posts (thank you Amy, I love this format!) and a few moments where I got to just sit and listen brought some highlight tips out of the day for me that I’m going to share with you now:


During the morning Keynote, Glen Gower of Ottawa Start asked how we can get people more involved and spread the word about our communities.  I think this is going to become a whole blog post for me at some point. I’ve been thinking about it a lot and it is so in line with what I want for growing Ottawa’s community.  Must put my thinking hat on.

What are you doing to grow our community?

Some of the amazing Ottawa community


Joe said something really important “Sometimes a news release or a poster is the right tool.”   Seriously. Not everyone needs to use every tool just because it’s the “in” thing.

Nick and Joe talked a lot about not scaring off management with terms like social media.  Include the tools as part of your communications plans instead of making social media out as an entirely different form of communication. All of it should be integrated for it to work best anyways.

They also talked about management’s fear of social media. Sit down and talk out the worst case scenarios. Then walk away and “solve” the issues they’re afraid of.  I think this is a great tip! Really - is it as scary as they think to put yourself out there online?


I was lucky enough to lead a session with Dani and Vivian about social media tools for business.  A few key highlights from this session included this gem from Dani:

“Social media is not free, it’s a lot of work, you need to be ready for the time it takes.”

I think this is so important. People are willing to spend a fortune on advertising but don’t want to pay (generally in a salary or time) for building up their online presence.

It takes time, but it’s relationship management, customer service and public relations all rolled together. And most importantly, people will expect to find you in the online space - what are they going to find when they go looking?

A good tip from Dani - Think about your comment policies - are you going to allow negative comments, personal attacks, profanity? If you post a policy you manage expectations

Don’t delete comments you don’t like, only delete ones that go against the afore mentioned policy.

In her portion of the session Vivian talked about how social media has helped her business grow. She has a great twitter and Facebook presence but I think one of the things she has clearly done that has had huge impact on her business is built relationship with bloggers and writers. Her new products get to the eyes that count, and that (along with awesomely creative products) have gotten them featured in major online publications like Wired, Gizmodo and Alltop.


Analytics are one of those things I know I should do better and don’t. This session by Ben and Scott gave me some great reminders and ideas on a) the importance of measurement to see if what you’re doing is worth doing and b) what some easy ways to track things are.

- Track total cost of every effort, impressions received from effort and then follow through on the “call to action”. This is a great way to see if spending $5000 on a new app for something was more useful in bringing in revenue or increasing company awareness than 5 hours of tweeting and updating Facebook. If you made $8000 from each and one cost $5000 to implement and one cost $500…. well you do the math!

- Use different URLs for different tools to tracking where people are coming from.

- Think about what a follow is worth.


The problem with leading a roundtable was that I couldn’t attend the others. I heard a lot of really interesting feedback about the format and what I thought was the best from my small group was being able to talk and brainstorm ideas with people and for them.  I really enjoyed people coming and asking me questions and think that next year the format will morph a bit but not too much.


We will definitely be doing this again.  We’re already working on securing a location and a date and the ideas are flowing mightily on what the conference should look like next year.

I want to thank everyone who believed in the event in it’s first years.  The amazing sponsors (we couldn’t have done all we did for the price we charged without them!), the incredible speakers (many of whom have never spoken before!) and all the attendees.  A sold out conference in the first year? So awesome!

I still can’t believe we did it. Oh, and in case you’re wondering.  I’m still sick ;)

“I think I can… I think I can… I think I can…”

What is it and why should you care: Social Capital

On July 23 I will be attending, and speaking at, Social Capital

What is it

  • Social Capital is a one day conference for everyone from beginner to expert who is interested in social media.

  • There will be sessions in three streams: Fundamental, Advanced and Business

  • There will be roundtables on 10-15 subjects including community blogging, wordpress, twitter, facebook, flickr and crowdsourcing.

  • There will be ample opportunities to network with people in the Ottawa social media community.

Why should you care

  • I can never say this enough  - social media is about relationships. Bringing the relationships from the virtual space to the real life space is my favourite thing about social media and where some of the biggest wins from social media can occur.  It’s worth it for meeting the people alone.


  • I like to think I know some stuff about social media - but the social media power that will be at Social Capital….  wow. The learning opportunities, from the sessions but also just from the casual discussions…  I can’t wait!

  • This conference is for everyone.  That means you don’t need to feel you don’t know enough about social media to come and join us and learn.  Whether you’re interested in social media for the fun and personal satisfaction of it, whether it’s to promote your small business, whether it’s to learn more about how to use social media within your corporation or at your government job - we want you there.  Everyone at every level is of value… we can teach each other how we see things, what we’ve seen work and what we’ve seen not work.

Will you be there?  I really hope you will!

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