As promised, today I begin an occasional series devoted to interviews with the people behind the pins at the over 130 newspapers (and counting) with Pinterest accounts. Today I kick off the series by publishing excerpts from my April 3 email interview with Amy Guth, social media manager for the Chicago Tribune Media Group. If you’d like to be featured in this series, please contact me at NewspapersOnPinterest@gmail.com.
1. How long has the newspaper had a Pinterest account?
AG: The Chicago Tribune joined Pinterest in November 2011.
2. Who is in charge of pinning?
AG: The pinning is primarily handled by my colleague, Scott Kleinberg, whereas I did a lot of the initial planning and SEO. Since I spend a good amount of time there myself, ahem, I contribute to the account as I uncover items worthy of a pin.
3. What is your strategy for pinning? What are your goals?
AG: The companies I see doing well on Pinterest are the ones who are able to put their values on display in a visual way. In my opinion, that’s an important way to connect to readers. To me, it’s important to listen to the ways readers want to connect and meet them there.
4. How do your pins and activity on Pinterest align with working towards those goals? How do you measure success?
AG: We are careful to keep the focus on visual interest. We monitor and track Pinterest metrics and Pinterest as a referral source, month over month.
5. Have you noticed Pinterest generating referral traffic?
AG: Yes, almost immediately I noticed Pinterest was a referral source for Chicago Tribune, as well as for one of our other properties, Chicago Shopping.
6. How did you build your following? What tips do you have for other papers wanting to build their follower count?
AG: Pinterest bleeds into a lot of other social networks, so it’s another reason why it’s important to have consistent efforts on each social networks you decide to use.
8. Have you had much success with collaborative boards?
AG: Yes, collaborative boards are a beautiful thing when team communication is solid.
9. If a newspaper is on the edge about whether or not to open a Pinterest account, what would you advise they consider?
AG: It’s a powerful SEO tool, so it’s important to use keyword-rich board titles and pin and board descriptions. Also, it’s important to identify why you want to use Pinterest—a way to visually represent your values and the values of your readers or are you falling victim to new-and-shiny-object syndrome?—and who will curate the account—the curation part is very important.
10. How do you think newspapers can make the best use of the platform? What tips can you offer to other papers about pinning?
AG: For news organizations, the focus on purely visual aspects rather than exclusively on news is a hard concept. I see news orgs trying to pin train wrecks and car crashes because they are breaking news, but that sort of thing just doesn’t go anywhere on Pinterest. Put your values on display, and or speak to the values of your readers, and you’ll do fine.
Bonus Question: Outside of the newspaper industry, what unique, creative or fun uses have you seen from brands or individuals using Pinterest?
AG: I think Whole Foods does an excellent job of displaying their company values on Pinterest. They aren’t out there shilling their products; they are showing what they stand for.