The Power of Brand Storytelling and 24 Other Lessons to Grow Your Business

Bizapalooza StageMagCloud is excited to be part of the first virtual small business “rock festival”, Bizapalooza!  It’s a free 3-day on-line conference July 16-18 where business experts share their strategies, secrets and power tools that will take your small business as high as you want to rock it.

On Tuesday July 16 at 5 p.m. EST, I’ll be representing the MagCloud team and discussing the power of tapping into your brand story.  MagCloud publications are all about telling great stories through words and images in print and digital, so it’s a subject near and dear to our hearts. We’ll dive into how small and medium businesses can take a lesson from leading media companies to build brand awareness and create deeper customer engagements . I’ll also share how to cost-effectively develop a multi-channel content strategy that takes your brand story across print, digital and social channels to drive more sales and leads.

To register for Bizapaloooza or find out more about the conference click here: http://bit.ly/18BpHgn.

Follow us at on Twitter (@MagCloud) and join the conversation during the webinar using hashtag #MagCloudSMB. Join us!

Until then, check out some of these teaser lessons from the rest of the presenters:

  • Jon Ferrara– CEO of Nimble – Transform your shallow social media connections into thriving business opportunities.
  • David Fishof – Founder of Rock and Roll Fantasy Camp- Don’t let your fears get in the way of your success.
  • Donna Cravotta – CEO of Social Sage PR– A great media list is worth thousands of dollars (she’s going to give you one)
  • Brenda Horton – Co-Creator of ActionPlanr – Take the time to focus, plan and eliminate overwhelm.
  • Susan Payton –  President, Egg Marketing –  Press releases have SEO super powers.
  • Steve Wilkinghoff – Author of Found Money – First decide your financial outcome, then design a business that delivers.
  • Adam Byrnes – International Director of Freelancer.com – Freelancers will grow your business.
  • Jim Kukral – Speaker and Award Winning blogger – You can make more money and leverage your brand by self-publishing.
  • Tim O’Connor – CEO of Marcademy.com – If your online marketing expert or agency doesn’t follow these rules — ditch them.
  • Chaitra Vedullapalli – CMO of Meylah – 63% of small businesses aren’t online!
  • Sabrina Parsons –  CEO of Palo Alto Software – Your financials tell a story –that you write.
  • Erik Koto – CEO of QuestionPro – Run a survey, do nothing, make more money.  Really, there’s a study that proves it.
  • Deborah Kagan – Sensual Lifestyle Specialist – Mo Mojo = Mo Money = Mo Fun. Mo Life.  You get the picture.
  • Melinda Emerson – Smallbizlady – Talk to people on Twitter, do it every day grow your followers and influence.
  • Share Ross – Bassist for Vixen and Founder of Video Rock Star University – Stop being scared of video – and start attracting more clients and customers.
  • Shawn Pfunder – Godaddy – There’s no good reason for a bad web site.
  • Mariano Andres Garcia – Design matters even though content is king.
  • Bridget Weston Pollack – Marketing Director, SCORE – You can get million dollar consulting and experience — for FREE – why aren’t you?
  • Anita Campbell – Small Business Trends – Blogging is easier than you think.
  • Tina Forsyth – There is more to automating your systems and process than using technology.
  • Matthew Goldfarb – Corporate Renegade –  Stand for something – get more clients and customers who will pay you more for who you are.
  • Aseem Badshah – Founder & CEO of Socedo – Social media can actually make you money.
  • Anum Hussain – Hubspot – Inbound marketing is the science of turning web site visitors into prospects and prospects into customers.  Hubspots power marketer, Anum Hussain takes you through the basics and gets you headed on the pathway to profitable customers.

Lots of great speakers on tap so I hope you’ll join the conversation.

For the full agenda and to register visit the Bizapaloooza website.

If you do attend we would love to hear about your experience and favorite sessions in the comments section below.

Disrupting From Within: Lessons in Business Innovation

recipe-for-disruptionAs Chief MagClouder I know first hand that starting a new business inside an existing, well-established, large and profitable company can be just as challenging as launching an enterprise all on your own. Especially if your idea is a disruptive one – and one that requires time to grow before it adds a noticeable boost to your company’s overall bottom line.

In Innovator’s Dilemma, author and leading business thinker Clayton Christensen is spot on with his observation: Traditional companies are wary of pursuing new products and services that will initially have smaller target markets with unproven business models.

Why invest in something new that will result in a smaller return (at least initially) when you can continue cultivating larger and much better-understood markets based on your existing business proposition?

The answers vary, but the one that strikes a chord with us is simply this: If you don’t disrupt your own business, someone else will.

We’ve learned some useful lessons about launching a disruptive business inside a large company – in our case, creating MagCloud within Hewlett-Packard (HP).

You might find these lessons useful, too.

1. Bottom-up ideas can be just as successful as those directed from the top down.

The idea for MagCloud didn’t come from HP’s executive offices or reports from famous industry consultants. Instead, a couple of researchers in HP Labs thought it would be cool to create a way for anyone to become a publisher.

We took that idea and ran with it. It was bottom-up driven and an approach supported by our cross-company sponsors. It’s a model that suits both HP and MagCloud well.

That bottom-up philosophy suits many companies well. Google, for example, encourages employees to spend about 20 percent of their time “on projects that aren’t necessarily in [their] job descriptions.” This dabbling in other endeavors has resulted in some of Google’s most important products, including Gmail and Google News.

Facebook Hackathons – all-night, code-writing “ragers” – are a big tradition at Facebook, inspiring employees to collaborate on some great (and some not-so-great) ideas.

2. Flexibility is your friend.

Starting a business is no time to be set in your ways. From the moment you come up with your initial idea to the day you launch, you must be flexible enough to tack and weave your way forward, evolving your idea as you go.

When we began working on MagCloud, we thought that, along with providing print-on-demand based publishing, we should offer a tool that publishers could use to put together their publications – you know, type your text here, add your pictures there. And, voilà, you get a great-looking publication.

Then we remembered that authoring tools already exist in applications such as Microsoft Word, Adobe InDesign and Apple Pages.

Why make customers use our tool when they’re already working with existing, proven programs? It seems obvious now, but at the time it was a big “aha” moment for us.

We might revisit creating authoring tools at some point as we tack and weave our way forward.

3. Small teams can outperform big ones.

If you’ve ever worked within a large group, you know the perils of spending far too much time communicating just to stay in sync, and adhering to the many processes designed to keep a large group coordinated – both of which can hinder creativity.

There’s a great story about a high-profile Silicon Valley software CEO who, upon hearing from a manager that a project was late, asked that one person be cut from the team. When the project continued to be delayed, he asked that another person be cut from the team. And so it went, until the project was successfully delivered.

The moral: The smaller the team, the more flexible you can be – and the easier it can be to keep working toward a common goal. At fewer than 20 staff members, we know this lesson all too well at MagCloud. We take turns at doing everything and finishing our projects on time. Mostly.

4. Small teams can make big impressions.

Whether you’re one person working from a spare bedroom or part of a 100-person, full-fledged marketing department, producing beautiful, professional-quality publications with MagCloud will give the impression that your business is bigger than it really is.

And, in fact, as long as you produce quality products that people enjoy, even the smallest team can attract millions of fans and followers.

Consider Pinterest, founded in March 2010 with a handful of employees. The company employs 100 today, just three years later. But what’s really impressive is Pinterest’s 40 million faithful fans who spend hours pinning their favorite things to their own virtual bulletin boards, so they can organize them and share them with friends. Pinterest is now the largest social media platform as measured by users per employee.

Instagram’s team was even smaller. Just 13 employees built the business, which now has 30 million users who pause in mid-step to capture just the right photo, add their favorite filter and post it to Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Flickr and Foursquare.

It’s difficult to argue that small groups can’t deliver big results. Instagram’s tiny team caught the $1 billion attention of Facebook, its new owner.

5. Look ahead, but not too far.

Most large companies have very strict planning cycles, forecasting three or more years out and detailing every step of the way.

At MagCloud, we don’t pretend to know what the world will look like in three years. We don’t pretend to know what MagCloud will look like in three years.

Instead, we focus on a month ahead.

We decide what we’re going to invest in for the next month based on what we learned from our previous month through our customer support, website analytics, blog comments and social media interactions.

In a large stable business with mature markets even the slightest changes can have significant impact and high risk. This often results in long decision-making timelines that require deeper data analysis and more people involved in choosing the course of action.

At MagCloud, all of us – all fewer than 20 of us – are empowered by HP to make all the decisions that affect our business, hundreds of times, every day.  Even if we make decisions that aren’t quite right, we make them and move on.

We’re willing to take the risk because what we know – and what you know, too – is that if we don’t quickly iterate to meet our customers’ needs, someone else will.

Which brings me back to my beginning point:

6. Disrupt, lest ye be disrupted.

Disruption. It’s what makes new businesses successful and old, stuck-in-their-ways businesses fall to the wayside.

One great example of this lesson was when Netflix disrupted movie rental stores with DVD rental subscriptions. Remember how much you anticipated receiving those red envelopes in your mailbox? Then Netflix was smart enough to disrupt its own DVD rental subscriptions with even easier access to streaming video at a fraction of the price.

I wonder what they’ll do next.

In much the same way Netflix disrupted Netflix, MagCloud doesn’t want to be disrupted by someone else. We want to be our own disruptor, and we work hard at giving our customers what they want, even if it means we need to continually reinvent ourselves to do it.

New possibilities for meaningful impact

Discipline and focus are crucial with a small team.  There is never a shortage of new ideas but choosing the ones that will have the greatest impact to building our reach and growing our business are the keys to success.

We’re in control, we make the decisions and we live with the consequences. It’s exciting and exhilarating, and it’s one of the reasons why I love doing what we do as a small-medium business.

I suspect it’s why you love what you do, too.  I would love to hear what lessons you learned starting your own business or innovating as part of a small business or team in the comments section below.

Q&A with Holli True of Holli True Photography

Q-and-A-Series-header-HolliTrue2The words Young & Free come to mind when you mention the name Holli True, and it’s not just because that’s her business’ tagline. The Oregon-based high school senior portrait photographer manages to keep a free spirit and a young attitude finding inspiration in the teen-world around her. In 2010 the savvy businesswoman decided to specialize her business from general photography to a very specific market: high school senior girls. While it may seem like a small niche, Holli has made a name for herself in the region amongst high school girls and in the photography community worldwide. Over the past two years, she’s begun hosting workshops across the US and has spoken at a number of photography conferences and events. Now she’s furthering her reach with a new magazine, set to launch in May of this year.

How did you get started publishing?

FieldNotes

Holli True When I was planning my first workshop, I decided to create books for each of my attendees. I didn’t want them to have to scribble notes, so I provided each of them with all of the workshop content in a book. Following the first workshop, I received a dozen emails from other photographers that had heard about my workshop book. While they weren’t able to attend my workshop, they wanted to buy my book. I decided to revamp the workshop book and offer it to the public for purchase, calling it Field Notes: Workshop in a Book. Since then, I have also released Body Language: The Pose Book.

What exactly are your Young & Free publications?

HT Traditional studios offer proof books with printed images in a leather album, but I am not a traditional photographer. The Young & Free Look Book is my version of a proof book, in magazine format. Needless to say, it was a huge hit with my clients and got everyone buzzing about my business. While albums tend to be more of an heirloom product, our Young & Free look books are intended to be toted around and shared with their friends.

Q&A-Products

How did Young & Free come about? What inspired you?

HT In 2012, while planning for my senior photography season (which peaks in late summer and fall), I looked at my assortment of products and decided to simplify. I stripped down my products, which used to consist of photo boxes, signature books, mounted prints, gallery prints and more. Having too many options for clients can be overwhelming, so I decided I wanted to focus on a small handful of items–keeping my brand in mind–I ended up with Albums & Metal Gallery Prints. I quickly realized that I was missing one thing: a key product that my clients would love, that would do constant advertising for me. My solution: a Look Book.

I absolutely love looking at designer look books, they are different from magazines, as they are filled with just pictures. I adopted the same format and dedicate the entire look book to my clients, filling all of the pages with their beautiful pictures. It is a unique product that other photographers in my area aren’t offering, which allows us to stand out, while remaining true to our brand.

Tell us about your newest publishing adventure.

HT Earlier this year I joined forces with Heather Dunnigan, of TheaCreative, to create a new magazine publication for photographers called Denim+Grace. As a workshop instructor and business mentor, I am very passionate about teaching and sharing. I was craving a creative outlet and new platform to connect with other photographers in the industry and create something beautiful–a magazine was the natural choice. We are so excited about our premiere issue launching on May 1st, 2013!

BodyLanguage

Why did you choose MagCloud?

HT I have been a dedicated MagCloud user for over a year now. I turn to MagCloud for all of my printing needs in terms of magazines & books, it was a no-brainer for us when it came to Denim+Grace. We absolutely love the print quality, quick turnaround time and impeccable customer service that MagCloud offers. Thank you so much for creating a product that makes our hard work look gorgeous!

How has MagCloud made a difference in your business?

HT I think the biggest difference I have seen in my business because of MagCloud is with my look books. Our Young & Free look books sell themselves, we always have them on hand when we are out and about, which has been a huge marketing piece for us this year.

What software do you use to design your publication? Do you have any special tricks to make it easier or well designed?

HT I am a Photoshop girl, so it’s my go-to for design. Due to the number of look books I had to create, I wanted to make it as simple as possible to get them designed, so I made an assortment of templates that I can mix and match easily. Due to the popularity of the look books, I recently wrote a blog post about how I created them and now offer templates for purchase to anyone looking to create similar publications.

What tips do you have for someone new to self-publishing?

HT Do it! MagCloud makes the entire process a breeze, just commit and go for it! Oh, and before you order a large number of copies, make sure to do a test run, just in case! When you start designing, it’s easy to forget to leave enough cushion on some pages, a simple test can give you peace of mind!

If you were stranded on a desert island, what one book would you want with you?

HT Eclipse by Stephanie Meyer. I am obsessed with the Twilight Saga- Eclipse was my absolute favorite! I could read it and reread it time and time again. I’m not even ashamed to admit it! ;)

Why Small Businesses Need to Adapt to Social Media’s Teenage Years

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Let’s be honest with ourselves, when you hear somebody say “I’ve never heard of Twitter,” or “I don’t tweet” you might double take – at least on the inside. The inner marketer in you can’t believe there’s someone out there who hasn’t heard of Twitter. Twitter has been around for …

That’s where you get sidetracked. You know Twitter’s old, but it can’t be that old. As it so happens, Twitter changed everything with its inception in 2006. And although it’s not even 10-years old in human years, being seven years old in fast moving social media years makes it an adolescent, roughly speaking.

Twitter, and Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube etc. are no longer a new-borns. You’ve been talking about them the same way you talk about your 16-year-old nephew – you hold your palm to your knee and say, “I remember when you were this big.” Similarly, the same incentives that worked for your nephew when he was “yay tall” no longer work on the teenage version. It’s the same with social media.

It’s time we really examined why – not how – today’s users are communicating across social networks, and why we as marketers cannot afford to limit our business efforts to just strategic silos. As Twitter and Facebook grow-up, the SMBs who approach their customers on common ground will enjoy the most success.

Here’s how SMBs can use Teenage Twitter and Teenage Facebook to enhance their brand:

Twitter

TWITTER AS A YOUNGSTER: The “mentions” landscape was fractured, directionless and often low-value. SMBs participated because the consumers were there, but they didn’t know why they were there or what they necessarily wanted to talk about.

TWITTER NOW: Twitter, as an adolescent, is a self-sustaining marketplace. Consumers engage the businesses they love because the nature of communication on social media is “out of the norm.” The veil of Internet anonymity mixed with the wonton desire for greater personal gain creates an environment through which consumers are entitled. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing for small businesses.

WHY THIS IS IMPORTANT FOR SMALL BUSINESSES: The communication marketplace on Twitter is fluid and has a very short shelf life. The number of users on Twitter is far larger than you may imagine. Not all your customers engage on Twitter, but many listen. The best SMBs understand this and play with it. Here’s how you can present a better image to all: Follow your customers on Twitter. Read their posts (yes this takes time, but there’s a direct relationship between time invested and trust gained). Engage with them on their interests. Because it’s your customer, they need to know that your business is using Twitter to make them feel special. Do this for a few customers, and more will recognize the “special” value they can gain by meeting you there. Take Oreo for instance, they regularly meet consumers on the consumer level. This tweet provided only slim brand association, yet was still highly engaged upon due to the brand sponsoring its community’s interests. For some of the best small business engagement, follow @UnMarketing, @RamonRay and Anita Campbell of @SmallBizTrends and see how they conduct conversations.

Facebook

FACEBOOK AS A YOUNGSTER: The introduction of ads and privacy concerns initially put Facebook users and business at odds. Facebook took some time to fine tune its platform: traditional display ads made way for sponsored stories, sponsored accounts and higher values on visual content (more on that soon), Facebook has certainly been an up-and-down in its youth. Brands and businesses were in an arms race to gain more likes, without having a real-world understanding for what a “like” meant.

FACEBOOK AS A TEENAGER: Everybody uses Facebook (Moms, Kids, Teenagers, even cats and dogs). Your content may only be delivered to a certain percentage of your already-gained audience. BUT, your beacon of branding still exists as a landing page, and now it’s mobile. And as any parent will tell you, a mobile phone is a teenagers third hand.

WHY THIS IS IMPORTANT FOR SMALL BUSINESSES: Teenage Facebook tells us exactly what it wants. It wants fresh, visual content that looks great on that $600 smartphone. The emphasis is less about using it to post posts, and more about creating an environment where your consumers’ interests are sponsored and hosted on your Facebook page. Tactically speaking, this means SMBs should be focused on creating and posting more pictures, graphics, videos, videos of cats…For a good cue, go to MagCloud publisher BRINK Mag’s Facebook page. There’s tight integration with photo sharing, leading to more relevant and inspiring content. The key with strong visuals is allowing for a breadth of creativity, especially for SMBs. Create something memorable, and your consumers will be more inclined to participate, associate and share. For a great example of memorable visuals, visit the How to Market Your Horse Business Facebook page.

Have some ideas of your own? Agree/Disagree with how to treat Twitter and Facebook as they grow up? Let us know in the comments!

Q&A with Cory Ann Ellis of SD Wedding Style

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When Cory Ann Ellis moved from California to the Midwest to study Physical Education in college, she never imagined that she’d one day have a booming photography business in South Dakota and her name on the masthead of two magazines.

Her first headlong dive into publishing, SD Wedding Style, is focused on wedding information and ideas for couples with both an annual print publication and a regular blog-site.

  What lead you from photography to publishing?

Cory Ann Ellis It was really a natural progression. While I love magazines, I am a horrible writer but I found my images are a wonderful visual compliment writing and so it just made sense to create a publication where there wasn’t one previously. The on-demand printing made it possible for us to bring SD Wedding Style to life without looking for financial backers to help with the cost of printing.

There are many magazines to choose from for wedding inspiration–the greats like Martha Stewart and Real Simple–but my partner Leah (a graphic designer and wedding coordinator) and I had never seen a single South Dakota wedding or vendor featured. Therefore it was time to create one and showcase all of the great options couples have right here.

My partner on Wholesome Magazine came to me to pick my brain on launching her idea of a South Dakota-based food magazine. Shayla is a wonderful journalist, talented graphic design and amazing cook. It made sense to join her in the endeavor and now our first issue is due out in Sept 2013 and it will be a bimonthly publication. I’m excited for it’s release, although my waistline is a little less excited–you know I have to try all the foods I photograph…

  What sorts of publications do you publish?

CA With MagCloud I print for AC Ellis, SD Wedding Style, Wholesome Magazine and The Cake Lady. I use MagCloud to print magazine publications as well as collateral material and lookbooks for multiple businesses. SDWS uses MagCloud for both our print and digital distribution and media materials. Wholesome uses MagCloud for our collateral materials. With AC Ellis I use MagCloud for everything I can. My product catalog, proof magazines, client handbook, rate guide, vendor magazines, lookbooks and more. For home projects I like to use it for image catalogs of all the images I want to reference without going to the computer.

The many publications of ACEllis

  How did you get started publishing through MagCloud?

CA A friend originally told me about MagCloud and I immediately was excited about the idea of short run magazines.

  How has your business evolved with on-demand publishing?

CA In my photography business MagCloud has allowed me a new means to put my images in print. In the age of digital too often images do not leave the computer. Heirloom quality albums and many lab produced products are incredibly expensive and aren’t ideal for quick distribution and lots of handling/updating. My images are in more hands thanks to MagCloud and that means more exposure, bookings, and income. The number of my referrals turned to bookings has increased since I’ve used MagCloud to print materials specific to the venues and coordinators I wanted to work with. This year about 42% of my weddings are based on these referrals versus about 10% the previous year.

  What software do you use to design your publications? Do you have any special tricks to make it easier or well designed?

CA I use Adobe InDesign® for all of my design work. When I found layers it opened up a whole new world.

  What tips do you have for someone new to self-publishing?

AC ELLIS Photography Product Catalog

CA For someone new to self-publishing I have three main tips.

1. Research.

In order to produce a great product you need to research all aspects of the business. While this may be a creative outlet or a small project there are certain legal steps to take for your business. For example if you are going to sell advertising or the publication itself, things like obtaining sales tax licensing and filing, business registration, EIN number, etc.

2. Protect.

Your work is worth something and you should protect it. Either submit the entire publication or all of your images and text to the copyright office. While your work is copyrighted the moment you create it, registration allows for the recovery of damages in the event it is illegally copied. You can also trademark your name and logo. Not only federally, but in your state. Business names can also typically be registered in your state. Get your ISSN number so that your publication is searchable and citable. Lastly, put a copyright disclosure in your masthead or somewhere in your publication.

3. Partner.

You may be good at one skill like writing, but not design, editing, photography, or business operations. Find other professionals to round out your team. Either as partners in an LLC/Corp or as paid professionals and sub-contractors. A great team will make for a great publication.

  What are your business resolutions for 2013?Farmer's Market Calendar

CA I’m not a resolution gal, but I am a huge goal and list maker. And since I’m also into SMART goals I typically have a list of about 70-100 items designed to help me achieve about 10 main goals. This year’s largest undertaking is a complete business re-branding. Lots of fun and work.

  Are there any blogs or publications that you use for business advice or guidance? Which ones?

CA Surprisingly I do not read many business blogs, but I do follow some great people on twitter and love to read their posts and links. A few are Whitney Johnson @johnsonwhitney, Lucas Marcus @lucymarcus, and Oliver Blanchard @thebrandbuilder. I do always recommend small business owners read the book E Myth Revisited by Michael E. Gerber.

A Pinterest Q&A With MagCloud Publishers

Pinterest LogoBy now, you’ve seen some of the investments the social media community has made in Pinterest. The visual inspiration engine resonates with communities in such a natural way it’s no wonder that the little network that could is on a meteoric growth trajectory. But as Pinterest usage and prevalence increases, marketers are beginning to ask themselves how best to leverage the platform to get its message out.

MagCloud publishers have been using Pinterest for some time, with good success thus far. We’ve reached out to some “Pinteresting” publications to understand more about Pinterest’s benefits: Cory Ann Ellis (Pinterest page here)– of AC Ellis Photography, SD Wedding Style and The Cake Lady Bakery – and Trey Hill – who uses both MagCloud and Pinterest for Square Root of Nine, a story telling agency.

Have some thoughts, tips or ideas of your own? Let us know in the comments! And as always, if you’d like to respond to us or the authors, the comments section is the place to be.

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MagCloud: Have your publications used Pinterest for promotion recently? What have you seen from the platform that made the promotion unique?

Cory Ann: “We actively use Pinterest to promote our print and web publications. Pinterest is the fastest growing social media platform, and the viral exposure a company can receive through pinning is an important component of our marketing strategy.”

Trey Hill:  “As the owner of a storytelling agency, sometimes it’s hard to distinguish what I do for myself and what I do to further our story. At some point, I just embraced that the line is blurry. I do use Pinterest regularly to bookmark images, stories and styles that I find appealing. I try to temper promoting my business, but do have a few boards that highlight my work.”

MagCloud: What do you think Pinterest might offer publishers that is unique to publishing (as opposed to the advantages for other small businesses)?

Cory Ann: “I think Pinterest offers publishers an opportunity to generate continued support and readership of past publications. When your publication is long off the shelf or not at the top of your promotional efforts, you have the ability through Pinterest to promote past issue sales, articles and advertisers. What a great way to stretch your reach and create a good use of past content rather than collecting dust in a lost folder on your hard drive.”

Trey Hill:  “I’m certainly no publishing expert, but I think whether you’re a publication, small business, non-profit or sports team, Pinterest offers you the ability to curate tangible expressions of your brand’s story. You can craft a character and associate yourself, powerfully, with ideas, imagery and products you admire. However, most brands I interact with on Twitter aren’t taking advantage of this aspect of Pinterest.”

MagCloud: What are some tips that may help other publishers to get started on Pinterest?

Cory Ann: “Try not to only pin promotional pieces for your own business, but also images, services and products that supplement your business or life. For small businesses, Pinterest offers an easy method to allow your customers and readers to get to know the owners and employees by creating personal style boards. A personal connection is so important to brand and business loyalty, and this is a great easy way to reach out to your customers and share in a subtle way, without taking up vital print space. Pin images directly from your site or blog. Be sure the link back on Pinterest leads to a specific post and not just your home page. Use simple clear descriptions and hashtags on the images you pin. Make it easy for viewers to find your pins when they search.”

Trey Hill:  “Don’t be scared to pin things that might not end up in a click back to your website. People respect organizations that are secure enough in their own identity that they are free to applaud the efforts of others. And, when you begin to point people to the things you admire, more often than not, the favor is returned.”

MagCloud:  Pinterest is a highly visual social media platform, how can you use that style to promote your publication? 

Cory Ann: “We are visual people and the use of good images and design can draw a viewer in and entice them to read a full article or publication. We like to post images of our publication that link back to our sale page on Pinterest. Also a board can be created for each article or issue to supplement the publication and drive traffic back for a full purchase or download. Behind the scenes and extra images that don’t make the article are great to draw the viewer in without compromising the distribution of the original content. Most publications are driven by advertisers. By pinning the ads, websites and products of your advertisers, you create an increased value to your ad sales.”

Trey Hill:  “First, let me start with a warning. Self-promotion in social media of any kind needs to be tempered. Heavily. Make sure you’re pinning 15-20 items that have nothing to do with you directly for everyone that points back to you. If you can make that ration even larger, do it. As Brian Regan so appropriately warned, ‘Beware the Me Monster.’ I am continually impressed with Warby Parker’s strategy for pinning. This past summer they launched a Blue Mirror sunglass lens & created a board that featured pins with that shade of blue. Of the 39 pins on the board, only one featured the glasses themselves. That was an interesting idea and could apply to publications as well. Does your current issue have a theme that you could pin from? What about doing boards inspired by the various stories? That kind of thinking gets people excited and generates repins and conversation, which in-turn builds loyalty to your brand and the larger story you’re trying to tell.”

MagCloud’s Favorite Instagram Users and Hashtags

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If you’re not already following @HPMagCloud on Instagram, you should be! We love to engage with our publishers and see MagCloud publications and products out in the wild–how you use them, where you enjoy them and cool pictures of your work coming together… So when you decide to show off your MagCloud product, be sure to tag us (@hpmagcloud) or use the #magcloud hashtag.

In the meantime, we have a few favorite Instagram users we’re following, and some suggested hashtags for when you share the MagCloud love on Instagram.

Favorites to follow:

Us, of course – @hpmagcloud

Andrew Shinn – @shinnphoto

BRINK Magazine – @brinkmag

Cory Ann Ellis/AC Ellis – @coryannellis

CycleEXIF – @cycleexif

James Worrell – @worrellphoto

Jennifer Koskinen/Merritt Photo – @merrittphoto

Julian Bialowas (16 Hours Mag) – @julianbialowas

Rob Shore/I Carry the Bag – @shorespeak

Sian Richardson Tax Attorney (16 Hours Mag) – @sian_richardson

Standard Magazine – @standard_mag

Toobydoo – @toobydoo

We Like We Love – @welikewelove

#tags to remember:

#MagCloud

#MagCloudinthewild

#MagCloudLove

#printisnotdead

#graphicdesign