Arts and Crafts Retailer Learns the New Language of Social Media

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Social media is becoming increasingly image-oriented. Every day, consumers are sharing between 400 million and 500 million images on social networks such as Pinterest, forcing companies to rethink the way they promote their brand. "Consumer behavior is changing dramatically," says Apu Gupta, CEO and cofounder of Curalate, a marketing and analytics company that focuses on Pinterest and Instagram. "It's becoming increasingly clear that images constitute a new language, and for brands, it's becoming really important to communicate and engage their audience[s] visually."

What resonates well on Pinterest, Gupta explains, is unique in comparison to other social networking Web sites. While traditional retail approaches do well on Pinterest, inspirational and idea-oriented pins are the ones that typically perform best. So when Michaels, one of the country's largest specialty retailers of arts, crafts, framing, floral, and wall decor, wanted to design a campaign featuring its new line of frames, it decided to run the promotion on Pinterest, and chose Curalate to help find the simplest and most effective way to do it.

"Michaels was looking for a way to generate excitement about their new product. They were interested in a traditional 'pin it to win it' approach, meaning fans pin or repin something for a chance to win a prize. In this case, the prize was one of two $500 gift cards from Michaels to help customers build their own frame display wall," Gupta explains.

The problem with most "pin it to win it" campaigns, though, is that they're often too burdensome for users, according to Gupta. Many of these campaigns ask fans to perform four to eight steps to actually enter the contest, including using certain hashtags, registering on the brand's Web site, emailing the brand, and creating an individual Pinterest board as an entry.

"It's just rude to expect customers to do all that," Gupta says."When you look at Pinterest users' boards, you can see that they're typically meticulously organized and arranged so, for example, when a brand comes in and says 'Create a whole new board just to participate in our promotion,' a customer is going to be turned off."

Instead of putting customers through a tedious entry process, Curalate helped Michaels simplify the task. Ultimately, all customers had to do was choose a frame they liked on Michaels' Studio Decor Platinum Frame Collection board and repin it to one of their boards.

Curalate also helped Michaels "promote their promotion," Gupta shares. "We ask all our clients this: What's the point of doing a promotion if you're not going to tell anyone about it? The fact of the matter is most brands have a much stronger following on Facebook or Twitter than they do on Pinterest, and they have to leverage these other social media channels to their advantage. They have to share the news of the promotion in other places."

Email was an important tool for getting the word out about the promotion as well.

"Michaels had a very robust email list, which was very important for awareness building and worked very well for increasing engagement with the promotion," he adds.

By working with Michaels to find ways to engage their fans in the promotion and make the engagement as simple as possible, Curalate helped the brand achieve impressive results. The campaign has increased engagement with Michaels on Pinterest by 312 percent since the contest launched, and repins from the frames board more than doubled. Furthermore, follower growth for the frames board increased by 88 percent, and the board is now one of Michaels' most viral boards.

"Our goal is to help brands connect with their customers through pictures and, for a brand like Michaels, which has so much visual appeal, that's crucial," Gupta says. "Michaels lends itself perfectly to what works on Pinterest—DIY ideas, home improvement tips, and decoration inspiration—and we're so glad we were able to help them with their promotional campaign."

The Payoff

Since launching a Pinterest contest with the aid of Curalate to help consumers "pin it to win it," Michaels has seen:

  • increased engagement on Pinterest by 312 percent;
  • repins from the frames board more than double;
  • follower growth for the frames board increase by 88 percent; and
  • the contest board become one of Michaels' most viral boards.

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