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In this episode of the Manly Pinterest Tips Show, we talk about capturing some marketing magic for your business.  And what it REALLY is going to take to get your business noticed online this year.

My guest for today’s show is one of the FIRST co-hosts of the Manly Pinterest Tips Show way back in the days of Google Plus. Mike Allton is one of my oldest online friends that has developed into a deep offline friendship.  If you don’t know who Mike is, he’s Content Marketing Practitioner – a title he invented to represent his holistic approach to content marketing that leverages blogging, social media, email marketing, and SEO to drive traffic, generate leads, and convert those leads into sales. He is an award-winning Blogger, Speaker, and Author, and Brand Evangelist at Agorapulse.  

Mike has helped me tremendously on my online journey and I know his advice will be super valuable to you as well. The transcript of our conversation is below. Enjoy!

How to Create Marketing Magic with Mike Allton - YouTube

Jeff Sieh:                                  Hello, everybody. Welcome to the Manly Pinterest Tip Show. Hope you’re doing well. This is the new show with the new branding, and way too many buttons to push all at once. I am joined here by my good friend, Michael, and we are going to be talking today all about marketing and what it means. Mike’s probably my oldest online friend. He was actually one of the original Manly Pinterest Tips people ever and he’s back in the booth today, and he’s going to be sharing a bunch of stuff with us. If you’re joining us live, we’d love to answer your questions, so ask away and we’ll try to put those on the screen as we get to them. Be a little bit patient because this is a brand new format if you could see all the stuff that’s showing up and zooming in and out, so bear with me as I try to figure out and don’t shut off something that I shouldn’t shut off.

Jeff Sieh:                                  Anyway, if you don’t know who Mike is, Mike Allton is a content marketing practitioner, a title that he actually invented to represent his holistic approach to content marketing, that leverages blogging, social media, email marketing, and SEO to drive traffic, generate leads, and convert those leads into sales. He’s an award-winning blogger. He’s a speaker, author, and brand evangelist, hat’s a fancy title, at Agorapulse. Mike, thank you so much for being here today.

Mike Allton:                          Thank you, man. Yeah, this background is kind of very psychedelic, all these little things moving, or buttons that you have to push to make this all happen.

Jeff Sieh:                                  Uh-huh, you know, I hope nobody gets sick, so we’ll see what happens here. Let’s talk about Agorapulse, ’cause the brand evangelist, first of all, what is that? For those of you who don’t know, we want you to know what Agorapulse is and what it does, so kind of take a few minutes and kind of explain what that is.

Mike Allton:                          Yeah. Yet another title that I actually invented, I shouldn’t say invent, that’s not true. I didn’t invent the title, but I did make it up. It’s not what other brand evangelists are. Like, Guy Kawasaki, who we were talking about before the show, he was and is a brand evangelist for a lot of brands, which means he’s like the figurehead, the one person who is like the face of that brand. That’s actually not what I do. I manage the other people who are the faces of our brand. I manage our ambassadors and our affiliates, and the influencers that we have relationships with. That’s what I do with Agorapulse.

Mike Allton:                          Those who don’t know, Agorapulse is a social media management tool. It’s one of the best social media managements tools. It’s the highest rated social media tool, which means it’s the tool that people love the best, which is pretty stinking awesome. We’re from the city of love, we’re from Paris. That’s where our home office

Mike Allton:                          everybody loves Agorapulse. It’s true, it’s a really nice tool to use. It’s a tool that people … they save a lot of time, and that’s really what they love the most about it. It’s easy to use, and it saves them time when it comes to social media marketing, and how you’re managing your posting, and your engagement, and how you’re dealing with all that stuff that comes into you, comments, replies, mentions, the full gambit across all the major social networks, Agorapulse kind of helps you deal with all that in one place.

Jeff Sieh:                                  Very, very cool. At full disclosure, I am an ambassador as well for Agorapulse, but I was using them way before I was an ambassador for them.

Mike Allton:                          All the cool kids are.

Jeff Sieh:                                  Yeah, all the … I was using it before that. Love it. I would never recommend anything that I don’t use or love. We’re going to talk a little bit how I use it later on in the show, but I wanted to let you kind of explain what that is right up the front. We’re talking about marketing magic today. I also wanted to call you Magic Mike, but then I didn’t want to have that visual for people.

Mike Allton:                          But now it’s there.

Jeff Sieh:                                  And now it’s there, and so we’re going to have to deal with it. What does it take to be a good marketer in 2019? That’s kind of a broad statement. What do you think it takes in today’s world?

Mike Allton:                          Holy cow. Well … Boy, there’s a lot that will go into that. I think it starts with paying attention to how marketing is changing and evolving. You can’t do marketing today like you did ten years ago, or five years ago, maybe even a couple years ago, because things change so rapidly in this space compared to other industries. Now, I am not going to be dramatic here, and say, “Things are changing every single day.” That’s not quite true. Some of us like to say that. Some of us like to say that the platforms change every day. That’s not really true, but things do change a lot.

Jeff Sieh:                                  Seems like it.

Mike Allton:                          Way more than other industries. My step dad and his sons, they’re dentists. They’re pretty much doing the same dental practice that they’ve been doing for years, ’cause it’s pretty standard now. Marketing, you’ve got to keep up. By keeping up, that means paying attention to what the social networks are doing, paying attention to other trends. Not necessarily being trendy, not necessarily being on the cutting edge, but paying attention and being mindful of what’s happening, so that you can position yourself, or your client businesses, or whatever role it is that you’re doing marketing, so that you can take advantage of those.

Mike Allton:                          A good example today would be real quick, augmented reality and virtual reality. Those are things that not every business needs to be actually employing today, but it’s coming. As a business owner, or as a marketer, you probably should begin to be aware of what’s coming in that field, because you don’t want your competition to all of a sudden be able to take advantage of a technology, and outpace you, just because you weren’t paying attention.

Mike Allton:                          Another great example is artificial intelligence and chat bots. This is probably a little closer to home, because now that’s a little more accessible. Anybody can sign up for a Manychat account, and start creating chat bots for their Facebook pages. That’s something most businesses should be at least considering today, if not actually employing. Yeah, that’s a really big part for me, is paying attention to what’s going on.

Jeff Sieh:                                  All right, cool. That augmented reality, two years ago that probably wasn’t even a thing. I mean, you would be like at Disneyland, and there would be … super, but it’s interesting how stuff has changed so quickly in that field. Some of these fields just pop up and then they take off, that we wouldn’t even have thought about two years ago. [crosstalk 00:07:38]-

Mike Allton:                          Yeah, I mean for those of you listening who maybe don’t even know what I’m talking about, pay attention to brands like IKEA, where you can open up the IKEA app on your phone, and you can point it at your living room, and choose furniture that you could buy from IKEA, and have it placed in the viewfinder so that you can see what a particular couch would look like. Now, obviously it’s not going to show you the hour it’s going to take you to put together, but it’s going to show you what it looks like in your living room, so that you can think about whether or not you might want to purchase that.

Mike Allton:                          Now, think about the other furniture brands who don’t have that. If you’re at home, you’re trying to design a space, and you have that capability at your fingertips from a brand like IKEA, but you don’t from, say, I don’t know, Wayfair. Which one are you going to automatically go with? Well, you’re going to go with the one that’s going to make it easier for you to make that purchase.

Jeff Sieh:                                  Right, right. I want to give a shout out to Amanda Robertson and Scott who are in the audience. Thanks, guys, for stopping by. I’d bring your comment up, but I forgot to turn on a thing that I needed to turn on. See, new show! That’s what happens. You have to tune in next week and see my very cool comment stream.

Mike Allton:                          Oh no!

Jeff Sieh:                                  Yeah, so, but I appreciate-

Mike Allton:                          It is cool looking. Oh my gosh, you can’t turn it on now, huh?

Jeff Sieh:                                  Well, I tried to do it, and I have to log on to Facebook-

Mike Allton:                          Oh shoot.

Jeff Sieh:                                  -and we’ll see. Okay, well I’m going to ask you a question, you answer it, and I’ll see if I can [crosstalk 00:09:04].

Mike Allton:                          [crosstalk 00:09:04] with that.

Jeff Sieh:                                  I’ll see if I can. I know you recently … You taught at a college, and you’ve done this more than once. What are some of the most surprising questions that you’re getting from students? Like, things that you were like, either I thought they knew that already, or wow, they’re really thinking about this, I was kind of shocked. I want to know, ’cause I think they use technology. I mean, they came out with a phone in their hand. What are they thinking of the market … Another bad image, sorry about that. What do you think is the most shocking thing you’ve heard from them so far?

Mike Allton:                          Well, that was pretty shocking. [crosstalk 00:09:49]-

Jeff Sieh:                                  That was shocking.

Mike Allton:                          -right there, thank you for that. Yeah, I speak at the University of Missouri, St. Louis, which is obviously very close to home. I teach there pretty much every semester, and then I also did a remote live session for the University of Wisconsin, which was pretty cool. Shout out to my Big Ten roots. I’m doing another one next week to Nashville University, for our friend Kendra [Lufshe 00:10:11]. I usually teach blogging. In full disclosure, this usually isn’t like cutting edge stuff. We’re talking about what to write, how long those posts should be, how often you should publish. I guess for me, probably the most surprising thing is simply the fact that these college students are asking the same questions that business owners are asking.

Mike Allton:                          They’re super smart. I did a session a week and a half ago, it was a Saturday session, again, here at [inaudible 00:10:45] that was for adults who were taking a social media bootcamp at the college. These were mostly business owners, and there were a lot of veterans and that sort of thing, who were getting funding for their college education, and they were asking the same questions as the 18, 19, 20 year olds that I was talking to at University of Wisconsin, Madison.

Mike Allton:                          They wanted to know things like, oh, obviously how long should a blog post be. That’s one of the basic questions that everybody wants to know, mostly because we don’t want to write long blog posts, and then [crosstalk 00:11:19]-

Jeff Sieh:                                  That’s mine, yeah, yeah.

Mike Allton:                          -that Mike tells them, you don’t have to write long blog posts, it’s okay. They’re always disappointed when I say, “No, you have to write really long blog posts. The longer the better.” Then they walk away and they cry, and then they hate me. That’s kind of an unfortunate situation there, a little by product of my answer. I’m trying to think what else they might have asked. They do often ask about trending social media. Like, what do I think about newer networks that are popping up, and usually my default answer there is, it’s really fun, it’s really interesting to dive into newer networks, from networks that are maybe growing a little bit, but to be cautious from a business perspective.

Mike Allton:                          Linkedin for instance, is not a new network of course, but they’re coming out with live video, and so it’s kind of the same mentality there, should a business try to jump onto Linkedin live video. My usual answer is, no. As a business you want to focus on what you’re doing, but you want to be mindful of it, harking back to my first comment, which is to be mindful of marketing trends. Be thinking as a business owner how you might leverage Linkedin live video, if it makes sense for your brand, if you’ve got some familiarity there. If you don’t, we have resources, and people we can refer you to who can help you with live video. That’s one of the more interesting questions I get, I suppose.

Jeff Sieh:                                  Right. So-

Mike Allton:                          Have I talked long enough for you to fix comments, or are we still-

Jeff Sieh:                                  I’m still working on it, but I’ve got a follow up question.

Mike Allton:                          Okay,

Jeff Sieh:                                  I really want to show that off, ’cause I worked long and hard hours on that.

Mike Allton:                          Yeah, it was cool. I want you to show it off.

Jeff Sieh:                                  You talked about somebody who knows how to do live video. Maybe we should get them in here.

Mike Allton:                          If only we knew somebody.

Jeff Sieh:                                  Okay, so you talked about kind of the difference with what you’ve been seeing there, and some shocking stuff, but what would you tell a recent graduate? I know you have people are applying somewhere, and I have people even ask me, like, “Hey, what would it take to work for you?,” or “What do you need? What are you looking for if you’re going to hire somebody?” What do you tell these recent graduates who are wanting to get into marketing? It’s not really the mad men anymore, sitting there with their bourbon, and sitting around a … hopefully not, there may be some sitting around with bourbon, but at a big conference table, and they’re pitching idea … it’s not really that much in marketing anymore. You’ve kind of have to have a wide skill set. What do you tell them?

Mike Allton:                          Interestingly, I think it’s actually still a lot like that. Maybe not the environment that the mad men were-

Jeff Sieh:                                  Everybody smoking-

Mike..

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Have you heard Pinterest is a great place for businesses but have wondered how to get started?  Then today’s show is for you!

My guest was Cara Chace. She is a Pinterest Marketing Strategist for Online Entrepreneurs. She started in social media marketing in 2011 by managing 13 million fans across 17 social media accounts for a worldwide band. Since then, she’s gone on to create hashtag campaigns for cities and their tourism boards, websites for entertainers and small businesses, and online courses.   She loves creating Pinterest strategies that fit into the digital marketing puzzle for your business. You can find out more about Cara by clicking here.

With the changes last year on Pinterest and the new changes that are expected to happen this year, this was a timely conversation with Cara.  She’s one of the only guests I’ve invited back for a part II even before the show was over!  I know you’re going to get some great insights on Pinterest for your business with this episode.

Pinterest for Business with Cara Chase - YouTube

Jeff Sieh:                Hello folks, welcome to the Manly Pinterest Tips show, I’m Jeff Sieh and you’re not. And I’m here with a very special guest that I’ve been wanting to have on for a long time. She’s got an interesting story I think you guys are … But she is a, I’ve been secretly stalking her for a long time. We were on a podcast together last year and that’s where I was introduced to her, and I started stalking her a little bit and very interesting, very smart. All about Pinterest, and so you guys are going to get a ton of information from her, so if you have questions while we’re talking, leave them in the comments, I’ll try to pull them up stuff on screen, we’ll try to answer them. But I’m very happy to have Cara Chace here with us today. I said that right, didn’t I? Okay.

Cara Chace:        You did, congratulations. Thank you.

Jeff Sieh:                Well, I try, you know I do a lot of research. And so I’m so excited to have her on the show with us today. And if you don’t know, she is a Pinterest marketing strategist for online entrepreneurs. She started in Social Media Marketing in 2011 by managing 30,000,000 fans across 17 social media accounts, talking about a trial by fire for a worldwide ban that we’ll talk about a little bit. Since then she’s gone on to create hashtag campaigns for cities and their tourism boards, websites for entertainers and small businesses and online courses to help online entrepreneurs like you. She loves creating Pinterest strategies, like I said, she’s super, super smart, and she does it all to fit in the digital marketing puzzle for your business. Welcome Cara for being here today, this is going to be fun.

Cara Chace:        Thank you so much for having me, I am so glad, we got reconnect.

Jeff Sieh:                Yeah, so why don’t we jump right into the show, and as people started coming in and watching the live, if you have questions once again, ask them, it will be on there. But you have a very interesting story because talk about something that would have nothing to do, I would think of Pinterest. You were a special agent for the CIA?

Cara Chace:        Yes.

Jeff Sieh:                Can you even say that? Will Facebook go dark real quick? Okay.

Cara Chace:        Right, not for the CIA. I was a special agent for a different three latter agency for 10 years right out of college. So that was my first career as a real adult. And I learned a lot of skills, I have a very particular set of skills as Liam Neeson likes to say, right?

Jeff Sieh:                Right, there you go.

Cara Chace:        So yeah, it was really interesting, I learned a lot about myself, learned a lot of skills. It was kind of my grown up job, we all have that initial career where you learn to grow up and how to deal with things and coworkers and obviously the job I had was very intense. But yeah, that was my first career and then I decided, no thanks, I don’t want to do this for 25 years, I’m out. And so I moved on, moved up to Portland from San Diego. I’m just kinda going the short version if that’s cool with-

Jeff Sieh:                Yes, we know you’re good. I’m listening. Just fascinating, yeah.

Cara Chace:        So I left, I know this is one of those like leap and the net shall appear, I had no idea what I was going to do. And thinking about what you do as a special agent, criminal investigations, all of that, I was like, well, how are these skills going to translate to the private sector and everybody else. And I had no job, moved up to Portland with my husband and got pregnant shortly thereafter, started our family. And so obviously I wasn’t going to go get another job or at least I didn’t want to do that. And I was volunteering with a band, some of you might know depending on your genre, but it was the band Megadeath, the 90s thrash metal band. And I started volunteering, moderating their Facebook page, because I had nothing else to do. I was pregnant that home on the couch with my laptop, not really knowing what I was going to do with the rest of my life.

Cara Chace:        And I was just popping in there and started seeing how they were missing the boat on social media in a big way, as a lot of people in the music industry have in the past, obviously is different now than it was way back in 2011. But just started teaching myself everything that I could about social media, campaigns, not just what other people in the music industry were doing, but other entertainers, other businesses and industries. And very quickly, within a year and a half I went from being a free volunteer moderator on their Facebook page to being their social media manager for the band, for Dave Mustaine, for everybody. And that’s how I got to that managing 30,000,000 fans across 17 social media accounts. I started their Instagram, way back before it was even on android, when it was up only, all of that stuff.

Jeff Sieh:                Was is it just you as the social media manager or did you have like a team?

Cara Chace:        Well, I worked technically for the webmaster, so the guy that did their website, the fan club, the forums, all of that kind of stuff. And pretty much by the end I had a couple of people that were helping me with a moderating stuff, but it was pretty much just me. And I was getting to interface with universal music and their promotions and their tours and all that kind of stuff. It was a lot of fun, it was a wild ride for sure. That was my first social media job, and it was one of those why I’m are really good at this? Maybe this is what I should do. And that’s kind of how that all started with digital marketing. I knew nothing about it before, totally self taught and did it on a huge scale successfully. And let it go from there.

Jeff Sieh:                So where did you go you were struggling, like when you first started, you’re like, okay, I’ve got to figure out, Instagram is brand new. Did you have resources that you went to or did you just start reading every blogger that you can find?

Cara Chace:        Google.

Jeff Sieh:                Okay.

Cara Chace:        Google, yeah. One of the things that I’m really good with doing is I get inspiration from the weirdest, craziest places. So there was one day that I was sitting in Barnes & Noble reading a magazine, and it was when the whole hashtag campaigns started happening with Instagram. And brands were starting to have their own branded hashtags and this was like, this is brand new, not a lot of people were doing this, but I was flipping through this magazine and I saw Crate and Barrel had an advertisement that was a call to action for people to post on Instagram with their hashtag. And I thought, how can I do this for Megadeath? How can I do this for the band? And what I realized was that there’s no one more diehard than metal fans, I mean music in general, but you don’t have to work for that engagement.

Cara Chace:        You don’t have to work for that interaction and that fun stuff with the fans. And people that are fans have collections, it’s a whole lifestyle, they go to tours, they go to concerts, they have merged, they get, all this kind of stuff. So I came up with the campaign Hashtag my Megadeath, and every month we had a rolling contest where people would post their T-shirts, listening a snapshot of SiriusXM in their car when it would come on, that kind of stuff. And we just had this rolling contest for engagement basically. And by the time that I left, and this was several years ago at this point, that hashtag was being used a thousand times a month on Instagram. And that was from me looking at a Crate and Barrel ad.

Jeff Sieh:                That’s awesome. So I think that’s one of the things about being creative is, what you were just describing is always be … I have like on my phone, Evernote, which I put everything on, so being inspired at Crate and Barrel or walking around and seeing something like, hey that might be a color I can dry on my Pinterest or whatever, is to collect that information. Even if you’re not gonna use it right then, having a spot to put it I think is key. And that’s a great story of how also that Crate and Barrel launched this monster campaign for a major band. So very cool. So how did you decide to, and I know you have some blog articles about it, and so make sure to put links and everything back to yourself, but about why you niche down on Pinterest, so what made you decide to do that?

Cara Chace:        Yeah, so when I first started my business, I did all the things in social media. So I was building websites, I was doing email marketing, blogging, all the social media platforms, anything a business would need in the big umbrella of digital marketing. And I think we all do that when we start our businesses, you want to just not shut any doors and just see what happens. And after a couple of years I realized that I didn’t enjoy doing all of those things, I love blogging for myself, I can’t stand doing it for other businesses. And this was before Instagram let you add accounts and toggle. So having to log out and log in and for all the, and I’m like, please, I never want to do Instagram for a client again.

Cara Chace:        And I had this moment a couple of years ago where I realized Pinterest was what I was on for myself and my own time because I loved being on it and I enjoyed it. And two, it was where I was seeing the straight line return on investment from point A to point B with my clients. And I was kind of tired of having that conversation about brand awareness and return on investment with general social media stuff, which can be a struggle when you’re dealing with clients to really impart that value, with Pinterest I was able to show that return on investment in a much more clear way. And niching into Pinterest let me really deep dive into it instead of feeling like I couldn’t keep up with all the changes everywhere all the time.

Jeff Sieh:                Right, because it’s crazy. And I think also you mentioned you went to Pinterest because, you liked doing it?

Cara Chace:        I like doing it.

Jeff Sieh:                Yeah. And I think one of the things is Pinterest is one of the only networks you can go and feel good about, they have all these studies about how Facebook is depressing people and Instagram is not healthy for your team and all this stuff. You don’t ever hear that about Pinterest because people go to Pinterest, they don’t see fake news, they don’t see political stuff. They don’t even see, you know, your cousin that you don’t really like that much daughter’s birthday party. You got to go and it’s the stuff that you want to do and run the trails that you want to go down. And I think, and we’re going to get into what you think is going to happen in 2019, but I think there’s going to be a lot of the shift from people are frustrated with Facebook, they’re not seeing the return on investment. And on Pinterest they can take some of that maybe hatred and move to something that really does make a difference and is a lot more fun to actually be on and used.

Cara Chace:        Well, Pinterest is where we go when we want to do something better. So I’m planning something, I want to better myself in some way, it’s an aspiring dreaming platform. So you’re already in that mindset when you’re going to Pinterest on purpose, on your phone, on your desktop, whatever because you want to do something better or you want to be better. And you don’t go on Instagram because you’re trying to learn how to do something better, you’re going there because you want to see pictures or it’s kind of a default thing you’re doing while you’re watching Netflix or whatever.

Jeff Sieh:                Exactly.

Cara Chace:        Right.

Jeff Sieh:                I want to do a quick shout out here to Nazeem, and this is what I love about Instagram. He saw my post and says,” Jeff fresh back from the cabin break, looking great,” thank you Nazeem, my friend from Italy, he’s awesome, good to see here. And we’ve got Mike Alton in the audience also Frank Sell,” hey y’all,” right back at you Frank thanks for watching a bearded brother right there. So I want to do a little recap section because a lot of stuff happens. So what do you think last year was the biggest change that happened on Pinterest? Like if you could narrow it down, I mean there’s so much happening like you mentioned on social media things-

Cara Chace:        So much.

Jeff Sieh:                But what were the biggest changes you saw on Pinterest last year?

Cara Chace:        I’ll try and narrow it down cause I have like a list here.

Jeff Sieh:                Right.

Cara Chace:        One, buyable pins going away and they’re within APP ECOMMERCE functionality, that was huge.

Jeff Sieh:                Right, will talk about that, yeah.

Cara Chace:        Yeah. Hashtags, than saying I know and post them, we’re like hey, we going to do hashtags.

Jeff Sieh:                Don’t use them like[crosstalk 00:12:38]

Cara Chace:        Nevermind, we’re not going to do hashtags, just kidding, yes we’re doing hashtags, all of that. And then the storm that it caused of people freaking out, and how do we do this? That was a big deal. And then there are major like … Hey Cat, nice to see you. Their major like please don’t use group boards for your marketing foolishness, this is not what it’s intended to be and we’re going to start having that effect. The Algorithm and if you get surfaced, that was a big deal because that used to be a real strategic points-

Jeff Sieh:                Especially when you first started, right.

Cara Chace:        Exactly. So that was a big deal as well. There’s more I could list, but I’ll keep it to those.

Jeff Sieh:                Okay. So I’m going to go off on a rabbit trail. So group boards aren’t what they used to be. I still think there’s a place for them, but I do want to do a shout out because I really think Tailwind Tribes are great for those, the marketing thing. So if you don’t know what Tailwind Tribes are, it’s like group boards on steroids for niche things and people share your stuff and you can track it easy and it’s just great. So what are your thoughts on that?

Cara Chace:        Yeah. What’s really cool about Tailwind Tribes is as long as you know what you’re doing in google analytics, if you go into campaigns, everything from Tailwind Tribes, the traffic you’re getting will actually show up in google analytics, where it’s harder to track from specific boards on Pinterest unless you’re using UTM tags and all that kind of stuff. So Tailwind, a lot of their built in functionality helps you make better decisions as a business owner without having to get all crazy, it’s kind of they do it for you. And I would agree that it’s a much more fine tune, less spammy place to be, and I think that’s why group boards got way out and left field for people’s, they just became a dumping ground like Facebook groups sometimes have gone that direction like wow.

Cara Chace:        So it’ll be interesting to see what happens with Tribes over the next year as far as hopefully they don’t go that direction, and there are some things that are put in place to keep it from being too spammy, and all of that stuff that the whole marketers ruin everything that everybody thinks. So, but yeah, I have seen huge returns in traffic from Tailwind Tribes. And one of the cool things is we know Pinterest is a long term platform as far as your pin is getting seated in the feeds with Tailwind, it happens right away you start seeing that return on putting that pin up right right away. So it’s pretty cool.

Jeff Sieh:                I’m going to go back to our comments real quick. Frank Sell says that Pinterest, of course has been great for organic. Yeah, that’s great Frank, it really does. And Alisa said, I love that Pinterest came out and said donate your old pins to add hashtags.

Cara Chace:        Hashtags.

Jeff Sieh:                Thank you. Yes, it’s really weird they become really transparent on some things and then other things are just like, we don’t know what you, your help is still on old content anyway. And of course Alisa, who works for Tailwind is whoa, whoa Tailwind Tribes. But Mike Alton agree group boards on steroids because he’s in couple of Mike dealing with drives and I know that he’s doing good. I saw some of his pins that look pretty viral lately that he put up there. So yeah, Tailwind Tribes are great. Kind of going off on a tangent there. But so what do you think is coming up new? I mean for 2019 for Pinterest? one of the things Dave pretty much said they’re going to go public, this next year. So how do you think that’s gonna Affect? Do you have any other more predictions for 2019?

Cara Chace:        Yeah, that was big star in my notes, was the whole IPO rumor that’s going around about them going public, and I think this is going to be a case of their bottom line is going to matter to their shareholders. So I think it’s going to be good, there’s gonna be pros and cons. It’s all going to be about their advertising network, it’s going to be about promoted pins and I think they’re going to put a lot more effort into that. I think, and I’ve been saying this for a couple years, get in on promoted pins while the get in is good before everybody else figures it out.

Cara Chace:        Everybody else is going to figure it out in this next year. So I think two things, one, prices are gonna go up, you’re going to have to make a lot more effort and have more knowledge about how to use them efficiently. But I think that because they’re going to be putting so much effort into it, they’re going to come out with better targeting, better tools, better ways to track ROI, better analytics and all those things that business owners demand if they’re going to invest in a platform.

Jeff Sieh:                Gotcha. Cat says kinda on the same subject, I still get great organic traffic following a paid campaign with super cheap ads. So what you’re saying that’s great for now, but that may go up in this next year.

Cara Chace:        What cat is talking about is the fact that she did a promoted pins campaign and that snowball effect, that happens[crosstalk 00:17:40]

Jeff Sieh:                Oh, that’s fine, gotcha.

Cara Chace:        So even though she’s not promoting that pin anymore, she’s still getting really great returns from it because of the money she put behind it several months ago, that’s what she’s talking about.

Jeff Sieh:                Okay, and that’s unique to Pinterest?

Cara Chace:        Yes.

Jeff Sieh:                No other ad platform does that kind of thing. So once you paid for that..

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Being an agency owner and a team member, I have used a lot of business tools over the years. I’ve come to a point where I have a handful — OK, six– tools that I use on a daily basis to keep my business going and have my visuals looking as good as they can be.

Agorapulse

Yes, Agorapulse is a great, all-around social media management tool. But it’s really a must-have for its listening features.

Having an inbox that tells you, “Hey, you need to respond to this,” and then being able to assign that item to a team member has been invaluable. The social team and I at Social Media Examiner used Agorapulse at the previous Social Media Marketing World, and it was incredibly helpful to monitor all the mentions and conversations about the conference.

With Agorapulse, nothing slipped through the cracks. When I clicked that “Review” button in the inbox, I said, “Okay. That’s done. On to the next one.” I went right down the row in the inbox and got through all the queries out there. That was huge for me.

It’s really great for listening when you have a team of people with different skill sets. For example, if there’s a live video or Instagram question, the team assigns it to me.  If it’s a Twitter question, that typically goes to Eric Fisher, etc.

I also use Agorapulse’s Instagram scheduling for my clients. With Instagram, you need to post every day to build your brand. So it’s really helpful that I can schedule posts for whenever I’m out of the office.

Pricing: Plans begin at $49 (for 3 accounts, 1 user, unlimited publishing, saved searches, and reports). A two-week free trial is available.

Tailwind

I could not do my job without Tailwind.

No matter how much I love Pinterest, the sad fact is that I can’t be on it 24 hours a day. With Tailwind, I only have to spend around five minutes a day to schedule my daily repins. Easy!

Its analytics allows me to see which of my boards and pins are doing well. This helps me determine what I should pin (or not pin) in the future.

And Tailwind Tribes takes Pinterest group boards to the next level.

A Tribe is an exclusive group of Pinterest users who support each other’s content. Each Tribe has rules what they want and what type of pins and how often you can post. Once you start sharing content and abiding by the rules of a particular Tribe, Tribe members will start “paying you back” by sharing your pins. It’s a great way to get more exposure for your pins. The more active you are in a Tribe, the more you’ll see results in terms of traffic and shares.

Pricing:  The $9.99/mo plan allows for unlimited scheduling and basic analytics. A free trial is also available.

Easil

Easil is more than a “Canva competitor.” It’s an essential tool if you, like many marketers out there, create Instagram Stories.

If you’re looking for a way to add variety or a spark to your Stories, check out the tons of different templates this tool has. Easil tends to have a wider variety and bigger churn of templates than Canva — so your audience won’t wonder “Now, haven’t I seen that template a million times already?” or “Isn’t that from Canva?”

Simply upload the template to your Dropbox (or Google Drive) account. Download the image on your phone and upload it to your mobile Instagram app. You’ll see an instant improvement to what you’re already doing with Stories.

(There are also a bunch of templates for other social networks and content if Instagram Stories isn’t your thing.)

Pricing: A free plan is available. For features like downloading transparent PNGs and animated GIFs, you’ll need to sign up for a paid plan (starting at $7.50/mo).

Toggl

Toggl is my go-to tool for tracking my time.

What’s super about this is how the desktop and mobile apps work together.

Let’s say, I’m working for Social Media Examiner then my daughter calls me. We start talking and I think to myself, “Oh, man. I left my timer running.” I just go to Toggl on my phone and turn it off.

At the end of each month when I want to send an invoice with my time spent, I simply export the Toggle report for that business or client.

Another cool thing about Toggl is that it senses you on your keyboard for a certain amount of time. It then asks me, “Do you need to track your time?” It’s a great way to remind me to turn the clock on — or if I got sidetracked, to get back to work.

Pricing: Basic plan is free. For more features like billable rates, you’ll have to subscribe to a paid plan (starting at $9/mo).

Todoist

Todoist helps me with my task management like no other tool has.

One big reason I love Todoist is that I can assign emails I get to tasks on my Todoist board.

If I get an email to be part of a roundup post, I typically can’t reply right away. But I put that email down as a task. When I’m ready to do the task, the email is right there. Super handy.

I also love setting up recurring tasks in Todoist. There are things I do every day for Social Media Examiner like check Instagram comments. To make a task out of checking comments, I simply write “check Instagram comments daily” and it automatically shows me that task daily. If I’m only doing a task, say every Friday, I can write “Write a blog post every Friday” and it will remind me on Fridays. That natural language processing is really handy.

Pricing: A free plan is available. However, if you’d like reminders and a customizable task list, you’ll need a paid plan (starting at $3/mo).

Lightroom CC

While I use Easil for Instagram templates and graphics, I go to Lightroom Classic CC every day for photographs that I post to Instagram.

Lightroom CC is a desktop app but also syncs with my mobile app. It’s speeded up my Instagram workflow a ton.

I typically use the Lightroom CC app on my desktop to do all my photo editing. This photo syncs with my Adobe Creative Cloud app. I just open up my phone app and it’s there — and I can share it right there to Instagram. Unlike Easil templates, I don’t have to take the extra step to download Lightroom CC photos to my camera roll before I upload them to Instagram.

If you don’t consider yourself a designer, don’t worry. Lightroom CC has great features like straightening photos, cropping, and adding effects.

Pricing: A free trial is available. Paid plans start at $19.99/mo.

I shared this “short list” of tools with Scott Ayers on a Facebook Live broadcast last week so I thought I’d share it with you here. Think I should be using any other tool? Let me know in the comments. In the meantime, here’s the Facebook Live where I go into more detail on these tools.

The post 6 Must-Have Online Tools For Businesses appeared first on Manly Pinterest Tips.

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Pinterest released some new numbers recently and no surprise, they’re growing. AND they are ranked as one of America’s Top Brands. We discuss this and also some breaking Instagram news on Shoppable Posts for Stories in this episode.

I know it’s been like forever since I released a new podcast episode. Between sending my son off to college and launching some new shows over on Social Media Examiner, things have been crazy over here at the man cave. but I’m turning over a new leaf. It’s fall and its the perfect time for turning over leaves or at least raking them up. Anyways. Here’s the first of some new content that will be coming your way.

In this show, we’ll be talking about some news on Pinterest and Instagram.

Pinterest released some new numbers recently and no surprise there, they’re growing. I recently went on Social Media Examiner’s Social Media Marketing Talk Show to discuss that news. Here’s part of that conversation.

Jeff Sieh:                                  But, Pinterest. We love Pinterest. So yeah, Pinterest came out with new numbers. They have over a quarter of a billion users worldwide and it’s at 25% increase. 80% of the new signups come from outside of the U.S., but one of the cool things is Pinterest is kind of … You’ve got the big boys like Facebook and Instagram and then you got on the other side is Twitter and Linkedin and then Pinterest kind of just shoots right in the middle. But, they’re really on track to do some cool things.

Jeff Sieh:                                  They’re on track to top 700 million in revenue this year, a 50% increase over last year and it’s speculated that they’re probably gonna go public in 2019. But, anyway, there are more than 250 million people who use Pinterest each month and they say it’s, “Well, it’s more than the population of Brazil.” But, you know, whatever. But, it’s a lot of people are using Pinterest and they’re actually saying that, according to a Nielsen study, 98% of Pinners, they go out and try ideas that they find on Pinterest. And that’s way more than 71% of the other social media platforms.

Jeff Sieh:                                  The other apps and social platforms are all about connecting with friends and inviting more people to join. Pinterest they say, is the place to reconnect with yourself. And one of the reasons I like Pinterest, it’s not really a social media platform, it’s designed for sharing and collecting ideas more than catching up with what Erik’s doing. There’s no fake news.

Erik Fisher:                             There’s not-

Jeff Sieh: There are no political posts. And I love Facebook for friends, but some live videos, I really, I’m sorry, but your kid isn’t that talented to stream their live dance recital. I’m sorry. Unless that’s my cousin or something, I don’t need to see that. So, Pinterest is refreshing in that way, that you don’t have that kind of stuff.

Erik Fisher:                             Alright.

Jeff Sieh:                                  And they want to be that way. And they have 175 billion Pins now on Pinterest and that’s up from 75%. So, it’s growing. If you’re not on there, especially if you have a product or you’re trying to drive traffic to your site, once again I always preach this, you need to be on Pinterest because they’ve been adding new features, they have the Pinterest Lens, they got new ways to organize stuff. Now you can pin video. We’re actually doing that with The Journey. We’re seeing-

Erik Fisher:                             Yes, that’s cool.

Jeff Sieh:                                  Some traffic that way. So, it’s very, very cool. So, get on Pinterest.

Erik Fisher:                             Yeah. So, then-

Kim Reynolds:                     And email.

Erik Fisher:                             We’re saying all this Pinterest jazz to marketers, but-

Jeff Sieh:                                  Jazz.

Erik Fisher:                             Yeah, Pinterest jazz. I won’t even try to come up with a joke.

Erik Fisher:                             Pinterest is launching an influencer marketing API. I’m like, “Well, wait. But, if you’re not a social network,” … I guess it still makes sense though because of how many people are driving traffic.

Jeff Sieh:                                  Yeah, and they’re really going for creators because so many creators put their stuff on Pinterest to get traffic back to their site. And there’re already Pinterest influencers out there where people are getting deals to pin so much, they’ll work with Target and Pinterest together to do stuff. We’ve had Holly Homer on the show and I know she’s done deals with people with Pinterest. Peg Fitzpatrick I know has done some cool stuff, has an influencer part of the package. They’ll do so much stuff for them on Pinterest.

Jeff Sieh:                                  And so, this is a new API which is open up to third-party influencer marketing platforms and those platforms are like Open Influence, HyperClear, AspireIQ, we’ve got a whole list in their thing. But, it’s for those companies that are working with influencers and what it does, is it gives companies who are looking for influencers like, visibility with their key stats, monthly views, followers, impressions, click-throughs, saves, something they need to do to make a decision to partner with those influencers. And so, it’s a great way that they’re really reaching out.

Jeff Sieh:                                  Pinterest had a big gathering in their corporate headquarters where they got a bunch of these creators together and talked with them. They do a really good job and they’re really trying to get more people … Getting involved and listening to and helping out the creators. Helping them to make money by putting their products on Pinterest. And so, I think it’s a good thing.

Erik Fisher:                             Yeah, it sounds like one of the missing pieces as far as what marketers needed in order to really have some success on Pinterest. Which again, is one of those networks that’s being rediscovered all the time. I’m telling you, in the past few weeks, I’ve seen people say, “Oh, people are still using Pinterest?” And then others respond, “Yes, it’s my biggest driver of traffic!”

Jeff Sieh:                                  Right. So, since Facebook kind of put the kibosh on a lot of the traffic, for a lot of publishers and even bloggers and other influencers, publishers have seen this resurgence in traffic from Pinterest because of the new Facebook news feed. Buzzfeed actually, I was reading a report, they actually go and use Pinterest to see, as a barometer, how good a post is and some of their activity that they even do more on Pinterest, is driven … what people are sharing to Pinterest. Like somebody will see something funny on the web from Buzzfeed and they’ll pin it to Pinterest. Well, that’s a signal to Buzzfeed that that’s good content and they put more oomph behind it, they share it out to different places, they may retweet it or do whatever. And so, they’re using Pinterest as kind of a barometer to see what’s working. So-

Erik Fisher:                             ‘Cause a pin is almost more permanent in a sense. It’s I curated this, I collected this.

Jeff Sieh:                                  That’s a good point. And the other thing is, is publishers and advertisers on Pinterest, they’re not competing with friend content on Pinterest. So-

Kim Reynolds:                        Good point.

Jeff Sieh:                                  On Facebook, you’re competing against, like I said, the dance recital or whatever of your friends. On Pinterest, you don’t have that. You’re not competing. You’re competing with other content or a pretty image, a better-looking image. That’s kind of what you’re competing against. You’re not competing against that whole family and friends things because people are going to Pinterest to dream and to plan and to think outside of the box and discover new things. And that’s the cool thing about this influencer API, is a Pinterest creator’s influences extend farther than just the number of people who follow them. So, because of the way the Pinterest algorithm works, if I pin something about how Pinterest and Shopify work together, just not my followers are gonna see it. People who are interested in Shopify will see it and people who are interested in Pinterest will see it and it’ll show up in their algorithm depending on how many people are repinning it. And so, when they look at that number, it’s just not that number of your followers. It’s exponentially larger than that because of the way Pinterest works.

After this show, there was even more news that came out.

Brand consultancy Prophet has published a list of America’s top brands based on a survey of more than 12,000 U.S. consumers who were asked about 299 brands in 37 different industries. Brand scores were based on four criteria that add up to what Prophet calls brand relevance: “customer-obsessed” to deliver what consumers want; “pervasively innovative” to find new ways and new products to deliver what consumers want; “ruthlessly pragmatic” to make sure their products are available to consumers at the time they are needed; and “distinctively inspired” to drive an emotional connection to the brand.

Pinterest came up number three behind Apple and Amazon. That was really surprising to me for them to be ranked that high.

The only social media company to make the top 10 was Pinterest, which respondents said “makes me feel inspired” and “engages with me in new and creative ways.”

Facebook, Twitter, and Snapchat did not even make the top 100. In fact, Facebook dropped 102 places on the list to rank 205th in the survey. Instagram dropped 72 places to rank 131st, Snapchat dropped 87 places to 197th and Starbucks dropped 93 places to rank 153rd.

So what’s the biggest takeaway from all this Pinterest news? Here are my top three takeaways.

  1. Pinterest is around to stay. It’s different enough from all the other networks. It’s developed a rabid fan base. It’s useful. Its more of a search engine than social network. People enjoy using Pinterest because it’s all about discovery for them. No political posts, no fake news. Just photos and links for them save and dream about and do.
  2. Pinterest has always been about traffic for brands and companies. With the new video pins, new ways to run promoted pin ads, and Pinterest themselves reaching out to creators, Pinterest traffic will continue to grow as people put effort into it. So is it too late for you if you’ve never tried Pinterest before? Of course not! It’s still growing it’s not hard to get started and most people notice a traffic increase once they start really developing a Pinterest strategy.
  3. If you have a product. Pinterest is a no-brainer. People BUY off of Pinterest. 98% of Pinners go out and try ideas that they find on Pinterest. The part of Pinterest that includes items to buy is the fastest growing part of the platform, up 115 percent in the last year. You definitely want to put your product up there. But I’d also argue that if you have any sort of downloadable, like an ebook, workbook or free giveaway in exchange for leads, then Pinterest is something you need to take a hard look at.

Since we are talking about e-commerce so much, I need to also talk about what’s been happing with Instagram’s Shoppable Posts. Now you can actually have shoppable posts in Stories. Once again I break it down on the Social Media Examiner Talk Show.

Erik Fisher:                             We’re gonna talk about Instagram Shopping which I think is becoming a recurring topic, because every time we talk about Instagram and shopping, we have this question of, “Well, are you buying stuff off Instagram?” And the answer to me is, “Yes!” Even though I’m not a “shopper”, I see things on Instagram and I buy them, but that’s not what we’re talking about here. We’re talking about new stuff, brand new stuff. So, clue us in. I think this is gonna be huge for a lot of people.

Jeff Sieh:                                  Yes. So, the big thing is now you can shop from Stories. And so, one of the big stats they threw out is, it’s now a daily destination for more than 400 million accounts globally and the cool thing is one-third of those are Stories from businesses. ‘Cause you would think that they’re gonna swipe right through businesses, but no, people are actually watching those stories.

Jeff Sieh:                                  And so, the cool thing now is with Stories, you can use, if you’re a business, you need a business account for this, is they have what are called product stickers and I think we have a screenshot of that up, but they work just like you would use if you’ve been using them in the post, in the feed. Actually having a picture and then having it. So, there’s a little shopping tag and if you pause long enough, there’s a little dot you can click on and it goes to your checkout page for your store. Oh, right here, Kim. This is what it looks like now for Stories, and you can see it says, “A silk button-down cami.” That’s the Instagram shopping stickers. In fact, I look fabulous in that, by the way.

Kim Reynolds:                     I was thinking how cute it is.

Jeff Sieh:                                  Yeah, just so you know. So, it looks great, it keeps me cool. So-

Erik Fisher:                             So, on this picture, I got a question. So, there’s a little transparent kind of a piece that comes up off of the sticker.

Jeff Sieh:                                  That’s when you touch it. That’s when you touch the sticker [crosstalk 00:01:48]. Before you touch the sticker that comes up, then the [inaudible 00:01:50] goes up and you tap that.

Erik Fisher:                             Right. OK.

Jeff Sieh:                                  And it works kind of like an app mention. You can tap it once and it changes to a transparent background like you can do with the other stickers on your screen. But, it works just the same way as the Shoppable Posts in the feed. And the cool thing is, is when this news broke, I went to … ‘Cause some of my clients, we’ve had Shoppable Posts for a long time and we use them almost every day and I had that sticker on my account. So, it worked seamlessly, I didn’t have to enable anything. I just went to the Story and it worked and it was just another option with when you pull up your stickers to add to that to your posts. So, it’s very, very cool. Very, very seamless.

Jeff Sieh:                                  They go to your mobile version to checkout. So, it’s just directing them when you set up the product on your Facebook account or with Shopify, one of the things you have to do is, it goes to your checkout process. So, you have to have a mobile version of your site and it goes right there. Instagram really doesn’t have anything to do with it. It just takes you to that checkout page, but it makes it very, very seamless.

Erik Fisher:                             Now, is this for products only or, for example, could Kim set this up to where we’d be able to have a social media marketing world sticker, that if people tapped it, would have us see details and it would take them over to those?

Jeff Sieh:                                  It does, it takes them to the actual checkout page. So, it’s like the cart, where it has a description of whatever you’re purchasing and then you finish up by clicking the purchase that way. So, we could, and in fact, I actually emailed Kim this morning saying, “Hey-“

Kim Reynolds:                     He did!

Jeff Sieh:                                  “We need to do this.” Because even if we make one sale, it’s worth doing.

Erik Fisher:                             I knew you did it, I was just presenting it as a hypothetical.

Jeff Sieh:                                  Oh, yes that’s right. I did mention it to you. So, [crosstalk 00:03:33]. It would work. I think it’s another thing people say, “Oh big ticket items.” I bought a lot of big-ticket items through my phone. I think it’s getting less and less. With Apple Pay and all that stuff that’s built into your phone, I think people are really getting comfortable, especially the younger generations with paying for stuff with their phone. I mean, I actually got airline flights for my wife on her phone because I was in a restaurant and she had to get back real quick. So, I think people are getting more and more comfortable with spending money on big-ticket items. So this really dives into being able to just make it more useful for businesses.

Erik Fisher:                             Yeah, but even in recent episodes of The Journey and you can go watch those and you can see that the findings are that it’s not just they either buy or they don’t. It’s that they get exposed to something and then they think about it and get an in-

Jeff Sieh:                                  Right.

Erik Fisher:                             Not introduced. What’s the word? Exposed to it enough times, over time.

Jeff Sieh:                                  They start playing it.

Erik Fisher:                             Yeah, even if it’s not that first point of sale, it’s that extended … You get them in on a story as either the first point or even one of the many touch points in between them eventually becoming a purchaser.

Jeff Sieh:                                  Also, they rolled this out as a test at the beginning and so, they had … This is the number that shocked me, was 90 million people already tap at Shopping Tags. So, that is just when they were rolling out the test. This is not since the global rollout that they just announced, so there are a lot of people who are doing this.

Kim Reynolds:                     Wow.

Jeff Sieh:                                  And the cool thing as a business, you’re able to see the number of taps on the shopping sticker, how many people tap through to the website. It’s really, it’s super easy if you have a Shopify account. Shopify has half a million people who use their platform. That now can just tie in. The cool thing is, it’s you just add it. I added Pinterest, I added Instagram, and now I have all that stuff all on one platform and it’s really, really cool. So, it’s gonna make it really easy for people to use these Shoppable stickers.

Erik Fisher:                             OK, so what do we need to do to get in on this? Who can do it? Is it available to everybody?

Jeff Sieh:                                  For me, for the big account that has this Shoppable stickers, I didn’t have a Shopify account. I was able to add it as through the Facebook catalog. You can have your catalog on Facebook-

Erik Fisher:                             Gotcha.

Jeff Sieh:                                  You can do it that way and it transfers right to your Instagram store. So, that’s how I did it. Now, you can also do it and I’ve done it for stuff like mainly plunder and stuff, one of my T-shirts that I test stuff on. I’ve been able to add Pinterest and Instagram to that as well and that’s a Shopify site. So, that’s really, really seamless.

Jeff Sieh:                                  So, those are kind of the ways to add it to your site. But, once you have it on Facebook where you can sell, you should be able to just go right to Instagram and once you upload something to Facebook, it automatically adds to your catalog and you can see it and it’s on Instagram and you can tag it that way. And you just tag it like a normal post.

Erik Fisher:                             Alright, cool. Alright, well we’re gonna have to look into this.

Jeff Sieh:                                  Yes.

Kim Reynolds:                     Yeah, we can do that.

Jeff Sieh:                                  Well, one of the things I do want to say, people ask the question, “What about IGTV, their newest thing?” Well, they mention in this breaking news that, they’re not really thinking about adding it right now. They may do it in the future, but they don’t have any plans to make Shopping tools to the live video part of it.

Jeff Sieh:                                  And the other thing, I think TechCrunch brought this up, is don’t just build your platform. That way, everybody’s like, “Oh, we can sell stuff on Instagram!” Remember what happened with Facebook, back in the day when all the publishers were able to put their stories on Facebook, and then all of a sudden, Facebook cut the firehose pretty much and everything dried up and a lot of people were scrambling to figure out..

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This may seem like a big departure from what I usually share in this space. What in the world does “rest” have to do with visual marketing? Stick with me. I think you’ll be glad you did.

I have a confession to make. I’ve been secretly studying creativity and how to boost creativity for years now. It started out of necessity. Working in a profession where my job performance is tied directly to building graphics and generating new ideas, it can be a struggle to be creative on a consistent basis.

So I’ve made it my mission to learn what it takes to “hack” my creativity and find ways to kick-start those creative juices when the well runs dry. One of the biggest hacks I’ve discovered is the importance of rest and relaxation.

The big reason I started studying how rest leads to greater creativity was because of a book my pal Erik Fisher sent me called (affiliate link) Rest: Why You Get More Done When You Work Less by Alex Soojung-Kim Pang

In the book, he breaks down rest by sharing these four main insights.

  • Work and rest are partners.
  • Rest is active.
  • Rest is a skill.
  • Deliberate rest stimulates and sustains creativity.

This last point is what really caught my eye. It seems that no matter how much the #hustle culture or the #nosleep blowhards on Instagram and Twitter would have you believe, there really is no trade-off to overwork. Long work hours don’t make you more successful. Instead, no rest makes you tired, sick, and uncreative.

Scientific studies have actually shown that creativity takes place when the mind is at rest Overwork dulls your creativity.

So, as creatives looking to get a leg up on becoming more productive, here are some steps we can take to boost our creativity using rest.

Nap time is time well spent

Did you know that Albert Einstein, Winston Churchill, Thomas Edison, and Leonardo Da Vinci were all power nappers? One of my favorite bloggers, Michael Hyatt tries to take a nap every day!

Have you ever noticed when you have a problem or creative roadblock that after a nap you have a “Eureka!” moment? It seems that science is showing that napping can help with creative problem-solving.

Napping can help with memory as well. Pang writes in his book: “Regular napping can also improve memory. Just as the brain uses a good night’s sleep to fix memories, so too does it use naps to consolidate things you’ve just learned. Neuroscientist Sara Mednick found that napping for an hour or more during the day – a nap long enough to allow one to dream – improves performance on memory and perceptual tasks.”

Seems like our kindergarten teacher had it right. Naps are good for you. Now if we could only get those blue rest mats in adult sizes. Graham Crackers and milk wouldn’t hurt either.

Go for a walk

“The morning constitutional” didn’t use to mean stumbling to the bathroom half awake first thing in the morning. It actually used to mean “morning walk that was good for your health.” We got lazy and our walks were shortened to the outhouse in the morning. Walking and thinking have been companions since ancient times.

After a session of walking and discussion, Stanford scientists realized even though it was common knowledge that walking stimulates creativity, that no one had ever really measured it. They found that subjects performed better on tests that measured creative thinking while walking. Walking lets the creative part of the mind do its own thing and lets “more ideas to bubble up.”

One of the key things for creatives when walking is to capture the information as it comes. Beethoven carried paper and pencil on his walks. Lin-Manual Miranda did the same when working on the lyrics to Hamilton.

Schedule walks as part of your work day. Take a short break to walk around the block when you get stumped with a problem. Capture those ideas! Carrying a pen and paper is too bulky for me (plus I always forget them) I use apps like Evernote when I need to capture ideas or thoughts.

Deep Play is as important as work

Play isn’t just for little kids with action figures or big kids with trust funds. Deep Play is a tool that we can use to become more creative. Mr. Pang shares four characteristics of Deep Play.

  1. Deep Play is mentally absorbing.
  2. Deep Play offers a new context in which to use some of the same skills from their day job.
  3. Deep Play offers some of the same rewards as their day job, but also offers different, clearer rewards.
  4. Deep Play builds on things from the person’s past.

“Creative people don’t engage in deep play despite their high levels of activity and productivity; they’re active and productive because of deep play.”

I’ve actively worked on increasing my deep play time and can honestly say that I’ve seen some tremendous results.

I’ve taken to wood carving just to do something away from being in front of a screen all day. My sleep has been better and my creative production has been up since I’ve taken the time to “unwind” at the end of the day by slowing down and doing some carving.

Think about what you could do for some “Deep Play” time. Painting? Sculpting? Creative writing? Many people say “I just don’t have time for that.” How much time are you watching television? I’ll bet you could cut that time in half and make some time for Deep Play that is fulfilling and would boost your creativity.

Go to bed

If we are all honest with ourselves, we know that we need more rest. Sleep experts are saying that we need more rest and reports show that we are actually getting less. Sleep is essential for the well-being of our creative mind and body. Skipping sleep not only causes us to be no fun to be around but can also be harmful to our health. Here are some tips to get a better night’s sleep.

  • Put away the screens. Sleep experts are recommending putting away blue-light emitting devices one hour before bed.
  • Put your phone in another room. The anxiety of always being connected leads to lower sleep quality. If your using phone as your alarm, instead buy a cheap old-fashioned alarm clock. If that’s not an option, at least move your phone away from your bedside so the temptation to check it is diminished.
  • Make work/reading places separate from your sleep area. I have been reading in bed since Encyclopedia Brown and Danny Dunn and the Smallifying Machine It’s a hard habit to break. But when I read in a separate area and then go to bed, I find I fall asleep faster and seem to have a higher quality of sleep.
  • Try different sleep hacks that you’ve never tried before. Lower the temperature, get new sheets or a pillow. I’ve just recently discovered (affiliate link) weighted blankets! My sleep has never been better.

The more I study this topic, the more I see that creativity and rest go hand in hand. With today’s hectic, always-on, always-connected society, making time for rest and play is not just something we do when we have time. It’s something we need to deliberately schedule time for.

What are some of your biggest hacks or tips for creativity and rest? I’d love for you to let me know in the comments.

Erik Fisher and I had a great discussion on his podcast about this topic and this book. You can listen to that podcast here. The transcript of the conversation is below.

Erik Fisher: Hello and welcome back to another episode of Beyond the To Do List. I’m your host, Erik Fisher, and this is the show where I talk to the people behind the productivity. This week I’m welcoming back my good friend, Jeff Sieh, to have a conversation with me about a book we both read awhile ago and have been implementing pieces of it into our lives ever since. The book is called Rest: Why You Get More Done When You Work Less by Alex Pang, and in this conversation you’ll hear us talk about why rest is not the opposite of work, and why rest and work are partners and hand in hand, and can complement each other.

So in effect, it’s not that you’re working less, it’s that you’re getting more done when you work less, when you’re resting, when you’re intentionally resting. When you’re investing in your resting, you get more done. And I really think this is a milestone episode for a lot of reasons. I think you’re going to really enjoy this, and I know you’re gonna really enjoy the book. You should probably just check that out as well. You’ll find a link to that in the show notes, which you can find at BeyondTheToDoList.com/230, and I’ll just get out of the way and say it, enjoy this conversation I had with Jeff Sieh about Rest.

Well this week it is my privilege to welcome back to the show my friend, Jeff Sieh. Welcome back, Jeff.

Jeff Sieh: Hello, thanks for having me on.

Erik Fisher: So we’ve been talking … this book came out, gosh. We both wanted to talk about this book, and it’s called Rest: Why You Get More Done When You Work Less. And it’s not about like hey, let’s just do less work.

Jeff Sieh: Correct.

Erik Fisher: You get better work done, you get good work done. And honestly, better work and higher quality work, and even more work. But it’s all about coupling that or balancing that with actual rest. And I know people out there that are like, “Yeah, we’ve heard about this. Rest is a thing that’s like elusive, you can never have it. It’s not gonna ever happen. I take breaks, whatever.” It is what it is, but the book talks way more about rest, as if it’s something that is a partner to work. It’s not the anti-work thing.

Jeff Sieh: It’s not not working.

Erik Fisher: Right.

Jeff Sieh: It’s not not working, but the thing that got me about this book, and you and I have discussed it at length because it was kind of, I don’t want to say a paradigm shift, because that’s overused, but it did make a thrilling-

Erik Fisher: Game changer.

Jeff Sieh: Yeah, a game changer. The thing that really made us think about is it really did … it made me structure rest, I guess would be the same thing. It would make me almost schedule rest. It made me make it a priority, instead of something that I just didn’t do, like I just didn’t do work and I slept in on Saturday. Actually, going and say, okay, how am I going to hack rest, so that can be another title of the book is Hacking Rest or-

Erik Fisher: It could be, yeah.

Jeff Sieh: … I mean because that what these tools and tips inside the book on steps to really make your rest the best rest it can be. It sounds like a recruiting poster, but-

Erik Fisher: Hacking work, making your rest the best rest it can be.

Jeff Sieh: That’s right.

Erik Fisher: I think that’s for me, when you think about it, you think, oh, rest, yeah, that’s good, but you almost feel like it’s reading a book about how to rest feels like trying to read something to get away with justifying procrastination and laziness and not having work ethic and drive, and quote, hustle and all of that. I’m just like, no, actually this is actually gonna, if anything, this book is almost the secret to being able to hustle when you need to, and then not hustling when you shouldn’t be.

Jeff Sieh: It feels weird because rest is a thing that we associate with sleep, and that’s kind of a natural thing. It’s like, here’s a book about how to go to the bathroom. We all rest and we all have to … but this is really how to do it the right way, and not only why it’s important for you to do it, but some steps that you can take to really optimize, optimize that’s another good work, and optimize your rest. We both have practiced a lot of these things and really have noticed a difference.

Erik Fisher: I want to say, one of the biggest, key pieces from the book is this idea that rest, I’m going to go ahead and say, not only can it be active, that it really ought to be active. What I mean by active, there’s two-fold meaning there. One is you can be doing something fully physically active and have it be rest, but also active in the sense that it’s intentional. You’ve intentionally decided to be resting and doing something other than your normal, your work, your every day, that gets you away from that, so that you can recharge and be fully usable for that again, when it’s time.

Jeff Sieh: Yeah, and the thing also is I’m all about creativity. Creativity hacks and how can you be better at creative person, and oddly enough, rest is a big factor in being more creative, have more ideas pop in your mind, and how to use those hand in hand … you’re creative, and be creative in your rest, and rest makes you more creative, and so there’s all those different things that factor into it, as well.

Erik Fisher: It’s the idea that almost like a person who goes to the gym, like today’s leg day. Tomorrow is arms and something else day, and you alternate because you can’t have the same muscle get worked over and over again or it doesn’t grow or it doesn’t have any energy left in it.

Jeff Sieh: Just like food, both you and I like to eat, but we don’t like to eat the same thing, and both you and I love pizza. Whenever we get together for a master mind, we always try to hit a pizza joint or some place that serves mac and cheese, just so you guys know if you ever want to have us, that’s what we like, but we wouldn’t want to eat that every day for the rest of our lives. You need variety, and rest needs the same thing if you want to optimize it.

Erik Fisher: Yeah, exactly, and so it can be … we’re talking about, there’s probably some standard things you need to put into place first and foremost, that are daily elements of rest if your life, as well as, bigger chunks of stuff for even daily and weekly and then the weekend. When I say weekend and planning for the weekend and rest, I automatically think of one particular person, and I know you know who I’m thinking of.

Jeff Sieh: Right.

Erik Fisher: And so, Michael Hyatt. Yeah.

Jeff Sieh: I love planners. Planners are cool, they help you organize your life. I thought, that’s great, but the thing that made it stand out for me, and maybe it’s in a lot of other ones, but I had never seen it before, but Michael Hyatt really … he schedules the weekend and schedules the rest, and scheduling naps, even. That kind of changed the way, starting to schedule rest in other than on the weekend, and you know I like going to bed, but makes a lot of sense. I mean, he’s a big proponent of naps and I started trying, if I need one, to take a nap, and boy, that sure boosts creativity, too. The whole scheduling of rest has kind of been a new thing that I’ve implemented in my life lately.

Erik Fisher: Yeah, being intentional about it, planning it to where you have it if you need it or actually planning it, so that you have it, even when you don’t know that you need it. You could overboard. I know, and I’m not saying he does this, but I’m saying I know that Michael Hyatt will literally unplug from work stuff for the entire weekend. Now, he doesn’t necessarily unplug from social, which could be a debatable topic, I think to a certain extent. Let’s go to that later.

I know right now, he’s on a month long sabbatical, where he is not doing any work thought at all and he’s not doing emails, doing no work, whatsoever. If you can imagine that, honestly, I would love to do that. I would love to take a month off of everything, but I do know … so, here’s a funny thing, I sent him a message on Instagram stories ’cause he had posted, he’s going on sabbatical, and, I said, okay, I’ll see your reply to this message when you get back in a month and he replied right away and was like, oh no, I’m still using social while I’m gone. I really admire that he’s doing that, in the fact that he’s proving that it’s not a compulsion thing. He’s using it for the enjoyment factor, but anyway we can talk about the social media aspect of it later or go to it now, I guess, I don’t know.

Jeff Sieh: My thing is I also want to highlight that. Some of us, and it’s all about seasons of life. Michael Hyatt has been doing this for a long time, he’s got a team behind us. A lot of us don’t have teams. You and I both can’t do a sabbatical right now. It just can’t, financially or family wise, it just doesn’t work. Someday, oh yeah, I would love to do that, too, but we can take mini-sabbaticals that do a lot of recharging and a lot of stuff that we can do that gives us a lot of benefits that we tend to try to cram stuff in.

You and I were talking about this before, and I had read an article a couple weeks ago about people … you know, it’s vacation time right now, and one of the problems is, people stress so much about their vacation, that it’s not really worth it. At the end of the day, it doesn’t give them any benefits because they try to cram too much in to everyday to get the most bang out of their buck. They’re going to Disney Land, I gotta go and do all of it the first day, and this article was really talking about, hey, give yourself time. Make it okay before you even start to let yourself to know that you’re not going to do certain things, because it’s just not practical. That’s I think really key, too, because I think, at least in our nation, we do try to cram a lot of stuff in our vacation, where it’s not, even almost fun anymore.

Erik Fisher: Yeah, it’s funny you bring up Disney ’cause I literally just got back from there with my family last week. One of the things we were talking about after the trip was the idea of what we would have done differently, is we would have gotten down there to Florida, and checked into where we were going, and stayed for a night or two before getting over to Disney. Even then, we didn’t try to Disney, all of the above, all at once. We picked one park per day, and did two days, and that was it. Even then, it was a little overwhelming. I learned how to … and this is a skill. Rest is a skill. You’re going to learn how to do this better as you try to do it and attempt to do it, small scale, and slowly build up.

There are times when I get through a weekend, and I wonder, did I really get enough rest? Sometimes, I feel like, no, probably not. Even Sunday night, I’m thinking, I feel like almost need to crack the laptop, just so that tomorrow morning I don’t feel as rushed and I hate that feeling. I’m trying to figure out how to get around to that, not look at email over the weekend, which there are weekends where I don’t. There are weekends where I take a peek, and then I always regret it. Almost always regret it. It’s a skill, and it’s about getting better at it, it’s about not trying to cram in as much. As we go back to what Michael Hyatt does, he literally will take … he checks out on Friday at the end of the day. He is off … again, he’s older and an empty nester and he and his wife, Gail, will get out of town often from Nashville, which is great. Unfortunately, not great for me because when I go down there, and then, he’s not there now to visit. I’m like, crap.

Jeff Sieh: Here’s one of the things, we mentioned a lot of us, I have a feeling a lot of your listeners are in the same situation, we can’t take a month sabbatical off, but we can do things that we can in our own realm of … Now, what I can do is if I’m going to Dallas, and Dallas for me is about two and a half hours away. If I have to go there for a family thing or like we’re going to a show or whatever, instead of, a lot of people will drive to Dallas, go see the game, and then drive back. Well, that takes a lot of time. I’m blessed to have the funds and resources that I can get a hotel. I’m not stressed, and I know how I would be, and this will bless me and my family.

I’ll spend that extra money to get a hotel room, and you know this, even when we meet for the Tribe’s conference in Nashville, I can drive it in a day, but a lot of times what I’ll do is I’ll work ’til the afternoon a little bit, and then I’ll drive halfway and spend the night. Then, have a nice leisurely drive, not kill myself getting up and going, that kind of stuff, learning how your body relates and how you need rest. We can’t take sabbaticals, but we are … a lot of us are blessed enough to have enough finances to get a hotel room and it doesn’t have to be at The Ritz or anything, but just a place to crash and decompress. I tell you, it makes a world of difference. I am a new person, my family loves me more when I do those kind of things, when we can have that leisurely time, and not the mad scramble, it seems so much to get out the door.

Erik Fisher: Yeah, I totally agree, and again, I like what you’re saying about how people can’t typically afford to, unless they’ve really been intentional about it, and prepared for it. They can’t do a sabbatical. They can’t do, even two weeks off is hard for people. Even a week off like I just did, is sometimes a little bit harder depending upon your position, what it is you do, how you do it. For most of us, the practical day in, day out, is we’ve got work days in front of us, and we’ve got weekends. I’m not saying, hey, let’s live for the weekends like a lot of people are. What’s funny is a lot of people, what is it they say? They say something along the lines of-

Jeff Sieh: Working for the weekend.

Erik Fisher: Yeah, but not only that, they take that and they spin it. They say that it’s like, oh man, those people who are just working to the end of the week to have their weekend, like I pity them. I’m like, yeah, but at the same time, the weekend’s time is much more free in some ways depending upon, I don’t know, I’m going down a bad tangent here, so I probably should stop.

Jeff Sieh: The other thing is, people flip it and go, if you do what you love, you’ll never work a day in your life.

Erik Fisher: There’s the rub, there it is right there. I think it’s those two things combined that it’s like, no, what it is are both are true and both are false. Both are sayings. What it comes down to is, even if you love what you’re doing, you cannot do it eight hours a day, and then come back the next day, and the next day, and the next day, and then work on the weekend, as well. You will..

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