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E-commerce Merchant or Content Curator?

How content curation sites like Pinterest use visual social marketing to help you boost your online business
content-curation

Ever since we began writing about eBay and e-commerce, we’ve been astounded and humbled by how much each seller in these marketplaces knows about the products he or she sources and sells.

Of course, that’s to be understood. How can you make someone care about and want your product if you don’t understand the reasons yourself? The fact that you’ve been immersing yourself in all things related to your product line has, perhaps without realizing it, made you an expert. That, in turn, has also led you to become a “content curator.”

We can hear foreheads hitting keyboards all across The Online Seller’s readership! You may be wondering how, on top of everything else you are expected to do, we have the audacity to add yet another job title to the description.

Content curator, to make matters worse, may be a term you haven’t even heard of. But not to worry; we mean it when we say you are already a content curator in much the same way as you are already a reader, writer and shipment-fulfillment expert. We’re here to tell you how you can take your rightful place on the Internet as an expert in your field—and it’s even fun.

What is content curation?

First, let’s start with a basic definition. Content curators centralize a collection of information, images, writings and websites in a single place, where others can easily find and access it. For example, if you sell ski equipment you’ll know the places, products, photos and advice your customers will be interested in. Bingo! You put it all together and now you have a portal into your business that you know will appeal to your customers.

The primary objective is to whet the appetite of the would-be customer, without them feeling like they’re being sold to

But where will you house this wonderful spot? That answer, as of right now, is Pinterest. Pinterest is a recent addition to the world of social networking, but not just another place online for you to tell everyone how your weekend was. Pinterest, instead, is a visual repository for all the cool things you find on the Web as you surf around. On Pinterest, it’s all about the images.

For e-commerce sellers who spend hours every day on the Web, it’s a quick and easy way to create an attractive and simple-to-share presence, featuring images of all things relevant to your customer base. Think of your Pinterest boards as virtual bulletin boards where you will pin all the great images you come across as you research your products.

“I’m a huge Pinterest fan and believe the site provides an excellent branding opportunity for businesses,” says Stephanie Inge, e-commerce educator and successful merchant. “It’s like window shopping for anything and everything without the pesky salesperson hounding you.”

Why should you curate content?

Here’s how your Pinterest virtual board could help you. Suppose you sell costume jewelry from the 1920s. You wouldn’t put your inventory up on Pinterest. That’s not what the site is for. But if you’re interested in the jewelry from this era, you’re probably also attracted to the fashions, the home décor, the graphics, the wallpapers—you get the idea. As you wander around the web, simply “pin” anything you find relevant to these items on your Pinterest board, which for the purpose of this discussion, we’ll name RoaringRetro. Now you have a site where people who share your passion for that era, and likely its jewelry, will land when they’re searching around the Web.

“The primary objective for branding on Pinterest is to whet the appetite of the would-be customer, without them feeling like they’re being sold to,” Inge explains. “It’s all about inbound marketing.”

Pinning something to your board is as simple as adding a button to your bookmark toolbar. Now every visual you find enticing can be automatically added to the Pinterest board you designate with a single click. Of course, you can have as many boards as you’d like.

To have a Pinterest account, you must first have a presence on Facebook or Twitter. As soon as you sign on to Pinterest, all your connections on those sites automatically gain access to your Pinterest board(s). They can become your followers, and you can follow others, too. People can find something interesting on your board and “repin” it to their own boards, and so on and so on.

Great photos will lure a plethora of potential buyers to your site, no matter where it is

Getting back to our RoaringRetro board, now you have a robust collection of images. Now you can pin an image of a bracelet you have listed for sale. Add the price in your description of the image, and Pinterest adds a banner across the corner of the picture to indicate the item is for sale.

“Great photos will lure a plethora of potential buyers to your site, no matter where it is,” Inge says.

Curating content for market research

How can you quickly get started on Pinterest? Seller Christine Rivera is using it to test a marketplace.

“As a test, I’m linking all my photos to my store on eCrater,” she says. “Since I get few sales on eCrater, if I get an increase in sales there, I can be pretty sure it’s due to Pinterest.”

Inge says she’s using the site to spot trends.

“I have observed several trends,” she tells us. “These include wedding ideas and planning, food, maternity photo journals, DIY everything, upcylcing/repurposing (very trendy), home décor, travel, art, fashion and, of course, babies.”

Now Inge, and you, know what people are buzzing about online.

Once you have your own board up and running, be sure to include a visual from your own website.

“Your business needs to have at least one image on your website that can be pinned, and preferably one with your logo and business name,” says e-commerce merchant Wendy Hotorff.

Then, when you’ve attracted browsers of your board to your website, they’ll have a quick and easy way of pinning your logo to their own boards. Their followers will see that you’re a proven, tested and trusted business person, and you will gain not only the return business of the person who pinned you, but the curiosity of all the people who pay attention to what your customer pins.

Sellers are always being told about new things they should be doing and trying. We’ve long believed those new things are only valid if they result in a return on your investment of time and money.

That’s exactly why we’re so excited about the prospects of your becoming a content curator. You’re already there. You’re already gathering content. Now you know where to put it, and how to do it with the click of a button.

About the author

Brad & Debra Schepp
Brad and Debra Schepp are the authors of 20 books, including eBay PowerSeller Secrets and The Official Alibaba.com Success Guide: Insider Tips and Strategies for Sourcing Products from the World's Largest B2B Marketplace. Their most recent book is How to Find a Job on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and Google+. Brad is also a literary agent for Waterside Productions. For further information, visit the couple's website, bradanddeb.com. Opinions expressed here may not be shared by The Online Seller and/or its principals.