Gaining Social Traction

an interview with
Morgan Baden Director of Social Media & Internal Communications, Scholastic Inc

The Social Media World Forum (SMWF) hits NYC next week with an exciting list of speakers and topics.  High on my list of “must sees,” is a case study on Pinterest being presented by Morgan Baden, Director of Social Media & Internal Communications at Scholastic Inc.  I was delighted to be able to catch up with Morgan and get a sneak peak of Scholastic’s approach to Pinterest and how they have been able to gain so much traction in a relatively short time frame.  Given Pinterest’s recent announcement of more brand-friendly pages, now is as good time as any to increase your knowledge of this rapidly growing channel.

Drew: I counted 55 boards on the Scholastic Pinterest page. That’s a lot more than most brands. Can you give me a brief overview of how you got this far?
We have some passionate Pinterest fans in Scholastic who have led the charge, and once we got started and were able to see the reaction our content was getting, we were hooked. Every group within Scholastic has visual content that our customers are interested in seeing, so we work with the various businesses to make sure our Pinterest Boards reflect what Scholastic is all about: getting kids to learn to read and love to read, and supporting the educators and families who inspire them along the way. There’s so much going on at Scholastic in any given day – author visits, events and conferences, new book releases, new product releases, character anniversaries – and we’re such a visual brand that the possibilities for Pinterest seem endless.

Drew:  Some boards must be more popular that others.  Which ones are really working well for Scholastic and why?
We watched closely as the voice of Pinterest began to establish itself, and then we adjusted our strategy and experimented with different Boards to reflect the platform’s general trends. Our quote Boards are a good example – we noticed that inspiring or funny quotes tend to resonate with other Pinners, so we worked with our editorial teams to create and Pin quotes from Scholastic books. But our most successful Boardstend to be the educator-focused ones. Teachers are using Pinterest to find ideas for their classrooms, so we regularly create Boards full of resources to help teachers – things like printables, resources for the Common Core State Standards, and classroom craft ideas.

Drew:  What role does Pinterest play in your marketing mix? Do you see it as experimental or have you attached specific marketing objectives to Pinterest at this point?
Like all of our social media efforts, Pinterest does play a role in our marketing mix. Book covers are linked back to The Scholastic Store Online and our other resources are linked back to so we can easily track sales and site traffic. But our social media strategy overall is more focused on using the tools to communicate with our customers, not necessarily to market to them, and the same holds true for Pinterest. Our customers were already on there, talking about us and sharing our content, and it made sense for us to join them and further tap into their excitement.

Drew: Have you made some changes to your approach to Pinterest over the last 6 months and if so, what/why?
We have! We’ve been on Pinterest for more than a year now and we’ve moved slightly away from the experimentation phase and more into an analytics phase. Pinterest doesn’t feel like “the new thing” for us anymore – it’s an established platform now, and as such it’s been integrated into our overall communications and marketing strategies. We are always thinking of new ways to use it, though – every day we uncover opportunities within our business to use Pinterest in new and different ways, to reach new and different fans.

Drew: What advice would you give to a brand manager just getting started on Pinterest?
Once you’ve established your corporate strategy and goals, the sky’s the limit! I would encourage brand managers to experiment, Pin consistently (no one likes a stagnant Board), and cross-promote your Pins on your company’s other social accounts.

Drew: Do you have a wish list for Pinterest in terms of new things you’d like to see on the platform?
We’re really excited about their new Business pages, which we hope will solve some of our concerns. And ultimately, I’d love to see some sort of umbrella page for brands like Scholastic, so our other affiliated but separate Pinterest accounts could be tied together on the platform.

Drew: Are there any other emerging platforms you’re trying this year or plan on trying next year?
Our newest social media account is Instagram, which we’re having a lot of fun with (along with everyone else!). Looking forward, I could see us experimenting with Path or Fancy.

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