A social entrepreneur is not what Naomi Assaraf envisioned for her career while in college. But sometimes, this thing called life takes an exciting and extraordinary detour.
I first met Naomi on a business trip to San Francisco last summer.
In just one year of knowing her, she has an even stronger presence in the social space, managing high profile accounts, and taking part in strategies for upcoming campaigns. It was fun interviewing her about entrepreneurship, and I guarantee that you’ll get a great deal from her thoughts about Nordstrom’s brilliant use of social media and the smart way Pinterest appeals to its savvy female audience.
I love this woman’s thought process and how she is always looking to elevate and improve marketing and outreach, something that you’ll see in our interview.
Naomi, how did you get into social media?
I got into sociology back in college and university, doing a double major in sociology and marketing, loving the mix from way back. Social media as part of a branding strategy only really took off when I owned a day spa in Montreal, Quebec in 2007. I noticed an increase of clients as I was able to engage them through social. It further helped drive more demand for a cosmetic company that I launched in 2010.
In 2012, I moved to San Francisco and joined a social influence scoring company, where I fell in love with the ability to engage with people who I considered to be thought leaders in the space. I also fell in love with consuming quality content related to social media, and sharing that with my audience. By nature, I love sharing what I think my audience would benefit from.
The big takeaway? Social is just a way of life for me that helps me grow my expertise and helps me share my knowledge. My mantra is based on a give and take kind of world. If you get something awesome – cool conversations, content, that kind of thing – you need to give back in order to continue personal growth.
I noticed you pay close attention to online retailers. What do you think of the way Nordstrom is using Pinterest?
I love online retailers. They need to constantly monitor and engage with their audience.
As for Nordstrom, look at their pins; everything is up-to-date. What they’re really doing is leveraging their Pinterest account with a Google Page Rank listing. If you search for example: “Nordstrom Knee high riding boots from Frye”, they come up on the first page rankings of Google. They’re probably not paying a cent for that Google ranking. Genius, isn’t it? Also, you’ll notice that in all their pins, the description is well thought-out. This further helps their keywords on Google Page Rankings.
Nordstrom knows that Pinterest is primarily used by educated females, who have some dollars to drop their way if they reach them effectively. Everything listed on their Pinterest page is female-related! While I think that works now, as it further gets adopted by more users, many will redefine who their Pinterest market is. In the meantime, Nordstrom is right on the money, and they deserve credit for that.
Also, they cross reference platforms. The reason they’re promoting Pinterest from their Twitter account is because they’re driving traffic. This is good because they’re supporting the efforts of their Pinterest content via their Twitter content, with an aligned goal of increased sales. Many companies don’t keep their return on investment (ROI) goals in play when they launch social media campaigns, so kudos to Nordstrom on getting that right.
Why did you think Pinterest has had such amazing staying power?
Pinterest has amazing staying power because it gives the user a break from having to read content, which is time consuming! There are whole jobs out there where you need to devour content (community managers, researchers, journalists, etc)! For women who have the superwoman complex, this is a perfect solution. It saves time, but keeps you up to date with new ideas and creativity. I can’t begin to tell you how many recipes, or cool do-it-yourself (DIY) tips I got from Pinterest!
It’s been documented numerous times that women are more visual and communal, and wish to share information more readily. Getting many women together who have this enhanced skill is brilliant. The most curious part is that we’re identifying social behaviors and applying them to media in order to redefine media in a more personal way. Think of the Kraft Zesty commercials that are testing the theory that women like seeing half clothed men selling them salad dressing. I’m pretty bemused that it took so long for advertisers to play on the visual preferences of women. In fact, I see this as a huge trend, and enjoy testing the known, but faulty, theory that men are more visually inclined than women.
From a marketing point of view, I notice that there is no video, which helps establish more of a connection with an audience through emotion. Now, I’m not sure that this would work primarily for Pinterest, because the whole idea is to “Pin now, read later” when you have more time. But for consumer sites like Etsy, a video of a product would help the shopper understand how the product looks, works, and stays on more than a static photo would. I mean sure, there’s YouTube, but why isn’t it more seamlessly embedded into an e-tailer’s website?
Think about it. If you have a video showing 3 body types modeling the clothes you might want to buy via the catwalk, wouldn’t that video instill more trust with purchasing that piece of clothing now that you’ve had a chance to see its fit on a person’s body – most similar to yours? Instilling trust plays on emotion, which equals an increase in sales.
You also create homemade cosmetics. A future business venture, perhaps?
It’s true that I do love to create natural cosmetics! Good of you for noticing. I just launched an Etsy store called NatureNurtureLove, but I’m not sure that I’ll make a real business out of it just yet. It’s just one of those things that I do in my spare time, and, it stimulates my creative side and relaxes me. I really like to build things! Whether that’s an actual DIY project or a social strategy, I find them to be intriguing. It’s right up there with music, writing, reading, running and swimming. It’s just one of those things that provide deep pleasure for me so that I can tap into my creativity and focus. If it turns into a business venture one day, all the better, but I’m too enthralled by social right to want to build out a new manufacturing company again.
What is your definition of success?
Success is different for everybody. I personally define success as being happy and by continually stimulating my personal growth, investing in yourself. It’s so cliché, I know. But I really think that the only way to be happy is to define what your dealbreakers are, thrive within those limits, and then try to push them so that you have more gray areas to work with. Going with the “flow”, which I like to call the “gray” area, helps you learn how to make the most of every situation to find happiness within it.
Second photo of Naomi Assaraf Lecturing at UC Berkley courtesy of Michael Brito