Pinterest, the visual pinboard site, is all the buzz these days. This online platform that enables self-expression through images is clearly in sync with today’s zeitgeist. Millions of users are active on Pinterest, “pinning” images that have meaning to them on virtual bulletin boards for others to view, repin, like and comment on. The momentum behind this invite-only community continues to build. Marketers need to become familiar with Pinterest and evaluate whether to incorporate it into their marketing strategy.
Based on Pinterest’s current popularity trajectory, after the beta period ends it’s likely to become one of the premier social media services. Pinterest’s mission is to “connect everyone in the world through the ‘things’ they find interesting.” Given that we live in a consumerism society, the “things” that people find interesting and post on their boards are often products that they have bought or would like to buy.
Users pin images that they respond positively to from websites or upload photos they’ve taken. Anyone who spends time on Pinterest will notice that lots of the images come from online clothing stores, shoe stores, home stores and other retail sites. That’s largely because Pinterest is very popular with women, who make up 58% of its user base, with 59% being between the ages of 25 and 44 years old.
Pinterest has become one of the top referral sites for Etsy.com and other apparel retailers. But, don’t get the impression that it’s a place where just food, clothing, animal, home improvement and child images are shared. It’s much more than diverse that. All sorts of images can be found on Pinterest. In fact, many professional sports teams are either evaluating or getting active on Pinterest. The Pittsburgh Penguins and New York Giants are among the early adopters. Pinterest is clearly a work in progress, with the public still in the early stages of figuring out how they want to incorporate the site into their social media activities.
Marketers need to be attuned to Pinterest. Spend time checking out peoples’ boards to get a feel for the site, if you haven’t done so already. If the site resonates with you personally, submit a request to join, which will likely be accepted within a few days, or have a friend who’s on it invite you.
Next you should evaluate whether Pinterest is right for you company’s brand. If you feel that it is, think through very carefully how to go about participating in Pinterest. An overt sales approach that makes your boards mere extension of your e-commerce site may not be a successful strategy. The site is a medium for self-expression through images and you want the tone of your boards to be in sync with that spirit.
Here are some suggestions that marketers should consider when building a Pinterest strategy:
Make Your Company Website “Pinable” – Your company wants to have its website’s images shared on Pinterest. To enable that to happen, you need to make sure that the images are your company’s website are in the correct format so that they can easily be pinned. Pin-friendly formats include .jpgs, .pngs and .gifs. Then test out how they look. If you’ve joined Pinterest, try pinning some of your images onto your boards to see if you are happy with them.
As a Pinterest user myself, I was surprised when I tried to post an image of a product a like from a food company’s website and I couldn’t! The image was imbedded in the web template, which made it unpinable! Big mistake on their part – it may have cost them web traffic that would have come from visitors to my Pinterest page. Opportunity missed.
Add “Pin It” to Your Website – If your company has an e-commerce site, it is probably chalk full of images of the products for sale. Place a “Pin It” button on each product page, as you would a Twitter or Facebook Like button, to make it easy for shoppers to add the product images they like onto their Pinterest boards.
Regularly Review Your Web Analytics – Pinterest can be a source of traffic to your company’s website and of new customers. The images that people pin from your website can be viewed by other Pinterest users and when the image is clicked on, they are taken to your company’s site. New visitors mean more awareness, which could turn into more customers.
There isn’t much publicly available data yet about conversion rates, so I can’t cite stats about sales revenue driven by Pinterest. But without a doubt, it does fuel website traffic. And traffic is key, because no one is going to buy from your website if they don’t know it exists.
When you review your site’s web analytics, monitor the referral sources to see if Pinterest is one of them. If it currently is or becomes one, identify the images people are attracted to and then create additional images in the same genre to raise the probability that more of your content will be pinned. Read this Mashable article to get tips on how to track traffic coming from Pinterest.
Create Pinterest Boards for Your Brand – If you feel that Pinterest is the right place to promote your company, then set up a page. Be clever about the boards you create. Don’t just build boards that show the products your company sells. Think about other ways to express your brand. Consider building boards that showcase how customers are using your products in their daily lives. Also, consider building boards with images that evoke your brand’s promise. For example, if your brand promise is to help people live a healthier life, create a board that has images of people who are engaged in healthy activities, such as being outdoors, hiking, exercising and eating nutritional foods.
Get Pinterest Users to Participate – Brainstorm about ways that you can incorporate Pinterest into your marketing initiatives. Does your company have a product in development? Is it highly visual? Could you use input on some aspect of it? Then post some photos of it and ask for people to like, repin or comment on the one that they prefer. How about holding a contest? You could ask customers to photograph themselves with the product they’ve bought from your company and then award the person whose photo get the most repins.
Be creative. Have fun with it. Like most things in life, Pinterest is what you make of it.