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So Much Interest In Pinterest

Pinterest is fast becoming the hot ‘new’ social network. Business Insider reported that it ‘is growing so fast, traffic is up 40x in the last six months’. That data is from Experian Hitwise, who say that the site had ’11 million visitors in the week ending Dec. 17′. It’s easy to dismiss the site as just another fad, yet according to Liene Stevens, ‘no other social media site reached mass appeal this quickly. Its active audience are people who are not typically early adopters — and Pinterest is at an age where they should still be dominated by early adopters”.

Who is using it?

According to the Experian Hitwiseanalysis, “compared with the overall internet population, Pinterest.com’s audience tends to be female; it also appeals more to moderately educated Caucasians under the age of 35 who have incomes between $30,000 and $100,000 and browse from home.” Data and anecdotal evidence has pointed towards a broader appeal.

  • Megan Walker said “I think Pinterest is appealing to everyday people — people like my neighbors and my family members who aren’t normally early adopters on other social networks.” (source: Arik Hanson.com)
  • Heather Doherty identified Boomers, as well as Boomerangs, being the group that is most likely to visit. “This group of consumers is characterized as baby boomers and young adults who are heavy web users who spend time on house and garden, sports and fitness, and family-oriented websites. This information is useful to companies who wish to target their content to be “pinned” by Pinterest users.” (Source: Expedian Hitwise)
  • Shoe string launch noticed Pinterest “is starting to trend for the men, too.  There are pages and categories of Jordan basketball shoes and high end golf clubs, just to name a few”.

Now that it is getting mainstream attention, users from other demographics are signing up and enjoying the service. We think we’ll see the user types evolve and that businesses should regularly check to see if their target market is using Pinterest.

Why brands should be paying attention:

John Jantsch saidthat has become one of the biggest sources of traffic to businesses that deal in visually oriented goods. He said that the site has many benefits to marketers, such as:

  • Engaged users that demonstrate similar behaviour to influencers
  • Visual link building (done automatically)
  • Real time trending for visual elements and cues
  • Branding style associated with certain personality traits
  • Local SEO

Additionally, It’s worth reading Constance Aguilars article about using Pinterest to boost user engagement. The real shift is how Pinterest affects consumer behaviour. To quote from Tech Crunch:

“As we make a decision to search for or buy something online, we are trained to go to Google (or Amazon), search by keyword, and sort through results to eventually make a transaction. In return for that sorting, Google charges for advertising, but in order for it to work, we users have to signal our intent.”

To signal that intent requires knowing exactly what you want. You have already made judgments and decisions before going to Google. Pinterest can help people find inspiration and ideas – that may lead to purchases – while they are in browsing mode, and are less susceptible to being marketed to. Lucinda Southern expanding on this in her post about how Pinterest builds deeper connections‘Pinterest has also succeeded in creating a site that fills a void not even search-engine behemoth Google can satisfy; it attracts a user who is browsing. This creates a state of open-mindedness which lends itself as more receptive to new ideas and receiving messages. As creator Ben Silbermann reiterates, “Amazon or Google does an awesome job of showing you what you’re looking for if you know what it is.” ‘

How can you leverage Pinterest?

Firstly – you don’t need to immediately get on the platform to experiment with it. There are ways to ascertain whether people with your target demographic use Pinterest:

  • Add a ‘pin this’ button to product pages
  • Create product images that cater to this audience. Check to see whether the images are being pinned. To see which images of yours are being posted to the service, you can do something like this: pinterest.com/source/yourdomain.com/ (of course, replacing “yourdomain.com” with your URL)
  • Use the site as a listening post. See what images are being re-pinned and create content or new products targeted to that audience
  • Create link ups of interesting Pinterest boards featuring your product on the business blog

These basic experiments will help show you whether your content is resonating with the Pinterest userbase. If it is, you can then experiment with creating your own boards.

Creating your own boards

Mashablewarned that you should promote your small business with caution.

“It’s frowned upon to spam your Boards with nothing but your own products or projects. That doesn’t mean it’s outright banned, but you need to contribute more to the community if you want to stay in its good graces. You can use Pinterest for self-promotion, just do so creatively.”

A popular idea is to focus on brand personas rather than creating online catalogues.  According to separate Mashable post, “the idea behind your brand makes sense on Pinterest”. Lisa Barone expanded on this in her love letter to Pinterest:

“Pinterest works best when brands show customers what’s going on below the surface. When they allow consumers to see the spirit of their brand by showing them not what they do, but why they do it – what inspires them, what moves them, what the company culture is based on. They do that all through topic-specific boards.”

Tips on creating your brand persona:

  • Create shared boards: This is especially useful if you publish content (as part of a magazine, blog or other social media presence) and are seeking inspiration
  • Talk about your boards on your blog. We really like how West Elm curated themed boards and then linked to them when talking about new design trends.
  • Create themed boards around certain holiday periods, such as Valentine’s and Christmas Day. Including a few of your products amongst a group of visually appealing products will get far more traction
  • Repin images  of people using your products. This works especially well in craft, fashion and food verticals
  • For retail, post how your products are used. For service-based, post before and after shots or examples of how your business helped a customer. (Source: The Social Robot)
  • Make Products Accessible: Vacation rental service HomeAway has started posting photos of its properties in an attempt to show viewers dream vacations may be within reach. (Source: Read Write Web)

Before expressing your brand persona, “you need to be strategic about what content you’re curating and WHO you’re sharing with.  Content curation should link to your integrated strategy objectives and identified audience.  Otherwise, you’re wasting your time playing with a pretty shiny object.” (Source: Beth Kanter)

Advanced Strategies:

Once you’ve experimented with your own boards, you can dabble with some different strategies. Here are some case studies that have caught our eye:

  • Allow team members to have a presence: Thanks to this post at Blue Grass, I discovered Kate Evans, graphic designer for Kate Spade. She “has a few pins of her company’s products, but more importantly she demonstrates she’s a tuned in part of the fashion community by being active on this network.”
  • Hold a meetup for pinterest users: West Elm held a Pinterest meetup at one of their stores. Over 300 people attended and 600 images were publicly shared on Facebook. Pinterest users are likely to be social media savvy and will talk about the meetup elsewhere, which could expose your content to new communities.

What verticals have seen success?

Fashion: Many retailers have simply created a digital catalogue based around their seasonal campaigns. The brands that experimented first – Gap, Nordstrom and Lands’ End – are the ones now benefiting now that they are expanding on their original strategies.

  • The Gap: Created a candy themed board based around its 2011 holiday collection for Gap Kids.
  • Nordstrom added humour with it’s holiday themed Nordstrom Santa board (no longer live) and is currently pinning Valentine’s Day gift ideas onto a themed board.
  • Lands’ End recently launched a contest called “Lands’ End Canvas Pin It to Win It,” which encouraged users to browse landsendcanvas.com and create virtual Lands’ End Canvas pinboards for a chance to win apparel from the modern, vintage-inspired clothing line from Lands’ End. (Source: Locker Gnome
  • Bauble Bar is creating boards based around clothes they would wear with specific pieces
  • Modcloth mostly curate things that their audience are interested in, and have one of their boards dedicated to taking users behind the scenes of their brand

FoodPeople love the food niche – many have joked about certain boards being ‘food porn.’ This is an area where brands can have a lot of fun.

  • Chobani has a great page that includes recipes with the yogurt, as well as boards that fit into the lifestyle. It’s worth noting the casual tone in the board titles.
  • Whole Foods Market allows us to see their brand personality through boards such as How Does Your Garden Grow? and Super HOT Kitchens. Also allow board contributions.
  • Pretzel Crisps has a small presence, but many of the boards provide inspiration for including them in snack dishes.

This is a niche with so much untapped potential. It also has more opportunities for playfulness in the creation of boards. Magazines + websitesSeveral media outlets and websites have a brand page, but several of them aren’t gaining much traction. Brands using it include:

The brands that have seen the most success seek images from sites other than their own, or allow contributions. I believe that this is the area where we will see a lot of innovation. What should you do?Adding a new platform to your social marketing mix can be overwhelming, but it is possible.

  • The first step is to sign up for a personal account. Experiment and have fun, and take notice of any patterns you notice.
  • Follow the boards of some of your brands on Pinterest. Note how they make you feel when looking at their boards and see how they are integrating Pinterest with their wider social media presence.
  • Decide whether you want to maintain a brand presence on Pinterest. It is at this stage where you decide whether to go it alone, or engage a social media professional.

You can also check out our presence on Pinterest. Currently, we’re just having fun and experimenting.  If you look closely though, our chief villager Justine Bloome has been exploring Pinterest for some time, and is in a stronger position to leverage it for our business. Those that continue to experiment – while sticking to the etiquette of Pinterest – are the ones that will see success.

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