Are You Pinterested?

Posted on May 7, 2012

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After the likes and tweets here comes the pins!

Pinterest– the new social media tool that everyone is blogging on and pinning into. If the current online research figures are any indication, Pinterest has been on every analytics company’s radar. According to compete.com, unique visitors to Pinterest.com increased by 155% just in one month, from December 2011 to January 2012. Hubspot’s new research paper on the tool also brings to light that in December 2011, Pinterest made Hitwise’s list of the top ten social networks, sitting at #5 and beating out big names like LinkedIn and Google+. And as per latest data from online sharing tool Shareaholic, Pinterest has now reached the point where it drives more referral traffic to other sites than Twitter. This puts it right behind Google, Facebook, Yahoo and StumbleUpon with regards to referral and search traffic. Pinterest has made an entry into the digital world through Twitter and Facebook; you can use either accounts to first receive an invitation to join and then merge both accounts. It is a platform to visually share, curate, and discover new interests by posting, popularly referred to as ‘pinning,’ images or videos to their own or others’ pinboards. Users have the ability to follow individual boards rather than the entire stream of users. It is a mix of Twitter wherein resonates tweets as pins and retweets as repins and also performs as a social bookmarking tool. It also links with other social bookmarking sites as it gives you the option to import your pictures from them as well.

How are businesses responding to this new wave of networking?

According to a recent study by social media inbox developer Marketmesuite , 65% of businesses who entered their site URL into PinMe, the company’s latest tool for tracking Pinterest usage, their site’s content had already been pinned. This can be a totally new stream of leads for business, and if you are in a product focused industry. In the long run how can Pinterest be used as a lead capturing tool for businesses? Here is my take on how the tool can be used and developed to support marketers effectively:

Take #1: A great infographic/ video sharing tool
In the case of B-to-B brands, publishers, researchers, and brands looking to spread a message, Pinterest can be used as a perfect platform for showcasing and sharing content. Currently brands are weary of this tool and hence have a presence by registering space on the network but are not very active to contributing to it. Rackspace, IBM and Cisco are some examples to add to this list.

Dell is currently using it to showcase press coverage and videos of sponsored events.Samsung does a good job of showcasing its phones, videos and accessories; Amazon.com uses it to promote its products by presenting into through classified boards like “weird & wacky products we love” or “animal inspired”. And each of these pins has comments attached to it- an apt environment to capture leads. If you were to visit the Nordstrom page on Pinterest, it would feel like it is a mini shopping website of the retailer with 32 boards and 831 pins. And the page ranks no 7 on Google’s search engine results right after its twitter and Facebook pages. There is an opportunity there that brands can explore into and attain a converting traffic in the long run.

Take #2: A visual social bookmarking classified appropriately to suit varied interests.
Pinterest is actually like the Twitter of social bookmarking. The visuals are shared with a universal audience and at the same time there is a two-way interaction. The retweets are replaced by repins. Sharing boards is like sharing a “wish list” bookmarks. Whether you are looking for ideas, conducting a research or looking to make a decision on your purchase, consider browsing through the pin boards. The other advantage that Pinterest holds over other social networks is that the content is discoverable for a long time. In The Eloqua blog, Joel Rothman points out that Facebook and Twitter content is shared in a linear fashion; and once shared it slowly expires. “On Pinterest, content is discoverable for a longer time. For example, I have never looked backwards and read all of someone’s tweets. On the other hand, when I find an interesting Pinterest page, I usually devour all the content they share,” explains Rothman.

Take #3: search engine for shoppers


I visualize Pinterest as an apt search engine for shoppers. Anyone out there looking for a photographer for a birthday party or a cake designer for an exquisite bridal shower would explore this tool. I ran a search for “cakes” and there were some great boards that provided ideas on cake designs. And when I explored the “people” section, I saw a list of cake designer companies. So if I liked any of the cake designers, all I needed to do was call the number in the profile or email or just visit the website. This is a definite strategy to capture a lead; and one that would connect with appropriate searchers. This is a no brainer for small business owners.And realtors, I really hope you are reading this.

Take #4: Research tool: Online focus group at no cost
It is a great research tool for brands all across the board. Either as a business you can monitor the boards and discover what is currently trending in terms of likes, what are people looking for and how is your brand being perceived and talked about. If you followed pins and discovered that say for instance, an audience that was constantly pinning sterling silver jewelry, and you happened to be retailer in the business, you could possibly reach out to this audience and offer your product through pins.

Take #5: Sponsor pinboards
I envision brands sponsoring pinboards in the near future just like companies sponsor discussion groups on LinkedIn or communities on Facebook. This could be a feature that Pinterest would open up to as the volume of interaction increases. If, for instance, there were notable and recognized industry bloggers or researchers who created their pinboard on cloud computing on Pinterest, At&t or Rackspace could use this as opportunity to sponsor them. The trusted resource of authority would add value to the brand’s association. I also see the opportunity of promoted pins coming up soon.

Take #6: Create contests for better engagement
This is already in the works but has not been explored extensively yet; brands are still monitoring to see the returns on this. Folio mag recently reported on how Meredith’s Better Homes and Gardens built a heavy presence on the site with almost 60 different boards aligned with the brand’s various editorial categories in home and garden design. The magazine launched a contest, called “Pin & Win” to drive further engagement with users. To participate in the contest, users had to curate their own pinboard named “My Better Homes and Gardens Dream Home.” Participants used images collected from the magazine’s website, BHG.com, and had to use at least 10 pictures. BHG’s boards, which were dedicated to topics such as “Livable Living Rooms” and “Fun Front Doors,” had about 25,000 followers with more than 2 million total board followers.
Brands could align Pinterest contests into their campaigns or the latest offer they were promoting. One could easily picture brands like Macy’s, Holiday Inn, Tiffany, and Apple among others adding to this trend. Brands could also develop a points system wherein a certain number of pins would be rewarded with points which could be redeemed as discounts or free downloads.

This is my take on the evolution of Pinterest that I envision as this social media network grows rapidly. Pinterest will eventually look into creating a revenue stream and join the path that Facebook and Twitter took once they were established. Businesses are keeping their eyes on the power of pins to understand how they can fit it into their social media marketing strategies. However, since this is a more visual interaction there is a hitch of privacy and copyright issues that is holding back many companies from engaging with it. It is to be seen how Pinterest tackles this in the days to come.