What is Pinterest and Why it Matters
Pinterest is growing in popularity as the hottest new social network to take over the Internet. Over the past few months, you may have heard some chatter about it. Unique visitors to Pinterest.com increased by 155% just in one month, from December 2011 to January 2012, that’s according to Compete.
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+. As with any hot new social network that comes onto the scene, marketers are figuring out how to use it for marketing.
What is Pinterest and How Does It Work?
This new social networking tool allows users to visually share, curate, and discover new interests by posting, also known as ëpinning,í images or videos to their own or othersí pinboards (i.e. a collection of “pins,” usually with a common theme). Users can either upload images from their computer or pin things they find on the web using the Pinterest bookmarklet, Pin It button, or just a URL .
One can browse through the items other users have pinned and “like,” “repin” or “comment” on them. As with most other social networks, members are encouraged to interact with the content by reposting it, sharing othersí pins on Facebook and Twitter or via email, and even embedding individual pins on their website or blog.
Using a visual emphasis, the social network is very much focused on the concept of a person’s lifestyle, enabling you to share your interests and preferences with others and discover those of like-minded people. As Pinterest put it, this is a social network meant to “connect everyone in the world through the things they find interesting.”
Why does Pinterest matter?
Any business that relies on driving a high-volume of website traffic to increase sales, should consider joining Pinterest. In fact, early research indicates that Pinterest is more effective at driving traffic compared to other social media sites, even Facebook.
In October, the website of Time Inc.’s Real Simple magazine got more traffic from Pinterest than Facebook. Source: http://adage.com/article/digitalnext/real-simple-pinterest-drives-traffic-facebook/231576
Eye glass retailer Warbly Parker reports that 11% of their social traffic is coming from Pinterest compared to 18% from Twitter. Source: https://twitter.com/#!/caro/status/161864406131687424
After blogger Kate Bryan started pinning her work, she has had more than 10 million page views and has attracted 16,000 blog subscribers. “My top 10 traffic referring URLs are all Pinterest,” says Kate. Source: http://www.businessesgrow.com/2012/01/23/pinterest-drives-enormous-blog-and-business-success.
If you are using the ìPin Itî button on your pages, every single one of your pins will include a link back to the source. In the case of HubSpotís blog, it has accumulated more than 640 links from Pinterest in just two weeks. However, these are no-follow links and cannot be used to directly impact SEO strategy. Yet, it still provide marketing value because they allow pinners to encounter your content and visit your pages in just one click.
Lastly, Pinterest will soon start contributing to lead generation. So far, HubSpot has generated a few leads from the new social network and we’ll keep a close eye on how that number changes.
Pinterest enables users to log in using their Twitter or Facebook profiles, connectivity that is critical for social media success. These sites can’t get away with being a silo, and Pinterest has recognized that out of the gate.
The site now connects with Facebook, according to a recent Open Graph announcement, enabling users to automatically post new pins to their Facebook feed for others to see. This means more eyes from other channels get access to your pictures. However, remember that you still cannot connect Pinterest to your Facebook business page.
When members are browsing through pins, they will also have the ability to share posts through Facebook, Twitter or email. This feature is great to boost social sharing and get your evangelists to spread the word about your brand.
How to use Pinterest for Marketing
As with any other social network, Pinterest offers a range of activities you can initiate to market your small business to a new audience. The goal here is to gain brand recognition, drive traffic to your website and be successful at converting the new visits into leads. Let’s get your creative juices flowing with this list of ideas for using Pinterest as part of your social media marketing mix.
Feature Visual Content
Pinterest is a visual social network, so you will need to create a pinboard that highlights some of your best visual content.
A lot of big brands are taking notice of the power of online visual content for marketing and the emotions images elicit in readers. Instagram is one platform that has contributed to this movement and enabled real businesses to leverage photos as a an inbound marketing mechanism.
Create a User-Generated Pinboard
By enabling other users to contribute their own pins to your pinboards, you open up a great opportunity to involve fans and customers in your marketing. Pick out a few of your top evangelists or customers, and create a board dedicated to their pins.
Ask the customer to pin images that showcase the lifestyle they enjoy because of your brand. This is a great way to leverage customer testimonials in a unique and visual way.
Host a Contest
Hold a contest that asks users to create a pinboard on their own account to demonstrate what they love about your brand, products, or services. If you’re that shoe vendor we mentioned before, you might ask customers to create a pinboard that shows pins of them doing fun and awesome things while wearing your shoes. Ask them to send you a link to their pinboard so you can evaluate entrants, and the coolest board wins a prize!
Even better you can also re-pin the top boards to your own Pinterest page and ask followers to vote on the boards to select the winner.
Add the Pin-It Button to Your Website
Make it super easy for website visitors to share your visual content or images on Pinterest by adding a ìPin Itî button to your site. Just like other social media sharing buttons, this will help to expose your brand to a new audience.
Gather Insight Into Your Buyer Personas
Use Pinterest as a tool for understanding the interests and needs of your ideal customers. View pinboards of your customers to aid in your understanding of who your customers are and what they’re interested in.
If you have an integrated marketing software that tracks which people got to your website through Pinterest and follows them through the buying cycle, you can spot trends in their behavior and find ways to nurture such leads more successfully.
Stand out as an industry thought leader
Become the go-to Pinterest account for pins about a certain subject or topic relating to your industry. Minted is a great, real-life example of a paper company that leverages this tactic by creating themed pinboards that show unique ways to use paper, mixed in with other related lifestyle photos, such as in its “Trick or Treat” Halloween board: http://pinterest.com/minted
Add links in the descriptions of your pins
Whenever possible, include links back to your website and landing pages in your pins to drive traffic back to your website. Keep track of referral traffic and leads generated from Pinterest. Such insights will inform you about how useful this platform is in comparison to your other efforts.
To increase the likelihood of driving more traffic to your website, add a link back to the page on your website where that image lives for every pin. If you are uploading a photo instead of pinning something live on your website, select a link that makes sense and include that in the pin description. The combined impact from each pin’s clicks and re-pins will give you a big advantage.
Create a Video Gallery
Pinners aren’t only limited to pinning images; they can pin videos, too! Create a pinboard of some of the interesting videos your business produces interspersed with relevant images.
Do people in your business do a lot of speaking at industry conferences and events? Create a pinboard that features videos of your speakers. Pinterest’s homepage has a separate tab for videos, so you will get even more exposure by being featured in that category Just don’t forget to include a call-to-action within the video itself. Tell your viewers what you want them to do next to further engage with your company.
Just like Twitter and Google+, Pinterest supports the usage of hashtags. Users can use hashtags to tag their pins and make their content more search-friendly. Promoting a new campaign of some sort? Create a pinboard around it, and tag it with a hashtag you’re also using on Twitter and Google+ to leverage an integrated, cross-channel campaign. Club Monaco leverages its Pinterest account for this very purpose, using the #cultureclub hashtag and pinboard to promote a section of its website called Culture Club.
Feature Offline Events
Create a pinboard that features the best photos and video footage of the annual event you host to help you generate buzz and promote the next one.
Showcase Your Businesses Personality
As we’ve mentioned, Pinterest has a heavy lifestyle focus, so what better opportunity is there to give people a peek into the personality of your brand? Create a pinboard that showcases your employees and life around the office — show them working together, show them making your products/services, and show some of the fun activities your business participates in, such as company outings, parties, award ceremonies, volunteer days, etc.
Letting people in behind the scenes will make your brand interesting, and humanized.
Examples of Popular Brands on Pinterest
Mashable is the largest independent news source dedicated to covering digital culture, social media, and technology. Pinterest currently has a pretty girly vibe, considering females dominate its user base. But as this tech brand is proving, the overwhelmingly estrogen-charged demographic of this social network could change quickly.
Mashable will be ahead of the curve for when the male population finally gets on board with Pinterest. Mashableís Pinterest account (http://pinterest.com/mashable/infographics) showcases the gadgets and infographics the news source is well known for reporting on, taking its immense amount of data and information and making it more visual and shareable. This proves that if you are a data-driven company, you will surely have something worthy of being shared on Pinterest.
You may wonder why anyone would want to follow a Greek yogurt brand on Pinterest, but like Facebook and Twitter, it’s all about the content you share, not necessarily what you sell.
Chobani’s Pinterest account (http://pinterest.com/chobani) doesn’t just feature its different yogurt types, but it also shares recipes of how users can use its products differently. Chobani also has a featured board called “Nothing but Good” the company’s tagline, which only showcases fun and funny pictures that go along with its brand image; there’s no yogurt to be seen. In this way, Chobani is embracing the main goal of Pinterest – to focus on the concept of a person’s lifestyle and encouraging users to share their tastes and interests with others and discover those of like-minded people. In other words, by promoting the lifestyle its products promote, Chobani is using its Pinterest account to enable people to learn more about its brand beyond just its signature products.
With more than 50,000 followers, this online shopping website is one of the most popular on Pinterest. http://pinterest.com/etsy
As a retailer of homemade and vintage goods, Etsy creates pinboards that really take to heart what its brand stands for. They show you how you can make your own products and how to put their products to work in your daily life, which again, emphasizes the lifestyle philosophy that Pinterest promotes.
How can your business join Pinterest?
There are several ways to register a new Pinterest account. First, users can either get an invitation from a friend who is already registered on Pinterest. They can also request an invitation directly from the Pinterest website. You can also use your Facebook or Twitter profile to create an account that allows you to log into Pinterest. Keep in mind that if you’re going to use Facebook to log into Pinterest you need to be using the Timeline format with your account.
Visual Motivation is Working for Small Business
This new social network has captured the attention of people around the world because it is a great source of visual motivation and an opportunity for self-expression. With its own spin on social networking, Pinterest is working for many businesses like yours. We’ve seen individuals embracing Pinterest, and savvy companies are now joining Pinterest.
Succeeding on Pinterest is about finding your products or services fit into the lifestyles of your target audience. It isn’t necessarily about showing off your products or services directly. Just take the best practices and give it a try.