To Pin, or Not to Pin: Joining the Pinterest Phenomenon


Yesterday’s blogpost Amazon’s CTO Highlights Seven Transformations Cloud Services will Enable, discussed Werner Vogels presentation at the Amazon Web Services Summit. Another big hit of the summit in New York was the explosive success of the social networking service Pinterest.

The concept of Pinterest is easy to grasp; it works as a social pin board where you share your pictures with the masses. An simple concept that is scarily effective. Far from just another photo/video sharing website, Pinterest is growing in popularity as the hottest new social network; currently sitting at #5 on Hitwise’s list of the top 10 social networks in the US- ahead of LinkedIn and Google+ – and in the past few months, more and more people are commenting on how to capatalise on this new social phenomenon.

According to ComScore, Pinterest attracted 17.8 million visitors by the month of March; an increase of 50% from the previous month. The site has become one of the fastest growing sites in Web history and has become a real contender in the social realm. And as with any new social network that sprouts, marketers wonder; “how can I use it for marketing?”

So what Opportunities are Out There for Marketers?

Mike Hickinbotham, Head of New Media for Telstra and Chair of ADMA’s Social Media Focus Group states: “With around 70% of Aussie users being female and around 50% being 35+, Pinterest offers a unique opportunity for brands to engage (exclusively) with a particular segment. It’s an easy opportunity for industries (food, fashion) that have a strong visual heritage, built over decades of advertising in magazines.  Industries that lack this heritage will need to assess how they visually portray their brand in the age of curated content.”

Hickinbotham makes an interesting point about food and fashion. It’s relatively easy to see how these can make an impact (a) to the target market he describes and (b) with the visual impact that they are already using for their products.

Yes Pinterest is designed to curate and share things you love. If there is a photo or project you’re proud of or that will engage people, pin away! However, marketers will have to be a little more crafty with their Pinterest campaigns as it simply will not work as a tool for pure self-promotion.  Sticking pictures on Pinterest is great, but if the end goal is to drive sales and revenue, you have to be able to send those people who engage with your images to some place where they can communicate with you directly or purchase the product of interest. Fail to do this and you miss out on the most crucial opportunity.

Make sure the images are pinned from your website (or another digital channel), so that when your potential customer clicks through, they will be sent to your website. Therefore  in saying that, a multi-channel campaign strategy is a must for Pinterest.

The great thing about Pinterest is that when it comes to marketing your products and services, you can build a large and powerful following, and you can get your message out to the masses just like any other social networking service out there. One tip that you should consider is not to simply showcase your product on Pinterest, but more the ‘lifestyle’ that goes around your product offering.  Pinterest promotes a ‘lifestyle’ beyond the image and marketers will need to invent ways to market their brand to gain the traction they want on this new channel.

Fools Rush in
Before you rush in and add another channel to your marketing mix, you need to seriously consider if Pinterest is right for you and if so; how you can use it to achieve your marketing goals?  As Hickinbotham stated, if you have a ‘strong visual heritage’, then this is the platform for you. Or if you have interesting video/content based alternatives, then there is clearly an opportunity to leverage.  If neither of these apply to you, focus your time and effort on other social networks like Facebook, Google+, Twitter or YouTube.

Some of us were hesitant with Twitter when it first arrived on the scene. Only time will tell whether Pinterest is here to stay for the long run.  Our guess is that it will become just as an essential option in the social mix as Facebook or Twitter…. Watch this space….

Have you any Pinterest success stories to share Do you think it will be a viable channel in the future? We’d love to hear your thoughts.

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