Tracy C. Gold


What Marketers Should Know About Pinterest

This post originally appeared on Marketing Trenches

Pinterest delights DIYers, bakers, wedding planners, and anyone who likes looking at cute puppies. This year’s social media darling, Pinterest has become one of the top traffic referral sources for retail and magazine sites. For websites in general, in January 2012, Pinterest drove more traffic than Google Plus, LinkedIn, and YouTube combined.

Holy cow.

Marketers, have no doubt: consumers love Pinterest.

But what the heck is Pinterest, and what should your brand do about it?

Have no fear—this post is here to help!

What is Pinterest?

Have you ever had a bulletin board in your bedroom or above your desk, with little reminders, ideas for later, and pictures of your cat? Or think of the bulletin board full of posters and notices at the gym or the local coffee shop.

Now take that bulletin board, imagine it online, and you’ve got Pinterest.

Basically, Pinterest is a socially connected public bulletin board.  Users create “boards” based around a theme or topic, and then grab images from around the web and “pin” them to that board. Of course, Pinterest is connected to Facebook and Twitter, so users can share their pins with all of their friends.

You don’t need to sign up to browse Pinterest, so it’s easy to take a peek to familiarize yourself. For an example of a very cool personal Pinterest presence, check out Steve McGauhey (who is male, unlike about 70% of Pinterest users on this female dominated platform), and for a brand presence, check out Whole Foods’ profile.

How do I know if my brand should be on Pinterest?

While Pinterest is already a big deal for some brands, it’s new, might be a passing trend, and might not have the right audience for your brand. Before you spend too much time investigating Pinterest, make sure it could be right for your business.

One note: whether or not you decide to get involved, Pinterest’s popularity should spur your brand to use more images. Even if you’re not on Pinterest, adding an image can double your page views.

To figure out whether or not Pinterest is worth your marketing resources, ask yourself the below questions. If you can answer “yes” to most of these questions, dig deeper into Pinterest.

  1. Has anything from your website already been pinned? Enter in http://pinterest.com/source/yoururlhere/ to see if Pinterest users have already pinned anything from your website. (Thanks Social Media Examiner for the heads up on this one).
  2. Does your brand create a lot of photography or images? Pinterest is all about images—and if coming up with images is like pulling teeth for you, Pinterest will be like a root canal and cavity filling all in one. On the other hand, if your brand is all about images, you probably don’t even need to read the next two questions—Pinterest is for you.
  3. Do you target 25-34 year old women? While people of all ages and genders hang out on Pinterest, 25-34 year olds are the largest age demographic, making up almost 30% of the user base, and almost 70% of users are female (source). If that’s your brand’s sweet spot, Pinterest has a lot of potential.
  4. Do you market a product or service related to fitness, food, art, clothing, crafts, travel, sports, gadgets, or weddings? These are some of the many consumer focused categories on Pinterest. However, there’s not even a general “Business” category for users to select when they create a board, so professional services companies, you might be out of luck.

How to get started on Pinterest

If Pinterest is right for your brand, here’s how you can get started:

  1. Create a profile through connecting with Twitter. Many Pinterest users have connected their profiles with Facebook—giving them access to their friends’ pins and vice versa. However, there’s no way for brands to use this feature, so we recommend connecting with Twitter to tap into your network there, or, if you’re not on Twitter, starting from scratch.
  2. Integrate Pinterest into your other marketing efforts. “Ugh,” you’re probably thinking, “I’ve already got buttons for Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, and StumbleUpon!” Too bad—if you’ve got lots of product pictures and answered “Yes” to the questions above, make some room. Pinterest simply drives too much traffic to ignore—set traffic rolling to your site with a “pin it” button.
  3. Create boards, and pin a mix of original and curated content. If your Pinterest boards sell too much, your brand won’t fit in with the fun, useful nature of the site. While including prices on product images can be a good idea, make sure the focus of your Pinterest presence is entertaining or helping your customers, not selling. Your website is where you should do your selling.
  4. Repin, comment, and engage. Unlike on Facebook, on Pinterest, brands can act just like humans. Engaging (tactfully) with other users can help grow your brand’s presence—and your customers’ awareness and loyalty.

Have you used Pinterest yet? Let me know what you think in the comments. And of course, feel free to check out my personal Pinterest page—fair warning, it’s mostly cute puppies.

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