Let’s begin by dispelling a myth; Pinterest is not a social network - just ask co-founder Evan Sharp. It’s not about catching up with friends, and it isn’t even about engagement - at least not in the same way as Facebook and Twitter.
Pinterest is essentially a search engine; a tool for discovering and sharing ideas, and collecting them in digital scrapbooks - with a focus on the future, rather than the past (Facebook) or present (Twitter).
Having shaken off its reputation for being a recipe-sharing platform, savvy businesses now see Pinterest as a valuable - and unique - marketing tool that can send you more referral traffic than Twitter. But how can companies get the most from it?
Exactly how you use Pinterest will depend entirely on the nature of your business and your objectives, but Pinterest marketing can help drive traffic and growth while building your brand personality - whatever industry you’re in.
Pinterest is essentially a visual (and/or aural) representation of your brand and gives a unique opportunity for your business to communicate and connect with its audiences. It's a growing web and mobile platform with 100 million users globally, which allows users to collect, organise and share inspiring images, videos and audio files (pins). Pins are saved to boards using the Pin It button, allowing you to collate and organise your files by theme or topic. By inviting other team members to contribute to boards, they become a hugely valuable collaborative resource which can either be shared openly or privately between group members.
Because a user's Pinterest page can potentially cover a range of topics Pinterest allows users to follow either an account or individual boards. Boards can therefore attract more followers than users themselves.
What's really valuable about Pinterest is the scope for exposure through repinning. Repins are the Pinterest equivalent of a retweet - an opportunity to have your pins shared not just with your community of followers, but with your followers' community and beyond. But, like social networks, sharing/repinning is a two-way street. Repinning other users' images triggers a notification to the original pinner, building awareness of your account and your brand and an opportunity to build your Pinterest community. If you're lucky they may even reciprocate, extending your reach even further.
Search Engine Optimisation is an often overlooked but powerful aspect of Pinterest marketing. For example, entering source URLs directly into pins gives you the opportunity to send traffic back to your own website. Find out more about maximising your SEO potential here.
So, how can businesses use Pinterest? As I mentioned it depends on the nature of the business and what you're trying to achieve but here are a few ideas:
- share your company blog and newsletters
- provide tips on how to use your product
- give expert advice for getting started with your product or service
- publish industry information that shows people what to expect from your service.
- share webinars, podcasts or video from company events
Let's look at some possible uses a bit more closely.
Humanise your brand
People do business with people, not faceless corporations and Pinterest is the perfect platform for showing the personalities behind your company while communicating your brand values. Create a board for staff members, take photos at a company event or give a peek behind the scenes of office life to give a sense of your culture, and the people behind your brand.
Pinterest is made for e-commerce and it’s about to become even more powerful when buyable pins are fully rolled out (US only). Buyable pins will allow shoppers to make purchases without ever having to leave the app, a feature with the potential to transform Pinterest into an e-commerce powerhouse. When combined with promoted pins - Pinterest’s paid advertising model - there are even more revenue-driving opportunities.
Useful e-commerce stats:
- 93% of pinners shopped online in the past six months
- Pins with prices get 36% more likes than those without
- Images without faces attract 23% more repins
- Pinterest will NOT take a cut of retailers’ profits - for now at least
Sell your brand and services
If you’re trying to describe a product that is quite literally rocket science, use Pinterest to demystify the technology behind it, communicate its features and give tips on how to use it. Remember, Pinterest is not just about images, boards can contain videos too - choose whichever best suits your brand or mix them up a bit.
Provide tips on how to use your product, advice for getting started with your service, or industry information that shows your audience what to expect from you. Be creative! The most creative use of Pinterest we’ve seen is Uniqlo’s promotion of a new product which involved many people pinning images simultaneously to create a unique scrolling effect. The campaign resulted in global media coverage and all for free!
Whatever your industry, Pinterest provides powerful and unique opportunities to give a visual or aural dimension to your brand and its services as well as a powerful boost to your SEO. We'd love to hear about examples of Pinterest being used effectively - how would it best benefit your brand? Let us know in the poll, or leave us a comment.