Pinterest is taking the social media community by storm in 2012, growing its membership at a faster rate than any other social network. The rapid growth has made it the third-most-popular social network, behind only Facebook and Twitter.
The quick growth has caught many marketers off guard, so let’s take a look at why Pinterest absolutely should be pinned on your marketing board for potential new tactics.
Pinterest is a virtual bulletin board that lets users collect and organize online images and explore other users’ images. Retailers add “PinIt” buttons to their website’s product pages and create image boards to be followed.
Users create their own boards and then use a website’s PinIt button (or their own PinIt button on their web browser) to pin favorite photos onto their boards.
For every image, Pinterest makes sure to give credit to the original source and whoever shares it, so both can get the referral traffic. The most popular pins are for food and drink recipes, DIY projects and tutorials, fashion, home decor and weddings.
Pinterest includes most of our favorite social media tools. Users can follow other users’ boards, like and comment on their pins, add a tag to a pin, and re-pin (or share) a pin. Let’s look at some of Pinterest’s selling points for marketers:
• Strong engagement — Sony recently reported that clicks on its shopping website’s PinIt button outnumbered Twitter clicks by more than 10 to one. Once on Pinterest, stats from digital marketing agency Modea show, users average almost four minutes more per visit than Facebook users.
• Referral traffic — Modea research also showed that Pinterest was generating considerably more links back to a business’ website than YouTube, Google Plus and LinkedIn combined, and was now almost on par with Twitter. The extra referral links from a very trusted source also help improve a website’s search engine rankings.
• Attractive demographic — The majority of Pinterest users are female, though this is slowly changing. In particular, Pinterest’s most common user segment is the upper-middle class mother, an incredibly important source of household purchases.
• Sales channel — A PriceGrabber.com study showed that 21 percent of Pinterest users had made a purchase directly from Pinterest.com and their average order value was more than double that of Facebook-driven sales.
How to get started
Start by populating at least five boards with lots of engaging pins before you promote your boards. Re-pin photos from other like-minded users and invite employees to participate in pinning images.
Exclusive and interesting images work best. Sony attributes its Pinterest success to the creation of beautiful new product images and to using a mix of both fun and practical images.
Focus on how your consumers use your product or services as well as core ideas for your company. Whole Foods, a Pinterest early adopter, focuses on recipes, favorite bloggers and foundations, and other healthy topics, and rarely promotes its in-store items. Its pins are frequently shared and the company attributes this approach for amassing nearly 52,000 followers.
You may choose to adopt a more sales-focused approach with Pinterest. You can easily add price tags to any Pinterest image you have for sale so that users can click to visit the product on your website. Check your analytics to see how many visits and sales happen as a result.
Just like with Facebook and Twitter, it’s essential to frequently update content and interact with users. Today’s consumers want to build a relationship with their favorite brands, and are less likely to share and like a brand that loves ’em and leaves ’em.
Once you’re up and running, your pin activity can serve as a valuable window into buyer behavior. Nordstrom, another early Pinterest adopter, creates boards related to its major seasonal clothing lines and monitors pin activity data for critical insights into buying preferences.
You’re likely thinking that Pinterest is yet another tactic for your overworked marketing manager to handle and integrate with your overall marketing strategy. You’re right.
It may be worth it, however, depending on your marketing strategy and the amount of time spent by your consumers in social media. More specifically, ask yourself if photos are important to your business, if the Pinterest demographic is an attractive one, if you have the time or resources to implement, and after you begin, if the analytics prove that Pinterest traffic is indeed valuable.
With any new marketing tactic, try it for 90 days and then compare the results (or the potential for results, in some cases) with your other tactics.
For most businesses, Pinterest can easily complement their other efforts and has a rapidly growing and valuable audience, so it definitely should be moved to the top of their consideration list.
(This post originally appeared in my Denver Business Journal Digital Marketing column here)