If you’ve been paying attention to social media news recently, you’ve probably heard about a little site called Pinterest. Maybe you’ve even ventured onto the site, pinning your favorite photos of hilarious baby animals and thought-provoking quotes. But what about Pinterest’s implications for online marketing? Surely it contains a lot of untapped potential, but is it potential that’s relevant to you and your business?
What’s Pinterest again?
Pinterest is a social network built on the concept of sharing visual recommendations via virtual pinboards. Users bookmark – or “pin” – photos of interest to theme-based boards. Users can also repin from other Pinterest users. The site has quickly gained popularity, and now drives more referral traffic than YouTube, LinkedIn, and Google+ combined. That’s pretty impressive for a network that’s still invite-only.
Have people already been pinning photos from my site?
I don’t know! If your site draws a decent amount of traffic and contains eye-catching photos, then the answer is “probably”. However, there’s a very simple way for you to find out. Check out pinterest.com/source/(yourwebsite) – for example, replace (yourwebsite) with CNN.com and you’ll find all the images people have pinned from CNN websites – not just the homepage. You may be surprised by what you find.
So do I just start pinning all the photos from my site?
No. Absolutely not. The whole point of using the site is to curate content from multiple sources, rather than a whole bunch of stuff from your own website. That’s not to say that you can’t pin your own content – it just shouldn’t be your main focus. Just as you shouldn’t only talk about yourself or share your own content on Facebook or Twitter, you shouldn’t only pin yourself on Pinterest. I bet you’re starting to see a pattern here.
Wait, so what do I pin?
If your brand were a person, what would its personality traits be? Sure, that seems like kind of a strange question. Think of it another way: people who are interested in my brand are also interested in (blank). For example, tech news site Mashable has Pinterest boards for web humor and nerdy Valentine’s Day gift ideas. Beauty product retailer Birchbox curates home decor, food, and fitness pinboards.
You can also create boards to reflect different segments of your target audience. For example, lifestyle magazine Real Simple has separate boards for healthy recipes and chocolate desserts – offering dieters a separate destination from dessert devotees.
Finally, many people and brands alike create seasonal or event-based boards. Recently, many boards have featured Super Bowl party recipes and ideas, or Valentine’s Day gift lists.
What type of brand can successfully use Pinterest?
With enough creativity, just about any brand can create a successful Pinterest presence. However, the medium is especially effective for the following industries:
- Retail and ecommerce
- Travel and tourism (see Travel Channel)
- News, media, and blogs
- Photography and graphic design
- Restaurants, grocery stores, and anything involved with food (see Whole Foods)
- Real estate and architecture
What’s the verdict?
It doesn’t appear that Pinterest will be going anywhere in the near future, and will probably only continue to grow as a powerful social media site. For now, many of the traffic benefits extend mainly to lifestyle brands. If your business isn’t a lifestyle brand, it’s probably best to wait it out and see what develops in the future of this unique social network.
Is Pinterest a useful tool for the future of social media marketing, or just a passing fad? Let us know what you think!