Pinterest. If you have been on the internet for more than 10 minutes in the past 6 months you can’t have failed to notice the hype surrounding it. I’ve been a member since July 2011 and, following an agonizing 4 hour wait for my request to join to be approved, I’ve been using it consistently since that date. I’m a very visual person so I find it very satisfying to use – not only from an aesthetic point of view but also as a search engine for images and, increasingly, for products themselves.
What is Pinterest exactly? It’s essentially an invite-only social network for sharing images that are found online (including uploaded images from the users themselves). The images are known as ‘pins’ and users can organise them in themed boards i.e. silver jewellery, green hats, cats with Hitler mustaches etc. So far, so dull – so why should we care? Well, according to the latest figures, Pinterest has become so popular that it is now driving more traffic to retailers’ sites than Google + and is attracting traffic at an incredible rate. There are two ways that marketers can take advantage of Pinterest – they can sign up and start curating contact, and they can also start optimising their client’s visual content to encourage others to re-pin and distribute. Images can be linked directly back to a site, or even better, a particular landing page so everyone who sees the pin will have the opportunity to visit the original site – that’s where ‘Pinterest as Search Engine’ comes into it’s own. You can also add the price of a product to something you pin and it will appear with the content – a nice touch.
There are a number of great reasons a business should consider marketing their brand and products on Pinterest:
* It appeals to the visual nature of your potential customers – We know from the phenomenal success of Google Images, that people love to search for pictures, so it makes perfect sense for a site to take that one step further and let people organise those images themselves. Allow users to build a theme around YOUR images and inspire other users with them.
* It’s another microsite/online catalogue for the brand – this make it ideal for businesses with actual products to sell. A great image with a link back to the landing page makes a powerful call to action, and talking of links…
* It’s a link back to the site and any number of deep links to internal pages – yes, yes, Pinterest have just decided to make them nofollow but a link is a link. Each pin has a link back to the original source of the image so it’s a bit of a no-brainer not to take advantage of this.
* It’s a superb showcase for infographics – if you have one, then pin it and get promoting
* It’s not just images – videos work too - If you have a video that promotes your product, service or company then think about creating a brand board and add them, along with images of the company at work and at play (within reason). If the videos are more then puff pieces and add actual value they stand every chance of getting repinned – thus promoting your brand even further.
* Pinterest is ideal for the passive internet user – it gives them a way to show their creativity without having to design or make anything themselves. If you give the community a reason to re-pin your image, they will. That’s what the site is all about.
* It’s invaluable for building relationships - companies can generate any number of boards devoted to a section of their business including their customers. Think about showcasing your client’s best pins about you, create a testimonials board (encourage videos for this), offer exclusive discounts via a board (using QR codes), hold a contest or encourage user generated content about your products. The possibilities are endless.
* Use it as a research tool – look at the content being pinned to find ideas around your vertical markets
Pinterest is still relatively new (to the vast majority) but sites like Facebook, Twitter & Tumblr have given users the taste for sharing and that’s what Pinterest does so well. It’s absolutely worth setting up an account for your clients and seeing how it performs – measure your referrals and see what kind of traffic it drives. But, above all, remember that it is a social media site and you need to add real value to what you bring. Make your images and videos as visually appealing as possible and give people a reason to care about you.