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Pining for Pinterest: Marketers' Questions Answered

Pining for Pinterest: Marketers' Questions Answered Kailei Richardson
Pinterest has been generating quite the buzz lately. I personally admit that I’ve spent more hours than I’d like to count on the social network over the past couple months. Regardless of familiarity with the site, many people I’ve talked to about Pinterest have a lot of questions – Why is it so popular? Will I need to change my social network? What can marketers do to take advantage of Pinterest? I wanted to answer some of these questions here and shed some light on this fast growing site.

What is Pinterest, Anyway?
According to Pinterest.com:
Pinterest is a virtual pinboard. Pinterest allows you to organize and share all the beautiful things you find on the web. You can browse pinboards created by other people to discover new things and get inspiration from people who share your interests.
People use pinboards to plan their weddings, decorate their homes, and share their favorite recipes. More than just a social network, it’s a visual social network.

The top four things you should know about Pinterest:

  1. Board: A virtual bulletin board where you can “pin” items. Boards enable you to categorize your pins.

  2. Pin: The ability to post images to your boards.

  3. Re-pin: Reposting of someone else’s pin to one of your boards.

  4. Follow: There are two ways to follow. You can “follow all” meaning any time a user pins anything new to any of their boards, you will see it in real time on the homepage. You can also follow just a specific board to narrow what you see from a particular user.

Are There Any Stats I Should Know About?
According to Modea:

  • 50% of Pinterest users have children

  • 68.2% of Pinterest users are female

  • There has been a 2,702% increase in total unique visitors since May 2011

  • 28.3% of users have a household income over $100,000

  • Pinterest has 1.36 million daily visitors

Top categories on Pinterest:

  • RJ Metrics reports that most popular categories are Home (17.2%), Arts and Crafts (12.4%), Style/Fashion (11.7%) and Food (10.5%).

  • A recent survey by PriceGrabber.com found that cooking inspiration/food was the top category with 70% of Pinterest users ranking it their favorite.

Will Pinterest Be the New Facebook?
It all depends on how you define “the new Facebook.” It’s definitely one of the most popular, fastest growing new social networks. However, since you can log in with a Facebook account and easily share your pins with Facebook (and Twitter), it has been designed to complement Facebook rather than be a replacement for it.
And as mentioned previously, the usability of the site and primary focus of pinning images is quite different than 140 characters on Twitter or updating your Facebook status.

How Can Marketers Best Use Pinterest?
There are many brands figuring out what works best for them. One “early adopter” retailer who is effectively embracing Pinterest is Ann Taylor. PointRoll recently had the opportunity to work with them on their first Pinterest rich media integration. In the campaign, Ann Taylor Weddings created an engaging experience for brides-to-be. The campaign allowed users to scroll through products for brides, bridesmaids and party guests, choose their favorites, and pin directly to their own boards. The ad also enabled users to follow Ann Taylor Style on Pinterest, to continue to engage with them through the social network. This allowed for more engagement with the ad, and more reach through Pinterest.
Here are three ways that marketers can easily integrate Pinterest into their marketing strategy:

  1. Set Up Your Brand’s Pinterest Account: Like Twitter, you can easily create an account for your brand on Pinterest that other users can follow. You should also follow Pinterest users that could be brand advocates and/or have pinned items from your brand (a quick search could show you some of those users).

  2. Create Boards and Start Pinning (just make sure they look good): After you create your account you should start creating boards that can represent categories for you to pin items to. If you’re a sports retailer, you could have boards related to different sports. If you’re a packaged foods company, you could create boards related to meals or holidays and pin recipes that feature your products in those boards. But how your pins look are even more important than what you pin. It’s not the recipes, but the photos of the food that look so amazing that make people want to share with their followers and try them at home. It’s not the clothing, but how the clothing was photographed and styled that makes someone want to buy it.

  3. Integrate Pinterest into Other Marketing Efforts: Yes, users can find and pin your items on their own, but making it easier for them can increase engagement, reach, and ultimately revenue. A recent study by PriceGrabber showed that 21% of users have purchased items they saw first on Pinterest. And Wayfare, an ecommerce company, has seen Pinterest shoppers spending 70% more than other customers. So, pinning can drive purchase. Think about ways your brand can be easily pinned (or shared) and that aligns with your current marketing strategy. Do you have a product details page on your website? Add a “Pin It” button to it! Are you featuring products or recipes in your digital ad campaigns? Allow users to pin from the ad.

What’s the Bottom Line?
In its short existence, Pinterest has shown some pretty compelling results, so if your target audience is there and your products are “pin-worthy,” you should integrate it into your integrated marketing strategy. Unlike Facebook, Twitter or Google+, on Pinterest, the type of content you’re posting, how many people you’re posting it to and how many comments you have is not as important as how good the content you’re posting looks or how useful it is.

The “Pinterest effect” reminds us how important it is for marketers to focus on creative, especially in the digisphere. Also, with added capabilities like being able to “pin” from an ad, strong photography and relevant creative will be even more important, since it’s unlikely that an average image will entice a consumer to pin or purchase.

Pinterest truly illustrates ‘a picture is worth a thousand words.’ And for marketers, a thousand words could be more effective than a ‘like’ or 140 characters.

Kailei Richardson is the Director of Marketing for PointRoll. In this role, Ms. Richardson is responsible for planning and executing PointRoll’s marketing strategies as well as leading external marketing and communications. She also acts as...

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