Much to everyone's surprise, at the turn of 2012, the runaway hit social networking site wasn't Twitter, LinkedIn, or Google+. It was Pinterest, the latest social media craze that seems to have captured everyone's attention.
Pinterest is essentially a graphic social bookmarking network. It has quickly shot into the top 10 most visited social networks of the past year -- having already attracted more than 10 million registered users -- and continues to gain popularity, even making Time's list of the 50 best websites of 2011.
The concept behind the image-based platform is simple enough: Users create and name boards of anything they like and post relevant photos on corresponding boards, while sorting them under a number of defined categories. Pinterest allows you to pin various items onto your pinboard, where the "pins" are images and videos collected from anywhere on the web. For ease of use, you can download a browser extension, which allows you to quickly pin anything you find online directly, sharing it to get the opinions of others and to get them to share it as well.
Users have the option to follow one another based on their own interests, viewing photos that are displayed on a visually appealing pinboard-type feed. The follow system works just like Twitter, so you can "unfollow" any friends, organizations, or boards whenever you want. People can also share their finds with friends and are allowed to edit comments on others' images before saving them to their own pinboard.
While Pinterest has now been around for a while, marketers need to begin establishing a presence on this platform (if they haven't already), as it's really just starting to ignite.
According to comScore, the average Pinterest user today spends 98 minutes per month on the site, compared to 2.5 hours on Tumblr, and seven hours on Facebook. Furthermore, a recent Shareaholic report indicated that Pinterest accounted for more than 3.6 percent of all referral traffic in January 2012, which was more than Google+, LinkedIn, and YouTube combined.
But with yet another social network to keep track of, how can companies best use this platform in conjunction with email marketing campaigns?
For starters, it's important to understand that Pinterest goes far beyond simply sharing or "liking" things of interest; it allows users to actively collaborate on various topics. As soon as you add contributors to one of your pinboards, you can (with a little initiative) work together to plan an event or product release, or collect insights and information for a new project.
Some companies have already set up accounts on Pinterest and asked users to repin and "like" their images. If users like what you put out, the people who directly visit your boards will repin your content. In turn, their friends will see your images and have the option to repin them, and so on. While you can of course opt not to be registered on Pinterest, there is a huge benefit to setting up an account, in that you can have more control over what comments people make about you and your products, just like on Facebook.
Pinterest is based on image sharing, so the key factor to leverage it as a supporting advertising and communication channel is to pay attention to how these images are integrated with email sends. The better the image, the more likely a user will want to click on it for further information and pin it. You can include a small description of an image you post on Pinterest, or place it in your newsletter, for example, along with a link that leads users to the specific page on your website that hosts the image. Doing this gives you even more opportunity to tell users about your product, service, or company. So Pinterest certainly works very much in favor of a visually pleasing email.
You can also offer a "pin it" button next to the products on your site. This gives users the option to share what they shopped for with their friends. All it really takes is one pin or repin to get your product noticed by many more people -- fantastic if you are in the retail industry or sell products via your website.