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Pinning Down Pinterest’s Business Value

Here's an article I wrote for MarketingProfs:

What gets you interested in a new social media platform?  A mention of it from a friend? An article tweeted to you from a trusted social media insider? Maybe clever prose draws you in.

After trying out a new social media platform, you may then decide that it needs to be part of your routine. Likewise, all the big players online had that moment in which they changed their thinking about a new platform. They made the shift from “I’m going to create an account and check it every once in a while” to “This needs to be part of my daily communications routine.”

Is the popular online pinboard Pinterest needed in your daily routine? It just might be.

What I find encouraging about Pinterest right now is that it seems to answer the call for curation. After all, Pinterest provides a visual snapshot of everything you like all in one place. And avid social media users are now receiving information faster than they know what to do with—or, more importantly, than they can tell others about.

But what about Pinterest for business?

The Business Side of Pinterest

In a recent survey of businesses that described themselves as “active” in the social space, they were asked, “Is your business using Pinterest?”

They responded in the following manner.

  • No, and we’re not considering it: 40.38%
  • Yes: 30.77%
  • No, but we’re considering it: 28.85%

Currently, Pinterest claims over 13 million users. Having attained them in 10 months makes Pinterest the fastest social media platform to surpass the 10 million mark. Of those, in the United States, 83% are women and 3% report an income above 100K.

Pinterest’s sweet spot appears to be women aged 18 to 34, living in households with incomes between $25,000 and $75,000 per year. The site has a very feminine look and feel about it. The opening page is predominantly wallpapered with images of women’s outfits, DIY craft projects, recipes, and wedding dresses.

Though Pinterest may be best at driving engagement and sharing, it recently got beat to the e-commerce punch by Fancy. Fancy allows users to participate in many of the same activities as Pinterest, but Fancy lets users purchase the same products and services that enjoy “fancyings” directly on the platform. That is a major step towards fusing curating and commerce.

Two brands on Pinterest that caught my eye immediately were Bergdorf Goodman and HGTV. Pins from the former are a mixture of products from bergdorfgoodman.com and web images chosen to appeal to their customers. Images for HGTV subscribe to its self-described pinning strategy of “creating a team atmosphere and being inspirational.”

Both brands, like so many others right now, understand the importance of a coordinated cross-channel approach for retail within social. They know that building brand affinity leads to intent to purchase. But the brands have not solved the final piece of the puzzle: “Why should I buy what I pin?”

Despite this question, Pinterest continues picking up speed. Most insiders have already signed up. Probably because they are afraid to miss the next big thing (see Google+). Those folks who have not signed up are probably afraid to ask the question aloud.

I think Pinterest has a chance to own two niches.

1.) Pinterest could be the social media platform of choice for foodies. Pinterest seems to lend it itself to easily posting food pics, sharing recipes, and giving recommendations.

2.) Pinterest could establish itself as the de facto “scrapbooking” platform. For example, on Pinterest, you can easily display all the national parks or baseball stadiums you visited or planned to visit.

Additionally, businesses that have multiple destinations (e.g., hotels, chain restaurants, amusement parks) or that have visually appealing products should consider setting up an account and participating at an entry level.

Companies should participate in Pinterest without over-committing resources—yet. Using Pinterest to mirror your Facebook or Twitter activity just segments your audience and shows the early adopters that you’re not in Pinterest for the long haul. You need to use your Pinterest boards to show value, earn trust, and then refine your strategy.

How is your company using Pinterest?

Posted by: Dan Opallo at 9:40 AM
Categories: social media, pinterest, , social media marketing

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