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Pinning Down Pinterest's Business Value

PinterestWhat does it take to get you pinterested in a new social media platform?  Is it a mention from a friend? An article tweeted to you from a trusted social media pinsider?  Or maybe it’s just some clever prose that draws you in.

Whatever it is, all of the big players in the space had that moment when their platform crossed over 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 Pinterest there?

It just might be.

A quick update for those of you who still may be a tad late to the party on this one: Pinterest is a network currently in invitation-only beta. Users are provided an easy-to-use platform that enables them to take images from around the web, or their own, and "pin" them to their "board" as a way of visually telling their community what they are eating, watching, reading, listening to, thinking about… "Interested In."  Users can then follow the activity of their friends and comment on it, Like it, Tweet it, etc. across the social web.  The company describes its purpose as "Connecting everyone in the world through the 'things' they find interesting."

What I find particularly encouraging about Pinterest right now is that it seems to be answering the call for curation.  Avid social media users are now receiving information faster than they know what to do with, or maybe more importantly, tell others about. Pinterest provides a visual snapshot to your friends of everything you "like" all in one place.

But what about Pinterest for business? 

 As we see the gradual disappearance of more and more Facebook stores, and brands still struggle with figuring out how to tie engagement to purchase, that has to be the next logical question, right?  In a recent survey of businesses that described themselves as "active" in the social space, when 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 13MM users, and having attained them in 10 months, makes them the fastest social media platform to surpass the 10MM mark.  Of those, domestically 83% are women and 3% report an income above 100K. Specifically, 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. But while this may be where they are best at driving engagement and sharing, they recently got beat to the e-commerce punch by Fancy.  Fancy allows users to participate in many of the same activities as Pinterest, but they also enable users to make purchases of these same products and services that that enjoy "pinning"…. directly on the platform.  This is major step towards fusing curating and commerce

It should come as no surprise then that two of the 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 as well as web images chosen to appeal to their customers. Images for the latter subscribe to HGTV's self-described Pinning strategy of "creating a team atmosphere and being inspirational."

It looks like both brands, like so many others right now, understand the importance of a coordinated cross-channel approach for retail within social and also understand that building brand affinity leads to intent to purchase.  But, also like so many others in the space, they have not solved the final piece of the puzzle: "Why should I buy what I Pin?"

So Pinterest is definitely picking up speed like a locomotive. Most insiders have already signed up.  Probably because they are afraid to miss the next big thing (see Google+).  Those who have not, are probably afraid to ask the "what is Pinterest?" question aloud. 

Initially, I think Pinterest has a chance to own two niches:

1) It 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) It could establish itself as the de facto "scrapbooking" platform. With Pinterest, you can easily display all of the National Parks, Baseball Stadiums, or Bruce Springsteen concerts you’ve been to or are interested in.

Additionally, businesses that have multiple destinations (hotels, chain restaurants, amusement parks) or that have a visually distinct/appealing product should at this point consider setting up an account and participating at an entry level.  But they should do so in a unique manner without over-committing resources…yet. 

Using Pinterest to mirror your Facebook or Twitter activity will just segment your audience and show the early adopters that you’re not in for the long haul.  Show value, earn trust, and then refine your strategy.

For more information on integrating Pinterest into your marketing programs, be sure to register for StrongView’s April 11 live webinar: "Put a Pin in It! Leveraging Pinterest to Drive Email and Business Results."

Posted by: Dan Opallo at 5:25 PM
Categories: best practices, Pinterest, Social Media, Strategy

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