What’s so “Pinteresting” about today’s fastest-growing social networking phenomenon? Is it mostly for brides planning their weddings, or recipe hunters looking for creative dinner ideas? Or is there value in it for businesses, too?
Pins and Boards
Before we answer those questions, let’s cover a little Pinterest 101. Launched in March 2010, Pinterest is a photo-sharing website that operates like a pinboard. Users create and manage theme-based image collections made up of pins (individual photos) and boards (categories). Users can browse on any public pinboards for unique images, “re-pin” those images (or others found on the internet) to their own pinboards, and “like” any photos that draw appreciation. Originally individuals were required to request an invitation to join, and then quickly set up personal boards centered around hobbies, interests, and events. In October 2012, Pinterest launched business accounts, allowing businesses to either convert their existing personal accounts into business accounts, or start from scratch. That changed the game.
Capturing Viral Power
Over the past year, businesses have flocked to join the popular website. While nearly every demographic is represented on the popular board-based site, retailers understand that marketable women make up the largest component. Any entrepreneur knows they’ve got it made if they can get enthusiastic fans of their product to become their word-of-mouth sales force. Nowhere is this more true than in the social media world, where a business can dramatically broaden its reach by capturing viral potential. All it takes is for one popular product photo to be re-pinned repeatedly on Pinterest, then shared on Facebook and on down the line, and suddenly a business has a viral hit on their hands, without having spent a single advertising dollar.
Go-To Brand Authority
It is easy for businesses to position themselves as experts in their industry on Pinterest by providing educational and useful information to their followers while promoting their products in fun ways. For example, a jeweler could showcase lovely photos of his precious gems, rings, and bracelets while explaining to his audience about each gem’s properties, how to determine its value, or how to properly care for your valuables. By pinning helpful, relevant resources, you can quickly become the go-to place for reliable information about your area of expertise. Building trust increases customer loyalty and referrals as you build brand advocates.
A recent study revealed that Pinterest drives more referral traffic than LinkedIn, YouTube, and Google+ combined. It goes without saying, though, that this only works if you post pins that are interesting enough to entice users to re-pin them on their own boards. Successful pins are typically attractive but also can be inspirational, problem-solving, or appealing to a common hobby or activity. You don’t have to create all the content you use yourself; you can re-pin or draw from other online sources. Imagine pinning an image to one of your business’ boards and finding out that within a month, it has been re-pinned 100 times. That’s not even including the thousands of hits the blog post associated with that pin may have generated by people who didn’t bother to re-pin it.
In just the last 12 months, Pinterest has grown from accounting for a measly 2% of socially-generated e-commerce sales to over 23%, coming in just behind Facebook. The visual, product-based (not to mention free) site is perfect for showcasing online store items. The beauty is that each image can be hyperlinked back to a business’ online store, and a complete description can be included beneath the photo. If a price is included in the description, Pinterest makes sure to include a price banner across the product so viewers understand that it is for sale, and what the cost is.
The icing on the cake is that you can figure out how well your Pinterest marketing is working by accessing various tracking tools. You can determine which of your pins results in the most click-throughs to your site with Pinterest’s free web analytics tool. The Pinterest Pin Count tool shows you how many times one of your site’s blog posts or pages has been pinned or re-pinned within Pinterest. Using the metrics you uncover, you can begin to replicate the type of content that tends to attract the most interest.
Ultimately, how well your business does on Pinterest will depend on how well you understand the mentality of the user. Your content should benefit your viewers, giving them valuable information that in turn may result in them becoming customers.