By Dan Purvis
Sarah Arrow wrote a really useful top tips for Pinterest post for Lilach back on 19th February, which prompted me to put this piece together to try and dive a bit deeper into the benefits of it for businesses. It also made sense to write something as it is the latest social media networking phenomenon – people are flocking to the site in droves!
SEVEN million unique visitors were registered in December 2011 and, according to Shareaholic’s recent report, it is now driving more traffic to company websites and blogs than YouTube, Google+ and LinkedIn combined. It even made Time Magazine’s best 50 websites of 2011 list. But what is it? And should you be bothered about yet another content-sharing site?
Well, brands have been a little slow off the mark in embracing the latest darling of the social media world. But before we get into the Pinterest-for-brands discussion, let’s take a quick step back and see what it is about.
At its heart, it is about people sharing stuff that they find interesting – kind of like a visual Digg or StumbleUpon. Thankfully, it is not about quantity – the social networking site works so well because it hinges on quality sharing and on what is interesting.
It’s all about the visual
Quite simply, the service works by letting you “Pin” images or videos of what tickles your fancy. It lets you organise them on a canvas in specific categories – kind of like a photo album but way cooler. Once you’ve Pinned it – your followers will see it, they could comment on it, Like it, Repin it on their own Boards and so on.
Choosing what you Pin is entirely up to you – football fans may Pin memorabilia, fishermen may go for great locations or big catches, keen gardeners could pin their green fingers’ best efforts, or a new house owner pictures of furniture they’re considering buying. The options are literally endless.
But what about businesses?
Ok, so it’s obvious how individuals like you and I can use it. But how will it benefit businesses? It’s worth remembering that Pinterest wasn’t designed specifically for direct customer engagement or to drive sales.
What’s compelling is that Pinterest is a social network in itself, but it uses Facebook and Twitter as the pathway to drawing more people into their own social space. This means that brands are able to interact with their target audience outside the usual social media channels. They can engage and build relationships, which is the most important aspect of any social media strategy. After all, the age-old business tenet, ‘know your customer’, is fundamental to the success of any company.
What’s more, early adopters of Pinterest may have less “noise” but will secure more “attention” as they are ahead of the competition and gaining vital market share.
Right now, brands should be making their content, products and so on easy to Pin by embedding the Pin code on their websites, blogs and other digital properties. Taking it further, businesses can create their own presence on Pinterest and share items of interest, just as they would on Twitter and Facebook. New products or services could be showcased on a Board to draw people in and then direct this traffic to the company’s website.
What about the future?
I’m always cynical about the latest fads and am wary of hype machines. The beauty of Pinterest right now is that it is clean, simple and uncluttered. My concern is that pretty soon there are going to be so many things being Pinned and Repinned owing to the huge spike in the flow of fresh content that we won’t be able to cut through the clutter. It will be become a chore instead of being fun.
And what about Pinterest itself? When will they seek to monetise their free platform and will this take further away from the joy of it? We will see – let’s just hope they don’t make the same mistake as Klout and suffer a justified backlash against it and its motives. And let’s not talk about the potential copyright issue they have.
Currently, I’m being a passive observer who is impressed with Pinterest…but I’m not active. This may surprise you owing to the nature of this post, but I dived headlong into Klout and became thoroughly disillusioned with its rudimentary ranking system and blatant monetisation of, well, us individuals.
I see Pinterest’s value, but want to see if it has the stamina as a viable business model first. My colleague, Margaret Donnelly, loves it. In fact she’s all over it and is showing me just how to embrace a new social network – you should follow her on Pinterest and see how she’s approaching it.
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