Social Media Marketing: An early look at how marketers can use Pinterest
There are many valuable social media platforms for marketing: Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Google+ being the most well-known and popular. But, arguably the hottest and most talked about platform right now is Pinterest.
From its website: “Pinterest is an online pinboard. Organize and share things you love.” At least a little bit confusing from a marketer’s standpoint, right?
I recently had the chance to speak with two self-described Pinterest “power users,” who also happen to be marketers with some ideas on how practitioners should approach the social platform.
Jessica Best, Community Director, emfluence, a digital marketing services company, and Tiffany Monhollon, Senior Manager of Content Marketing, ReachLocal , an online marketing company, provided their insight on Pinterest.
Start with a personal account
Tiffany says marketers looking to use Pinterest for business should start with a personal account to understand the user experience, grasp the appeal of the site, and discover potential marketing uses.
“For example, when I first started using Pinterest, I started pinning right away and saw the site more as a new form of social bookmarking,” she says.
“But once I started following people and boards that interested me, I understood the site is about so much more. Now I see how powerful social discovery is within the Pinterest ecosystem because of all the content I run across there that I love, value and use — all based on what other people I’m following are pinning.”
Tiffany adds that this is a powerful marketing opportunity to build brand awareness and drive sales, along with providing referrals. A January Shareaholic survey found Pinterest ahead of YouTube, Reddit, Google+, LinkedIn and MySpace in referrals, and only trailing Facebook, StumbleUpon, Google and Twitter.
Jess explains her first engagement with the platform, “I have been a very loud proponent of it here in the last month or two. It took me about four tries to get it, because just like with any new social media platform, I am sort of hesitant to get into something else that is going to take my time. And Pinterest is a time sink.”
“But, after about four tries, I spent some actual time on it. I realized that I had passed two hours of my time pinning and repinning things. That was when I realized what a draw it was. I think the biggest thing for me is that the interface is so easy to get completely sucked into and they have so many different ways that you can find relevant content.”
Jess continues, “They also use an algorithm, so that when you are logged in, it shows you the popular items that would be relevant to you, so it’s very easy to get drawn in.”
She adds that Pinterest combines a Facebook element of “what you are most likely to click on” with a Twitter element of those things “being very easy to share.”
Pinterest taps into the ‘interest graph’
Tiffany used the phrase “interest graph” to describe the Pinterest experience. What she means by that is users can follow people and content based on topics they are interested in rather than just people they know. She believes that sets Pinterest apart from other social platforms.
“It also represents a lot of opportunity for using Pinterest for marketing, because you can share and curate content around a wide range of topics and areas — all based on what may appeal to your target audience,” Tiffany states.
Who is on Pinterest? What marketing channel should be on it?
Right now, Pinterest is heavily into one particular demographic: women between 25 and 54 who live in the Midwest, recent research has found. According to ComScore, the platform has more than four million users.
Jess adds that she thinks the platform is the most heavily B2C social medium out there right now.
“I don’t think that means B2B isn’t necessarily going to be involved eventually. I just think that especially consumer packaged goods, B2C products and e-commerce are obviously a huge part of (Pinterest) from a marketing standpoint,” she explains.
Actually using Pinterest
From the user standpoint, you create online “pinboards” that are titled. With the current demographic, many pinboards are titled with things such as: recipes, dream outfit, home furnishings, etc.
Users then “pin” items in the form of photos or video to their pinboards, and other users can “repin” those items.
Given that the entire experience is “pinning” this content, that means from a marketing standpoint you want to make that content easy for Pinterest to handle. For example, if the image on your website is too small, or the wrong file type, Pinterest users cannot “pin” it, but if that same image is on another website in the correct format, it will be pinned back to that URL and not yours.
This is an important distinction for any marketers who hope to benefit from the platform, but especially for e-commerce sites.
Jess says JPEGs work, and PNGs should work, although there needs to be more testing with file types, and that a typical e-commerce image that is 300 pixels wide is too small to be pinned.
She added images should be more like 600 to 800 pixels wide and 1000 pixels deep.
Tiffany also provided some insight into practices to follow on Pinterest.
“The first thing to consider — is your online content pin-worthy? This could be everything from your website pages to blog posts, infographics, how-tos, tutorials and more. Since Pinterest is an image-based site, it’s more important than ever to make sure that high-quality, appealing images are a part of your online marketing strategy,” she says.
You also don’t have to be actively using Pinterest as a marketer to benefit from the site. But you should make sure your content is optimized for the platform and “pinnable.”
Other suggestions include:
- Create content specifically for the Pinterest audience, such as step-by-step guides and participating in popular memes
- Create content types that are popular on the site and post them to your website or blog
- Make your content easy to pin by installing a “pin it” button on the site
- Create an account for your business with a username that coordinates with your brand
- Once you’ve created populated boards, start following users
- Add the Pinterest social media icon to your blog, website and email signature to promote your social presence and build a fan base
The downside of Pinterest
Jess says one issue she has found with the platform is that the load time is “atrocious.” Most likely due to the large file types. The load time issue is even more prominent on mobile devices she says.