In this blog post, Kasey Cassells explores the amazing growth of Pinterest and discusses whether marketers should see the social media platform as the next big opportunity.
You’ve probably heard a lot about Pinterest in the past few months – and if you haven’t, you haven’t been listening properly. On its website, Pinterest describes itself as a virtual pinboard, which ‘lets you organize and share all the beautiful things you find on the web’. The one thing you need to know is it’s the next big thing in social media.
Pinterest is a place where users create virtual pinboards and ‘pin’ things that appeal to them – you can pin recipes, how-to guides, product pages and everything in between, and many people use it to collate ideas for their weddings, dream homes or holidays. You can make your pins public, meaning other users can re-pin, like or comment on them, and you can explore their pins too. And like any good social network, it’s addictive.
So what’s in it for marketers?
Pinterest is only two years old, and experienced an amazing growth spurt in the second half of last year – in February, Pinterest hit 10 million unique monthly users faster than any other independent site. By doing so, it’s captured the interest of marketers, who want to get in on the action. This is not surprising – Pinterest is now the third most popular social network in the US (behind the big boys, Facebook and Twitter), and brings in more referral traffic than YouTube, Reddit, Google+ and LinkedIn combined. But arguably the most impressive trick Pinterest has up its sleeve is its ability to keep its users online – in March the time on site per user reached an average of 15.8 minutes, compared to Facebook’s 12.1 minutes.
…and what’s the catch?
Looking at the numbers, Pinterest may seem to be a marketers’ dream. Unfortunately, despite the quick growth, interest in Pinterest already seems to be waning. At the end of April, monthly active users were down to 8.3 million compared to the previous month. Numbers are still high, but the huge upwards growth seems to be plateauing.Data from Compete.com
Due to the image-heavy format of Pinterest, the platform works best to showcase food, crafts, clothing and other products. For those in B2B, creating eye-catching pins could be a challenge. Due to the nature of the most popular pins, the market is quite niche – an overwhelming 78% of users are female, and the key audience is aged 25-54.
Marketing on Pinterest can also be more difficult than it seems. Like many social media sites, the dedicated users are not keen on marketing messages and anything they might deem to be spam. There are strict rules on self-promotion, and if you don’t have a physical (and beautiful) product, people may not be interested pinning anything you do. However, there are companies which have made been successful in marketing on Pinterest – so is it just luck? Partly, but there are some things you can do…
Tips for marketing on Pinterest
Marketing on Pinterest is all about subtlety. There’s nothing worse than getting accused of spamming, so the secret is to create ‘pinworthy’ content. If you create a company profile on Pinterest, be sure to mix images of your products with other pins which reflect the personality of your company.
With a focus on images, it’s important to create eye-catching, visual content which users will want to pin. If your industry is short on visual products, you can create and collect infographics and videos relevant to your industry. Infographics are a perfect format for Pinterest, and you’re able to pin videos as well as images.
Don’t just use Pinterest to get your product/service out there – use it to understand and engage your customers. Once you’ve gathered some followers, be sure to follow them back to see what they’re pinning in order to determine what interests and inspires them. You can get your current users and other social media followers engaged on Pinterest by running a contest to create a pinboard inspired by your company. Remember, it’s more about building a personality for your business than taking the hard-sell angle.
So is it worth it?
At first glance, Pinterest seems like it could be the next great social media platform for marketers. But marketing on Pinterest isn’t straightforward, and of course there’s a danger that the hype will die down and users will drift away.