If you’ve heard of Pinterest, you probably already know it is one of the fastest growing social networks. I think the only thing that is growing at a faster rate is the number of blog posts on all the whizbang things you can do as a Pinterest user. Don’t get me wrong, I love using Pinterest for fun and reading lists of Pinterest tips. Even more fun? Figuring out how to use it for business.
Isn’t that still the big question for those of us in PR, marketing and social media? How should my business be using Pinterest? Or maybe you are asking it this way: how does Pinterest fit into my marketing plan? Or maybe even…what is the value of Pinterest? If you are looking for information on what Pinterest is, how to set up a Pinterest account or how to use Pinterest, this post is not it. (I suggest reading Pinterest 101 and the other sections on the Pinterest Help page.)
The point of this Pinterest post is to take a step back and think about a few things companies can do to harness the power of all those people who have already gone cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs over Pinterest. These three tips are based on the work we’ve been doing with our clients that I suspect apply to all or most organizations.
The Prada sunglasses I pinned from the Nordstrom website.
- Before you think about pinning, think about others pinning you. If you’re already pinning and haven’t checked to make sure that images from your company’s website can be pinned, stop reading and do it now. This is particularly important if you sell a product and have product photography. As an example, I recently pinned a photo of Prada sunglasses I was considering as a splurge purchase after trying them on but leaving them behind at Nordstrom. Still thinking about the designer shades the next day, I found them online and decide to see what my friends thought by pinning the image directly from the Nordstrom website. With more than 313 repins and 116 likes, I kinda have to think I’m not the only one who is thinking about clicking the order button. The tip: make sure your website is Pinterest friendly so that pinners can pin images that link directly to your website. Tools such as Flash and website photo galleries that might have given your website umph just last year might not work for Pinterest. Talk with your web designer or IT manager about the cost of making these changes and make it a priority in your overall marketing spend.
- Speaking of product photography…Pinterest is all about the visual — images and videos. And not all visuals created equal. If you’ve been following the Pinterest popularity explosion, you know that it seems to have happened overnight. Last year we were helping a client undergoing budget reductions to strategize the best spend of its shrinking marketing budget. One week we were nodding in agreement to cutting the product photography budget and the next we were making the argument that Pinterest had changed everything. And it has! Think about the images you see getting repinned. Or if you aren’t yet an active Pinterest user, think about the types of photography you most want to see when considering a purchase. Example: take a photo of a Johnny Boden dress, and it looks okay. Put it on a beautiful model and shoot the photo on location, and voila! It’s stunning! Which do you think cost more? The tip: don’t skimp on photography and videography. If this is not in your marketing spend now, see how you can add it and make sure it’s given priority in your 2013 budgeting process. (And, you can use it on your website and with your other social media channels.)
- Think about what you want to convey through Pinterest and what you have to share. If you are already doing other kinds of social media, you should already know this. A big brand that is doing this well is HGTV. Notice how the HGTV boards are consistent with the content viewers go to the TV channel seeking. Take Briar Chapel (a Clairemont client) as an example of a smaller brand that knows what people want from it. As our area’s largest green, new home community, Briar Chapel’s Pinterest boards give a view into what is important to the community’s residents (supporting local businesses, gardening, family time and outdoor activities), as well as what it’s like living in the community (with boards on amenities, available homes and even neighborhood pets). The tip: plan before you pin. Remember that social media is about sharing. What does your organization or brand have to offer? What advice or helpful hints can you share? (Briar Chapel pins links to tips on green cleaning, composting and craft ideas.) Then think about how you can mix that with visuals. The time to do so should fall under the planning portion of your marketing budget.
Yes, Pinterest is fun for users! It is also proving to increase brand loyalty and drive sales. Not yet convinced it should be part of your content marketing mix? Consider this quote from Linda Boff, executive director of global digital marketing at GE: “We use the mantra ‘business is social’ increasingly at GE. Social is accessible no matter how big your company is.” Oh, and btw, Linda has recently reported that Pinterest is driving more traffic to GE’s website than any other SEO-related effort. Pin for the win!
And yes, this is still new. Just a few months ago, Linda was saying that GE was experimenting with Pinterest — learning and having fun in the process. How are you experimenting and what have you learned? What have you done to make your company or brand Pinterest friendly? How has Pinterest changed your communications budget planning?