Ah the birth of a new social media darling…we all greet its ascension to the throne of social hyperbole with both excitement and caution. Is Pinterest the next Twitter/Facebook or just the latest new inhabitant of the land of misfit social toys? We have certainly heard it before, “you need to be on it”, “its the next Twitter”, “don’t be left behind”, or “get in early while you can stake your position.” Now, I certainly can’t say that I have not been a victim of this land rush mentality before…look at Google+. But, I really see an interesting tool developing here. I have spent some time recently playing with Pinterest’s functionality and envisioning how it can help both businesses and people. I really like it and you should certainly give it a look.
What is Pinterest?
Launched in 2010 by Yale Graduate Ben Silbermann, Pinterest was developed to help people share their interests and passions by “pinning” those images to a virtual bulletin board. Think of it as a visual Twitter. While founded by a man, an astounding 80% of users are women. For many women, it is a digital scrapbooking tool to share recipes, fashion, decorating tips, and more. Interestingly, these are not your typical East or West coast influencers, but 18-34 year old mid-westerners. Growth started slowly, but when they moved to an “invite only” model, usage exploded. In January, 11.7 million unique visitors came to the site representing the fastest growth of any social networking site to top 10 million. While that is remarkable, what is astounding is that in February, Pinterest drove more referral volume to other sites than Twitter. Now that represents some very big numbers.
Why do you care?
While all of this is both compelling and interesting, is Pinterest somewhere you should be expending your marketing resources? I believe that the answer is yes. At the heart of Pinterest is sharing. Pinterest is not an island unto itself. You are connected to Facebook and Twitter with all of your friends and followers. So, when you begin putting remarkable content onto your Pinboards, you can easily share it with your social world. And, as more people share your Pins, it tracks right back to you. As well, if you post content from your site including blogs and videos, as people Pin your content it will refer others to your site. Finally, Pinterest is an outstanding tool for developing your personal brand. I can think of no other tool that lets you so easily develop a storyline about who you are, what is important to you, and where you specialize.
What do you need to do?
Pinterest is all about the visual. Note all of the sumptuous pictures of food. But, even if your company or brand isn’t about beauty, you can still make a strong statement on Pinterest. All you need to remember is to start with a picture and then develop your content around attracting people to the visual. If you make it remarkable, Pinners will be attracted to it. Here is how you should start:
- Begin by requesting an invite (or ask a friend who already has a Pinterest account– it is quicker)
- Sign up with your email address connected to your Twitter business account (not your personal Facebook email account, unless it is only about you, since Pinterest currently cannot connect to Facebook business pages)
- Fill out your Pinterest profile page (Don’t forget your logo and links to social sites)
- Create Pinboards (choose topics that define you and delete the “suggested” topics that populate your Pinboard initially)
- Add a “Pin it” button to your browser to easily add content you find that is Pinnable
- Populate your Pinboards (make sure to begin populating with meaningful content before you start promoting your Pinterest Pinboards)
- Create visual content (Refer to other content such as product photos, video links, ebooks, blog posts, or infographics in your market focus.)
- Build your Pinterest following (Select “Find Friends” invite Facebook friends or select Facebook friends who are already on Pinterest)
- Promote your Pinnings (Let people know through Facebook and Twitter that you have a new pinning, add the Pinterest logo to your website and emails, and share links through Linkedin)
Remember, Pinterest is young. Right now, it might not seem like the perfect fit for you or your product. Maybe, you have a macho product and it is hard to see it appealing to the current female dominated audience. I am certain that as this product evolves, the categories will grow to represent a broader range of interests and demographics. So, start your Pinterest page, begin experimenting, and learn from this tool. You really don’t want to be left in the dust on this one.