You may already be sick of hearing about Pinterest, the darling new social network. The social media world has been a twitter with the news of this “visual bulletin board,” what it means for marketing, for consumers, for search engine optimization, for gender relations. But you probably have just one question about Pinterest: Should I be using it for my business?
The answer is a resounding “maybe.”
Sorry, were you expecting something more concrete? I can’t give you that. Not every company belongs on every social network. Some just aren’t a good fit; other businesses don’t have the resources it takes to sustain a solid effort. But here are a few good signs you should probably be utilizing Pinterest:
- You’re a business-to-consumer business. If you’re focused on selling to average Joes and Janes, Pinterest can help you get your name in front of current and new customers by creating an entire lifestyle brand. What does that mean in non-marketing speak? It means really visualizing who your customer is and how your product fits into their larger life. Take Kate Spade NY, currently one of the most popular brands on Pinterest. While they have the boards you’d expect, showing their dresses and accessories, more of their content is built around their brand idea of “live colorfully.” That means sharing pictures of travel destinations, parties and other items that fit in with their customers’ lives, and in doing so gives us a richer view of what a “Kate Spade girl” is really like. It can take some guts to take this tactic. It means being comfortable with driving traffic to websites other than yours, promoting people other than yours. But it can also pay off big.
- You do something visual. Even if you’re business-to-business focused, if what you do can be tied back to something that looks great in a picture (or to a lesser extent, a video), Pinterest can still be a great social network for you. If you’re a photographer, graphic designer, an industrial manufacturer, an insurance agent or work in any other profession that can be depicted with a photograph, you may belong on Pinterest. Okay, so photographers and graphic designers are obvious, but how can an insurance agent or a manufacturer use Pinterest? Insurance agents can show the things they insure–a car, a house, a smiling family, a treasured possession (with your client’s permission, of course). Even a manufacturer who makes widgets can show the finished product he contributed to, or take dramatic photos of your plant. Think: How can your brand be boiled down to its most basic, visceral essence? Take a picture of it and get it on Pinterest.
Pinterest may not be the best choice for you if…
- You’re already struggling to find time on other social networks. While Pinterest is still in its infancy, it can be time consuming to locate great visual content and share it, structure boards appropriately, create blog content with stellar images to place on the network and so forth. If you’re already having a hard time posting consistently on your blog or on a lower-maintenance network like Facebook, you might want to wait until your baseline social media has grown a bit more before tackling this new toy.
- You’re only interested in linking back to your own content. Pinterest is about sharing, and as I discussed above, creating a three-dimensional brand. If all you do is spew your own content–including bad stock images that link to your own blog posts–you won’t see much of a return. But just like on any other social network, if you take the time to seek out allies, cultivate relationships and share other people’s materials more than you share your own, you’ll see results.
- You’re a business-to-business brand. At first glance, Pinterest isn’t a great tool for B2B. At least not yet. But Roundpeg still has a Pinterest account. What gives? Well, as we mentioned above, we do work in a visual industry, with our focus on web design and graphic design. Even social media gives a chance to show its visual stuff with its ubiquitous infographics. And we’re interested in showing our clients and prospects who we are as people, not just as a faceless brand. That’s why we have boards with cat photos and pictures of our dream office–it’s personal and it’s us. But not every brand is willing, able or interested in doing this. If you’re not, maybe you want to double down your LinkedIn efforts, or start a Twitter strategy. Those might prove more fruitful.
Pinterest is a new toy, and soon the furor will die down and we’ll fall into a comfortable routine with this network as we have with all the others. Or Pinterest will fade away into that giant graveyard of social networks that almost made it. By all means, dive in and look around. But have a strategy, understand what you can expect and make sure it’s something that fits with your company.
Over the last few months, Sharaholic has looked at Pinterest’s ablity to drive referral traffic to websites in comparison to other traffic sources.
Their findings? Pinterest’s influence is definitely growing . Up from .85 percent share of referral traffic visits in January to 1.05 percent in February. The social pinboard site has passed twitter and is closing the gap on StumbleUpon.
What makes this even more interesting is that face that Pinterest is still invite only. What will happen when it is open to everyone?
Want to learn more? Join us for a closer look at Pinterest in our newest social media seminar: Pinterest, What’s All the Fuss – Wednesday, April 11, 4:00 – 5:00. There is no charge to attend, but seating is limited, so register early.