Spotlight on Pinterest

The plethora of social media platforms available that can be used as central elements of marketing strategy is vast, and shows no sign of slowing in the near future. The importance of strong social media marketing is recognised by a wide variety of brands, as organisations seek ever more creative and original ways to communicate with consumers and generate engagement with their brand. While Facebook and Twitter remain the two largest social media platforms for marketing around the world, younger sites such as Instagram have become increasingly popular tools for introducing more innovative marketing styles. In 2014AdWeek reported that Instagram achieved three times as much engagement per post as Facebook, and with the introduction of paid for advertising on the site for a select number of Fortune 500 brands, Instagram looks set to become an increasingly popular choice for marketers.

But can the same trend be said of Pinterest, the photo and image sharing platform which is estimated to have over 70 million users worldwide? Since its launch in 2010 by a small group of entrepreneurs, Pinterest has been utilised not only by individual users but by a wide range of brands, some of which have succeeded in using Pinterest to create a human element to their image and allow consumers to engage with alternative content in a way which differs significantly from the likes of Facebook.

One company who has succeeded in creating a winning Pinterest strategy is Ben and Jerry’s, who have created 24 boards and generated 6,046 followers and provide other brands with an insight in how best to use Pinterest to engage with customers. The Pinterest site allows users to go behind the brand and find out unique information about the company through the use of a History Board and create a personal connection with Ben and Jerry’s that may not be achieved through other social media channels. Likewise Random House books have created a phenomenally successful Pinterest page which has reached an incredible 1,454,015 followers by not only promoting its own products but playing to the interests of their demographic by creating boards dedicated to iconic book covers or an aptly titled board called Bookshelf Envy

Yet when brands like Coca Cola have reached the dizzying heights of almost 93 million likes on Facebook, can Pinterest really compete with the scale of its social media rivals? In an interesting article entitled The Pinterest Conundrum, Forbes has recently argued that while Facebook may be larger in scale, Pinterest has the potential to drive more sales for brands because of the kind of insights it generates. It is argued that while ‘Facebook users mostly generate information about their tastes and preferences based on their pastexperience with brands and products,  Pinterest users share the kind of purchase intent data that’s more commonly seen on search engines like Google. And just as ads targeted with Google’s data generate outstanding direct response, so will ads targeted with Pinterest’s data.’

It seems that the marketing potential of Pinterest is not yet fully understood by a wide range of brands, with many finding it difficult to find relevant content to post and tap into the huge potential for engagement that lies therein. According to the same article by Forbes Coca Cola have generated fewer than 5000 followers on Pinterest, which compared to the success of their wider strategy, shows a clear lack of direction by the marketing giants when it comes to using the platform. Social Media Examiner have published a range of articles offering advice on devising a positive Pinterest strategy, including linking up your other online platforms such as sales websites, blogs or Tumblr to Pinterest by using the ‘Pin It’ widget which is offered free by Pinterest to its users and can vastly increase the range of shares and engagement available from all users. Other interesting insights include monitoring how users edit and re-pin brand content, which can allows brands to better understand how customers describe and view their products and the keywords they often revert back to and can be used by the brand to create more targeted search engine optimization tools or more relevant direct marketing.

Although Pinterest may still lag behind the size and strength of social media giants such as Facebook, it appears that by using the site strategically and understanding the insights it can generate about consumers and the products they are interested in, brands can make Pinterest work for them and become a central pillar of their social media strategy.

Spotlight on Pinterest