Almost everything you need to know about Pinterest is conveniently wedged into this infographic from lemon.ly. It reaches women like no other social platform. It delivers more traffic than YouTube, Google+ and LInkedIN combined (kind of like saying a country is bigger than Iran, Turkey and Pakistan combined – sounds like a lot but less than Russia, Australia and Brazil combined). Pinterest is growing very fast.
Many brands are jumping on board. This raises the obvious question as to whether Pinterest is worth the energy and effort now or whether brands should wait. Is it essential to your business? Or is it an innovative platform for you and therefore worth some resources? Or is it simply beguiling – waiting to charm or enchant you and divert you from more meaningful programs? This last risk is a big one.
In Altimeter’s latest report on Content: The New Marketing Equation, Rebecca Lieb cautions,
“Bright, shiny objects, i.e. a fixation on newer channels and technologies, can distract from foundational channels, e.g. search, written content, such as blogs, and educational content.”
Certainly many marketers are skeptical and even disgusted with the amount of attention Pinterest has earned. As a marketer, I don’t worry about that. None of us really know whether Pinterest will become a significant platform or become the next Empire Avenue (hey, even MySpace is making a comeback!)It’s more important to evaluate this platform and the others vying for attention and resources based upon how it can help your business today.
If you are an ecommerce offering catering to women, you should jump on board now. Many retailers are doing just that. The number one ecommerce retailer in this space is Etsy. The haystack nature of that marketplace seems ideally suited for the visual curation that Pinterest delivers. The most remarkable Pinterest quality is really the women. While Instagram is also big with women, it doesn’t have the same referral traffic as Pinterest. If you have a product collection well-suited to this curation, have a storefront/product page to point people to and sell to women, then Pinterest is an easier choice. While you are figuring out the value of the “engagement” metrics (pin-ing and sharing, essentially), you can still look to count the referral traffic which is already a valuable KPI for online stores.
A Worthy Innovation
I certainly know plenty of big brands who are going all in on Facebook. Anything else – even Twitter – is a distraction. That may be a dangerous single-mindedness. We are all pushing our organization’s ability to adapt to new customer and stakeholder behaviors. We need to learn. We need to learn how to cope with the flood of choices available to people out there. Should you be on Google+? I think that one is a good bet. It may take another six months to understand its business impact but experimentation via limited investment is the only way to figure it out.
If you want to specifically engage women who are energized by fashion, food, home design, graphic design or hobby, then it may be worth some effort and investment. These categories do seem to dominate and you can see it in the most followed users.
If you have a collection of visual images to share that are of natural interest to people or if your brand intersects with a theme/meme already gaining traction, then that gives you one more good reason to engage. It doesn’t make sense to take this platform on if you don’t already have the picture content or the theme that lends itself to pinning (bookmarking) images.
Give yourself a time constraint like 2-3 hours a week. Pick out the likely KPIs that might show progress from click-throughs to followers and likes. Benchmark yourself against other similar brands or against ones you aspire to being compared to. Every brand should have some tolerance for innovating on new platforms. With a logical decision tree and quarterly evaluations, it’s possible to keep the level of effort reasonable.
Just Plain Beguiling
The simplest filter is women. If you are trying to engage C-suite decision makers (let’s face it - predominantly men) you are pretty far off your target. If you have no picture assets (e.g. catalogs) or objects that capture people’s interest, then the level of effort to create them and hope they are of intrinsic interest to people just isn’t worth it. The reason we are intrigued by Pinterest is the natural growth of the platform. Our job must be to understand it and make use of it, not try and game it.
SEO Blogger is skeptical of Pinterest's value today. He outlines a scenario to evaluate its potential based upon a crude ROI model. As a solo-practitioner, his criteria makes sense. For brands considering the platform, we are way off any ROI that matters. Simply know the platform, judge whether it is essential, innovative or merely beguiling and go from there.
Great Pinterest pages:
- Etsy - probabaly the top page, how else can you find these must-have rings
- West Elm - I love their collections. If I was currently shopping for furniture, thsi woudl definitely make it easier and more enjoyable
- Michael's Stores - how else can you make sense of all the craft supplies these guys sell?