Is it Time to Make your Business “Pinteresting”?

Those who are fond of social media sites must have already heard of the new kid on the block that is generating a lot of interest, or shall I say “Pinterest”, with its unusual and somewhat refreshing approach to networking. Tapping into most people’s childhood desire of collecting odds and ends and pasting them into a scrapbook, this virtual pin board is all set to become a darling of the masses.

Although Pinterest isn’t as popular as Twitter or Facebook (yet), the world of ecommerce is all agog with the marketing possibilities associated with this site. While it has already become one of the leading go-to sites for the female demographic in the age group of 25-34, Pinterest is all set to become one of the fastest growing social network sites ever.

As it is, it drives more referral traffic than LinkedIn, YouTube, and Google+ combined, according to Shareaholic’s Referral Traffic Report released in January 2012. The same report also adds that Pinterest users went up from 1.68 million to 1.72 million in the last quarter of 2011. And, as Comscore is quick to point out, it is the only site to have reached the 10 million unique visitors mark in America quicker than any other website in history.

But What Exactly is Pinterest?

The best and easiest way to describe Pinterest is that it is an online scrapbook. This invitation only site allows users to ‘pin’ photos and links to popular stories on their boards, which can be organized by topics. The boards can be viewed by other users, who also have the liberty to follow pinners (or their specific boards), leave comments, and share their own pins.

Since the site places emphasis on the visual medium over the more conventionally followed textual content, its appeal quotient is pretty high. Users have used Pinterest to create party ideas, travel itineraries, wish lists, decorating themes, renovation ideas and even a collection of inspirational quotes and poems.

How does it Differ from Facebook or Twitter?

Apart from the visual bent of the site, Pinterest differs from Twitter and Facebook in that where posts and ‘likes’ tend to slip down the newsfeed over time before disappearing from view altogether, boards on Pinterest can be neatly categorized according to the varied interests of users. This makes the boards very easy to view, not to mention navigate.

Additionally, Pinterest foregoes other features typically associated with social networking sites, such as chat, messaging, etc., although it does retain the function of commenting and “re-pinning” photos on user boards.

How Can Pinterest be Used for Ecommerce?

Although the site wasn’t designed to be a promotional tool and Pinterest specifically states it shouldn’t be used for self promotion, the marketing potential of this site is not lost on retailers, entrepreneurs, and businessmen. To begin with, the concept is so simple, nearly everybody, irrespective of whether they are tech-savvy or not, will be able to create and manage their Pinterest boards with relative ease.

Besides, as mentioned earlier, the site is not so interested in other aspects of social interaction such as messaging, pinging, and poking. Instead, it prefers to focus almost entirely on posting and sharing images. These features, when tapped into properly, can help businesses generate tremendous interest in their products.

Pinterest is also a treasure chest of information for businesses. Like other social networking sites, here too information is voluntarily shared by users upon joining the site. This data can be compiled and used by businesses and retailers to create an effective marketing plan that targets an audience profile that is most relevant for their business.

Another interesting thing about Pinterest is that it does not generate consumerism the way most ecommerce sites and tools do – by tapping into specific product searches. On the contrary, it emphasizes discovery. This means, when you land on Pinterest, you aren’t specifically looking to buy patio furniture or new clothes for your summer wardrobe. They start off exploring pins and user boards with the simple purpose of collecting ideas. However, in the process they often find themselves becoming interested in products and services, without even realizing that they’ve started shopping. Needless to say, this is consumerism at its subtle best.

So Won’t Pinterest be More Relevant for Visually Oriented Businesses?

Owing to the visual nature of the site, the natural assumption for most is that Pinterest makes a great marketing tool for businesses that sell products rather than services. And yet, all it needs is a little creativity for any business to take advantage of this platform.

For starters, long before you set up a Pinterest account for your business, you should take necessary steps to make your website Pinterest friendly. The easiest way to do that would be to include videos and pictures on every page. The thing is that when somebody tries to pin a webpage, Pinterest scans it for the presence of images that can be used. Therefore the more appealing videos and images you have on your page, the better for you and your business. However, do try to stay away from flash or other forms of rich media since Pinterest is unable to read them currently.

Once you have made an account for yourself on Pinterest, organize your user boards to do more than simply showcase your products. Try to take an ‘all-encompassing’ approach towards promoting your business. Tell your company’s story, illustrate your ideology, have inspirational quotes, put your lifestyle into pictures…there’s so much you can do with Pinterest. In the end you are only about as limited as your imagination.

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