Pinterest is a social platform that has gotten a great deal of attention lately. You may have seen invitations from your friends pile up in your inbox to join the invite-only site, or maybe you’ve recently noticed your friends’ “Pins” posted in your Facebook and Twitter newsfeeds.
For the uninitiated – or uninvited so far – Pinterest is a virtual bookmarking and collaboration tool that is used to collect, organize, share, and comment on photos of personal interests and passions. After joining, I found Pinterest to be incredibly addictive. It’s very easy to use because you can post photos from almost any website, news outlet, blog, online retailer, or video sharing sites. I also understood why others would want to join and I was interested to know how brands use it as part of their overall social strategy.
The site, which launched in closed beta in March 2010, has been described as “addictive” and “engaging” by its users. This explains why the social site has 11.7 million unique monthly U.S. visitors, who spend an average of 98 minutes per month on the site as of January 2012. Pinterest is also driving more referral traffic on the web than Google+, YouTube, Reddit, and LinkedIn — combined.
Examples of how users use the “pinboards” - which are virtual bulletin boards where you share your photos, articles, and videos – include posting and sharing, or what users call “pinning” ideas for home decorating, organizing and sharing recipes, or collecting photos for inspiration while planning a dream wedding. You can create any type of pinboard you want and pin relevant photos to that board – making sharing photos easy and fun.
However, Pinterest is not just for wedding planning and home decorating. Brands are using Pinterest to connect with customers. Companies are leveraging Pinterest to humanize their brand, collect and share relevant resources, promote their products, and drive traffic to their websites, as this review of the 10 Most Followed Brands on Pinterest from Mashable shows.
Below are a few examples I’ve identified of how brands are using Pinterest:
ModCloth.com is an online retailer that sells affordable, independent designer women’s fashion, accessories and home decor. ModCloth attracts new customers and engages with current customers through social platforms (Facebook and Twitter) and through the ModLife blog. They currently share their latest fashions on social networks, encourage buyers to post ModCloth purchases, and let customers be “virtual fashion buyers” by selecting items to sell through their “Be the Buyer” program.
ModCloth is now using Pinterest as part of their overall social strategy to share photos that showcase the company’s products and the people who work there, as well as display the company’s personality. They have boards sharing retro photos, vintage-inspired clothing, photos of cute pets (the owner of ModCloth is a dog lover and owns a pug), and Stylebook images of their fashion. They also get their Pinterest followers to be a part of their boards on a “Guest Pinner Gallery” – a board that showcases inspiration from their followers.
Birchbox is subscription-based beauty service provider that delivers beauty samples to their customers each month. They currently use Facebook to share news about the type of brands they deliver, as well as current beauty trends. Birchbox now uses Pinterest to share seasonal trends by product type (nail art, hair ideas, etc.) and beauty tips & tricks. A great example of how they engage with customers is having a pinboard called “Un-boxing videos” that show actual videos from customers opening their Birchboxes upon arrival, showing the samples they received, and telling what they like best.
Whole Foods Market
Whole Foods Market, one of the world’s largest retailers of natural and organic foods, is very active in social media - promoting products, recipe ideas, and interacting with customers. Whole Foods actively uses Pinterest as another platform to promote its brand, lifestyle and to showcase customer interests.
Whole Foods has pinboards that include seasonal food and recipe ideas (fall, winter holidays, New Year’s Eve ideas), unique dessert art photos, kitchen gadgets, reusable product ideas, and gardening examples. The company also does an excellent job staying active on Pinterest by pinning and repinning their customer’s pins, and following other Pinterest members. Whole Foods currently has over 13,700 followers and is following 1,101 members, as compared to Birchbox, which has over 1,340 followers and is following over 140 members.
Pinterest has grown tremendously, and is easily integrated with other social platforms including Facebook and Twitter. Pinterest launched its Actions-packed Timeline tools last month and since then, the number of Facebook users navigating over to Pinterest has grown by more than 60 percent each day.
The site is incredibly popular and intuitive – making it a social platform that brands should consider using to compliment overall brand strategy when it comes to engaging with their audiences, particularly brands that utilize or benefit from stunning visuals such as retailers, travel companies and food brands. Pinterest allows brands to share their personality and adds another dimension by providing a visual display of core values. On Facebook and Twitter, those “pins” could be shared, but going straight to the brand’s Pinterest account really reveals the depth of the brand’s personality on a visual level.
As Pinterest continues to gain popularity, it will be interesting to see how brands will use, or continue to use, this social platform as part of their social strategy. There are so many potential opportunities for brands to engage with customers – from launching a product through sharing a photo and creating a viral effect, to enticing a user to read a company blog post with a captive photo.
I am excited to see how Pinterest will shift marketing strategies in the near future. How do you think Pinterest will change social media strategies for brands/companies? Let me know what you think!