Just in case you have been out of commission and haven’t heard of Pinterest, according to its About Page, “Pinterest lets you organize and share all the beautiful things you find on the web […] Browsing pinboards is a fun way to discover new things and get inspiration from people who share your interests.”
The site was (soft) launched less than two years ago and is still by-invitation-only, but has exploded in popularity in the past few months. According to ZDNet, Pinterest received nearly 11 million total visits in the week ending December 1, 2011. That’s 4,000 percent growth on visits during a single week in just six months, points out CNET, bumping it into the top 10 social sites among the more than 6,000 properties that Hitwise tracks.
In fact, for the first time Pinterest made the new BurrellesLuce 2012 Top Media Outlets: Newspapers, Blogs, Consumer Magazines, Websites and Social Networks. The site comes in at number 9 on the top social networks (with 0.41 percent market share) according to Hitwise rankings for the week ending December 17, 2011 – beating out newcomer Google+ which rounds out the number 10 spot with 0.36 percent market share.
We all see cool stuff online that we’d like to share or save (aka “pin”) – I have some Facebook friends that I wish would use Pinterest instead of filling my stream with kitten images and quotation graphics, but that’s for another post. Snark aside, it is no surprise that people are finding use for this online pinboard. Friends and colleagues that are engaged are pinning wedding themed items, foodie friends are pinning recipes, fashion junkies are pinning wish-list items, etc.
So, I get the individual use, but what, if anything, can this do for companies or organizations?
Pinterest for Cause Marketing
Joe Waters answers this question for causes/non-profits in a HuffPo article. He points out that if you have an interesting or compelling story that can be told with images (and believes every cause does), and if you’re active on other social media platforms (because he doesn’t believe Pinterest is a good stand-alone platform yet), then you may very well benefit from the site. However, he warns, you must act socially – be useful. One example is Amnesty International’s boards.
Small Businesses on Pinterest
Kathleen Scarrow addresses Pinterest from the small business point of view in a Globe and Mail article. She points out that currently the majority of the user base is women 25-44 so if this is your target market, and again, if your story can be told via images, then this may be a great tool to use. She also warns about self-promoting and to think creatively instead. A good example is Etsy’s boards.
Journalist and Media Outreach
Mashable posted an article from the International Journalists’ Network that talks about how journalists could use Pinterest. For example, you could use the site to showcase your work, use mobile pinning of pics for breaking news, find trends or ideas, or simply curate the news into a make-shift online magazine. Check out TIME Magazine’s boards where they’re using it for staff bios and to promote behind-the-scenes blog posts and more.
Other articles, including this one on Mashable and this one on AmEx Open Forum, discuss how bigger brands can or are using Pinterest. First and foremost they warn against blatant broadcasting and suggest using a more holistic approach. Some of the suggestions are using it as a focus group, promoting a lifestyle, showcasing brand personality, crowdsourcing, general inspiration for your team(s), fostering creative communications between the brand and its customers, and running contests – such as Land’s End’s Pin It to Win It contest. If you want specific brand examples, try checking out Real Simple’s boards, which according to a Business Insider post, now gets more referral traffic from Pinterest than from Facebook. Or check out the Whole Foods Market’s boards – be forewarned you WILL be hungry after seeing this one!
I thought I’d share my research here, with you – the BurrellesLuce Fresh Ideas readers – but truly want to know if you’re using Pinterest, for what, and why.