Follow the Money, Follow the Pins: How Pinterest-ing Should You Be?

January 20th, 2014
by
flickr user mkhmarketing

flickr user mkhmarketing

E-Pins are landing on Target’s physical shelves.  When last browsing the store’s home accessories section, you might have noticed Pinterest tags next to certain items. This is one recent example of how hybrid retailers translate digital pins into tags and use social media in their inventory and sales decisions. With top-pinned items selling well online, the question is, will top-pinned items become best sellers on the shelf?

For business and communications professionals looking to Pin-tegrate their social media presence, Target’s evolving Pinterest strategy provides lessons and steps, as Pinterest has become a significant part of their sales and traffic strategy.

In late 2011 and early 2012, Pinterest started driving increasingly significant amounts of traffic to retailers’ websites, becoming a top five source of traffic for several retailers, following Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, and Yahoo, though search is still all-dominant.

2013 was a significant growth year for Pinterest, particularly among women. In fact, Pew Research data says that Pinterest is used by one-fifth (21 percent) of adults, and that one in three women are Pinterest users.

Inspire and Create a Path from Inspiration to Purchase

Target launched its Pinterest page in March 2012, and introduced the Pin button in the lead up to that year’s holiday season. Bonnie Gross, Target’s VP of digital marketing and loyalty, said last August that Target is in fact “still experimenting … We are in the phase of doing a lot, learning a lot and figuring out what works.” Gross says that Target boards are meant to inspire and then “create a path from inspiration to purchase.”

Target.com users have been pinning (saving) favorite products on their Pinterest boards. Target’s Pinterest approach has evolved into featuring and calling out the most pinned e-items in the physical stores with Pinterest signage.

Other retailers are using Pinterest in creative ways, most recently for their Black Friday and Cyber Monday strategies. Steve Patrizi, head of partner marketing with Pinterest, says that Lowe’s created Pinterest boards of items that were about to go on sale. It was a new way of doing digital circulars to ensure they reach Pinteresters.

Retailers are leveraging their Pinterest partnerships because, as President and CEO of Walmart Stores Inc. Mike Duke said, “The biggest opportunity we have is winning the intersection between physical and digital retail.”

Follow the Money:  Your Audience is Diversifying their Social Media Platforms

Is Pinterest a good marketing opportunity for your organization? Marketers tracking markets and their social media behaviors are honing their consumer connectivity accordingly. If your customers are diversifying their social media presence, your social media strategy should reflect that.

The growth of Pinterest does not mean that your audience is abandoning other social networks. Pew found that 42 percent of online adults in the U.S. use two or more social networks and nearly one-fifth use three or more social networks.

“People are diversifying their portfolios when it comes to [social networks],” Aaron Smith, a senior researcher at Pew, told Mashable. “The addition of a Pinterest user is not necessarily taking away a Twitter user or a LinkedIn user.”

Are you Pinnable? Making your Site Pinterest-Friendly

PR and marketing professionals are used to thinking about SEO and search-engine friendliness. With Google’s Hummingbird, which launched in September 2013, SEO stopped being about keyword quantity and link-building and became about content quality strategy. Pinterest, on the other hand, is image-driven and has different rules for directing the traffic to your site.

Pinterest’s visual focus can be a hard concept for some businesses, like news organizations. But even news editors are finding ways to turn text heavy articles into a Pinterest-friendly visual format. The Wall Street Journal has been using Pinterest, in conjunction with Instragram, to cover the New York City Fashion Week.

As with other social media platforms, the idea behind Pinterest is to foster community engagement along with self-promotion. You are more likely to have a follower share on Pinterest if you include a pin on your website. Pinterest has an application to install a Pin It button to the bottom of your page. You can also have the Pin It button appear when viewers hover over images on your site. Conveniently, Pinterest integrates with other social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter.

How has your thinking about Pinterest evolved? How much of a challenge is Pinterest’s focus on the visual? Are you finding ways to visually express your business and products? What kind of results are you seeing from pinning?

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