Pinterest the latest craze

Kellee Gabel

What is Pinterest and how does it work?

Pinterest is now the third most popular social network in the US.  Publicly launched in August 2011, Pinterest now has in excess of 10 million users, and is generating a lot of coverage from other media outlets because of its rapid adoption and the amount of time individuals are spending there.  Based on spiraling statistics, this is not just a flash in the pan.

Subscribers can build virtual bulletin boards by topic, featuring images and commentary about ideas they want to share with others.

Example site:  http://pinterest.com/oprahwinfrey/

Is Pinterest right for you?

The addition of Pinterest to the stew adds fuel to the battle over which Social Media flavor will win the day.

For instance, Google+ has become the darling of a male dominated market, appealing widely to techies, while Pinterest has captured the interest of women (83% of the US Pinterest audience are female) aging from 18-34, whose interests lean more toward design, fashion and home decor.   I believe that although the female audience for Pinterest is a given – after all, we gals generally love to shop –  the age range will soon mature into 18-55.  It’s simply a matter of time before others catch on.  Remember, Facebook was once skewed to a younger audience, and look who’s there now!

Ultimately from a targeting standpoint, it all comes down to which audience you are seeking.

Why should you care?

If businesses want to benefit from them, social networks can’t be ignored.

Consider this:  eMarketer reports that in January 2012, users spent an average of just 3.3 minutes on Google+ (compared to nearly 8 hours on Facebook.com and nearly 100 minutes on Pinterest).   Impressive!

The Pinterest user interface is clean and uncomplicated, with a nicely limited set of instructions.  Sharing content is a no brainer.

It has been said many times over that a picture is worth a 1000 words.  Well, there you have it!  Pinterest wins hands down in this category.

Pinterest, in my opinion, just might be a retailer’s dream come true.  And, while marketers may try to appear nonchalant about the marketing value of this tool, I believe it’s a win-win situation, since the many Pinterest subscribers and their connections to other social media outlets lead to sharing and more sharing.

If you post appealing images of your products on Pinterest, followers see this content, and many are “repinning” to their own profiles, which may in turn land on their Facebook pages and websites.  Pinterest subscribers appear to be unconcerned about their role in what is essentially free referral marketing for corporate America, because they’re out there having fun.

Some negatives or unknowns…

  • Pinterest might be best labeled a Business to Consumer channel for sharing visual content; however, Pinterest doesn’t have a business space.   It does, however, allow for website visitors to post things from a website back to Pinterest.    In this regard, I predict the segmentation of interests made possible through the Pinterest user boards will affect future advertising initiatives, as businesses employing consumer-centric practices are publicly shown an inside track to individual interests.
  • What happens when someone has pinned to an image and the retailer removes that image from their file server?  There is no real answer to this as of this writing.
  • While widely adopted, people are still learning how to use Pinterest, so if climb aboard, hang on.  You may be a little lonely taking on the initial learning curve.
  • According to Wikipedia (see: (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pinterest), scammers have figured out a way to post surveys with incentives like free products, which have led to phishing of personal information from those who fell prey, and of course, the free product was never delivered.  So, as always, it’s good to beware.

Measurable Results?  You bet!

In closing, as with all marketing endeavors, measuring results is important.  Close-looped reporting to measure lead and customer generation will help marketers show ROI for time invested into this marketing initiative.

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