Pining for Pinterest

  |  March 29, 2012   |  Comments

How to put the platform to work for your brand.

It's the latest social media darling - Pinterest. In just a short time, this visual curation powerhouse is responsible for driving more traffic to websites than Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, and YouTube combined. Its simple design, including pleasing graphics and neat organization, allows users to quickly gain access to the content that matters to them. As a result, both unique visitors and time spent continues to increase and marketers are taking notice. Brands across all verticals are carefully observing and, more importantly, beginning the process of formulating their own strategies and tactics to build a presence in this burgeoning channel and community of pinners. So the key question for every marketer is - how can Pinterest help me form a deeper connection with my customers and key prospects?

Getting Started

Find a shared passion. Pinning is all about building a community around a shared passion. They say a picture is worth a thousand words and in some respects that is what Pinterest is all about. For brands, that means creating interesting boards around a topic or subject your customers are passionate about that aligns with the essence of your brand - be it music, sports, travel, fashion, cars, food/cooking, interior design, gardening, technology, or more. For Lowe's, its 25 boards reflect the mission of "improving your home," which includes "Craft Ideas," "Gardening Tips," "Bathroom Inspiration," and more.

Get inspired. A great byproduct of Pinterest's explosive growth is the enormous attention that has been focused on the platform and, more specifically, the individuals and brands that have embraced the platform and built an active community. Study them carefully and get inspired.

The 10 most followed brands are:

  1. The Perfect Palette
  2. Real Simple
  3. The Beauty Department
  4. HGTV
  5. Apartment Therapy
  6. Kate Spade New York
  7. Better Homes and Garden
  8. Whole Foods
  9. West Elm
  10. Mashable

Also, check out some of these power users with huge followings, according to Mashable: Jane Wang, Christine Martinez, Jennifer Chong, Joy Cho, Maia McDonald, Caitlin Cawley, Mike D, and Daniel Bear Hunley.

Integrate and connect. While it's important to be everywhere your customers are, it's more important for brands to make sure each community serves a distinct purpose and can be used to weave a conversation with consumers. Leverage the strengths of each community and offer some unique value. As an example, you may want to use Twitter to get the word out (i.e., breaking news and promotions), Facebook to create a conversation or discussion around a topic, YouTube to showcase an educational product video, commercial outtakes, or how-to tips, and Pinterest to visually inspire. Take the necessary time to integrate these communities where relevant and use your presence in one to grow the other. As an example, Lowe's saw a 32 percent increase in followers to its Pinterest page after it integrated a Pinterest tab on its Facebook page. In fact, some boards saw as much as a 60 percent increase. Additionally, Pinterest referrals back to Facebook also grew by 57 percent, demonstrating the seamless flow between communities based on the specific needs and strengths of each. Finally, leverage APIs to collect data including activity in order to build insights about your audience.

Be creative and have fun. Experiment: use the inherent strengths of Pinterest's visual platform to engage and acquire new followers and encourage users to share it. Apparel brand Guess asked consumers to create inspiration boards around four spring colors and title their boards "Guess my color inspiration." Four winners were selected by noted fashion bloggers. Lands' End created a Pin It to Win It contest encouraging consumers to pin items from its website for a chance to win Lands' End gift cards. Retail outlet Barneys encouraged consumers to create a Valentine wish list with at least five items sourced from its website. In each case, the brands above leveraged the strengths of Pinterest's visual platform and encouraged participants to create their own inspiration boards associated closely with the brands and its products - thus increasing buzz, visibility, and subscribers for each brand.

Track and measure. While it's important to experiment and have fun, you also want to gather critical insights and learnings along the way. Treat any Pinterest promotion or program just as you would any other marketing program. Set up your goals and objectives and create a specific program around those goals/objectives. Set the necessary KPIs and communicate those metrics to all involved to properly gather learnings and the overall impact and success of the effort. For consumer-packaged goods provider Kotex, it was all about honoring women and leveraging the power of Pinterest to reward those women who inspired them most. The program included finding 50 "inspiring" women and looking at what they were pinning on Pinterest. Based on that, they then sent the women a virtual gift and if they pinned the virtual gift, they got a real gift in the mail based on something they pinned. The result - 100 percent of the women posted something about the gift and did so across multiple social networks (Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.), resulting in greater reach and visibility than was initially anticipated. In addition, more than 2,284 interactions overall occurred and the program generated more than 694,864 impressions around the 50 gifts, indicating strong engagement. Finally, the YouTube video summarizing the program has been viewed nearly 18,000 times, indicating the program has been a source of interest and inspiration to other brands and marketers alike.

With hockey stick-like growth, Pinterest now finds itself among the top 30 websites in the U.S. and shows no signs of slowing down. Pinterest not only offers brands an opportunity to curate and visually organize information for consumers in an appealing way, but also to create a community of real enthusiasts and advocates for the brand and shared topics of interest. Happy pinning!

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Michael Della Penna

Michael Della Penna is a seasoned marketing professional with a long, proven track record of launching successful marketing, branding, and sales strategies for leading public and private companies. Most recently, Michael was the senior vice president of Emerging Channels at Responsys. His responsibilities included spearheading the overall strategic direction, partnerships, and solution offering across key emerging channels including social, mobile, and display for the company. Prior to Responsys, Michael founded SuiteDialog and Conversa Marketing, a full-service email and social CRM agency that helped brands ignite conversations and cultivate relationships with customers across the social web. Conversa Marketing, was acquired by StrongMail Systems in 2010. Before branching out on his own, Michael served as chief marketing officer for Epsilon, a leading provider of multichannel, data-driven marketing services. Michael's other key marketing leadership roles include CMO at Bigfoot Interactive, vice president of strategic development at CNET Networks, Inc., and vice president of marketing at ZDNet. Michael received a B.B.A. and an M.B.A. from Hofstra University.

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