Can a Brand Push Traffic Through Pinning?

pinterest-logo2For several months my wife has been in a decorating conundrum. She has wanted to decorate a certain area of our home with poster-sized photos of our children, but has been stymied – thankfully – by the cost. Most outlets producing extra-large photos, both online and offline, do so at a prohibitive cost.

And then she found Pinterest.

Apparently another person had the same decorating dilemma and “pinned” a solution: go to an office supply store, request a “drafter’s print” of a photograph, glue the print to a foam board, paint the edges to make a “frame,” and, voila, an instant professional look for less than $10, versus the original $150.

This peaked my interest, so I contacted the person and told them about finding the post as well as what I did for a living. I learned the Pinterest user is actually the owner of a small office supply company and made the pin for two purposes: to provide some useful information and hopefully generate extra traffic into the store.

Since Pinterest’s meteoric rise in becoming one of the most-used sites on the web, retailers, both large and small, have been attempting to find ways to influence the site’s millions of daily visitors. For most businesses, this has proven even more difficult than successfully engaging users on “regular” social sites such as Facebook, where consumers have shown they want to interact with friends, not be “sold” by brands.

However, this small office supply company has come across and utilized perhaps the only technique that will work: give consumers something they want – something they are looking for – while expecting nothing in return. This concept will be hard to swallow for many brands, especially those national brands where the bottom line and return on investment rule. Investing the time, personnel, and resources for no immediate, or even foreseeable return is not a plan in which most businesses will eagerly engage.

But the potential return is very real, especially for those who use sites similar to Pinterest to drive traffic into their local stores.

To fulfill her decorating desires, my wife went to a local brand of a national office supplies store and purchased not only the photos, but also all of the materials necessary to complete the project, along with a new printer and a new desk for her home office. All unplanned purchases made due to a creative pin that solved her problem.

Social media and brand managers, regardless of company size, should examine not only how their products and services are supposed to be used, but also how they could be used and how consumers are utilizing them. For example, does Procter & Gamble know that Downy is also used to strip wallpaper? A pin explaining the steps to do so could be helpful for sales.

As for me, well, I’m expecting more decorating “savings” coming real soon, as my wife is quickly becoming a Pinterest super-user.

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