What is Pinterest?
Created in March 2010, Pinterest is a web and mobile application that facilitates the discovery and collection of images, webpages, GIFs and videos. Acting as an online pinboard, it allows users to ‘Pin’ content from other websites, saving the URL and images accompanying it. Users of the site can organise their ‘Pins’ into ‘Pinterest Boards’, which act as collections of content. This allows site members to easily categorise and arrange their content, saving their DIY project ideas in one place and recipe ideas in another.
Pinterest has, therefore, carved out a niche as a recreational discovery tool, where the content is far more important than the person who owns/collects it. This has created a distinct social media proposition for businesses. While it can be a little more challenging to use effectively, Pinterest has shown it can drive website traffic and sales (it holds the title as the number one shopping platform among millennials).
The creation and collection of Pins can happen in two ways.
- Users can download an app to their browser. Downloading the app modifies the user’s bookmark bar to include a Pin It button. This allows users to collect links and content via the ‘Pin It’ button from across the web to their Pinterest boards automatically.
- By browsing Pins already created on Pinterest. The site allows users to browse collections created by other members and to save pins within it to their own collection. In this way, Pinterest encourages users to browse their website.
Pinterest also includes a social element, allowing users to follow one another, follow Boards, comment and like Pins. All Pins automatically show up in Pinterest’s search function and will show up on the home feeds of followers and those interested in that topic of content.
As part of its offering, Pinterest allows for the creation of Business accounts. Business and personal profiles have similar features in practice, but business accounts benefit from the ability to add additional users to the account, use of promotional tools and access to Pinterest Analytics.
Business accounts are also given access to promoted Pins, which are paid-for targeted ads that are shown across the Pinterest site. Businesses can also increase the capabilities of their Pins by activating Rich Pins, which allows more in-depth information to be displayed on the Pin.
In 2016, Pinterest also launched a video player that allows paid-for video ads to be uploaded and watched within the site. This function is largely separate from the rest of the site.
Pinterest has over 317 million unique monthly users, with an estimated 2 million active Pinterest users in the UK. The audience of the website is skewed towards women, who make up 62% of the userbase (as opposed to 38% of men). Pinterest attracts a fairly even distribution of ages between 18-64 year olds, making it a great platform for those targeting a broad range of ages.
What it’s best for:
- Displaying different types of content in an organised way – Unlike sites like Facebook and Twitter where content appears in a disorganised linear timeline, Pinterest allows users to present and consume categorised content. For example, a PR consultancy might have a board dedicated to Pins giving PR tips for small businesses, featuring infographics and links to articles. Likewise, a toy retailer might have a Board for top Christmas gifts for 2018, posting listings for items they stock. Boards can even be embedded into other websites, giving them a reach outside of Pinterest.
- Using, sharing and capitalising on other people’s content in a creative way – Businesses don’t just have to use Pinterest to display their own content. The Save it (also known as Repin) feature easily allows businesses to share other people’s content, such as images or webpages, without removing the source. When this content is presented as part of a carefully-curated board, this can lend strength to business profiles and make it more engaging.
- Creating engagement, both short-term and long term – Pinterest boards naturally contain multiple pins. Consequently, each individual pinboard provides a lot of content for people to interact with, increasing engagement time. Furthermore, some of these pins which might feature links to longer-form content, such as recipes or articles, meaning a single Pinterest board might provide a lot of content to consume. With this in mind, Pinterest boards have a longer lifespan than a post might on Facebook or Twitter. This is extended even more by the fact that users can choose to save a business’ Pins or follow boards with the intention of looking at it again later.
Check out how some businesses have used Pinterest to great effect here.
- Increasing brand awareness– Since Pinterest pins are searchable and made visible under categories and hashtags, a pin has a good chance of being seen by a large audience of people. How well this works depends on the profile and Pin’s SEO. However, content is still likely to be more visible and to reach further than a post on Facebook and LinkedIn might.
- Driving referral traffic to websites and increasing sales – Unlike other platforms, where explicitly sales-y content is frowned upon, Pinterest is commonly used to display product listings in a catalogue-style format. Consequently, when utilised correctly, this format can encourage sales. Statistics show that people referred to Pinterest are 10% more likely to make a purchase on ecommerce than users of other networks.
- Its range of promotional opportunities – Pinterest offers several different forms of ads which offer businesses the chance to target audiences of users with natural-looking promoted pins. This can help drive awareness campaigns and/or instore sales. Since Pinterest is a recreational site and it is often used as a place to gain and save ideas, this will be an attractive prospect for some businesses.
- Developing a community of highly engaged users – Given that the site encourages users to take an active role in consuming content, Pinterest is capable of helping businesses build a highly engaged community of potential customers. By sharing more, asking questions and running competitions, businesses can encourage users to engage and develop a relationship with their brand. Check this blog for some advice on creating a sustainable Pinterest community.
What it does less well
- Sharing business news – Pinterest is non-linear in nature and is primarily visually focused. Consequently, announcements, narrative-focused and other timely content don’t work well on the platform. Businesses are better off using Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn for this purpose.
- Targeting specific audiences – With the exception of promotional pins, Pinterest has no targeting tools for posts. Consequently, while Pins can be made more searchable to relevant audiences from a topic perspective by tagging them sensibly, people who stumble across a particular pin could be from any area of the world. Pinterest is a blunt tool if you’re looking to target a specific geographic area or region.
- Content vs. brand engagement – While people browse Pinterest for ideas and products, they don’t always do so with the intent to buy. Consequently, sometimes the content of the pin matters more to a user than the brand which created it. For example, someone might like a photo of a recent architectural project from an aesthetic point of view, not because they want to use the business’ services. This can cause some problems as this can mean that businesses are in danger of becoming a mere provider of content. Business users need to be careful to analyse their Pin engagement carefully, as this can’t necessarily be directly correlated with interest in their brand. This is why it is vital to make Pins interactive and for businesses to focus on building a community of users who actively seek out their brand, as this gives them a better chance of generating the type of engagement that matters to them.
- Time efficiency – While repinning and creating boards only takes a few seconds, planning and curating interesting and engaging boards can take time. And, since the potential of the platform is only limited by your ideas, it can become a real time sink. Whether the work of keeping an active Pinterest account is worthwhile or not depends on whether the large time investment still will help the business efficiently achieve their goals.
Pinterest might work for you if:
- You want to create a community of highly, engaged users who regularly interact with your brand
- You work in any industry that is all about the visuals – beauty, home improvement, fashion, architecture etc.
- You want a secondary place to promote or catalogue your products – driving referral traffic to your website
- You want to employ a content marketing approach – using Pinterest to share Boards of advice and content to help or engage your followers
- You want a place to naturally collect or display content in neat categories
Are you considering Pinterest or another social media channel for your business? Don’t know where to start? 360 integrated PR offer a range of social media services for businesses who are established or complete novices in the social media scene. Find out more here or call us for a complimentary chat!