Is Pinterest The Right Platform For You (And Your Brand)?

By this point, you most likely know not only what Pinterest is, but that it’s also currently the fastest growing social network on the web. Launched in March of 2010, Pinterest has seen a huge growth boom over the last six months. Hitwise reported that the social image bookmarking site received nearly 11 million visits during the week ending December 17, 2011. That is a staggering 4,000% increase from 6 months earlier in June, when it had approximately 275,000 visitors. It’s hard to believe that the site is still an invitation only platform, a launch trend that we saw gaining popularity in 2011 with the likes of Spotify and Google+.

Besides being hugely popular, the site is also hugely engaging. Ignite Social Media released a survey of the site that revealed visitors were spending an average of 15 – 45 minutes on the site, per visit.

Despite Pinterest’s own seemingly “non-promotional” take on Pin Etiquette, and unlike many of it’s social predecessors, it is already showing ROI value to brands in specific sectors. Earlier this week, the internet was humming with news of record traffic being driven to retailers from Pinterest. A snazzy Pinterest infographic from Monetate shows a 389% increase in referral traffic coming directly from the Pinterest boards of specific retailers to their sites. The infographic also places Pinterest at #5, or one place ahead of Google+, in total referral traffic.

Retail brands such as Nordstrom, Gap, Lands’ End Canvas, Kate Spade and West Elm have all been early adopters. You can bet there will be a rash of new retail brand Pinterest accounts created in the next few weeks, as no one wants to be the last to the party.  Other notable brands on the platform include HGTV, the Travel Channel, Apartment Therapy and Etsy. Earlier this fall a story in AdAge mentioned that in the month of October, Pinterest had driven more traffic to Real Simple magazine’s site than Facebook, an achievement that got the attention of many across the social web.

So it’s booming, it’s engaging, it’s driving traffic, it’s attracting major brands and it’s making weekly headlines. Still, how can you tell if Pinterest is right for your brand? Below are three questions that address some of the unique facets of Pinterest to help you decide whether it’s the right platform for your brand or business.

1. Is my target audience on Pinterest?

The Pinterest audience skews 80% female – 80%! On top of that, 55% of those female visitors fall in the 25-44 year old range according to a Marketing Land report. There are also ermerging trends in education, income and even geographic regions with the most pinners. According to research conducted by Ignite Social Media, most pinners have some college education, earn between roughly 25-75k, and interestingly, are more likely to live in the Midwest than the average social media user.

If your target audience doesn’t skew heavily towards this female demographic, Pinterest might not be the ideal platform for you. Not every network is for everyone, and it’s important that you chose where to spend your time carefully. It is an emerging social network, and as it develops and becomes more accessible (remember Pinterest is still invite-only) it may be surprising to see how the demographics shift over time.

2. Is the product or service I am offering something that can be communicated effectively in a visual way?

While your pinning strategy should contain more than just straight self promotion, your products and brand content should be featured prominently on your pin boards, and the truth is that some goods and services are more of a natural fit for the platform than others.

Tech brands, for example, which can deal in more conceptual products, are not seeing the immediate benefits of jumping on the Pinterest band wagon. Retailers, on the other hand, who have long been comfortable presenting their products on a two-dimensional, visual platform, have seen the most success early on with increased traffic being driven from the network.

In truth, anything style, design, food or lifestyle-related seems to be doing particularly well, which is not to say that if your brand doesn’t fit neatly into one of these categories that you won’t do well on the platform. However, you’ll need to have a clearly defined strategy for conveying your product visually. If your product or service isn’t something that can be conveyed effectively in a visual format, you might have a long-term problem keeping users engaged with your brand on the platform.

3. Can my product or service be tied into a larger lifestyle picture?

Pinterest is about inspiration and aspiration. As a business you should be positioning yourself and your brand as part of that feel good vibe and showing how your product and services fit into a lifestyle that pinners aspire to. Use the aspirational qualities of your brand to drive the direction of your pins and your boards. When building your presence think creatively about how to best connect to your audience and their ideal lifestyle.

For example, your product may be targeted towards busy moms. By creating boards that share links to fun school lunches, art projects, kitchen storage solutions, stylish wardrobe pieces great for running to the grocery store, easy and healthy weeknight recipes, etc., you are aligning yourself with the idealized busy mom lifestyle she is curating on her own Pinterest account, and inviting yourself to be part of her Pinterest experience.

If you can answer these three questions, you’ll be well on your way to deciding whether Pinterest is a platform well suited to your brand or business. Stay tuned for more articles to help get your brand up and pinning in this ongoing blog series on Pinterest.


Michelle

Michelle