Firstly, although Startacus signed up to Pinterest some months ago, until this point our usage of this site has been quite minimal. However, having heard about many businesses and people acclaiming its’ value and upon hearing that Carhoots (an online marketplace for cars in the UK) had over 1.9 million followers on their various pinboards, we were intrigued. We wanted to find out a little more. Was Pinterest more than a place for people for people to share pictures of hobbies, fashion and styles. Is it targeted at more than the largely female demographic?
Leaving stereotypes aside, the reality is that Pinterest as a business is obviously doing something right - and many reports cite Pinterest as the most successful source for website traffic after organic hits. With this in mind, we thought it wise to do a little research. Hopefully some of our findings will help more of us, (ourselves included) to use this visual, but often misunderstood social sharing network.
What is Pinterest? Pinterest in fact promotes itself as a fluffy little site for the cuddly things in life. As they so eloquently put it on their own site; “Pinterest is a virtual pinboard. Pinterest allows you to organize and share all the beautiful things you find on the web. You can browse boards created by other people to discover new things and get inspiration from people who share your interests.People use boards to plan their weddings, decorate their homes, and share their favorite recipes.”
So then, it allows you to search for and follow other ‘pinners’ so that you can keep on top of a particular interest and at the same time gives you the chance to pin your own stuff and finds on your own pinboards with the intention of people following you back.
How did Carhoots get it so right? Well, Carhoots seem to have got it so right, because they have identified Pinterest as a place that can be a visual representation of their product and their market. After all, people who love cars - really, really love cars! Whilst Carhoots itself is simply an online marketplace for buying and selling cars, many of their customers may be people who are passionate about cars - who like looking at and talking about cars pretty much 24/7. With this in mind, if you can build a community of 1.9million followers all loving what your product or service is, then it stands to sense that your brand will be strengthened, as was the case with Carhoots, whose brand has not not only been strengthened but has also become synonymous with cars full stop. If Carhoots can drive only 1% of that 1.9 million traffic from Pinterest on a monthly basis, then bingo, you are talking a possible transaction right there.
So how can this help you? Perhaps it can’t. Perhaps your product or service is not something that can be visually represented. Perhaps even if you can think of a way of visually representing that product or service, people just wouldn’t be that interested in or bothered by the type of images you have in mind. Accordingly to Repinly (the Pinterest Directory Stats site) the most popular 5 pins by specific subject that appear on Pinterest are: Food and Drink, DIY and Crafts, Home Decor, Women's Fashion and Hair & Beauty. Cars doesn’t fall into these categories yet Carhoots are doing okay!
It’s important to remember that 41.3% of pins do fall into the “other” and “remaining categories” sections. Could your business fall into one of these categories? After all, Pinterest currently ‘drives’ around 25 million unique users to its site on a monthly basis, so even if you only attract a very small percentage of people to your pinboards on a monthly basis that are interested in and want to share what you have to ‘show’, perhaps you could end up becoming synonymous with that particular subject and that in turn wouldl strengthen your own traffic and brand. Simple eh?
Then we found Pinterest for Business... Pinterest have recently introduced a Pinterest for Business section to the site. It does make sense really as you can imagine this is the section of the community where they see ‘transaction’ potential themselves. However in the short term, this section to the site is filled with tips on how to both use Pinterest and to use it successfully. There are Tips on everything from Telling your Story through to building your community and it’s certainly worth a look if you want to take Pinterest as a social platform seriously.
Patience, Commitment, and Uniqueness is key At Startacus, we’re only just beginning our Pinterest journey (you can find us here!) and we know that it only 100% commitment in engaging and building an audience will make it work. It’s tougher than Twitter, as finding strong visuals is harder than writing 140 characters or less, and as is often the case with a new social platform, it is sometimes hard to know where to start. However, thinking you can just go on, add a few pictures and think this will work and have an impact is simply not the case. If you want Pinterest to work for you, you need to give it the same amount of commitment as you do to your Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn accounts. Also beware, Pinterest is very keen not to just have a site full of spammers, selling their products or services. So ultimately, you need to want to use Pinterest because you think it is a worthy place to be, that you want to create pinboards that are unique and interesting and that you are not thinking of the short term sale, but instead are looking at the long term gain of building pinboards that interest and stimulate. Check out the Carhoots pinboards if you want evidence that it takes hard work and dedication to then start thinking of converting that traffic into potential customers....