Using Pinterest for Visual Marketing
The number of images generated on social media is staggering. Between Facebook and Instagram, consumers post nearly 2.5 billion images every week, according to Engadget, the tech blog. While Facebook has revamped its feed to make it more image-oriented, it’s hardly the most visual of social media platforms. That honor goes to Pinterest.
Pinterest is an image-driven social media platform. You “pin” something interesting — hence the name — and share an image and a link to the original content you found online. You can pin just about anything you can find on the Internet. You can also create collections of “Pinboards” — like tagging. The site is arranged by categories for the convenience of visitors and followers. Pinterest users can repin your pins, and whenever someone does this, that pin will show up in the newsfeeds of all the Pinterest users following the user who repinned it.
Pinterest uses news feeds. But unlike Facebook’s single and prescriptive news feed, Pinterest has three. There’s (a) a brand’s news feed, (b) another Pinterest user’s news feed, and (c) the Pinterest category news feed. News feeds are the most active location for content discovery on Pinterest, and the category news feeds are a “hits of…” offering the most engaged pins from a given category. Users can also “like” a pin without repining it, though when someone likes a pin it isn’t repinned to their profile and doesn’t show up in their followers’ news feeds.
In consequence of its strong visual slant, Pinterest has grown in popularity amongst everyone who makes or sells anything that looks good or benefits from being presented visually. The site is one of the top feeders of traffic into Etsy, for instance.
In a world where social media sites have become major marketing channels, no new social channel was going to achieve this level of success without marketers getting on board. Pinterest has caught the eye of marketers already attuned to the social world. In fact, online and tracking services both show Pinterest placed to outpace Flickr and Google+ in some important metrics.
Advantages of Pinterest to Businesses
Pinterest offers businesses the following advantages.
- User engagement. Many social sites are about getting followers. Pinterest users are almost self-engaging because the Pinterest usage model revolves around finding content and sharing it with small groups. Pinterest users are strongly interested in what’s new and trending — a tendency they share with the rest of the Internet but which they exhibit to an unusual degree. That’s behavior that translates into the kind of influencer that marketers want to attract, and it means the legions of followers who don’t actually engagement that you find on Facebook and Twitter, are a lot less likely on Pinterest.
- Industry trend tracking. Pinterest is a great way to find out what’s about to be big. Since Pinterest users are usually more concerned than the rest of the internet with both quality and freshness, the site functions as a future barometer of online taste. For designers who want to make and sell products, or for marketers, Pinterest is a good place to start looking for pointers. Businesses that stand to gain the most out of Pinterest are visual and creative disciplines like:
- Fashion designers
- Graphic designers
- Writers and bloggers
Consultative businesses that thrive on Pinterest publish educative illustrations and Infographics that simplify and explain complex processes.
- Branding style. Just being on Pinterest makes your brand look more modern and aware. But what you do with your Pinterest presence projects the image you want for your brand . And if you successfully generate engagement on Pinterest, you could see people liking and repinning your content, creating their own conversations about your brand.
- Visual link building. Links built through images are among the best when it comes to engagement. Pinterest images automatically link back to their origin, meaning images you pin from your website lead straight back to you, creating visual links.
- Local search engine optimization. Local links are what local businesses love the most and marketers are learning to embed these in the descriptions and comments. That way Pinterest pulls in local customers, as well as engagement across a wider geographic area.
Now that you know some of the advantages to using Pinterest for businesses, here are some ways to get started.
- Creating. First you need to sign up for an account, and then you’ll need to look around and see if any of your products have already been pinned. You might be surprised to find a lot of images on Pinterest after all, and users tend to form niche interest groups.
Next, you should start pinning things you like. Be strategic about creating boards that have relevance to your business. For example, make your board about relevant things you love in the local area. If you’re a fishing supplies shop, a board of images of local fishing spots might work. Be creative, and imagine yourself in your viewers’ shoes. In short, the usual rules of great content apply, just visually this time.
As with all social sites, don’t just roll up and start trying to sell things. No one can stop you from playing the salesman, but there’s nothing to say they have to engage with you either. If you make yourself unpopular you’ll be selling to an empty room. Make yourself respected by adding value and people will come to you of their own accord.
- Searching. Think of Pinterest like the Internet as a whole. If you just looked at the Internet, you’d see a lot of stuff that didn’t interest you. But by searching you find what you need. Pinterest is the same; there are a lot of images on display, but that may not be what you’re looking for. Search
Pinterest and you’ll find dedicated communities devoted to almost anything you could imagine. Your audience is here, you just need to look for it.
- Pinning. Pinterest will become more useful to you the more you pin. If you add the Pinterest Bookmarklet to your browser, you can easily just click “Pin It” to add something you’ve found to your one of your Pinterest boards.
Your followers will come to you based on your pinning work. When they see your boards are well curated and that you discover things they’re interested in they’ll have more respect for you and be more interested. Above all, Pinterest is a curator’s and a collector’s site.
Product-heavy businesses should consider adding a “pin this” button to their product pages, making it easier for surfers to share directly to Pinterest, similar to the Facebook “Like” button that many online businesses now embed on their sites.
- Inviting. Once you’re in you can invite others in after you. You can invite your entire address book and all your Facebook friends if you want — this is often how you’ll develop a following the fastest.
Focus on inviting your customers too. People who have actually bought something from you bring the voice of authenticity to all your social platforms, and word-of-mouth recommendation remains the most trusted and effective endorsement you can have. Hopefully your customers love your products already and will be ambassadors for your brand to other Pinterest users.
- Engaging. If you want a friend, be one. If you want engagement, engage. Pin items and comment back when others comment on your pins. Follow people who are active in areas that interest you. Don’t restrict yourself to your own space. Instead, follow your interests and engagement will flow backward the other way.
If you find things you like that are linked to blog posts, but not to the company or creator where the content originated, add a comment that links back to the creator. Pinterest loves this and so do Pinterest users. Pinterest is all about being a good collector and that means acknowledging the creator.
Keep in mind that it’s far more effective to encourage your fans to pin your products for you than it is to pin, point to, and advertise your products yourself.
Pinterest recently announced a new feature called “Place Pins” that integrates locations and maps to Pinterest boards. As much as Pinterest suggests this application works best with travel and for planning trips, Place Pins is relevant to local businesses. For example, if you’re a local business, you can create a location-focused board with landmarks of your local area. I have done this for Oxford, (U.K.), where I work and live. The same idea applies to businesses with numerous branches.
Monitor these metrics to gauge the effectiveness of your Pinterest efforts.
- Average repins per pin. The average number of repins your brand receives each time you pin something.
- Average likes per pin. The average number of likes your brand receives every time you pin something, based on your brand’s engagement history.
- Average comments per pin. How many comments your average pin or repin receives, based on engagement history.
- Average second-degree followers. Measures how connected your brand’s followers are to their followers; it shows how many followers each of your brand’s followers has.
- Follower engagement percentage. Shows what percentage of your follower base you can expect an average pin or repin to engage.
- Short-term follower engagement. Offers a current or recent snapshot of your follower engagement. Your short-term follower engagement will fluctuate rapidly in comparison to your follower engagement. It is best used as a guide to the effectiveness of something you did recently, measured against short-term follower engagement from a similar time period in the past.
- Reach. Shows you the number of unique news feed impressions you can expect each time you make a pin or repin.
- Velocity. Shows the current average number of pins and rep-ins your brand makes per week. It is essentially a measure of work rate and this metric is a great tool for testing out the ideal number of pins and repins you should be adding per week. If you modify velocity and keep it steady at that modified rate, you can use the “short term follower engagement” metric to determine whether the change produced good results for your brand.
- Impressions. Measures the number of times pins from your brand’s website were seen each day on Pinterest.
- Clicks. Measures the number of clicks your pins receive each day.
- Most recent. A pin feed that shows the most recent pins originating from your brand’s website.
- Most repinned. Shows you the most repinned posts originating from your brand’s website.
- Most clicked. Shows you how many pins originating from your brand’s website are responsible for clicks monitored by the “clicks” metric.
- Top fans and influencers. A list of the most influential and most connected Pinterest users following your brand.
- Top pins. Shows pins originating with your brand’s website that have the most engagement.
- Total interactions. Shows the total Pinterest interactions with all the pins originating from content on our brand’s website.
How you evaluate these metrics to determine the performance of your Pinterest campaign depends on your needs.
Marketers who take advantage of the most visual social platform there can expect to see good results. I would love to hear your thoughts or answer any questions in the comments.