Since Pinterest launched in September 2010, it has gained over 11 million followers and is currently the fastest growing social networking site. With more visitors than LinkedIn and Google +, some business owners are taking notice.
Pinterest is a virtual pin board of images. Users can “pin” images from the web, upload their own images or re-pin images from other users. When registered, users can create a profile, customize their own pin boards, follow other users’ boards and comment on and like others’ images. Images link to their original web location.
According to Sal Giliberto, marketing director of Awareness Co., a large provider of on-demand social marketing automation software, Pinterest is great for lead generation. “Social media is becoming more and more visual,” Giliberto said. “Although you can upload images to Facebook and Twitter is supporting more visual content, Pinterest is really the easiest place to go for sharing images. Pinterest also accounts for 40 percent of media-driven purchases. That’s significant. Some business owners wonder if their audience is on Pinterest. With this number of users, they can bet they are.”
Many people associate Pinterest primarily with personal use by women. And middle-upper class women, mostly in their 30s and 40s, are the most common users of the site. According to some statistics, women comprise between 83 and 85 percent of U.S. users. From a business perspective, women’s personal use for recipe pinning, crafting and fashion creates a great market for fashion retailers, restaurant owners, wineries, home decorators and event planners, among others. Some businesses are already capitalizing on this female and home-centric audience; Better Homes and Gardens has over 350,000 Pinterest followers.
But Pinterest use is not so one-dimensional. Interestingly, the majority of British users are men. And not everything on Pinterest is recipe sharing and DIY. Major League Baseball, the U.S. Army, NFL and Yelp all have a presence on Pinterest, and diverse types of companies are using it for leads to web content like webinars and white papers.
Service and Events
Michele Velazquez owns a proposal planning business out of New York City called Heart Bandits, and uses Pinterest to showcase potential proposals to her 99 percent male clientele. Velaquez says she does not use Pinterest to find clients yet, but she uses it as a tool to help new clients visualize their ideal proposal experience, be it a winery tour weekend in Sonoma or an ice skating adventure in New York.
Service and event-oriented contests are very popular on Pinterest also, with wedding coordinators and photographers taking advantage of the pin boards to get potential clients to view their work. Realty companies like Homes.com use “pin your favorite homes” contests with cash rewards to engage their target audience and provide images of their homes for sale.
Local Pinterest Users
Local organizations using Pinterest include Fizz Bath Shop, Flagstaff.com, the Flagstaff Public Library, Flagstaff Raft Adventures, Flagstaff Ale Trail, Flagstaff Holiday Inn, Warner’s Nursery, Second Chance Center for Animals and NAU Extended Campuses, among others.
Not everyone is completely enamored with the site, however. According to Kim Yuhl of Fizz Bath Shop, she loves Pinterest for personal use, but she is not sure it is the best form of social media for her kind of business.
About two months ago, Fizz Bath Shop, which is now online only, hosted a Pinterest contest in which users were asked to pin images of 10 of their favorite personal care products, including three from Fizz. Yuhl claims she had a lot of pinning and participation, but didn’t see the ongoing buzz she’s seen from similar activity on Facebook and Twitter.
“Switching personal care products isn’t just about visuals,” said Yuhl. “It necessitates more of a conversation, and Twitter and Facebook are better for that kind of interaction. Also, my stance on social media is that it’s about creating relationships. Without a way to message and talk, Pinterest doesn’t give me the same platform to engage, discuss and create my personal brand.” Yuhl, like other business owners with whom we spoke, thinks they may use Pinterest more as it evolves. “If Pinterest were to create business accounts and encourage pinning of my own products, I’d likely use it more for business.”
When it comes to keeping it local and geographically specific, Giliberto noted that the site doesn’t provide a platform to pin by location. However, he said that organizations and individuals can add a location, such as Flagstaff, in their titles to help users locate them.
Even if it has slowed a bit since the start of 2012, Pinterest’s popularity is growing at an impressive rate and may garner more users as the young company responds to user requests for business pages, ways to pin geographically and other suggestions, like better data collection.
“Even now, there are some great business fits for Pinterest,” said Yuhl. “For example, I’d love to see a Pinterest page for the City of Flagstaff.” FBN