Pinterest: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly
Social media platforms are continually jockeying for position in the marketing mix, and there’s no denying that right now, Pinterest is headed straight towards the head of the pack. The three year-old “social scrapbooking” community took the web by storm in 2011, reaching headline-grabbing double-digit-million monthly visitors faster than any other website before it—including perennial favorite, Facebook. What’s more, earlier this year, one study found Pinterest was driving more traffic to online publishers than Twitter.
The concept behind Pinterest is deceptively simple. Users employ a “bookmarklet” button installed in their browser to pin images to virtual boards, usually according to a particular theme or purpose. Each image is backed by a click-through link leading to the web page where it was discovered. Users can also check out boards created by others and “like,” “repin” or comment on what they find. Simple hasn’t hurt Pinterest, though—in fact, it’s half the appeal. Pinterest is easy to use, easy to browse and offers such a wide range of content that almost everyone can find something to enjoy.
Of course, a big part of the buzz around Pinterest lies in the reality that the largest demographic in that 10 million (and growing!) visitor base is a red-hot marketer target: twenty- and thirty-something women. What’s more, women of all ages make up 80 percent of the subscriber base –perhaps attributable to the highly visual nature of Pinterest boards, often curated according to themes like, “My Personal Style” or “Kitchen Reno” or “Wedding Ideas.”
So, Pinterest is promising news for B2C retailers offering equally visual product lines, and it’s understandable that a diverse range of retail brands like Nordstrom, Kate Spade New York and Whole Foods are behind some of the most frequently visited and re-pinned boards.
But what about B2B marketers? Does Pinterest hold any potential for you? The answer isn’t quite as straightforward as it might be for, say, Crate and Barrel… but there is an answer. Let me break it down, Clint Eastwood-style:
The Good. Pinterest is not just a retail wonderland. As much as B2C marketers seem to have struck gold there, it’s also a place where users go to find ideas and inspiration. Sure, there’s plenty to see if you’re interested in a new handbag or stand mixer. But, much of the imagery posted on member boards doesn’t point to a product or sales page; blog posts and photo galleries are frequent destinations, too.
B2B marketers can use this to their advantage and incorporate Pinterest as a way to draw traffic to brand-building content that drives interest and engages both customers and prospects. For example, whenever you publish a blog post, you could lead off your text with a compelling image, and then post the image on Pinterest with a link through to your content.
Infographics are another hot commodity, and they give you a chance to share deep knowledge of your industry in a visually appealing way. Charts with important or interesting data work, too. Be sure to link to a page that explains the information in more detail, includes a call-to-action, etc.
You can even use Pinterest to share images of current customers using your product or service—linking through to a case study or success story—or images of your team hard at work, with a link to more information about what’s happening in the photo.
Finally, don’t forget link your Pinterest account from your website (and vice versa), just as you would with any other social media site.
Though it may take a little imagination and inventiveness for B2B marketers to find Pinterest-friendly content, as long as the focus stays on providing value, there’s a solid opportunity to convert click-throughs to qualified leads.
The Bad. As with email and blogs before it, the lurking enemy on Pinterest is spam. Last month, a spammer claiming $1,000 a day in revenue garnered a firestorm of attention online and in the media…. and apparently he’s not the only one making a quick buck off pins.
When a tool or platform proves to be effective, it’s almost inevitable that someone will use it for personal gain, without providing any sort of value. But, spam isn’t a good enough reason to pass over Pinterest. It just provides B2B marketers with yet another reason to be thoughtful about how they’re using the platform to drive traffic to their content or website. Approach your pins and boards as golden content marketing opportunities… not free ad space.
The Ugly. That’s just the thing: Pinterest isn’t ugly. It’s precisely the opposite. Pinterest is a great looking site. It’s an inviting platform with an exceptional user experience, a member base that can’t get enough of compelling visual content and a rising reputation for driving conversion-ready traffic.
I’ll admit, social media marketing is constantly evolving, and it’s impossible to say what role Pinterest will play in the B2B marketing mix over the long term. Right now, however, marketers willing to get a little creative with how they share their content can use Pinterest to get access to a new set of eyes… and perhaps even new customers.
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