Sunday, January 29, 2012

Pinterest: A marketer's guide.

If you are new to Pinterest, be sure to check out my last post on Pinterest for beginners.

If it isn't obvious by now, the latest social network to hit it big is without a doubt Pinterest. With growth exploding to 4 million users, marketers from every industry should start paying attention. But do so with caution. The reason Pinterest is so different from any other social site is because it is free of ads and spam, and intends to stay that way. In fact, Pinterest discourages business to use the platform for strictly self promotion. So if you are going to use it, get to know the facts, define a strategy, and create a meaningful experience for your followers. Here is my in-depth overview of the platform through the eyes of a marketer and avid Pinner.

Social Statistics.
Before jumping into using Pinterest as part of your social strategy, it's important to understand WHO you would be interacting with.  Again, Pinterest is growing very rapidly. This data can change on a dime, especially if Pinterest moves away from the invite-only model. According to statistics gathered from Google Ad Planner:
  • Daily views are hovering around 1.5 million, with the average user spending approximately 14 minutes curating their boards per day. 
  • Pinterest is one of the fastest growing female-dominated networks, 70% of registered users are women.
  • The largest age group is between 25 - 34 years old (30% of users). The next largest group being 35 - 44 (25% of users)- that's 55%!
  • The average household income is between $25-75k. The breakdown being 35% earning between $25,000 - 49,999 and 34% earning $50,000 - $75,000.
  • Compared to the household income, only 25% of users hold a Bachelors degree or higher. Yet 60% of users say they have had 'some college' education.
  • Users are more likely to be from the Midwest, though Utah, Alabama, and Tennessee account for the states with the most users.
  • If you are familiar with the Mosaic Lifestyle Segments, the top three lifestyles represented on Pinterest are:
 Things to remember for ANY business using Pinterest.
  • Be authentic. Pinterest as a marketing platform isn't for every brand. Consumer-oriented brands will have a much easier time creating a genuine presence. Like every social initiative, make sure you set clear objectives and can define a plan before jumping in.
  • Pinterest takes time. If you are going to use it for business purposes, be sure you are willing to dedicate the hours it will take to curate meaningful boards as well as maintaining fresh content.
  • Don't be a narcissist. It's important to keep your boards from being a walking billboard for your company. Add pins from multiple sources and create boards that aren't 100% centered on your products or services. 
  • Cite your content. If you want to drive traffic to your site and create a valuable experience, make sure to add pins correctly. A follower should be able to click on your pin and be directed to the native site. Failing to do so is a missed opportunity and is frustrating for your followers.  Don't believe me? Check out this interesting infographic.
Define your strategy. 
Mashable put together a great article on this very topic. Start by browsing other brands boards so you can get a sense of how you can make Pinterest work for you. Remember, Pinterest can very easily become time consuming so maximize your efforts by being selective about your strategy.
  • Promote your products. While it is the most obvious use, selectively pinning your products onto boards categorized by consumer type can be very effective. Be sure to include the price so that your products show up under the "Gift" filter.
  • Illustrate a lifestyle. Creating boards focused around brand attributes and your corporate culture is a great way to illustrate your story. Use your boards as a way to demonstrate how real-life consumers or even celebrities interact with and use your products.
  • Get to know your customers. Dive into your followers' boards to discover what makes them tick and use this information for market research purposes. Track pins back to their original source and identify the tastemakers who are your brand evangelists. Not only do those customers make perfect focus group candidates, they will most likely continue to share and spread your content.
  • Create partnerships. Discovering pins that contain more than just your company can be a great eye-opener for potential partnerships. Use pins and boards as inspiration to reach out to complimentary product/services that you can collaborate with and extend your footprint.
  • Engage your followers. Leverage the power of collaborative boards. Use them as a way to crowdsource your next product or service. Allow your followers to add pins to your boards for promotional contests. Be smart about the real estate in the board title and description; come up with a catchy title and be specific about what your followers should be pinning. 
Ideas to get you started.
The most exciting part of Pinterest (at least for me) is the infinite possibility of what you will find on any given visit. That leaves the door wide open for businesses to reach a broader audience and inspire their followers. While it's important to focus on a strategy and the business case for adding Pinterest to your marketing mix, don't forget to get creative with your tactics. Read on for just a few ideas on how you can get pinning. And be sure to check out the cheat sheet of who to follow.
  • Art & Design: From typography to photography, Pinterest is the mecca of all things creative. Create boards that inspire your company and embody your brand values. The sky is the limit on this one!
  • Architecture & Interior Design: Pin images of famous buildings and celebrity homes. Categorize boards by style, room, color, or pattern. Share how-to's and tips for creating a space on a budget, how to go "thrifting", and re-inventing old, tired furniture. And don't forget about the great outdoors! Landscaping and garden pins are essential elements of every dream home.
  • Automotive: Encourage followers to share photos of themselves with their cars. Pin images of iconic models. Create road-trip itineraries complete with places to stop along the way.
  • Beauty & Cosmetics: Create tutorials of how to use products. Share beauty tips from professionals. Organize your boards by eyes, lips, face, hair, and nails. Start and follow the trends. Help your followers re-create an iconic "look" by recommending products.
  • Communications & Media: Showcase your work. Pin editorials with stunning photography. Get inspired by the other boards to help generate fresh content and layout ideas for your printed or online publication.
  • Events: Create boards focused on the event type, special occasions, and holidays. Pin ideas for everything from creating a theme, a menu, the decor, invitations, party favors, the perfect outfit, and choosing a venue. Help your followers manage costs and customize events by posting DIY tutorials. Brides-to-be LOVE Pinterest!
  • Education: For K through 12 schools, encourage teachers to share educational content. Pin books by subject matter or age type. Create boards that will help parents continue education outside of the classroom. Colleges and Universities can enlist students to share pins about campus life, athletics, alumni success stories, and content related to degree programs. 
  • Fashion: Follow fashionistas and trendsetters. Create boards by article of clothing, collection, designer, color, pattern, trends, and season. Run wild with outfits created on Polyvore to showcase how to style an outfit and accessorize.
  • Food & Beverage: Pin recipes, duh! Create boards categorized by holidays or special events with well thought out menus. Organize boards by meal type such as appetizers, drinks, desserts, soups, lunch, breakfast, dinner, and snacks. Or let the food pyramid be your guide. Cooking tips, appliances, and useful kitchen products also help add dimension to your boards.
  • Healthcare: Pin remedies and activities that will help your followers lead a healthy lifestyle. Create boards to share fitness and diet plans. Help connect people who are struggling with the same disease and offer your support.
  • Green & Sustainable Businesses: Create boards with tips on living a "greener" life. Share stories of how others have reduced their carbon footprint. Pin community sources and other organizations that protect wildlife. Encourage followers to share their DIY projects that source recycled materials. 
  • Non-Profits: I won't re-invent the wheel. Check out this awesome article for 42 amazing ideas for every type of non-profit.
  • Sports: Share photos of iconic athletes and stadiums. Create boards around the season, a certain athlete, memorabilia, and the league history. Encourage fans to share pictures from the games.
  • Travel & Tourism: Create boards by destination, state, and country. Each board should contain hotels, restaurants, shopping destinations, and landmarks. Organize boards by the purpose of travel such as Honeymoon, Family Vacation, Adventure, or Sight Seeing.   
Happy pinning!

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