Pinterest was actually founded in 2008. However, since Pinterest" target="_blank">Pinterest opened up its beta to invitations in 2010, the steady crawl of interest has been rolling. In August 2011, Time Magazine listed Pinterest in its "50 Best Websites of 2011".
However, even though Pinterest is just now starting to become popular with teens, women and average people, most marketers have not yet embraced it as noted in this tweet:
In what could be a potential hiccup with Pinterest is the large potential for copyright violations by its users. Richard Rosenblatt, the CEO of Demand Media tweeted about this problem this afternoon:
So what is Pinterest? Who is on it? How can businesses use it? Why should they?
1) What is Pinterest?
Let’s get it straight from the horse's mouth.
“Pinterest is a virtual pinboard. Pinterest allows you to organize and share all the beautiful things you find on the web. You can browse pinboards created by other people to discover new things and get inspiration from people who share your interests.
People use pinboards to plan their weddings, decorate their homes, and share their favorite recipes.”
A "virtual pinboard", is the answer you get in most places. Imagine a large bulletin or "cork board". You can put pictures up there for any reason. They could be wedding dress ideas, pictures on recipe cards, vacation destination possibilities, redecorating ideas, etc. Now, you do that in Pinterest. The ability to share those images and even collaborate with someone anywhere in the world on building that board is tremendous.
But, it's not just one board. You can make as many "boards" as you like. Give them different themes. Share them with different people. One for clothes you'd like to have. One for mixed drink recipes you want to try. One for birthday party ideas, including recipes, cake themes, decorations, gifts, locations, etc. One for games for your kids. Anything you can find online, you can "pin" to a board and organize it however you like.
2) Who is on Pinterest?
Simply put, women. 80% of Pinterest users are women. Men are finding that there is plenty to be excited about on Pinterest, and certainly there is no reason whatsoever that it be a "girl's thing". But, the initial promotion of Pinterest was female-focused. Notice that description, above, again.
People use pinboards to plan their weddings, decorate their homes, and share their favorite recipes.
But, of course, any of the standard categories could be chock full of men's materials, including:
3) How can businesses use Pinterest?
Obviously, it depends on what kind of business you have. But, the sheer numbers that Pinterest is posting should be quite the convincer that it is worth looking into. As social sites go, it is different from the usual suspects like Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, etc. There is no real messaging element built into Pinterest. No statuses. No fast-moving commenting. There are comments, sure. But, not like the conversation-focused layouts of Facebook and Twitter.
One important thing to remember about Pinterest is that it is image-driven. I cannot emphasize this enough. Your "pin" will be posted on a long page of many others. Your graphic has to be the thing that catches the eye of the browsing user. It has to translate to the pin sizes Pinterest uses on that front page (max width 222 pixels, lengths can vary greatly). Text is a possibility, but only as a graphic.
Thus, some of the most obvious benefactors from Pinterest right out of the box are businesses that already deal in graphics as their stock-in-trade: photographers, designers, architects, retailers that already use catalogs or web images.
But really, any business that can express itself in a graphical manner can benefit from the notice they get on Pinterest. How that notice is converted to sales depends on the business. Is there a direct purchase possibility on your website? Or does the potential customer have to pick up a phone or some other contact method? Typical marketing rules begin to apply here. The main idea is to get traffic to you. What you do with it from there is up to you. And, Pinterest is amassing a great record for getting them to your door/site.
AMC Theaters is currently running a sponsored ad on Twitter promoting a contest that uses Pinterest to promote the AMC Best Picture Showcase. Now that's an interesting way for a business to promote itself via Pinterest:
The National Guard even used Pinterest to welcome home infantry from Afganistan:
Other types of businesses that are using Pinterest include journalists, news agencies, schools, health and beauty product sales, gadget companies, and many more.
Another key thing about Pinterest is that it has already established itself as not having ads, sponsored links (per se) and other "you're being sold to" materials. Even a Pinterest" target="_blank">recent dust-up over affiliate links was a minor scandal. Keep that in mind. No one comes here to shop. They come here to find things they like. Respectfully converting that sale is key.
Like other social media sites it is important that you participate in the Pinterest community. Shortly after creating a "Board" and uploading some "Pins" and creating some categories of your images, click the "Invite Friends" button. It will open up a window allowing you to email some of your friends who are likely not yet on Pinterest. These friends will follow you back to get you started on gaining followers.
The second task you should do is to mouse over your name and picture and click the "Find Friends" link. You will need to "connect" to Facebook inside of Pinterest and a list will appear with all of your Facebook friends that are on Pinterest. I recommend clicking the "Follow All" link. Like Twitter and other social media sites, following others will gain you followers back. This is the best way to get your community of Pinterest friends going!
Add Pins everyday, add new categories regularly, follow others and their pins on an ongoing basis and before you know it you will see Pinterest traffic flowing to your website.
4) Why should businesses use Pinterest?
Frankly, because it is the hottest thing coming. A few quick facts.
The best thing you can do is head over to Pinterest and get signed up. You almost certainly have a friend who is already on Pinterest, probably a female. Ask for an invite from her. It will get you in much faster than waiting for Pinterest to send you one. Then poke around a bit. Make a few boards, pin some items, follow some people. Nothing will blow up on you. When you first land on the front page, you will think you walked into a wedding planner's boutique. Explore the categories and soon you will realize that there is much more to the site than that.
There's probably someone already on there in your line of business. Go have a look.
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