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Did you ever have an old pin board that sat above your desk; a collage of photos and quotes to inspire or shape an idea? If you’re unfamiliar with the social media platform Pinterest, the easiest way to understand it is to imagine this board. The images and text are, however, online and are virtually “pinned” to a board while maintaining a connection to their original online source.
While Pinterest has primarily been used as a personal or social tool for things like planning trips, organising a project or sharing favourite images, increasingly businesses are using it as a marketing tool, says social media specialist Zoe Wyatt. And that means that if you’re in e-commerce, it’s time to get pinning!
“Pinterest is focused on the discovery of objects and categories of objects,” says Wyatt. “It's no surprise then that Pinterest has surpassed Facebook when it comes to e-commerce sharing. Statistics from social analytics provider Gigya compiled in 2013 showed Pinterest accounted for 41 per cent of e-commerce traffic, while Facebook produced 37 per cent. So, an item shared from a retail site is more likely to end up on Pinterest than on Facebook.”
Pinterest for Business offers businesses a number of different tools that can be used for marketing.
Having people share images from your board is a great way to draw attention to your brand and to draw them back to your website. Pin photos from your website on your business’s Pinterest board so that when people look into the original source of the image, they’ll end up at your website.
“Sharing images of your products or services helps to drive visibility and if you’ve 'pinned' those images from your website, users can click through directly to your site,” says Wyatt. “What's more, a buyer coming to your site from Pinterest has been shown to spend more than those coming from Facebook or Twitter.”
According to Wyatt, people can choose to follow either your whole Pinterest account or just one of your boards if you have several (Wyatt is in the latter category, with boards ranging from social media to shoes). These Pinterest followers will then be alerted when you add something to your board, all the while driving company visibility.
While pinning images of your merchandise or services can be great advertising, Pinterest can also be a powerful way for people to engage with the “personality” of the brand. American home improvement store Lowe’s, for example, rarely pins its own products but rather includes beautiful images and great ideas for the whopping 3.5 million DIY enthusiasts who follow it on Pinterest.
Another plus for businesses is that, like YouTube, Pinterest can help raise your profile in search engines. “With popular images and good descriptions, people will stumble across your board in search engines – anyone can find them, not just Pinterest users,” explains Wyatt. “You want to use really good key words in your descriptions of your photos so that when people are searching for things on Google, those images are going to come up.”
“Advertising is rapidly developing with ‘promoted pins’ being rolled out to businesses in select markets,” says Wyatt. “Essentially, businesses can choose to have their pins seen by their ideal target client based either on the number of impressions (CPM) or the number of actions taken on their pins (CPC). In June 2014, Pinterest also rolled out self-service ads that are geared toward smaller businesses, which will pay every time someone clicks on the promoted pin.”
There are also free features that are designed to help businesses promote and drive sales through the site. “A great example is the ‘rich pin feature’ that gives users the opportunity to include extra information right on the pin itself,” outlines Wyatt.
One of the rich pins is a “product pin”, which includes real-time pricing, availability and where to buy. With this tool, Pinterest users also receive notifications when product pins they've added to their boards are reduced in price.
With all these free marketing advantages, it’s difficult to see any reason not to set up a Pinterest account, but Wyatt says it may not be the best social media platform for all businesses.
“While Pinterest is the fastest growing website in the history of the internet, of the 70 million-odd users [400,000 Australians], over 80 per cent are women,” notes Wyatt. “If you are strictly targeting a male audience, marketing on Pinterest may not be optimal.”