Imitation may be the sincerest form of flattery, but it could end up costing Pinterest big money. The Samwer brothers have made a career out of creating copycat versions of successful U.S. websites, gaining a big international following, and selling the copycats back to the original for millions. They’ve successfully cloned eBay (with Alando), Zynga (with Plinga), Groupon (with CityDeal) and AirBnB (with Wimdu). With clone Pinspire, they’ve now set their sights on Pinterest.
I wrote about the amazing success of Pinterest back in early December. I’ve also added the Pin It button to my blog since, resulting in a steady drip of incoming traffic despite this blog’s focus on prose (Pinterest is primarily a discovery engine for visual content…so far). What makes Pinterest so compelling to users? It is first and foremost a visual platform sans distracting ads – images fairly shout at a user to click on them. Pictures are arguably the most engaging type of content, explaining why magazine-like online platforms like Flipboard and Google Currents are doing well at helping readers discover and bookmark news. Pinterest is no different. The visual platform also makes it easy to create “boards” or collections of images grouped by category. Redecorating your home? Create a board for each room. A geek? Create a board of cool infographics. The possibilities are endless. It’s also a great opportunity for brands to engage with users and help them “discover” in-house content. Used predominantly by women, and especially women in the 25-34 age demographic, it is a prospecting mecca for brands in beauty and skincare, food, apparel and crafts that primarily target women.
Despite the hype, and perhaps as a testament to the inertia at bigger companies in responding to online shifts, only a handful of brands have jumped on the Pinterest bandwagon. Notable examples are Martha Stewart, Etsy, Real Simple, Nordstrom’s and Whole Foods. Here are 5 tips to keep in mind if you’re thinking of testing out the platform for your brand.
- Don’t just pin your own content: people get tired of brands only talking about themselves. Mix it up by repinning and liking compelling content from other user boards as well.
- Use boards to segment your audience: West Elm has used boards to showcase content by lifestyle with board titles like “Modernist”, “Revivalist” and “Naturalist”. Rent The Runway is extremely effective at using boards to surface outfits by occasion.
- Cross-channel contests: Pinterest can also be used in conjunction with other social networks to run contests, as Land’s End did with the “Pin It To Win It” holiday campaign. It’s a wonderfully simple way to get fans to create an outfit or “look”, vote for recipes they’ve tried, or load their own pictures.
- As part of content strategy for publishers: TIME Magazine is doing a wonderful job of using boards to surface interviews, staff bios and promote behind-the-scenes blog posts, proving that Pinterest can potentially help grow the audience for news publishers as well. Mashable recently started testing the waters, albeit a bit haphazardly, while others like TechCrunch and All Things D don’t quite live up to their name yet.
- Pin It button: Martha Stewart remains a minority in willingness to add a Pin it button to the website. Others like Real Simple acknowledge that their websites now get more referral traffic from Pinterest than they do from Facebook, but they continue to have a cautious approach towards adoption.
Right now we’re still in the learning phase, trying to understand the contagious energy, so we decided to launch this holiday campaign on it – excited to see what the brand engagement is and develop our strategy from there.