Monday, February 20, 2012

Pinterest for eCommerce Businesses

*This is Part 2 of a 5 Part series on actionable ways to successfully use social media for business.

Pinterest. You keep hearing about it; so what is it? And how can you use it to your brand's benefit?

Pinterest is the hot new social media site that makes sharing photos with friends and customers easy. The site has taken off since its recent inception, and with its millions of active users, it will not be stopping any time soon. Like any other social media site, brand use of Pinterest is based on “soft metrics” that are more difficult to measure (I'll be going over social media measurement in the final part of this series). But having a presence on Pinterest is critical for brands that sell products compatible with Pinterest's demographic.

In Part 1 of this series, Social Media for Business, I went over the 5 most successful ways social media has been used for business, based on lots of research:
1.      Customer retention
2.      Brand advocacy
3.      Customer/tech support
4.      Top-of-funnel” activities
5.      Learning more about your customers

Reasons for Using Pinterest Specifically
Although Pinterest can be used effectively for all of the above, there are some even deeper and more interesting ...or Pinteresting ;)... concepts behind using Pinterest for your brand. Pinterest's user base is currently over 95% female, with the largest active population currently using it for event planning, arts and crafts, general good ideas, and gardening, with (believe it or not) a growing tech user base.

Below, I have created a list in descending order of the best brand uses for Pinterest:

5. Creating a community for your current customers, AND new customers!
4. Photos get more attention and interest than articles, and are easier to spread
3. Very targeted-- when a user signs up, they list their interests, so your pins fall only on interested eyes.
2. Referral traffic-- many unknown sites are receiving unbelievable increases in referral traffic because their products have clear images and fit into the Pinterest demographic (and are cool on their own). Each link also counts as an inbound link, which increases your organic search rankings, according to MarketingProfs and many other research companies. Inbound links are the main driver for Google’s search engine rankings. Make sure to add your website URL into the pin description.

...and the number 1 reason that brands should be using Pinterest...

1. It Reduces key psychological barriers to purchase.
Pictures are worth a thousand words. Or in this case, a thousand dollars. If you use your Pinterest brand page correctly, potential customers will be able to visualize the products you sell in their particular life situation.

In traditional marketing, this is called similar-situation stories, and it used to cost millions of dollars in print and TV advertising. Here is the main idea: A potential consumer sees someone similar to themselves using your products the way they would use them, thus realizing how the product can be used the same way in their lives. For example, a TV commercial may show an otherwise immobile, elderly Caucasian woman using an agile, new motorized chair in a home that is decorated the way the viewer may decorate her home. If the company did a good job with targeting, the viewer is similar to the person depicted in the commercial, and is now able to see how and when the product would be used by the viewer, thus bringing her closer to a purchase decision. The company may put out many versions of these commercials, targeting every segment of their target demographic, finding that it produces a higher conversion rate than a list of their products on their website that have no psychological association for the user.

Applied to Pinterest.
In Pinterest, you are able to set up “Pinboards” for your brand page. The board can be titled anything you want, and can contain any photos. Try setting up boards that feature similar-situations that cater to each of your customer (or product) segments. These should include your products of one related style AND non-competing products that you DO NOT sell. For example, if you sell garden flags, you might want to pin a picture or two of your July 4th flags, along with photos of other July 4th garden decorations like Uncle Sam gnomes (I hope these exist), and even a how-to video on planting red, white, and blue flowers. The user will be able to see how their full garden will look for July 4th, and how your garden flags will fit into their holiday decoration ideas. If they like it and it matches their style, they are more likely to purchase those flags and will appreciate the other decoration ideas you gave them. Your photos also have a higher probability to spread throughout Pinterest because you won't be pushing a sale on them, you will genuinely be helping them with their holiday decorating.

Some Things to Consider
Keep in mind that Pinterest is still invite-only. You can visit and request an invite, which takes a couple of days. Signing up for a business account is the same as signing up for a personal one. Once you’ve been invited, create a profile with the business name and put in a description of your business, your location, and your logo.

Demographics: Pinterest isn't for everyone. As I mentioned before, the current demographics are almost entirely female (some say 98%), 25-34 years of age, college graduates, with a strong lean towards arts and crafts, DIY, event planning, and tech. A large majority of users are in the US, but this is sure to expand. In total, there are over 11 Million active users! On a similar note, a recent study by RJMetrics shows that Pinterest's highest referral pins are from Etsy, at only 3%! This means that Pinterest is not dependent on any one platform.

Bonus! Other ideas for Pinterest:

Tapping into each user segment 
  • Party planning: Think of how your products can be part of a themed party. Create a board for each type of party with your products and related, non-competing products on the board. 
  • DIY: These consumers are hobbyists and would appreciate how-to help. Put up some videos or image descriptions in a How-To board for them. This especially works for companies that sell tools that could be used by hobbyists.
  •  Shoppers: Pinterest is believed to be one of the potential social media saviors for eCommerce businesses (it's not yet though). If you add a dollar sign followed by the product's price anywhere in the pin description, a banner will automatically appear on the image with the price on it. Pinterest users can select Gifts from the drop down menu and look for items to purchase. Although this hasn't taken off, keep it in mind for the future.
I hope this article helped clear some things up! Feel free to correct anything in the article, disagree, agree, or ask questions in the comments box below!


Flags on a Stick said...

I have set up Pinterest and I am creating and adding to boards. Do you recommend "following" others on Pinterest or not? Pros and cons of doing this?

Zoovy said...

Thanks for the question! That is up to you. Here are some things to keep in mind: If you follow someone, you'll see everything they post in your feed, which can get overwhelming. They can see that you are following them, so it may look good to your customers. If you want to do it to get more involved with the community, I suggest repinning, liking, or commenting on others' pins. Maybe create a board for customers' best pins. May I ask why you want to do that?

Joshua Franklin said...

A couple of updates:
1. A way to see how many Pins you have on Pinterest (including the pins put up by random people), use this URL (
2. After you pin an image, hover over it and hit Edit. You can customize the link here! Make sure to put in the specific link where that image resides (on your website). said...

Here is an article with some add-ons to Pinterest that can be very useful.


Joshua Franklin said...

Here is an article with some add-ons to Pinterest that can be very useful.