Watch out, Facebook, Twitter, and Google+! There’s a new kid on the block who’s gaining popularity by leaps and bounds. And the kid’s name is Pinterest.
The social media world is changing and evolving all the time. Pinterest is only two years old but over the past several months, this precocious little kid has exhibited phenomenal growth. In a period of only six months, the site’s registered user count has leapfrogged from under 200,000 to well over 7 million! And it is still growing.
So what exactly is Pinterest and why is it so popular? Simply put, the site is an organizable bulletin board for images. It allows you to post images and then sort them onto different boards representing specific categories. You can “pin” something new whenever you want for your followers to see. And once you do, your image can be commented on, liked, or re-pinned by any of your followers to their own boards. Just like some YouTube videos, it’s always possible that one of your Pinterest pins will go viral.
One of the biggest reasons for Pinterest’s enormous popularity may be that it gives users the nearest online experience to how people like to shop. Think about it. When people enter a store or a shopping mall, do they always know exactly what they want? Sometimes they do, but very often they depend on the store displays to tell them what they want. For many shoppers, the joy of shopping lies in the experience of browsing — seeing what is on display, what looks nice — all the time looking forward to being blown away by something that might catch their eye which they never imagined they would ever see.
Up ’til now, the most common form of online shopping consisted of typing a search phrase for something you want to buy and hoping that the results lead you to a successful purchase. Pinterest is a little different. You can still narrow down your search to certain categories, but the rest becomes visual instead of text-based. You can look for what you want, find something you never knew you wanted, or simply have a great time looking at a bunch of interesting pictures.
So how does this relate to you, your business website, and your online marketing approach? Do you need to do a complete overhaul out of fear of being trampled by the Pinterest stampede? The answer is: probably not. Instead of an overhaul, it’s more likely a recalibration is in order. Take a closer look at what works for Pinterest and, where appropriate, make the same kinds of things work for you. Along these lines, here are a few things you can think about doing:
OK, let’s start with the obvious one. Keep in mind that Pinterest works better for some businesses than others. If your product or service is highly visual, then joining the site will most likely do wonders for your business. On the other hand, if what you do or sell doesn’t project in particularly visual terms, then maybe Pinterest isn’t for you. Either way, it’s worth a shot. Set up an account and pin relevant images — be careful not to start off overly-promotional. Instead, focus on making the images interesting, funny, or captivating. Then follow others and re-pin the content of theirs that you like. After a while, start displaying your products with links back to your site. You may even want to post special deals or coupons for your followers.
One lesson that Pinterest is teaching us is not new: A picture is worth a thousand words. And, another lesson we’re learning is that the quality of the picture not only matters, but matters a lot! A stunning image captures the eye. This is as true on your site as it is on Pinterest. Start paying more attention to both the quantity and the quality of images you post on your site.
More than one designer has noted that Pinterest uses a masonry layout rather than a linear one. Images are arranged vertically, than horizontally like a grid — it resembles a mason arranging stones in a wall. This type of arrangement not only neatly categorizes content into visual sections, but also allows users to scan and digest a large amount of information quickly. You may want to make greater use of this type of design on your own site.
In a very short time, Pinterest has evolved from the “just catching on” stage to one of the top players in the market for click-through referrals. Obviously, it’s doing something right. As a smart business person, you might be able to take that “something” and recalibrate your own marketing efforts to make Pinterest’s success work for you.
Have you jumped on the Pinterest pinwagon? If yes, how do you use it? If no, why not?
About the author: Christopher Wallace is Vice President of Sales and Marketing for Amsterdam Printing, a leading provider of personalized
pens, promotional pens, and other personalized items such as imprinted apparel and mugs and customized calendars.