This is a guest post by Jennifer Evans Cario and previews her Vocus webinar on April 4th. Register now!
The visual web continues to explode within the world of Social Media and Pinterest is at the forefront. In just three short years it has grown from a small Midwestern start-up dedicated to the collection of recipes and wedding ideas to the third most popular Social Network in the United States and one of the Top 50 web properties in the world.
That has made many businesses stand up and take notice. Tack on news report after news report about the sheer volume of referral traffic flowing in from Pinterest and several studies talking about the average purchases of Pinterest traffic and you’ll find more than a few eyebrows raised around the strategy table.
But for many companies, Pinterest is still an enigma. It’s the site they use to collect recipe ideas, or workout plans. It’s their site their wives or sisters use to plan birthday parties and vacations. It’s certainly not the site they think of when they are putting together a metrics driven social media outreach campaign.
This is because many companies haven’t taken the time to learn about the true marketing potential of Pinterest or to understand the various ways it can be leveraged to help strengthen the relationships they are already building through social media, or to further spread the content they are already creating for their blogs and web sites.
If you’re still on the fence about the potential of Pinterest, consider these quick overviews of three key ways Pinterest can work its way into your social media strategy.
1) Pinterest Provides Valuable Insight into the Passion Points of Your Customers
As with most social media channels, one of the best ways to get rolling with strategy planning on Pinterest is to invest some time and effort into consumer research. After all, if you want to attract social media users to your magnificent content, it’s a good idea to understand what type of content they consider “magnificent.”
Start by creating a list of keywords related to the topics of your business or brand. Use this list to begin running searches for both individual pins and for pin boards using the site’s search feature.
Using these searches to look for individual pins will help you take note of which types of images or content tend to gain repins and likes. Taking the time to review the names of the boards the content is being pinned to can also help you understand how your target audience views these pieces of content in the greater scheme of things.
Rain barrels will not generally be pinned to boards called “rain barrels.” They are far more likely to be pinned to boards titled things like “green gardening,” “recycling” or even “homesteading.” Taking the time to dig into these boards will help you see what types of complimentary content also appeals to your target audience. This insight will go a long way toward helping your content development team plan for the upcoming quarter.
2) Content Segmentation Allows for Better Customer Targeting
One of the key features of Pinterest that makes it so very different from other social media channels is the ability for customers to determine exactly which type of content they want to receive from their relationship with you. Unlike Twitter where consumers receive each and every update you post, Pinterest allows users to subscribe to specific pinboards. This provides them with the chance to finely customize their content feed and gives you the chance to dive deep into topics without the risk of alienating parts of your customer base.
In the example below, I’ve chosen to visit Whole Foods Market’s Pinterest page. Of the 46 topical boards Whole foods curates, I’ve opted to follow the ones focusing on a few of my favorite types of recipes as well as their gardening and upcycling boards.
Another user might opt to follow their cheese and gadgets boards, having no interest in doing their own gardening. Of course from Whole Foods Market’s perspective, they can curate as much content as they like into each of these boards because they know I’m not going to get annoyed with two much gadget content or that their gadget lover won’t get annoyed with too many vegetarian recipes.
The ability to segment content into topical pinboards and to dig deep in your curation of those topics makes for a very different user experience than nearly every other social media channel out there. It is upon this foundation that many companies have built a large user base of extremely loyal followers.
3) Pinterest Curation Allows You to Support Your Online Content with Additional Resources
Another wonderful thing about the way people use Pinterest is the way in which it lends itself as a resource repository. In other words, you can use it to provide either backup content or additional content surrounding a topic you’re sharing with your audience.
That might mean curating a Pinterest board around a white paper you’ve released. The white paper board might include links to the various resources you gathered data from, links to case studies and news stories about the companies featured in the white paper or even links to videos sharing testimony and interviews from people who have put the white paper theories to work in their own companies.
Retail and catalog businesses can leverage Pinterest boards to support the images they work so hard to create in their stores and glossy catalogs. Pottery Barn or Ikea could curate boards around the room layouts featured in their catalogs, offering direct links to products, DIY posts about decorating or painting techniques and color pallets and accessories for changing up the rooms through the seasons.
The idea here is to capitalize on the content that makes people love you and to use Pinterest as a method of pulling them even deeper into this commitment. Providing these resources opens the door to the ongoing relationship in the Pinterest feed, giving you the opportunity to market to them in new ways down the road.
It’s About Connecting and Providing, on Their Level
In many ways, Pinterest isn’t all that different from the other social media channels you work so hard to engage on. It’s about knowing your audience and finding ways to provide unique, quality content that captures their attention and meetings their interests. Pinterest simply provides some new and interesting ways to create those connections.
Jennifer Evans Cario is the author of Pinterest Marketing: An Hour a Day and is the President of SugarSpun Marketing, a social media strategy and analytics firm based in western Pennsylvania. Jennifer also serves as the social media faculty chair for Market Motive and spends a fair amount of time on the road teaching workshops on sustainable social media strategies.