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The Marketer
Analysis and trends

Pin it to win it? How Marketers can use Pinterest

05 November 2012
Pinterest is the third largest social networking site after Facebook and Twitter. But marketers have been struggling to spot its marketing potential. MD at WhichSocial.com Avin Wong explains why Pinterest is not just about cakes and dresses anymore but a part of marketers’ social media toolkit

Avin Wong
“Pinning” is now a household verb but can marketers use social networking site Pinterest as a marketing tool?

The good news for brands is that the site is no longer confined to fashion focused businesses, photography or weddings. It is fast becoming one of the top traffic referral platforms with the potential to reach new audiences and boost sales. The site has grown rapidly since its launch in 2010 and now has 12 million users worldwide.

This year has already seen many retailers capitalising on national events from the Diamond Jubilee to the Olympics via event-specific Pinterest boards. And with the festive season fast approaching, we can expect to see more pinning activity from B2C retailers.

B2B pinning

While harnessing the power of Pinterest may seem a little harder for B2B marketers, there are still plenty of opportunities. Pinterest can be used as a scrapbook of images depicting what makes the company tick and what inspires employees. General Electric makes good use of the platform by having an array of boards creatively showcasing its archived images, including factory floors, finished kitchens and their own take on a popular meme. The company now has more than 12,000 followers.

FMCG marketers can appeal to Pinterest communities through images of delicious foods or interiors associated with products that link back to brand websites. Packaged goods can use boards to showcase the evolution of its packaging through past advertising campaigns and appealing to audiences’ sense of nostalgia. Marketers using Pinterest need to think outside the box and be creative with an inspired medium.

Pinterest can also harness SEO power through increased sharing and direct links to brand websites. These sites should have quality images of a “pinnable” size. Adding “pin it” widgets and relevant descriptions are crucial factors in a Pinterest presence. For small businesses, using Pinterest to create brand awareness is ideal for its viral potential. Pinning an interesting product with enough visual and creative appeal is often enough to promote your brand, and doesn’t require a massive budget.

Softly selling

But don’t begin fanatically pinning everything in sight. Instead set down appropriate and realistic Pinterest goals. Merely having a Pinterest account won’t automatically result in higher traffic and sales. Pins and boards need to be curated and personalised in order to demonstrate that brands, just like their audiences, enjoy humour, have aspirations and are human.

While retailers on Pinterest can add prices to their products, it is important to remember that the social network is much more focused on the soft sell. People don’t want to be bombarded with an online catalogue, but rather an idea or story that harmoniously links product and lifestyle together. Contests on Pinterest are a great way to attract new followers and increase exposure. Competitions can range from encouraging audiences to “pin to win”, offering rewards for the best pinned boards.

Be quirky

Honda recently took a different approach by encouraging followers to take a “pintermission” – a 24 hour Pinterest break that encouraged Pinterest users to get off the computer and out and about, experiencing some of the things they had been pinning about. Honda then rewarded its most active pinners a cash prize. Quirky contests can be ideal for small businesses to get some attention and for larger brands to garner more enthusiasm.

Analytics aid marketers trying to make sense of Pinterest – from gauging what is effective to identifying who is making high traffic pins followed by a purchase. Tools can help marketers pinpoint what products are trending and how they are faring against competitors – important data when devising innovative and successful campaigns. 

For example, Which Social is a piece of software specifically aimed at fashion retailers that tracks individual sales across the whole Pinterest network, as well as identifying key influencers and trends within marketing campaigns. As a result, the retailers are provided with a very accurate indication of how their brand is performing across the social media network.

Marketers must remember that Pinterest is a tool that sells an idea, and with the right boards and activity, can grow to drive more traffic towards your website and allow audiences insight into the brand’s vision  – a notion that is most suited to Pinterest over any other social media platform. Used correctly, it can add a human voice to your brand and showcase the inspiration and environment that your company thrives on.

Have you started using Pinterest yet? What other social media platforms are you using for marketing your brand?

“Pinterest is no longer restricted to solely fashion-focused businesses,  or weddings”

“Harnessing the power of Pinterest may seem a little harder for B2B marketers, there are still plenty of avenues to successfully use this platform”

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Interesting article as Pinterest still struggles to find a place in many B2B marketing programs. As firms become more innovative this may change and help more people to utilise the platform for a wider variety of marketing solutions.

James Cooper (26/11/2012 13:45:04)

Wow, I must be living on Mars or something. I had never heard of Pinterest till now. Visited the site and so wowed. My company would benefit hugely from this. Thanks

Audrey Cobbinah (08/11/2012 13:23:22)

love it hope one day l will use it for my company

garry dambaza (07/11/2012 10:34:31)

I didn't know about this, Thanks for the information.

Joshua Tembo Siwale (06/11/2012 14:03:00)

I'm not convinced Pinterest will work in all B2B environments. If you are selling prestige goods you run the risk of devaluing the items purchased by others whilst damaging your brand equity in the long term. Use it, but use it wisely.

Nigel Davis (06/11/2012 12:40:22)

I really enjoy reading your articles, very helpful for my digital work!

Matthew Blain (06/11/2012 11:55:26)

I have started using it personally to try and understand how I would use it for my B2B brand - still not sure where the fit is for my brand or event products yet...

Sangeeta Sami (06/11/2012 11:50:32)