Four Things You Need to Know When Thinking About Pinterest

Last Wednesday, some of the London FH team attended the PRCA’s first “DigiBites” meet-up to get the low down from Pinterest’s first UK hire, Sarah Bush, on how brands can better use and understand the content sharing network.

Launched four years ago, Pinterest has 70 million users worldwide (it has over 3 million “pinners” in the UK alone).

The secret to its success? Put simply, it helps its users answer emotional or subjective questions that other search engines, like Google, are unable to answer. Pinterest acts as a platform for its users to produce and index content not just for themselves, but for other users (it even discourages people from deleting material as it believes that all pins will be relevant to someone at some point in their life).  Pinterest users build up portfolios of who they are and their aspirations using other people’s experiences and ideas as building blocks.

But why should brands want to tap into this emotionally driven community of pinners?

Pinterest provides high reach.

Unlike traditional communications, you can reach more people by communicating with comparatively lower numbers of followers. This is because Pinterest’s main engagement mechanic is to “re-pin” content. For example, in March 2012, Sony tallied 2.3 billion page impressions to over 4 million unique visitors a day. This was achieved with only 2,600 followers and ultimately drove people’s interest to purchase, shown by an 800 per cent increase in Sony Store website traffic.

When considering using Pinterest you need to think about the four stages of the average Pinterest user’s journey. Those stages are as follows:

1. Aspiration – The user searches using a broad topic to find inspiration for a certain passion or activity. They may have a need or simply want to feel inspired to do something. If they’re thinking about what to buy for Christmas they may simply use search terms like “Christmas” or “Christmas presents”

2. Anticipation – When the user has enough inspiration, they will start to create their own board and refine their searches. Instead of “Christmas” they may search “gifts for my father-in-law”. The further along their journey, the more fragmented the search terms become. It’s important for marketers to bear this in mind when creating content for this stage and the next.

 3. Participation – Once the user has created their board they’ll then consider buying the ingredients or the gift they originally set out to find. This call to action needs to be as easy as possible for the user and is especially important because Pinterest conversion rates are 50 per cent higher than from other traffic. Pinterest also generates four times more revenue per click than Twitter and 27 per cent more clicks than Facebook.

4. Reflection – When the user completes an activity, they’ll reflect on it – but this is less likely to occur within Pinterest. Users are more likely to reflect on the success of their project elsewhere, for several reasons, the main one being that most people see Pinterest as a platform to gain inspiration from other users. Unlike Facebook, Pinterest doesn’t give the user a platform to post personal updates, meaning that many people may not be able to find the affirmation that they seek from sharing reflection on a project. (Pinterest are very aware of this and encourages brands to plan for this when setting goals and KPIs around reflection on Pinterest.)                                                        

Brands should consider all four stages when planning Pinterest content. For example, if you’re targeting the Participation stage, you’ll need to make sure that the content is more functional – perhaps include a “how to” piece with links to the components needed to complete the project.

What follows is consideration for how you intend to inspire and grow your communities further.

There are a couple of brands who are doing this really well.

TopShop. They recently ran an in-store “most pinned” campaign where they attached labels to the most pinned items in store and their website. They had Pinterest ambassadors in store to help educate shoppers on how to best use the platform and keep on top of fashion trends. Not only did this encourage people to buy in store but it nudged shoppers back to Pinterest to carry on browsing for top trends or order items online by clicking through the pin.

Beauty brand Sephora is another great example of a brand using “Top Pin” APIs as merchandising tools to drive sales on their website. They often launch exclusive deals and competitions through Pinterest to drive traffic to their website. Sephora currently considers a Pinterest follower to be 15 times more valuable than a Facebook fan.

Both brands have focused on the education of their audiences and in doing so have managed to blend on and offline shopping into one seamless shopping experience.

It is important to note that the examples above have all been achieved organically – Pinterest is yet to introduce paid promotion elements to their platform (something that Sarah says will be arriving in the next year or so).

Keen to start pinning? Here are three tips from Sarah:

1. Seek out your interests and follow people.

2. Follow boards (Sarah cited Urban Outfitters, Next and Topshop as some top UK brands to follow).

3. Start curating boards you care about.


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