Thursday, March 1, 2012

What's all this stuff about Pinterest?

Pinterest is an online bulletin board that allows users to organize and share their favorite images and content from the web. Users “pin” images to their personal boards that can be organized by common groups or themes. In order to join Pinterest one must have either a Facebook or Twitter account.

So far, there is no paid advertising on Pinterest, but there are still immediate opportunities for brands to leverage Pinterest’s active and engaged user-base.

Pinterest Australian statistics – February 2012
  • Unique Visitors to the site – 160,000 per month
  • Total Visits = 970,000 a month
  • Page Views = 8.9 million a month
  • Average Time on site =14 minutes 20 seconds
  • 57% female, 43% male

Pinterest  enthusiasts love how Pinterest enables visual discovery of new  content consistent with their own personal tastes and interests. Pinterest users can follow and pin content from people in their Facebook and Twitter networks, as well as from other recommended users with similar interests. In this way, Pinterest  provides their audience with continuous access to timely content recommendations from trusted sources. 
Unlike Facebook and Twitter which are better suited for communicating with and/or entertaining a social following, the common motivations to use Pinterest are much more personal in nature.  

How Are People Using Pinterest?
As with any new social network,  there are usability challenges that Pinterest  must address in order to ensure continued growth. 

  • Privacy - New users are automatically opted-in to follow their Facebook and Twitter following, as well as “recommended” users from outside their networks 
  • Content  Limitations - Include duplication of pins, incompatibility with flash content, and lack of consistent back-links to content source
  • Search Functionality – Pinterest search results today rely solely on user-generated comments and categorization, making it difficult to reliably locate specific content.  


1. Add “Pin-It” Buttons to Brand Content
The “Pin-It” button makes it easy for users to Pin content from your site
Much like Facebook, Twitter and Google+, “Pin-It” buttons can be directly implemented onto site content. This makes it easy for Pinterest users to “pin” brand content onto their personal Pinterest board. Other Pinterest users can then see the pinned content and either “re-pin” to their own boards or click through to the brand site. Both are valuable opportunities to build product awareness and consideration.

2.  Use Pinterest to Test New Content
Measure response rates to new content using the “Pin-It” button
Adding separate pin-it buttons to specific pages or content elements allows brands to test and compare audience response. By measuring responses and then exploring the Pinterest boards of responders, brands can create a virtual focus group to better understand the interests and motivations of their customers
3.  Follow Four Best Practices for Maintaining Pinterest Boards
Maximize the impact of your Pinterest board by following the tips below:
Focus  boards on content themes - not brands or companies
Align image comments with categories
Include “@brand” or “#” in comments for easy brand identification and to facilitate searching
Make sure content is refreshed regularly to stay relevant and ensure reach


Pinterest is Sitting on a Data Gold-Mine
Remember, they access Facebook & Twitter profile data too
Between the data they collect from Facebook & Twitter profiles in addition to Pinterest activity, it is an understatement to say that Pinterest knows a lot about their users. If monetized wisely to enable audience re-targeting outside of Pinterest,  this data could enable them to build an impressive revenue stream without even selling advertising on their site.

How Will Pinterest Handle Legal & Privacy Concerns?
Retaining the trust of their users is essential to Pinterest’s long-term success
Given the vast amount of data they collect, Pinterest must go to great lengths to maintain the trust of their user-base by avoiding mis-steps like their Feb 2012  admission to embedding tracking links in content for purposes of affiliate marketing.  There is also risk for users and brands alike to create legal risks by knowingly or unknowingly pinning copyrighted content

Will Pinterest Steal Search Engine Volume?
It’s a very real possibility
By providing users with relevant web content through images and peer recommendations, Pinterest succeeds where Google and Microsoft have fallen short, despite high profile initiatives like Google+ and Microsoft’s Facebook partnership. Pinterest now presents a compelling alternative for users early in their shopping experience who are seeking inspiration. If Pinterest continues to improve their own search functionality, the search engines could stand to lose significant upper-funnel query volume to Pinterest in categories such as recipes, travel and retail.


Pinterest has all the ingredients for long-term success in the social space:  They have loyal users, multiple monetisation opportunities, and bridge the gap between peer recommendations and content browsing.  As long as Pinterest continues to improve their user experience and avoid privacy scandals, they will increasingly essential platform in the social media realm.

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