The Power of Pinterest

By Matt Forman

A few months ago Pinterest was the new kid on the block in social media, boasting never-before seen user growth rates and promising a radical new mix of social and marketplace. We were extremely excited and the feedback we got on any blog mentioning Pinterest was incredible.

Now that some of the hype has died down here in Australia we can take a step back and re-evaluate the platform and its promise for QSR businesses. So lets rediscover what Pinterest is all about, the good, the bad, and the potential it holds for Social Media Marketing in Australia.

What is Pinterest?

Pinterest, as the name suggests, is basically a giant pin board made up of smaller pin boards. The site allows users to create different pin boards for different topics, as well as follow entire users or just a few of their boards. So it’sbasically a picture sharing social media platform.

It has some unique characteristics that are so far unmatched in social media. The key difference the platform presents over some of the more established social platforms is that it is designed to exploit ‘interest-networks’ rather than ‘social networks’, in other words people link to each other through common interests rather than common acquaintances.

Unlike many social media platforms where the user has to follow the entirety of your brand, in Pinterest they can choose to follow your brand, or simply one of your boards. This is the truly powerful thing with Pinterest, the ability to segment your audience and products and deliver completely targeted content.

For example on Facebook you only have the option to follow Boost Juice, however maybe you aren’t interested in their snacks, juices, or promotions, maybe all you want is info about delicious smoothie recipes. On Pinterest they are able to provide different boards for each one of their products or target markets, and they are much better able to tell their brand story, and showcase brand personality, through the use of Images.

It has even been suggested that pinning leads to purchasing. A survey conducted by Vision Critical revealed that 16% of users have pinned something and then later purchased it offline, showing the powerful influence Pinterest can have on purchase intent.

Pinterest is also great for generating referral traffic back to your website, as each photo pinned links directly back to the webpage you pinned it from, and recent changes in Google’s algorithm mean that social signals such as referral traffic from social media networks is a great way to boost your website’s rankings in Google’s search results.

It all sounds fantastic, so what are the drawbacks? Each and every social media platform is at the mercy of users, for there to be any sort of possible value to business the platform needs to have active users. Currently the platform is experiencing some growing pains and its user base growth has somewhat stalled since its astronomical growth. The user base on the website is also strongly skewed towards females, with up to 80% of Pinterest users being women between the age of 25-55. However Pinterest users are still very active and have only praises for the platform.

Lets take a look at how Starbucks have leveraged Pinterest as part of their Social Media Strategy.

Starbucks have branded their presence as ‘Starbucks Loves’ and the idea behind their presence on Pinterest is not to share anything directly linked to Starbucks, instead sharing things that Starbucks loves, such as coffee, music, food and inspiration.

Despite only having 7 boards and 880 pins the brand has generated a following of around 73,181 fans. That’s over 70,000 people they connect with through non-brand related content, which ads some definite social credibility to the brand.

Interestingly during our search we discovered that there are some brands which are already missing out, a great example being Grill’d. Grill’d burgers feature frequently on Facebook and Instagram, and they have also generated a large interest on Pinterest, with many images praising the succulent burgers. However,the brand is not present in this space so it’s a one way conversation.

In this article we have briefly looked at the social media platform, and highlighted its positive points, including the fact that it is built to connect users based on shared interests, it allows brands to segment and service different audiences with different messaging, generates great social referral traffic, which in turn can also help with your SEO, and its suggested that users are much more likely to purchase once they have seen something on Pinterest.

So why not try Pinterest out for your brand?


Matt Forman is a digital entrepreneur and start-up mentor. He is currently the Managing Director at Traffika and a Director at HEARIS, a Social Media Management Software company. You can connect with Matt on LinkedIn or follow him on Google+

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