A guest post by Steven Kramer of hybris.
With 10.4 million registered users, Pinterest, the pinboard-style social networking site, is presenting retailers with new marketing opportunities and challenging them to embrace new tactics in the quest to connect with consumers online.
Pinterest is different from other popular social media sites like Facebook and Twitter because Pinterest is image-based. Instead of posting text-based status updates, Pinterest users “pin” images of products or other objects that appeal to their personal style preferences. In many instances, a Pinterest board is a curated gallery of a user's personal lifestyle and is populated by brands that she finds most appealing.
From a marketing perspective, Pinterest has a strong demographic concentration. Approximately 70% of the site’s users are women between the ages of 25 and 44; half of these women have children. Retailers targeting this demographic have a vested interest in developing a Pinterest presence as quickly as possible; the site is rapidly expanding and evolving.
Retailers must keep in mind one of Pinterest’s most important benefits: Pinterest gives consumers a highly accessible mechanism for exerting control in brand relationships. By using an online platform that streamlines social sharing, consumers can endorse the products, brands, and lifestyle they appreciate.
Pinterest users also are exceptionally savvy about spotting brands that use Pinterest as a blatant extension of their online advertising efforts. Simplistic product representations ripped straight from the pages of a retail catalog don’t impress Pinterest audiences.
Instead, Pinterest users expect brands to interact with them in more meaningful ways, such as participating in the creation of a visual lifestyle and communally curating of images that add value to customer experiences.
Pinterest Strategies for Retailers
Although Pinterest may be most valuable for retailers with highly visual product lines, nearly any brand can benefit from incorporating Pinterest into its multichannel marketing mix. The key is to harness the power of the unique features and characteristics that Pinterest offers to its rapidly growing user base.
Lifestyle engagement. Because Pinterest users are image-based lifestyle curators, retailers that achieve the most success on Pinterest are active participants in the creation and sharing of content that supports the lifestyle characteristics of the brand. This means sharing content that illustrates products being used in a real-world context or even displaying images that reinforce the brand without directly referencing the company’s products.
Site optimization. Click-through or referral traffic is a primary goal of Pinterest engagement for retailers. To benefit from Pinterest, retailers need to invest time and attention in the post-referral user experience. In addition to using website optimization, retailers should consider offering incentives and discounts to Pinterest referrals to encourage conversion.
Customer sharing. Part of the value Pinterest offers retailers is that it lets customers share brand content with their online social network. In the Pinterest universe, a re-pin is an implicit endorsement of a product or brand. Retailers should facilitate content sharing, starting with the placement of “Pin It” buttons on their company websites.
Traffic monitoring. In January 2012, Pinterest drove more traffic to business websites than LinkedIn, Google Plus, Reddit, and YouTube combined, underscoring Pinterest’s ability to push traffic to retail websites. To maximize returns, retailers should be proactive about tracking referrals and monitoring the impact of their presence on Pinterest.
Pinterest’s focused demographic reach and visual nature make it a natural fit for most online retailers. Although Pinterest isn’t a social channel panacea, it has the potential to deliver substantial retail wins, provided it is incorporated into the brand’s larger social marketing strategy.
(Photo courtesy of Bigstock: Online Shopping)
Steven Kramer is the president of North America at hybris, a multichannel commerce software vendor.