In April of 2012, Pinterest, an innovative photo sharing site only a couple of years old, became the third-most-visited web site in the world. Pinterest’s growth has been truly impressive, especially in the last 12 months. As of April, the site:
- Topped 100 million monthly visitors
- Is driving more traffic than Google+, MySpace, and LinkedIn combined
- Is responsible for 3.6% of all Internet referral traffic – hard on the heels of Twitter’s 3.61%
The potential for traffic growth, and income generation, from Pinterest is very real. Although there are some challenges that the adept marketer should be aware of, Pinterest represents a tremendous new opportunity. Like Google+, the “brand new” atmosphere of Pinterest gives companies a chance to get in on the ground floor and build a community before the site is flooded with marketing.
Pinterest is not a site where you will want to just drop some ad imaging and hope for sales. First, that’s a violation of the site’s terms of service (TOS); the company does not appear to be vigorously enforcing TOS restrictions at present but that could change overnight. Instead, Pinterest is a place to build a community by sharing images that are compelling to your potential clients and related to your product or service. The idea is not to drive immediate sales, but rather, to increase brand awareness, to create a connection to the community, and to lay the groundwork for future leads and future sales. There are a variety of third-party tools that you can use in conjunction with your Pinterest account, like integration tools for Facebook and Twitter, to make it easier to seamlessly integrate Pinterest into your social media activities.
A lot of companies are having terrific success with expanding their marketing messaging through Pinterest, but there are some caveats to keep in mind. Probably the largest potential issue is that Pinterest’s user base skews heavily female, domestic, and crafty. This is more an artifact of the site’s original community than a fundamental of the system, but at the time of this writing it is a fairly strong demographic oddity. If you are selling scrapbooking supplies or family vacation timeshares, this is a strength rather than a weakness; if you’re trying to sell men’s racing bicycles you may be in the wrong place – for now. But don’t forget the value of being the only player in an under served niche. It’s also worth acknowledging that tracking data in Pinterest can be tricky. As of this writing, a bug prevents manual tracking and makes measuring the impact of your campaigns on Pinterest problematic. Heavily data-driven marketing teams might find this frustrating.
Pinterest is an exciting place to start campaigns. Like Google+, Pinterest is a great place to run experiments and to gather feedback on new messaging or campaign ideas, though for some companies it won’t be a foundation for the entire online marketing effort. If you keep your focus on building community and attracting people to your company long-term, you will find it a rewarding place to invest marketing effort.