In November of last year, Pinterest announced its new terms for business and indicated that more businesses features are on the way—a strong signal that the massive digital bulletin board is indeed becoming more business-friendly. With several big name retailers already on board and droves more following suit, agencies and brands from all types of industries are taking a closer look at this channel.
If you’ve given Pinterest a once over and came away confused, you’re certainly not alone. The truth is that in many ways, Pinterest should be approached like any other media channel—social or otherwise. Here’s what I mean.
This Should Sound Familiar
Chances are pretty good that as you read this, some agency specialist who refers to himself as a “digital ninja” is writing a buzzword-stuffed numbered list that promises to reveal the secrets of Pinterest marketing. These lists, when boiled down to their essence, generally hit on what should be some very familiar themes:
- Focus On Quality
- Connect With And Relate To Your Target Audience
- Engage With Your Industry Influencers
- Apply Analytics
The same things can and have been said about your blog, your Facebook page, your Twitter account, your YouTube channel, your Google+ account, your LinkedIn company page, and… you get the point. In fact, these things have also been said about traditional media channels for years. They’re all good tips – they’re just not unique to Pinterest.
If you understand the strategy for harnessing a channel to successfully market a business, than you understand more than you give yourself credit for when it comes to Pinterest marketing. After all, your market is your market, and sound strategy is sound strategy.
It’s All About Telling a Compelling Story
I know—the medium is the message. I’m not implying that Pinterest is identical to Twitter is identical to TV advertising; the differences between channels shouldn’t be ignored, and there are unique nuances to approaching the strategy of each. That said, the goals among marketing channels are essentially the same (at least they should be). Whether you’re posting a promotion on Facebook, running infomercials or writing a press release, what you’re really hoping to do is to tell a compelling story that will ultimately move your audience to take a desired action.
Needless to say, visuals are kind of the thing with Pinterest.
If your business has anything to do with, say, furry animals, food, fashion, or personal beauty, this will obviously be a smoother road to social engagement than if you’re a waste management consultant. If you don’t sell visually appealing products, there may still be ways to make Pinterest work by finding clever angles and using things like infographics and other design-heavy content. But, there’s also a chance that it’s just not a good fit. Which leads me to my next point…
Don’t Ignore The Obvious
For our hypothetical waste management consultancy, Pinterest is pretty obviously not a good fit—unless they happen to sell wedding cakes on the side. Assuming they don’t, those in charge of their marketing might still be swayed by their big shiny numbers. It’s true, Pinterest has seen remarkable growth and it may even overtake Twitter as the second biggest social network. This doesn’t mean your business therefore MUST be using it as a marketing channel.
Before spending time and resources on this channel, think about what ‘Visual Stories’ are going to be compelling to your target audience. Can your business contribute these types of stories in a way that will create positive visibility for you? Are you nodding YES just because you recently read that 15% of adults now use Pinterest? Again, don’t ignore the obvious.
Of course, Pinterest comes with its own set of rules and tactics and its own methods of engaging with users, optimising boards, repinning and so on. But, if you can look past the platform-specific nuances of this channel and focus on engaging the interests of your market, you should avoid any major missteps.
[Update from Editor 21.3.2013]
Pinterest Changes (Infographic)
Pinterest has been introducing their new design during this week. The changes are quite subtle so if you’re not a heavy user (yet) you might have missed them. Some of the updates include eliminating the useless white space between the pins, streamlined nav. options and removing the hashtags.
Here’s a funky Infographic from Avalaunch that explains the changes in more detail.