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Home : Blog : February 2013

The (F)Utility Of Pinterest Engagement

February 4, 2013 by Brand Algorithms

A. Pinterest, The Social Media Platform

Pinterest is a visuals-focused social networking site that allows users to share photographs, videos, and other visual content among themselves. Pinterest describes itself as an online pinboard, and the site is organized, Facebook-style, as pages (each user owning a page); with a page consisting of boards (the equivalent of photo-albums or video collections), each created around a theme; and each board consisting of visual items (the equivalent of photographs, videos, visuals, etc.), referred to as pins.

Users can pin visuals from anywhere on or outside the web, to their boards; repin images, that interest them, from other pages/boards; and like or comment on pins on other user pages/boards. Users can follow other users (pages) and boards, as well as be followed by other users. The thematic focus of a board means that each board needs to be carefully curated by the user, with themes ranging from products to lifestyles to hobbies to concepts.

Why has Pinterest been in the news, in the recent past? Well, for one, the site has seen phenomenal growth over the last 18 months, in terms of registered users. It is difficult to get reliable user statistics with respect to Pinterest, but the site Pinterestinsider puts the total number of Pinterest users at over 100 Million, showing a 2700+% growth since May 2011. A more reliable metric to go by, for a brand owner, would be the monthly active users, and the figure most commentators agree on is 25 Million for the month of January 2013. The following infographic reveals the key originating countries for the 25 Million users:


The second reason for the keen interest in Pinterest, among brand owners and marketers, is the unique user profile Pinterest boasts: close to 80% of the users are women; with over 50% in the age group 25-44, with a relatively high level of disposable income; and, average time spent on the site being six times that of the average Facebook user. Finally, Pinterest users show greater purchase intent and action: 25% of the users have purchased items seen on Pinterest, and Pinterest users are twice as likely to make a purchase as Facebook users.

B. Who is Succeeding on Pinterest

Here are some interesting statistics on what's happening on Pinterest, compiled by Repinly:
  • The top 10 followed pages on Pinterest, are all indie operations, pointing to the fact that, perhaps, more important than content creation are the activities of collection and curating.
  • The top followed themes on Pinterest are food, home (decor), arts & crafts, and style/fashion.
  • In the top sources for content, "Uploaded by user" ranks three, underscoring the fact that, unlike other social media platforms, creating good or great content is not a pre-requisite for success.
As far as commercial brands are concerned, the top brand on Pinterest, today, is the U.S. fashion retailer L.L. Bean, with over 5 Million followers (compared to the almost 11.5 Million followers of the top Pinner on Pinterest), followed by Nordstrom, another U.S. fashion retailer, with almost 4 Million followers. Rounding up the popular Pinterest brands, with followers over the 1 Million mark, are Everyday Health, Lowe's, Quiksilver, American Airlines Europe, Swarovski, Lulu Athletica, and United Colors of Benetton.

Followers are one metric, but not the only. The following infographic from PinLeague highlights the success of lesser known brands in fostering a higher level of engagement, despite a moderate, relatively speaking, following:
  • Despite having just 228,000 followers, the brand Anthropologie generated 310K brand mentions, compared to L.L. Bean's 18K brand mentions. An even smaller brand, Urban Outfitters, with 40,000 followers generated a buzz of 305K.
  • In Pinterest, it is the "pins" that count, and not "likes". L.L. Bean's most popular image (Bat Cat) garnered 2,900 likes, as compared to the 600 likes garnered by Anthropologie's most popular visual (a picture of one of Copenhagen's public spots). However, Anthropologie averaged 456 repins per pin, while L.L. Bean averaged just 90.
  • What's interesting to note is that the very few of the top rated visuals had anything to do with the products the brands sell: further reiterating the importance of the act of curating, in Pinterest.

C. What Not To Do on Pinterest

It is still early days for Pinterest, in India, to arrive at a to-do list, for any brand seeking to execute an activation and engagement programme. Going by the experience of brands in the West, however, there is a list of not-to-do's that brand owners and marketers would do well to run through, before embarking on the programme:
  • Jump into Pinterest
    There are specific product categories that benefit from a presence on Pinterest, given the profile of Pinterest users and the most-followed themes on the platform: there are some that do not. For example, retail banking brands on Pinterest have not seen any success, as this article from The Financial Brand reveal. A brand owner needs to map its target market to the average Pinterest profile, the average Pinterest follows, and the size of the user base represented in its geography, before deciding on whether to activate a brand page on Pinterest.
  • Re-use Content Generated for Facebook or the Microsite
    Pinterest is a platform that specializes the sharing of visual content: the other two do not. The most common mistake made by brand owners and marketers is to reuse (visual) content created for the brand microsite or for the brand page on Facebook. Instead, generate visual content keeping in mind the Pinterest user-base, and then re-use such visuals in facebook and the microsite.
  • Arrange Content Product-wise, Campaign-wise
    A large measure of success on Pinterest is derived from the creative arrangement of content. If stunning visuals are going to be arranged in traditional product-wise and campaign-wise categories, the expense incurred in creating those visuals is money down the drain. The execution of a brand's Pinterest page needs to be thought through creatively, rather than commercially.
  • Focus Only on Brand Content
    Pinterest is as much about the art of curating as it is about the art of arranging. Brand-only content can pall after some time, so mix visuals to keep interest from dropping; and try to link non brand visuals to a brand attribute, so that the brand message is not lost in all the mixing and matching.
  • Be Insular
    Pinterest is a platform to share. Do not be afraid to check other pages on the platform, follow interesting pages, and repin interesting images: in fact, make a conscious effort to follow and repin.
  • Be Insular
    Pinterest is a platform to share. Do not be afraid to check other pages on the platform, follow interesting pages, and repin interesting images: in fact, make a conscious effort to follow and repin.
  • Forget to Include the "Pin it" Buttons on Visual Content
    Remember to include the Pin it button on visual content posted outside Pinterest, to enable users to pin interesting visuals to Pinterest. Be it a product shot, an inforgraphic, a sketch, or a great photograph, make sure that the facility is available to interested browsers to share the visual among their followers.
  • Link Product Visuals to Expired Pages
    A common mistake brand owners make is to phase out a model or design in the online catalogue or the brand microsite, and forget to update the Pinterest page accordingly. Curalate, the Pinterest Analytics & Marketing platform, "found that 48 percent of top retailers' most popular products on Pinterest link back to expired pages." Have a robust process, preferably automated, that links a model/design page to the content posted on social media platforms.
  • Leave Pricing Out (Maybe/Perhaps)
    There is an interesting statistic from Shopify about how pins with prices garner 36% more likes than those without. Don't take this piece information as fact: experiment and then decide.
Now that we have a list of not-to-dos, let's go forth and start pinning.
Tags: Pinterest, Statistics, Engagement
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