Oh Pinterest. I love to hate you, hate to love you.
This entry has been a long time coming. I’ve wanted to opine on Pinterest from the get-go, but also pressed myself to give careful thought to my feelings on the new social media darling (which, by the way, I adore from a consumer standpoint).
Here’s the conclusion I’ve come to: 99% of brands have no business building a presence on Pinterest.
“But, what about all the referring traffic?”
- Newsflash: All of that referring traffic was happening before you ever decided to get on Pinterest. Don’t flatter yourself into thinking that you can influence it just by throwing up a few boards of your own.
“But our target customers are there.”
- Newsflash: Yes, your customers may be there, and yes, they may be pinning the sh*t out of your products, but they don’t necessarily want their feed clogged up with your marketing campaign imagery. The root of Pinterest’s success lies in its organic, user-generated curation. Let them discover without having your marketing messages shoved down their throats. When left alone to play, you’ll find they work their way back to your site. And guess what? Pinterest users will actually buy the things they find.
“But we want to share what inspires us.”
- Newsflash: Show me the data that tells you that customers give two sh*ts about what inspires you. As with any social media tool, Pinterest is inherently a narcissistic medium. Users pin and share what matters to them, with little or no regard for what brands think is cool. If they’re pinning your stuff, it’s more than likely because they found it on their own. Not because you presented it to them in some beautifully pinned package on their home feed.
“But… but… if we don’t have a presence on Pinterest, how do we leverage it?”
To leverage means to influence or exert power over something. Pinterest is a beast. A heaving, ballooning, craft-loving, wedding-planning, fashion-rocking, crockpot-cooking, kitten-adoring BEAST. And, sorry to say, there is nothing marketers can do to harness, control or influence it to their advantage.
Try throwing up some boards. You’ll find that the maintenance of constant pinning to stay relevant is beyond your resource capacities. And let’s not forget the potential legal backlash if some angsty photographer or blogger tries to come after you for using their images without authorization. Think you’re immune because “everyone’s doing it”? At some point, someone may be made an example of. And, the bigger the brand, the bigger the target… and the bigger the payoff to aforementioned angsty photographer.
Did I mention that you’re already reaping the referral traffic and brand-building benefits of Pinterest without having to manage yet another social property?! So, instead of “leveraging” Pinterest and creating gratuitous work for yourself, consider this…
Don’t do anything.
I take that back. You should do ONE thing.
Pinterest is ripe with data if you just stop with the knee-jerk “what am I going to PIN?!” reactions and take note. You can learn vast amounts about:
- which products are popular with users,
- what other interests your customerbase has,
- how customers think and feel about products/life events/purchase-driving incidents,
- customers’ desires and how they prioritize and shop for the items they want,
- how customers feel about themselves & what values they hold,
- and on and on and on…
Herein lies the true value of Pinterest for brands: It’s not in pinning or using the site as just another push-marketing channel. It’s in gathering data about customer behaviors, desires, preferences, etc.
Said anotherway, when it comes to brands:
Pinterest is not a marketing tool, it’s a customer research tool.
I know that this observation/information gathering process is quite manual right now since Pinterest doesn’t have a reporting dashboard. But it is worth the time investment. Check out PinReach or Pinerly (third-party reporting services) or even this high-level tracking overview on Mashable to help.
I’m interested in your thoughts on Pinterest for brands. Do you agree with me, or do you think brands should be pinning away?
Other great Pinterest reads:
Pinterest is NOT a Virtual Pinboard, Subprint
Is Pinterest Traffic Worthless?, Copyblogger.com