This is a guest post by George Guildford from Punch Communications.
Essentially, Pinterest is a visual bookmarking platform, almost like a social media scrapbook. With a focus on image-based posts, Pinterest enables users to collect visual content they discover anywhere online and ‘pin’ it to their Pinterest profile using their own customizable ‘Pinboards’. Other users can then ‘Repin’, ‘Like’ or ‘Comment’ on images, with activities then appearing in a real-time feed for fellow ‘pinners’ and members to see.
How Brands Can Use Pinterest Properly
Current sections on the site include ‘Pinners you follow’, ‘Everything’, ‘Video’, ‘Popular’ and ‘Gifts’ making it easier than ever for users to search and find the content they are looking for. Perhaps the most interesting of these for brands is the integration of the ‘Gifts’ tab; a section which gives brands the opportunity to add price tags to the images on their pinboard. By clicking on images with price tags, users are taken to the original Pinterest page where the image was first pinned from. Clicking on the image again links the user to an external brand website enabling them to purchase products from the original source. An incredibly well-integrated, seamless social shopping experience, taking users from discovery to purchase in a matter of two or three clicks.
Imagine a smartphone brand being able to take users to a pinboard filled with their latest range, including latest colors, features and handsets all clearly laid out in one place, or a clothing brand being able to showcase their entire collection from their pinboard – user comments and Likes scattered throughout. The potential for brands is an incredibly interesting one and one that is sure to develop even more so throughout 2012.
In addition to the ‘Gift Tab’, the introduction of a ”Pin it” button is something which presents businesses with the perfect opportunity to utilize visual assets to encourage users, bloggers and partner agencies to share branded content and increase visibility around new products, services and campaigns. By bookmarking the ‘Pin it’ button, users can quickly and easily ‘pin’ any images they see from any website straight to their own pinboards. For an increasing number of brands with unique and striking visual assets, the opportunity to raise visibility via images being shared and pinned across the site by other users is one that has provided the biggest pull. Moreover, it’s not entirely unimaginable that as Pinterest’s popularity continues to increase, brands will start to add calls-to-actions on their own websites next to products and images inviting visitors to ‘Pin it’ much in the same way we see with Facebook’s ‘Like’ and Twitter’s ‘Tweet this’ buttons.
As well as create their own pinboards and pin content, brand profiles can also comment, share, Like and repin user content, much in the same way as ‘User’ profiles, making it easy for brands to interact with other brands and users across the site, increasing visibility to their own content, and engaging in dialogue with pinners and consumers alike.
The Right Approach
One of the key things for brands using the network to keep in mind will be the balance between promotional, product-focused content and more thematic, creative, lifestyle content. As we have seen with brand’s using Facebook, bombarding users with sales and promotional messaging doesn’t always work and in many cases switches users off from engaging with the brand. A great example of striking this balance in particular is the West Elm Pinterest boards. Having created a series of their own themed mood boards filled with lifestyle and inspirational images, home décor brand, West Elm have created a space that sits separately from focusing on products and services and yet still aligns with and supports the overall brand offering. Creating ‘themed’ boards to provide users with inspirational and creative content is something that will certainly work well for many businesses, in the same way that tying in with current conversations and #hashtags has worked so well on Twitter.
Another factor worth considering is that across the board, online PR and social media seem to be shifting towards becoming more and more focused on the creation of a visual experience: the arrival of Facebook’s Timeline, the growth of apps such as Instagram, and Twitter’s introduction of photo upload within tweets, to name a few. With this increasing shift towards visual content and the majority of links from Pinterest pins reported to be ‘do-follow’ links, the possible effect such content will have on a business’ SEO activities starts to become a key talking point.
With more and more users pinning content with links pointing directly to brand websites, as well as the number of sources from which a link points to a company’s website increasing via social sharing, the importance and influence that such content has upon a brand’s SEO performance is definitely one for businesses and SEO agencies to watch closely throughout the year.