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Why Pinterest Is Like No Other Social Network

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Pinterest is a ‘virtual pinboard’ full of recipes, weddings and many pretty pictures. Is it a site to be taken seriously? Take a look at the following stats: unique visitors increased from 418,000 in May to 3.3 million in October, meaning traffic increased for this site sevenfold in five months alone. Beyond its impressive growth over a year, Pinterest has also emerged as a very new type of platform when it comes to the way people engage with content in its community.

Created out of founder Ben Silbermann’s love for collecting as a child, Pinterest has become a platform for sharing ideas, making lists and curating your favorite things. And, given its passionate user base, brands are beginning to pay attention. “People are going to Pinterest to get inspiration for their most important life projects, which correlate to the most important purchasing events in their life” says Jeff Jordan, partner of venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz (also a Pinterest Board Member). In fact, 360i has built out a Pinfluencer(SM) Services practice within our influencer marketing group to better reach high profile users on the rapidly growing platform.

Why Pinterest Is Like No Other Social Network

What Google did for organizing information, Pinterest does for curating inspiration. Pinterest differs from social networks like Facebook and microblogging platforms like Twitter and Tumblr because its focus is not areal time, up-to-date stream of status updates, but rather a curated collection of content that inspires a user enough to think “must pin this.”  There is no paid advertising or media (yet), so all engagement has been purely organic.  Pinterest also ties into multiple current social trends: image sharing, tagging, mobile, curation, visual self-expression and browser plugins.  It has the same content marketing potential as Tumblr for community and ease of sharing and is similar to Google+ in terms of link aggregation. 

Beyond amplifying brand presence within search,  Pinterest can also build community among people passionate about inspiration and self-expression.  That platform provides a rich opportunity for people to share life’s most important events, and therefore gives marketers a chance to create emotional connections with people around their brands.

What makes it so Pinteresting?

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The magic of Pinterest’s success lies in a few simple features: a browser bookmarklet, mobile app (iPad app coming soon), and a “pin it” button for websites. It also has to do with the care the Pinterest team took to cultivate its audience. Early Pinterest strategy included introducing Pinterest with home improvement and interior design bloggers, which led to an overall focus on lifestyle by the platforms’ users.  Pinterest is also invite only, meaning if you want in, you need a referral from a friend who is already a user.  The assumption here is that all friends have similar interests, which provides context when searching within the network.

All of these factors have positioned Pinterest as a social network like no other. In fact, a Pinterest spokesperson recently shared with us the fact that 70 percent of users are female and many are from the Midwest. According to Businessweek’s article “Why Image-Sharing Network Pinterest Is Hot,” the Pinterest audience is incredibly unique, as most social networks’ early adopters are male and live in Silicon Valley.  Pinterest also largely appeals to stay-at-home moms, cooks, do-it-yourself and brides to be, a.k.a. the audiences that are craved for by CPG and retail brands but have yet to fully define their voices digitally.

How brands can get on the (Pinterest) board

Brands with e-commerce sites are positioned to benefit most as they want their products to be in consideration for purchase.  Pinterest includes the option for users to label each pin with its cost. This makes search within Pinterest more effective; users can look under the “Gifts” tab and search based on price points. In order for a retail brand’s product to be under consideration, the easiest first step is to add the pin it button to the site for each product. The pin it button disperses content from the site onto other social platforms. So, is getting on Pinterest the right move for your brand? Keep reading.

Additional Benefits for Content Marketing and Search

Pinterest is also effective for brands who want to use content marketing to amplify search. However, a brand must have relevant content to market. Pinterest is not where content is created, but rather where it is curated and categorized.  Search Engine Journal says one should “think of Pinterest SEO in terms of linkable image assets.” Since all pins are links, they show up in Google search results. To leverage Pinterest for search, add a pin it button to your site for each product, use appropriate tags in pin descriptions, and make sure your pins and boards have titles that have relevant key terms. Pinterest has also proved to be a great resource for driving traffic; according to USA Today, it is currently a top driver of referral traffic for e-commerce site Etsy.  Pins link back to its original source, which is called out individually on each pin and is essentially free advertising.

Why Brands Should Start Pinning


Brands suited for Pinterest are those vying to be a part of life’s biggest moments: special events like birthday parties or weddings, home renovation, recipes, shopping, gift ideas and self-improvement.  Pinterest is for when you are not sure what you want, but want to discover ideas.  Consumers know which site to go to when they want to purchase a product, but where do they go to get the inspiration beforehand?  Pinterest fills that gap and connects inspiration directly to purchase. Some brands already leveraging Pinterest include Whole Foods, Real Simple Magazine, Nordstrom, HGTV, West Elm, Bergdorf Goodman and Little Debbie.

When considering social integration, Pinterest provides high value given the investment required to get started at a basic level (aka adding a button to their site).  For more integration, the next step would be to create a Pinterest profile and add the “follow me on Pinterest” button on their site in similar fashion as other social sharing options from Facebook, Twitter and Google+. After building a following, brands could encourage their users to use the Pinterest mobile app to snap pictures to pin, whether inside the brand’s retail location or just sharing photos when they are enjoying the brand’s product.


Right now, Pinterest provides an opportunity for brands to connect with target audiences making considerations for fashion, food, home goods, and gifts.  Retail brands with e-commerce sites have the most to benefit in terms of driving traffic to their sites.  CPGs can also benefit by sharing recipes using their products as part of an efficient content marketing strategy.  Since Pinterest engagement is organic and more people are joining every day and finding new uses, in the future there could be opportunities for travel, electronics, or toys. People are taking more time to consider products before purchase, especially high-value products, and Pinterest helps them make that decision. Your brand being on Pinterest could help them make their decision faster.