Pinterest – Ryan’s Perspective

Author: Jack Martin

Last week it was suggested to me that I write a blog post on Pinterest. Accepting the task I thought it would be a lot of blog reading and surfing around the site to get a feel for what it could offer the business and personal world of social media. I had no clue what I was in for.

The social media platform Pinterest was started up last year. The best way I have seen it described is a folder where you keep all of your magazine or newspaper clippings. Instead of actually printing them out, you can organize them on a cloud-type system and access them at any time. Doesn’t sound very social yet? By connecting with other users on the site you can see what they have posted and comment on things you have in common with them.

Pinterest is currently invite-only, which is similar to how Google+ and Spotify started up. Someone gets an email invite and they can then invite a certain number of their friends. Don’t worry though, this isn’t like being with a group of guys trying to get into a VIP Club or anything. It is fairly easy to gain an invite.

Thankfully I had a co-worker on the site already and she forwarded me the invite. After some signing up pages I was finally into the new image and media-sharing social network.

Let’s stop here momentarily. Remember when Pokemon cards were popular? You used to open the new pack with excitement, and when the holographic Charizard wasn’t in there you were crazy disappointed. Most likely you got another Pikachu for the collection and maybe a Charmander. This is exactly how I felt when I finally got to Pinterest. All I saw were wedding dresses, baked cupcakes, and women’s clothing. I was a guy that landed on page 34 of Women’s World magazine. I hadn’t signed up for that.

This definitely altered my initial opinion on Pinterest. It got worse when I tried to search something every guy would like such as extreme sports. The most extreme thing that came up was a painting done with lipstick.

Let’s do a quick recap to this point. New social network, super excited, log on, no holographic Charizard, and it is absolutely perfect for the half of the world that is into wedding dresses and flowers.

When I think about it more though, that is pretty impressive that there is that niche demographic in one space and you know what their specific interests are based on what they are posting and tagging. It is a search engine marketers dream. All I have to do is type in the category of my product and I have hundreds and hundreds of specific users that are interested in it.

The other neat thing is that it isn’t just the fact that they are interested in that category, but they are passionate about it. Every social network has words. It has opinions and posts and articles. Pinterest has images. It takes more passion and creativity to display what you are feeling or thinking with a photo. If you are a business and your product category ignites that passion, then your customers are one “pin” away.

Etsy is a perfect example of a business using Pinterest well. The vintage craft e-commerce site is organizing their users’ products into different categories and placing them on pinboards. By posting the images of products throughout the day, anyone who searches a similar category could be drawn to the photo of the Etsy product. Now here is the beauty of Pinterest: by simply clicking on the image it directs you back to the original webpage the image was taken from. Now Etsy has completed a full circle referral network based on images and someone that is truly interested in their product has been directed to their web page.

Several businesses have been having contests where users create a pinboard of their favorite products from a certain company. The winner will get a gift card or some other item of value. The benefits of this approach is that some random internet user, who has a passion for your company, is now sharing dozens of images with their network. Let’s assume they post 25 photos to that pinboard, tag your company in it, and maybe 3 users are directed to your site from each one. That just created 75 extremely warm e-commerce referrals to your site. These are going to be individuals who trust the opinion of their connection on Pinterest, and obviously have a passion for that same type of product.

You could compare this to a pay-per-click campaign, except Pinterest is 100% free for right now. Overall, I am personally still struggling to find any sort of male identity in the site’s content that is being directed to me from my current connections. I would hope with more managing of my connections and interests that will change. In the long run, don’t let that shy you from the site. Especially if you are a business, Pinterest is a social network that people should view as the premier lead generator for e-commerce.