Since the turn of the New Year, the hotly discussed Pinterest has become the new darling of the social web. The latest concept to take the social media world by storm, the site bestows the power of content curation upon its users to create a distinctly visual focus, differentiating the experience from other social networks. The numbers don’t lie; the site is generating serious traffic and levels of engagement that merit attention from marketers.
The size of the growing network and the unparalleled amount of content being shared are extremely attractive for businesses. However, the general nature of the site and its user demographics (predominately women) point towards a smaller, almost niche market. So which businesses belong on Pinterest? This nifty infographic goes deep into detail about what value the site may have for a business of any particular kind, but the gist is this: companies offering visually appealing consumer products have the clear inside track. For many marketers, especially those operating B2B, success on this particular platform might be far less likely.
The reason that taking a campaign to Pinterest may not be a practical idea for many brands is fairly obvious. Although the sizable user base is currently spending more time and consuming more information than ever on the site (89 minutes a month vs. Twitter’s 21), consumers aren’t necessarily interacting with a message that a brand is actively promoting; instead, through discovery and ‘re-pinning,’ user wish to become the promoter for the business. The Pinterest etiquette page even warns individuals and businesses against this kind of behavior, saying “try not to use Pinterest purely as a tool for self-promotion.” In many cases, it simply does not work.
For the aforementioned B2C companies offering stunning HD photographs of their latest gadget or accessory, users are able take the message and dish it out at exponential rates through the massive network of ‘virtual pinboards’ – brands like Whole Foods Market and West Elm Furniture have been highly effective in this respect – but without a quality visual asset, other brands are quickly forgotten here. What image would a bank want passing by the eyes of users to create positive engagement? How willing would a user be to pass along an image related to a personal hygiene brand?
It is still too early to foresee how effective Pinterest will be for marketers in the long haul. There is undeniable potential, but even as speculative valuation begins to rise through the roof, the smart play for most companies may be to wait until a target market in the network is thoroughly identified.