No wonder every brand wants to set up shop on Pinterest. The online pinboard site now attracts more than 11 million visitors a month, and they are a passionate bunch – showing very high levels of user engagement and virality, and attracting fans who can help elevate a brand’s presence. For brands, Pinterest has become the online version of the nightclub with the velvet rope: Everyone wants to get in, but they need to play it cool. Before randomly jamming your pinboard with images, you need a Pinterest strategy. Here’s how to fit in with the pinning crowd, and create marketing campaigns that play to Pinterest’s strengths and audience.
Know your audience: Pinterest’s core audience is 70 percent female, ages 25–34, and primarily craft and fashion enthusiasts. If your brand isn’t aimed at these demographics – for instance, you sell online games or barbecue grills – you probably don’t need to be on Pinterest just yet. This doesn’t mean you should stop paying attention to Pinterest altogether: as the site’s audience grows, the demographics will likely change.
Curate carefully: Pinterest is about curating. Think of your pinboard like an art gallery – you wouldn’t throw every piece of artwork in your storage closet up on the wall, you’d choose the images that best represent the story you’re telling. Instead of pinning every last brand image to your pinboard, share the most visually and emotionally engaging images. Fans will be more likely to choose selections from your pinboard to add to their own collections of things they love if your images are meaningful and evocative. Pin new content regularly to ensure that you show up in followers’ newsfeeds—as with any social network, people tend to notice new content most.
Rein in the number of boards: Just as you curate images to streamline your Pinterest presence, it makes sense to keep the number of pinboards you create to a logical minimum, based on the topics and categories relevant to your brand and business. Launch new boards when you have content that demands its own board – don’t do it just because you think having more boards means more fans. With too many pinboards, you run the risk of your content getting buried and seeming overwhelming to visitors.
Engage fans with contests: “Pin It to Win It” contests encourage users to pin one of your images to their Pinterest boards in exchange for a chance to win products. But you can get even more creative with contests – for instance, suggest users create boards around specific interests, like summer fashion or travel in Paris, and offer prizes to pinboards that get the most votes.
High Point Market, the furniture trade show, built buzz around its Pinterest boards through its Style Spotter promotion. Trendsetters attending the market took photos of their favorite home furnishing items on display at the market and posted them to their own personal pinboards within the Style Spotter pinboard. Other High Point Market fans voted on their favorite Style Spotter pinboards, and the creator of the most popular pinboard won a free trip to a future High Point Market event.
Align Pinterest with other social networking activities: Tell your Twitter followers and Facebook fans about your pinboards and ask them to share your posts, especially if they involve contests. People don’t need to be Pinterest members to see your pinboard, and they can share your links if they like what they see. Pinboard entries should include hashtags or @ mentions of your brand to ensure they get spread virally.
Homes.com recently conducted a very successful contest that tied together their Pinterest pinboards and Facebook page. Fans entered by submitting one of their Pinterest boards for judging via a Facebook tab, which helped cross-promote both channels and build fans around the Homes.com brand.
Connect with other Pinterest influencers: Get invited to join a shared pinboard, which means your images will appear on that pinboard as well. Or, create your own shared pinboard, and invite industry experts or partners to contribute, since their followers will see your pinboard in their collection. The Gilt Home shopping site does this in their Gilt Home Industry Experts pinboard.
Measuring success on Pinterest can take many forms, depending on whether you’re looking for increased conversation or simply better brand awareness. But right now, Pinterest may be your best tool for attracting influential early adopters and drawing greater validation for your brand.