Pinterest, the hottest social media site of 2012 has caught the Internet world by storm. Pinterest today occupies an enviable position right behind Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, in the list of Top 10 Social Networking sites.
For a social network that is just over 2 years old, the figures are impressive:
• Pinterest is driving more referral traffic on the web than Google+, YouTube, Reddit, and LinkedIn combined. Source: Marketing Profs
• The site grew by 4000% in the last 6 months receiving 11 million unique visitors in Jan 2012 alone. Source: Experian Hitwise
• The Global Alexa rank stands at 76 and the US rank at 16 currently. Source Alexa
• The viral potential that Pinterest offers is unsurpassed. Almost 80% of the pins are repins. Source: RJ Metrics
A runaway hit with women users (mostly between ages of 25-45), Pinterest is a social network that lets you organize and share images and videos on virtual pinboards, categorized into specific themes or areas of interest. You can add pins by uploading images, or using the Pinterest ‘Pin It’ button. You could also opt to re-pin (add an existing image on Pinterest to your own board) images and videos of your choice. For now, Pinterest is hugely popular with individual users, but B2C and B2B marketers are quickly realizing the potential of being part of this growing and highly engaging social property.
I firmly believe that Pinterest should be part of every B2B marketer’s overall content marketing and social media marketing strategy. And you need to act quickly, since this channel is still new, so you can make a difference and get that competitive advantage. Even top companies like IBM and HP are yet to join the Pinterest bandwagon, but Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg is already active on it, adding 16 boards to his name at last count.
So how can B2B companies leverage Pinterest for marketing? Here are a few ideas:
1. Use Pinterest as a repository for your visual assets: Pinterest can easily serve as a repository of your best visual assets. Needless to say, share things that are only worth sharing and not every image/video your company has produced. The biggest advantage Pinterest provides is that it automatically links back to the page that houses the collateral you have picked the image from- so you are creating valuable backlinks, and making it easy for people to follow the link. As an example, I have created a board called Content Marketing, which links back to all the blog posts I’ve written on the subject.
2. Use Pinterest to humanize your brand: Just because you are a B2B company, does not mean your pinboards should be just about your products, or demo videos. Let your brand’s personality come through in your pinboards. What is the culture of your company, what causes do you believe in, who are your top executives, what are their hobbies, how are you giving back to society, what are the interesting places in and around your corporate HQ, who are your customers? These are some of the topics that could be represented as pinboards for your brand.
3. Use Pinterest to demonstrate practical use of your products: Showing how your products can add value in a real world scenario is more effective than just posting product pictures or screenshots onto your pinboards. You can also subtly demonstrate though images who will benefit from your products. For instance: if your product is targeted towards banks and financial institutions, pinning imagery that represents challenges they face, is a subtle way of showing that your solution can mitigate such challenges. You could replicate this for different industry verticals and target audiences that you are selling to. Similarly, providing testimonials from your current customers in visual format or as short video nuggets is also a good strategy to demonstrate value.
4. Use Pinterest to collaborate with employees, partners, clients, prospects: Don’t ever forget that at the heart of it, Pinterest is a ‘social’ network, and as with any social network, success depends on effective engagement and collaboration. Creating a pinboard and allowing your employees, partners and clients to add relevant images makes them feel more connected to your brand. Also, the images added can give you an idea what matters to your prospects/clients/ employees. Similarly, if your clients/prospects have a Pinterest account, engage with them (like, repin, comment) or even add pins (if they have provided that option).
5. Use Pinterest to go beyond brand promotion: The key to success on Pinterest is to move beyond self-promotion. Make your pinboards about a topic/subject, rather than making them about your company. Remember however, to give your pinboards, a consistent identity. If you want to come across as an edgy, be edgy; want to come across as trendy, be trendy…ooze a distinct personality and stick to it! Let your Pinterest profile tell your brand’s story in pictures, and also project to the world the kind of brand you are.
6. Use Pinterest as part of your overall marketing strategy: One thing Pinterest will do is get marketers to rethink their marketing strategy, not just in terms of written collateral but also in producing high impact and shareable visuals. For eg: if your blog post does not contain a relevant image, you cannot share it on Pinterest. This means that you will now have to focus on visual branding to be successful on Pinterest. Visual collateral like infographics, videos, whitepapers, cheat sheets will be more effective and that’s what you need to focus on.
Of course, as with any new social network, there is scope for improvement. The search functionality on Pinterest has a lot left to be desired- so make sure you tag/hashtag your pins appropriately and try and include relevant long tail keywords in the description for better SEO value. Lack of relevant metrics is another challenge, but I see that being addressed soon. The third challenge is the inability to keep your boards private- so keep a close watch on what is being pinned, especially if your board has multiple collaborators.
As they say, a picture is worth a thousand words- Pinterest’s phenomenal growth is a testimony to the power of visuals. It is up to us B2B marketers to harness that power and use it to tell our stories and increase engagement with our prospects and customers.
Check out LeadFormix on Pinterest – www.pinterest.com/leadformix