6137341753_a85103a434_mFew things in the online world have been “hotter” over the last couple of years than Pinterest.com. Known as an image curation site, Pinterest is essentially like a digital scrapbook where users can “pin” images that link back to actual websites. Many people use the site, as an example, to collect recipes. From the time that Pinterest launched, it has been hailed as a major driver of traffic to websites, and therefore, there has been a lot of talk about how all companies really need to be on Pinterest. After all, you want web traffic, don’t you?

For a lot of companies, without question, Pinterest can be a game-changer. Because Pinterest is image-based and because it’s so easy to “repin” what someone else has pinned, a picture of your product can be shared amongst hundreds or even thousands of people. Moreover, if someone clicks on your product picture to visit your website, that incoming link can be an excellent SEO booster for your website. Bloggers have also noted that if a compelling image is associated with their blog and that image is pinned to Pinterest, their blog traffic tends to increase as a result.

Obviously, Pinterest has its benefits. There is no question about that. So what is our beef with saying that every company should have a presence on Pinterest?

The truth is that just like with any marketing tactic, what is good for the goose is not necessarily good for the gander. Every company is different. Every company’s customers and prospects are different and approach information differently. Also, online platforms vary in terms of how people use them and what people expect to find on said platforms. In the case of Pinterest, people are (predominantly) looking for fashion ideas, home decorating ideas, cooking ideas, and fitness ideas. If your products fit into those categories neatly you will probably find a lot of success on the platform. However, if you are a B2B machine manufacturer, your pins will probably not be shared.

It’s also important to remember that Pinterest is really a consumer website. Many of the pins you see on Pinterest lead directly to websites where you can purchase that product. People will expect that completing that buy will be easy and relatively painless. The chances of someone clicking to your website to purchase a $500,000 piece of equipment, however, are not very high.

Beyond evaluating whether Pinterest is truly a good match for your company’s products, there is another consideration as well. Like any online network, Pinterest will represent a time investment. Just posting your own pins will not really do the trick. You need to take time to network with other users by pinning other people’s images, following people whose boards look interesting, and more. Is this something that you want someone at your company to be focusing on right now? If you believe that Pinterest is the silver bullet, you can go for it. But what if you aren’t even sure whether Pinterest is right for you? Do you want someone investing a lot of time into something that might just turn into a dead end?

Just like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, Pinterest has the capacity to be extremely useful to *some* companies. However, no company should jump into the platform blindly just because it happens to be all the rage at that specific time. Evaluate how and whether Pinterest could help your company. Weigh whether those potential benefits warrant the time that will need to be spent in making the platform work for you. It’s a far better idea to plan a little on the front end than to jump into a platform full throttle only to abandon it three months later. Don’t you think?

Image Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bunchesandbits/6137341753/ via Creative Commons