Pinterest the Best Social Networking Site for Retailers

Birgit Nazarian, Writer, specializing in IT and HR | 2/29/2012 | 41 comments

Birgit Nazarian
Ten and a half million (and growing exponentially) -- that's about how many Pinterest accounts there are currently. If you've signed up, you know what I am talking about; if you haven't, you should. Pinterest is one of the hottest new social media forums on the Web and drives more referrals than Google+, YouTube, and LinkedIn, according to January 2012 statistics.

Users can search from a menu of standard topics including architecture, fashion, fitness, and technology. Those topics are organized on boards that resemble the push-pin bulletin boards you might have in your office or craft room. Users pin or upload images of their own or browse images on other users' boards for ideas and inspiration. Images include links to the original site. The person pinning or uploading images can enter descriptions, using keywords to make his or her image easily searchable on Pinterest, and then see comments and feedback from followers.

Trust me, it's cooler than it sounds -- and crazy addictive. You may have heard rumors or read articles that suggest that Pinterest's users are primarily women who craft, bake, or seek inspiration for their wedding plans. That's partly true, but I ask you this: Why do the US Army, General Electric, and many other organizations and brands that aren't oozing with estrogen have accounts? Pinterest is beginning to attract a larger and larger base of global users to its unique platform.

The fast-growing Palo Alto startup is still evolving, so it's not perfect yet. In an email response addressing some questions I had, Aaron Franklin, Pinterest's Community Specialist, told me that the search function is currently being rebuilt and will definitely improve. Currently, you can Google "[business name] Pinterest" to see what brands are represented or have been pinned by users on the site.

So how does a retailer enter this new community successfully? A good place to begin would be the Pinterest blog, which has stories about retailers and users who leverage Pinterest to grow and gain a wider audience. Because Pinterest is mostly used for inspiration, planning, and sharing ideas, the message or products you wish to convey to your followers and to the Pinterest community must be easily represented by engaging images. A careful strategy should be planned for launching a page and creating boards:

  • Don't spam; be selective about what you pin. The beauty of Pinterest is the lack of clutter; you don't want to overwhelm your followers.

  • Focus on inspiring followers, not just selling products -- that's what your Website is for. Pinterest is for creating goodwill and buzz. The goal is to get users excited on Pinterest so they buy through your traditional channels.

  • Follow other users and "like" pins of users who might be customers or share the same interests. As with any other social networking site, you want to find the influencers of the group. The right influencers will do your marketing work for you if they like your product.

As with other social media sites such as Facebook and YouTube, copyright violations remain a concern, but Pinterest is finding ways to address the issue. Companies can prevent their sites from being pinned with a Pin It button by embedding a small piece of code.

Privacy concerns aside, Pinterest offers plenty of benefits for companies, especially retailers wanting to build referrals, increase their following, and boost their image. It's time to start pinning!

View Comments: Newest First | Oldest First | Threaded View
Page 1 / 5   >   >>   Pinterest the Best Social Networking Site for Retailers   3/31/2012 9:07:03 PM
Re: I'm listening
Thank you for your comment: "It's a big issue and it's getting very hard to control your photos, comments, friend lists, contributions to the social network. At the same time, it's something we seem to need, being able to share and participate in this kind of social network." I can not agree with you more.

I just shared a story about my baby pictures being on the Internet because an aunt tagged me; if you think elderly relatives showing your baby pics to perfect strangers are bad, wait tlll they show up all over your profiile. Yet, as you have pointed out, even if we know the pitfalls  - and if I may name name, Facebook has an atrocious privacy policy I believe - we still share.  I think online social networking is becoming a substitution for at least some of the real thing. 
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nasimson   Pinterest the Best Social Networking Site for Retailers   3/5/2012 11:59:03 AM
Some questions.

My question here is, is it just for the retailers or common people can create an account there easily without reference?

About the privacy issues, other social networking sites do not have that enhanced private policies such as Facebook so what about Pinterest?

batye   Pinterest the Best Social Networking Site for Retailers   3/2/2012 5:08:11 AM
Re: We have given permission
good and interesting point 

could not agree more...

this day big offender's of privacy in Canada is google and facebook

Privacy Commissioner of Canada have it hands full...

myself I do not expect any privacy on the internet, unless I convince my wife join Amish Community near our town...
bnazarian   Pinterest the Best Social Networking Site for Retailers   3/1/2012 9:30:51 AM
Re: I'm listening,

There are so many issues with social media, half the time I am impacted by the stark reality of how much we participants are being used and played like pawns in this universe of data mines and networks. So many social networks make decisions for us without our permission, linking one network to another, piggybacking off each other. 

Then there is our personal content. No longer personal or ours, used without permission. The reason most people don't complain is that they are getting so accostumed to being part of this kind of sharing and interaction they/we ignore the traditional "rules" of respect of privacy and ownership. It's a big issue and it's getting very hard to control your photos, comments, friend lists, contributions to the social network. At the same time, it's something we seem to need, being able to share and participate in this kind of social network. Social networking machines exploit the social needs humans have. I am torn over it, all the time.
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bnazarian   Pinterest the Best Social Networking Site for Retailers   3/1/2012 9:16:12 AM
Re: Where did it come from?
@tekedge and impactnow,

Where is Pinterest suddenly coming from? I believe it has to do with some statistics that were gathered from January about the site's explosive growth and then with those numbers in hand, several tech and marketing blogs did articles on the site. 

Analysts who keep track of those kinds of trends for investers, etc. were astonished by the results and then the excitement ensued. 

At first I was resistant, I received an invitation from a friend (and I was turned off by the whole "invitation" tactic - I knew that getting one didn't make me special at all, just networked) and I didn't respond to it at first. But once the Timeline feature of Facebook added the Pinterest plug-in, I could see friends' Pinterest boards or recent pins and my curiousity was piqued. 

When I visited the site the minimalist interface appealed to me. I am social network weary myself. Friends have brought me into all the major social networks but I don't "maintain" my profile too well in all of them. The constant updates and newsfeeds aren't present on Pinterest. I pin and then at my leisure, a day or a month later I can see who liked what, who shares my love for Antoni Gaudi architecture, jicama salad or Smartwool socks. It's kind of girly I guess, but guys have boards with titles like "My Favorite Beers" or places they have travelled, etc.

It's also growing so fast because of Facebook and Twitter. Since I had a Pinterest account, when I made my peace with Facebook over the timeline recently, a plugin was automatically added to my Facebook Timeline. In that way friends check it out and word spreads.

I also have heard that Pinterest once plugged into your Facebook account sends invitations to your friends - but I am not sure it's true - I get Pinterest followers from my Facebook friend list slowly over time. I got an invitation from a friend after they insisted face to face that I check it out. Not anything that seemed unsolicited from Pinterest. 



User Ranking: Blogger   Pinterest the Best Social Networking Site for Retailers   2/29/2012 11:29:17 PM
We have given permission
@Taimoor: Thank you for your comment. Unfortunately, we have given Facebook permission to use our pictures. Its part of the social networking site's TOS, and privacy policy. 

Now why we are not being paid, is a very interesting question. Facebook is making a lot of money from UGC - content which they are not really generating. Their overheads are roughly $1 a user per year; so will Facebook stop thrusting advertising on me if I pay them that much, and double the amount so they have a 100 per cent profit? 
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Taimoor Zubair   Pinterest the Best Social Networking Site for Retailers   2/29/2012 11:22:29 PM
Re: All of us are stock photographers now
"Sponsored stories keep coming up with my friends' pictures all the time.."

I haven't seen this happening but it does seem a great violation of copyrights. If Facebook is making money out of my photos, why am I not being paid for it :)   Pinterest the Best Social Networking Site for Retailers   2/29/2012 9:34:50 PM
All of us are stock photographers now
@Ivan: Thank you for pointing the privacy policy out. My interest in Pinterest just came down by quite a few notches.

Having said that, can't say I am too surprised. That is the kinda right Facebook exerts on our pictures as well. It also uses our pictures for advertising. Sponsored stories keep coming up with my friends' pictures all the time.. thanks to social media, we are now models and stock photographers as well, on top of being publishers... :)
User Ranking: Blogger   Pinterest the Best Social Networking Site for Retailers   2/29/2012 9:27:38 PM
Boom or not
@Dave: Pinterest is already worth that much? Whoa. Now add in the Facebook valuation to the mix - is the platform, any platform, really worth that much? Can all those billions really buy enough user lock in and stickiness? Think Excite, Lycos, My Space, Friendster.. Unfortunately we cannot think about Unthink or Diaspora - the supposed Facebook killers.. they have sizzled off to extinction looks like even before they could take of.. 

Not exactly a social media company, but I am also concered a bit about Apple's valuation. The company crossed $500 billion today, and the price looks a bit inflated. Especially amid all the concerns about Foxconn. 

Are we heading towards a pre-2000 era giddiness with social media?
User Ranking: Blogger   Pinterest the Best Social Networking Site for Retailers   2/29/2012 9:21:10 PM
I'm listening
Are enterprises listening enough? And how can they proactively act (as opposed to merely react) to all the real time buzz that is going around?

A company called Tello recently raised a Series A funding - they are a SaaS and mobile application company that notfies companies of reviews users provide on Tello. This is interesting - but users have to write on Tello first, and I do not see this scaling up to include multinational companies with zillions of customers anytime soon. 

Which brings me back to the question. Are we listening enough to what our customers are saying about us? And are we integrating the feedback into our corporate strategy?

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