The visually-oriented social bookmarking site, Pinterest, lets users share pictures and video, and presents a new opportunity for online retailers to engage potential customers.
Pinterest generated more than 11 million visits during a single week in December 2011, according to Experian Hitwise — the tracking and analysis firm — making the site one of the top social media or sharing websites.
In terms of demographics, Pinterest users — like most social media users — tend to be women (roughly 58 percent) and between the ages of 25 and 44 (roughly 59 percent). The Pinterest users have favored fashion, design, and food, and there have even been reports that brides-to-be are using the service as a visual gift registry, which could be good news for related merchants.
How Pinterest Works
When a Pinterest user finds a picture or video that interests her, she can “pin it” placing it on a Pinterest board, which the user defines. For example, you might have a “favorite books” board, a “wishlist board,” or a “men's fashion” board to name a few possibilities.
Pinned items are available for public view and link directly back to the site from which they were pinned, meaning that sites with visually appealing content can and will get traffic from Pinterest. Pinned items may also be shared on Facebook or Twitter, increasing the potential that those items will be viewed and clicked on.
Using Pinterest to Support Ecommerce Marketing
Pinterest has the potential to be a powerful marketing tool for ecommerce businesses. This is particularly true when the products being sold photograph well or can be marketed with lifestyle photography or entertaining videos.
Social media professional Julia Cantor recently described how Michael's, a click-and-mortar retailer of craft, hobby, and decorating products, has been successfully using Pinterest to engage shoppers with custom pin boards and “Pin It” buttons on nearly every product its website.
To follow Michael's example, an online merchant can take three tactics for engaging Pinterest users.
First, get an invitation to Pinterest and create boards that make sense for the business. A merchant that sells golf clubs might create a board for swing tutorials videos, awesome putt videos, and golf fashion. A purveyor of kitchen tools and equipment might create lunch, breakfast, dinner, and dessert boards.
It is also important not to simply pin products. Rather, as with any social media site, pin or re-pin items from followers or other sources too. The goal is to genuinely contribute to the Pinterest community.
Second, online retailers should make it as easy as possible for site visitors to pin products or content. Pinterest offers a “Pin it” button that may be placed on every product detail page and on any important content pages.
Third, merchants should give Pinterest users a reason to pin. This means that excellent product and lifestyle photography, which has always helped to sell products, has become even more important for any business that wants to engage customers with Pinterest. One possible tactic could be to invite customers to submit their own product pictures. Michael's, for example, publishes and pins photos of customer projects.
Pinterest is a visually-oriented social sharing site that is gaining a lot of traction. Merchants that want to connect with this very engaged audience should join Pinterest and begin creating boards to sincerely contribute to the Pinterest community. It will also be important to include "Pin it" buttons on product detail pages and take the time to provide pin-worthy images and video.