November 12 2014

November 12, 2014


Pinterest is the fastest-growing social media network, with over 70 million users, an impressive achievement when you consider that Pinterest only went live in 2010. Pinterest co-founder Evan Sharp describes it as “a place to discover ideas for all your projects and interests, hand-picked by people like you.”

Do you remember in the pre-social media days how you would cut out articles, recipes or photos from a magazine to keep or share with friends? Or you might have pinned them up on a physical bulletin board that you kept over your desk or in a work or craft room. Maybe you also put up knitting or craft patterns, or Do-it-yourself (DIY) instructions for making a bookshelf or creating more storage in your kitchen. Or perhaps you just put up humorous pictures of cats or inspirational quotes on your boards or walls.

Pinterest is a visual, picture based social media sharing site that replaces the old-fashioned bulletin boards with virtual boards. You can still ‘Pin’ (upload an image) whatever you like on the Pinterest boards, to share with friends and the public. You can upload, save, organize and share any type of image, as well as videos or articles. You can create separate Boards on Pinterest for each category of image, ie. Travel, Clothes, Home Décor or Recipes and Food. You can also browse, ‘like’ and comment on other people’s Pins. The most popular categories are DIY/craft, women’s clothing and accessories, home decorating, food & drink and travel. Pinterest is a female-dominated social media: 90% of pins are created or shared by women.

Pinterest now has 30 billion Pins and 750 million boards. To show just how fast they are growing, half of the Pins on Pinterest have been added in the last 6 months. One of the best things about Pinterest, says marketing blogger Kristen Curtiss, “is that everything you Pin is ‘clickable’. This means that you can link to your website to drive traffic back to your assets.” If someone is looking for a product you sell, and clicks on a Pin that contains a link to your shopping site, they can go directly to your site and buy that item.

In fact, more women buy something they saw on Pinterest than they do from any other social media network. The engagement of users with brands on Pinterest is twice that of Facebook, and Pinterest is now the top source of web traffic to retail sites. Personally, I discovered, and now buy from, two brands that I first saw on Pinterest. Retailers use Pinterest to advertise and to sell their products, and to watch what style and items are currently ‘trending’ on the site, and use this information to better target their marketing campaigns.

A good first-timers guide to building a Pinterest platform is Pinterest Savvy by Melissa Taylor. Melissa is a Pinner who built a following of 1 million people on Pinterest, and her short, easy to read book details how she built her profile on the site. According to Pinterest: “When people find and save their favorite articles and videos, they amplify this content to their followers and this ongoing cycle generates more readership and referral traffic back to your website. In fact, Pinterest drives more referral traffic to media sites than Facebook in the U.S. and drives more media referrals than Twitter, Linkedin and Reddit combined.” Pins don’t disappear with time and often, old, popular Pins are re-discovered, and picked up again and even go viral (widespread) a second time. This means that Pins can continue to drive traffic to a website long after they are put up.

Pinterest has a separate Analytics function, but you can only access it if your account is a business one. If you have a personal Pinterest account, you can easily convert it to a business account and link your personal or professional website to watch how much traffic Pinterest drives to your website. Once you have converted your personal account or opened a new business account on Pinterest, the social media site has a few guidelines to help you boost your followers and your reach on Pinterest.

Pinterest recommends:
1) Installing ‘Pin It’ buttons on your website or blog, so that readers or viewers and easily share an image, a
product, a blog post or article on their own Pinterest site
2) Use high-quality, appealing images with a vertical orientation, to enhance how they show up on Pinterest
3) Spend some time writing a unique and thoughtful description for each image you Pin – these types of
messages resonate well with other Pinners, so they will eagerly repost your Pin on their own boards
4) Use “Article Rich Pins”, a recent feature, which allows extra information to be included in a Pin beyond an
image. For example, a ‘Rich Pin’ for a dish would also include the recipe and ingredients, while a ‘Rich Pin’ for an article could also contain the author’s name, a brief synopsis and a link back to the full article. A product ‘Rich Pin’ could include price, availability and retailers. Currently, ‘Rich Pins’ are available for movies, recipes, articles, products and places.
5) Track your audience using Pinterest Analytics, see what is most popular and which of your Pins are most widely shared. This will allow you to adjust your editorial style to create Pins like the ones that are most shared to increase your presence across Pinterest.

Pinterest can also be used for education. Lesson plans, homeschooling ideas and resources, teacher resources, including worksheets, lesson ideas, books and visual materials, can all be shared. Students can work together on projects or research using the web and a shared Pinterest board to collect all the information.

Marketing blogger Taylor Corrado says that Pinterest is crucial for non-profits “because every person who supports, fundraises for, donates to, and is impacted by your organization is a story worth sharing to connect others to your mission.” Non-profits have struggled to make Pinterest relevant to promoting their mission and attracting donors. A few that have been successful include The Gates Foundation, Charity: water and Grist.

Charity: water relies on individual fundraisers to support efforts to build wells in Africa. Charity: water uses their Pinterest board to publicly acknowledge and thank donors, and tell individual stories of creative fundraising efforts to inspire others. Grist, a green media outlet, uses its Pinterest boards to highlight and spread awareness of environmental projects and sustainable living ideas. The Gates Foundation uses its Pinterest page to post videos about its programs and inspiring TED talks by founders Bill and Melinda Gates.

The United Nations rolled out a campaign to stop racism and the UN Refugee Agency conducted a popular Pinterest campaign to highlight World Refugee Day. Unicef UK conducted a campaign several years ago to highlight poverty in Sierra Leone, one of the poorest countries in Africa. The campaign featured a fictional girl named Ami Musa: photo captions stated, “This is what a 13 year old from Sierra Leone really wants,” and showed photographs of basic essentials of life and health, like a bar of soap, clean water and food. The campaign was written up in The Guardian newspaper, which predicted, “Pinterest represents a brave new world for NGOs to reach newer audiences.”

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