29/02/12 - Should you be Pinterested?
Is Pinterest worth considering for your brand?
Social Media usage has often been likened to the simple human compulsion of reward.
Humans like rewards, whether it’s a “like”, a retweet, a fizzy cola bottle, a pat on the head (my personal favourite), or - as any person who has been on a Yucca evening out will appreciate - a Cheese Moment or a Scampi Fry.
Just when social media enthusiasts couldn’t like, tweet, Instagram or Flickr anything more along comes yet another social network phenomenon: Pinterest.
Complete with its own verb, ‘to pin’ (recently witnessed on Twitter: “if you like it then you shoulda put a pin on it”), this is one seriously addictive social network.
The iPhone app version even makes a wonderfully satisfying ‘ping’ noise when submitting content too (see what I mean about a reward?).
Pinterest is an online pinboard which you can log in to through Facebook or Twitter. It enables the user to pin photos from across the web or pin your own photos.
If you spot a photo from a user you follow you can re-pin that photo to one of your pinboards. Over time your pinboards come to reflect what you as a user are into, and that realisation in some ways is what makes it addictive for its estimated 13m global users (and it’s still in beta).
Stricken with a feeling that their Pinterest pinboards don’t reflect the fully rounded, socially responsible and engaged person they are, users are driven to “speed-pin” in the first few weeks after registering so anyone finding their boards can see what a cool down-with-the-kids person they are.
This is potentially an indicator of another key social media piece of DNA – as humans we are driven to compare ourselves with each other for good or potentially negative reasons.
When people like or repin your content, it's a reward in itself.
Like a real life pinboard (or moodboard) the real fun is in curating and arranging the boards and their content. Unlike Twitter the character limit for each board or individual pin is a whopping 400 characters so users can write a great back story to an individual pin or board.
On top of all this curation fun the user interface is visually appealing and already turning a few heads in design circles, with some likening it to the soon-to-go-mainstream simplicity of Microsoft’s Metro GUI (already native in Windows 7 phones and soon to be released in Windows 8).
So what does this new network - which currently has a faster adoption curve than the early days of Twitter - mean for brands?
Brands can use Pinterest for many applications. It’s a great online shopping window curated by the buying context, be it an occasion like planning a wedding, choosing gifts for a 60th birthday or planning your next holiday.
It’s also a wonderfully visually-led way of sharing content related to your brand e.g. "how-to"s, recipes, and outfit ideas, or simply communicating brand values through image and video curation.
There's scope to encourage user-generated content around your brand or organisation through competitions - asking users to post photos to evoke a certain mood or event, for example - with Pinterest's functionality making it easy for people to share and like entries.
Like so many social networks it also provides a valuable opportunity to understand how consumers view your brand, what they group it alongside (great for unearthing potential brand partnerships/ affinity) and what visual content you provide appeals to them.
With all of this insight comes the additional benefit of the pictures linking back to the site they’re hosted on – e.g. YOUR site. It’s less invasive or personal than Facebook or similar social networking sites and has less of a look-at-me, more of a bloggy feel.
In the last few weeks, Pinterest has come under fire for its attitude towards content copyright (they make a copy of pinned content, plus some users – attempting to win kudos – are posting others’ content and claiming it as their own) and for stealthily including affiliate links in users’ content without asking them first.
Criticism or no criticism, the site is certainly getting people talking, and pinning; we’ve noticed content from or related to most of our clients including Silverstone, Ecover, howies and Clarks has already been pinned.
As with any social network it’s worth reviewing how it can work for you, but be aware that it can very quickly become a considerable pull on resources. It may well turn out to be a worthwhile investment though; for some US e-commerce websites, Pinterest has become a huge referrer of traffic.
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