Pinterest in under 500 words: what it is & why firms should care

By Todd Bacile | June 25, 2012
PinterestIn recent months a fast growing social medium has emerged: Pinterest. According to Shareaholic close to half (48.81%) of all web traffic is referred from Google, followed by Facebook (6.38%), Yahoo (1.61%), StumbleUpon (1.29%) and Bing (1.21%). Pinterest came in sixth at 1.05% (beating out Twitter at 0.82%). Furthermore, Mashable.com states that the site refers more visitors to a firm’s web site than Google+, YouTube, and LinkedIn combined. This has recently led many to ponder: what is Pinterest? This social site uses the concept of people creating an online “pinboard” of images. Pinterest enables users to be redirected to websites once they click on a picture. Not every business should be on Pinterest. However, if your products are visually appealing, it would be a wise strategic move to become active on the site.

Pinterest opens a whole new world for users by helping them create and plan for a future event or occasion whether it be imminent or far off in the distance. Although a majority of account holders are women, Pinterest does not discriminate and can be utilized by men all the same. Users can create their own boards to organize and inspire their personal style. Subjects are far ranging from women’s shoes, women’s clothing, and make-up, to BBQ recipes, home brewed beer, and weight lifting/training tips (to name a few).

Individuals and businesses alike can create online show rooms that showcase personal taste and creativity. Since the site is still relatively new to the social media playground, everyone who uses it discovers new ways to market different things. Some people make their boards public to enable other users to add pins to their boards, a very open-ended approach to constructive criticism. Some users are using it to drive more traffic to their website or blog. Other users are creating a resume’ like profile in which their boards consist of pieces of work they have created, things that inspire them, and their hobbies. This is a very modern approach to the typically dull job search for all parties involved. A resume’ setup would typically only work for users whose focus is for creative professions such as graphics, design, stylists, and video producers.

A business may be considering its involvement in Pinterest: is the juice worth the squeeze (i.e. will my firm see a return on investment)? New studies suggest that Pinterest users are twice as likely to buy a product that they saw on Pinterest rather than Facebook. One particular reason is that customer reviews are a strong influence on buyer behavior in today’s marketplace. With Pinterest you can see how many times a pin has been re-pinned (i.e. how often has someone shared a picture). A greater number of re-pins sends a signal that consumers view something favorably. Facebook still has the upper hand in a larger user base, but Pinterest is a strong contender due to its ability to display and categorize vivid images of products, which ultimately makes searching for these items easier and less cluttered.

Todd Bacile is a marketing doctoral candidate and instructor for Electronic Marketing and Services Marketing in the College of Business at Florida State University. You can contact him on Twitter @toddbacile

Tessa Revolinski contributed to this post. She is a recent graduate of Florida State University and has the proud distinction of having a higher Klout score than her e-Marketing professor. You can follow Tessa on twitter @mamaswoosh

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