Pinterest is considered a social media phenomenon with women, and much of what is written about it is focused on this fact. However, I know a few lads who are giving it a go and thought I’d ask them what they thought and if it’s relevant to them? Originally I planned to post this on my personal blog – which is much less formal – because I was expecting some witty responses, alas the answers were so professional, I figured it was worth sharing here. The guys have provided some great ideas, as well as why it isn’t so good.

Be it social media as a general rule or Pinterest specifically – I always suggest thinking of these new world communication channels as providing different ways to reach a BROADER audience, because by communicating via the different platforms, you are enabling people to receive information in the way they want to receive it. Pinterest is a visual communication platform, so if your targets like visual information, it’s got a strong chance of success. Also if you have something visual to share/promote, perhaps it could become a right channel for your business?

However, quick wins are rare in social media-land, so remembering that it takes TIME to establish a presence and credibility on any platform is important too. Even if the pay-off isn’t immediate, it will come. With that said, in Asia, Pinterest take-up seems pretty lack lustre… perhaps the blokes’ ideas below will generate some inspiration?

The contributors are Eylard Wurpel in Amsterdam (a great friend of many years), Barry Graubart in NYC (a former colleague from my US days) and Glenn Gore Phillips in Australia (a man I knew in my teens as we played in the local brass band together). All three blokes are smart, savvy professionals who use social media extensively (for different reasons) and they’ve provided some interesting perspectives.

Eylard WurpelEylard Wurpel, eCommerce Manager at Albumprinter / Albelli, Amsterdam @ewurpel

“The main reason I started using Pinterest is because of my current job at Albumprinter. We allow our customers to create photo books online, so to me, Pinterest is the perfect fit. “However, while using it I realised it is a great tool next to other social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, etc, because it catches a very specific and basic need for people, as we can document, categorise, share and comment on our personal interests and desires in a simple and visual way.

“For example, I love movies and use it to combine all my favorite movies in one place. You can do this for everything: clothes, travel destinations, actors, food, animals, and so on. The amount of personal boards you can create is limitless, easy, simple and always accessible. For companies it can be an additional traffic source by posting your products, but also by creating mood boards as a source of inspiration. Say you are a wedding planner – you can create boards for locations, dresses, cakes, themes, etc. As another great example, I know of industry events that use Pinterest to provide information on the area, such as restaurants and hotels they recommend for delegates.

“As we are moving more deeply into the social era, it is becoming obvious to me we are in a period of unrestricted creativity and I am constantly amazed by people’s talents when browsing the Net. Comments, blogs, pictures and videos show an abundance of humour, social awareness and intelligence, but I also see frustration, grief and anger. It is not only overwhelming, it also makes me realize that I am actually not as creative as I thought :(.”

 Pinterest

Barry GraubartBarry Graubart, Principal, Content Matters, NYC @graubart

“First, I’ve used Pinterest only sparingly. I think it’s important – as an emerging platform – but I haven’t really found a case that makes it worth a lot of my attention. For me today, Twitter remains my primary social media platform, with Facebook second.

“As my test, the board I’ve posted to most frequently is one called Guitar Gear, where I list gear that I own or that I’m interested in, along with other interesting guitar pics I see. What I find interesting is that, even though I’m not very active on Pinterest and have only a few dozen followers, almost anything I pin to that board gets 1-2 re-pins. It suggests to me that if I were truly engaged on Pinterest, my re-pins might exceed the engagement level I see on Twitter or Facebook. 

“I’ve recently been helping two small business owners develop an online strategy. They are both in the planning phase and have yet to implement, but in both cases I’ve suggested Pinterest is a more compelling platform for them than Twitter. One is a dog groomer. There’s nothing people love more than pics and videos of cute dogs, and Pinterest is a wonderfully visual platform. So I’ve suggested he post “before & after” (grooming) pics, with the owners’ consent, of course. He could also post things like “dogs who look like celebrities” or other fun things. The pics could also be displayed in his shop, so there would be an online-offline connection, and, of course, it could give him an SEO boost.

“The other business is a small maker of boutique guitar pedals. His pedals are visually attractive, as well as sounding great. Since he builds them by hand, he likes to create new colour palettes with each batch (usually 10-20 pedals in a batch). So, during the course of a year, he might create six different colour schemes for a given pedal. Pinterest is a great forum for him to showcase the new colours of his pedals for sale. I’ve also suggested he create a pinboard where he can show prototype colours and let people “vote” with likes or re-pins to determine which colours he actually builds. A 3rd pinboard could have photos of guitarists using his pedals live in concert.

“It will probably be 3-6 months before either of these efforts are up and running. Neither business owner is particularly tech-savvy, but they both see the need to differentiate themselves in crowded markets. And Pinterest could be a key part of both strategies.”

Glenn Gore PhillipsGlenn Gore Phillips, Writer, Editor and Proof Reader, Australia @ggorephil

“My understanding of Pinterest is that it’s a place to collect stuff you’re interested in from the Web, organised visually. While many, many people have obviously embraced this system, my mind doesn’t work that way and I don’t use it that way. I would definitely consider myself more of a casual user.

“I mostly find Pinterest an interesting time-waster. Browsing the “everything” view is pretty fun, and I sometimes nick funny stuff to post on Facebook. Given the sheer volume of material being pinned at any given time, you can refresh the “everything” view fairly often and rarely see the same thing twice, even when you scroll a long way down.

“I actually joined Pinterest as a means of promoting my blog to a wider audience, which has been a very mixed experiment. Pinterest is organised around images, which meant I had to choose interesting images for my blog in order to get the attention of casual Pinterest users who then, hopefully, would click through and view my blog. The stats tell the story – almost nil visitors who launched from Pinterest. I’ve had the odd image re-pinned, but that says more about my image choice than my writing. I do still post blog images to Pinterest, but I don’t expect much, if any, traffic out of the exercise.

“It’s difficult to avoid the perception that Pinterest is a women’s platform, given the dominance of dieting, cooking and fashion-related images. To the casual observer it’s like a women’s magazine without the articles. However, there’s a lot of hidden depth in the Pinterest database. If you want, you can browse images for all sorts of stuff using the search bar, or the categories menu. Want sport or fitness pictures? It’s a cornucopia. Like to look at food?  Ditto. Some of the most interesting collections of Pins come from people obsessed with design, who collect images and organise them by colour and hue. 

“There are also some astonishingly explicit images sourced from the red-light district of Tumblr. Even then, the soccer-moms manage to make their presence felt with comments on these images such as “take your filth elsewhere, children are browsing here.” I reckon this says more about the mom than the kids – adult content is all over the web, often without warnings. Trying to censor what other people post is futile. That said, the Pinterest collections, which do contain explicit images, are normally titled something like “18+” which I would call fair warning.

Conclusion

Three different perspectives, and if I classified them I’d suggest they were almost positive, neutral and negative, but there are ideas in there – ways for companies to create boards to build their brand and SEO. I liked the idea of the event board (a big business in Asia) featuring hotels, things to do, etc.. in the city where the event is hosted. Also Barry’s ideas for both the dog groomer and the guitar accessories were excellent. It really is endless and we’re only starting out with Pinterest in this region, so it will be interesting to see if it is embraced.

As a business case, the stats are interesting – 21 per cent of Pinterest users have purchased an item after seeing it on Pinterest according to this post. More, in this PC World article, 1248 Pinterest users and 4,738 Facebook users were asked questions about shopping and brand engagement. Of the number “a full 69 percent of Pinterest users reported buying or planning to buy an item they found on the social network, compared to 40 percent of Facebook users. Check out the article for more, or this article, or even this one. It seems Pinterest users are more likely to buy or are influenced to buy.

For me personally, I’ve been on Pinterest for six months, and while I haven’t seen any results for what I’ve done – i.e. no work has been won as a result of posting on my boards and very few of my blogs have been shared – I am definitely of the opinion that all social media participation is a long-term process and you’ve got to keep going, make the commitment and build your credibility as you go. It’s never an overnight thing and heck, I actually enjoy it as well. Not having to come up with dinner ideas is enough for me to keep up with my boards.

Just a final point, one of the sectors I believe is missing out on the Pinterest opportunity is publishers. I aim to post all of the great articles I find to my SAJE board on Pinterest, but the majority cannot be pinned because there is no suitable image in the page. The other aspect is when a publisher is on Pinterest, every time you pin one of their articles, a window to six previous pins from that publisher appears. I am amazed that publishers are not all over Pinterest and taking advantage of it. If their audience is active there, then they should be as well don’t you think? At least make articles Pin-able by supplying a great image!

So are you on Pinterest? Are you getting any results from it? Does the visual layout suit you or maybe not, as Glenn indicated above?

Let me know.

Cheers

Andrea