Just a couple of months ago, Pinterest was an obscure virtual pinboard with only a small following. Now, it has grown into a site with a couple of million users daily, more than 17 million registered users a month, and so much momentum that those numbers will probably be out of date by the time you read this.
It isn’t just the user numbers that impress, but also the passion and excitement that the platform generates among its users. Some of its appeal, perhaps, lies in the fact that it is still invite-only, an irresistible lure for consumers looking for a bit of an edge that Facebook lacks now that it is ever so mainstream.
But the factor that makes Pinterest so cool and addictive seems to lie in the way that it makes it so easy and accessible for nearly anyone to share their interests with other people. It is a visually appealing site that offers anyone the gratification of expressing their creative side. In many ways, it’s something with the tactile appeal of scrapbooking or collaging – perhaps explaining why it is especially popular with women.
Pinterest is a simple platform with few barriers between end-users, the people they want to connect with and the content they want to share. Just as with Twitter, users can follow each other and share each other’s ‘pins’, collection of images that can range from holiday snaps and recipes to movie posters, cars or furniture.
Because it is simple, visual and addictive, Pinterest is driving engagement and forging an emotional connection that other social media channels are struggling to compete with. This level of emotional connection means that it is a superb opportunity for marketers who can tap into the platform in a way that feels natural and relevant to the consumer.
Consider, for example, that Pinterest sends more traffic to company websites and blogs than YouTube, Google+ and LinkedIn combined, according to content-sharing site Shareaholic. The reason that Pinterest works so well as a marketing and advertising tool is that it taps into an organic creative and sharing process among an established community.
Marketers should not ignore the potential of this new channel, but they do need to think carefully about how they will tap into Pinterest in a manner that captures the magic of the platform. The rules of respecting the end-user’s space and behaving in an authentic manner are especially true in Pinterest.
What this means is that marketers should seek to create interest in their products organically among the Pinterest community. Rather than posting images of a product on their own Pinterest page, marketers should seed product with influencers to review and talk about.
They should also have Pinterest share buttons at every point where they have rich media on the Web to encourage users to share their content. As always, marketers that experiment with the channel while it is still fresh and young can establish their presence and build knowledge ahead of the platform bursting into the mainstream.
Melody Maker is digital strategist at Acceleration Media