Five things brands should be doing with Pinterest

PinterestTo coincide with its fourth birthday this month, Simon Robinson explains how brands can use Pinterest to improve their consumer engagements.

Pinterest, the tool for collecting and organising things you love, enables users to share and pin photos and short videos. As brides-to-be “pin” their favourite wedding dress designs and new homeowners follow DIY window treatment boards, the image-sharing social network is the ultimate wish list, radiating millions upon millions of consumers’ intent to purchase.

Just how big has Pinterest grown? The latest statistics reveal 70 million people use it every day, while 9% of all Fortune 500 brands are active on the platform as well. And while some marketing leaders and their teams ‘get it’ and utilise Pinterest in their cross-channel marketing strategy, others still struggle.

World-class brands, such as Pantone and Topshop, and their marketing teams engage customers on Pinterest, deliver value from those interactions, and get their content to rise above the noise of today’s crowded digital landscape.

So, how can other brands replicates this?

1. Monitor Pinterest for mentions to better understand customers

Pinterest collects and organises the things that inspire people. As a result, it reveals consumer likes and wants, helping marketers better understand their customers and target valuable advocates. Following the launch of Pinterest’s automatic programming interface (API) late last year, retailers can better understand customer preferences by looking at their top pinned content, recent or related pins and even pins from search terms. While the service is still in beta, brands will eventually offer the option to sort by top-pinned products so people can view and purchase popular items.

2. Re-pin to improve brand authenticity

Re-sharing content pinned by other users strengthens customer relationships with your brand, products and services. It demonstrates that you value their engagement, and makes stars of your most ideal customers by showing how they use your products and services. By its very nature, Pinterest images look less polished and more genuine – it’s a great way to appear authentic and gain consumer loyalty.

3. Build a Pinterest profile that tells your brand story

Topshop and Pantone’s Pinterest strategies are great examples of best practice profiling. Smart brands now use their collected images as a way to tell their story, whether that be on web pages, through social media conversations or even direct messages to mobile or email inboxes. Why not think of Pinterest as a virtual storefront? Retail companies have taken particular advantage of Pinterest for advertising and style trending.

4. Engage to deepen relationships and create advocates

If you ask consumers to re-pin your branded content, give them a topic or photograph to use. This makes it easy to search for the posts, and it also creates better authenticity. You could also run a competition; there are numerous ways to develop engagements. Brands that have realised the importance of incentivising their customers not just to share data, but also to endorse their brand, position themselves well to increase the bottom line. While there are many cases where Pinterest has generated more sales than Facebook, which currently dominates the social media landscape, brands cannot look at this social platform in isolation – especially when fickle, digitally-savvy and increasingly distracted consumers will move between digital touch points on impulse.

5. Upsell based on personal customer preferences

With Pinterest’s API, brands will be able to deliver an even more personalised customer experience based on customers’ pin preferences for cross sell and upsell recommendations. Say a person pinned a red dress, for instance. Eventually marketers will be able to send an email that says: “Thanks for pinning that designer red dress. Here are other accessories that you may be interested in. Check out this handbag, shoes and necklace that go really well with the dress.”

When Pinterest appeals to the “see it, want it, buy it” mentality of modern day consumers, the social platform may just be the epitome of line-of-sight marketing for the digital age. Consumers are becoming less loyal, increasingly promiscuous with the different brands they like to shop with and more distracted by the many different channels and gizmos at their fingertips. All brands want to give customers a better experience to ensure long-term loyalty. The most successful will be those that take advantage of Pinterest as a rich data form, using it to inform their carefully orchestrated marketing strategy at large and engage with consumers in a more authentic way.

Simon Robinson is senior director of marketing and alliances EMEA at Responsys