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October 25, 2012
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Discussion is rampant about how brands and companies will use Pinterest. Right now, a lot of folks seem to be testing the waters, trying out different kinds of boards and levels of pinning. It remains to be seen how brands will truly best leverage Pinterest (my hope is that some type of in-site analytics will be available soon). But with site adoption exploding and mad traffic attributed to Pinterest, there’s little doubt that it’s another social media network where brands will have to play.
Using Pinterest as a social sharing space is obvious for some brands; retailers, travel destinations, or any business that has a visually interesting products to share. For other companies, such as services or information providers, how to use Pinterest might not be as clear.
The beauty of Pinterest is that it allows brands, retail or service, the chance to show customers that it ‘gets’ them. It understands their lifestyle, wants to share images that are important to them, and can help them, even if the picture that they’re pinning isn’t for one of their products.
Remember in ‘Miracle on 34th Street’ when Kris Kringle sent a Macy’s customer to Gimbels to find the right roller skates? Try to think about creating boards and pinning items that will be most valuable to your customer, not simply crafting a ‘straight up’ sales pitch.
I decided to take a look at some brands that I assumed would be on Pinterest, and see what they were doing. Then I thought I’d take a look at some companies on Pinterest who would probably have to get more creative with boards, since they were services or non-profits.
The Obvious Pinterest Users:
The Cooking Channel The possibilities are endless here really, and The Cooking Channel has plenty of boards dedicated to a all kinds of different recipes, holidays, and food types. There are some fun and creative boards here too, including one called “Play With Your Food List” and “A World of Hot Wings”. They’ve taken time to get specific with boards, which makes a lot of sense in their world. Drilling down and categorizing boards by food or event type will make the browsing experience much more pleasant.
Whole Foods Market Of course, there’s the obvious – recipes, food items, holiday cooking. The not-so-obvious and really interesting boards here are: food art, kitchen gadgets, and a whole board dedicated to reused/recycled DIY projects. And who am I to argue with a whole board dedicated to cheese? And not just cheese you can buy at Whole Foods, mind you, but ideas for displaying cheese, cheese art, and yes, a goat-cheese wedding cake.
Whole Foods understands that the products they sell are just part of the lifestyle that is important to many of their customers. They acknowledge that by sharing content that is beyond their products.
Pottery Barn Kids – Boards are broken out in a variety of ways, including the obvious nursery and kids’ room decorations. But beyond that, you can view boards with pins for kids’ parties, recipes, arts and crafts projects, and baby shower ideas. Again, I really appreciate their willingness to pin images that are truly helpful to followers, not just pins of the Pottery Barn catalog.
(Side Note: Anthropologie, why aren’t you more present on Pinterest? I assumed you’d have some amazing boards, but there’s just one, with a few pins curated by followers right now. Coming soon, perhaps? Update 5/15/12 – looks like they’re on-board now!)
And the not-so-obvious brands on Pinterest:
National Guard I was expecting to see pins of military equipment and gear. Instead, the National Guard boards focus on families and the work that the National Guard is doing here and around the world. These boards expose the National Guard to some groups of people that would normally have no idea what they do, where they are working, etc. A great reminder of the work that our military is doing and how it impacts us and their families.
Humane Society of New York I love seeing how this non-profit is leveraging Pinterest to further it’s mission. Naturally, there are boards featuring the pets that need to be adopted. What’s even more compelling are the boards of happily adopted pets, a board dedicated to the needs of the organization (think items like cat litter and dog food), and fun boards featuring pet photography and cool pet abodes.
These boards first came to my attention because instead of the usual “pet-in-cage” blurry adoption snapshots, many of the pictures of these adoptable animals are professionally captured, each animal posed and wearing a bow-tie, necklace, or some other little accessory. Since I’m a sucker for cute animals (and especially cute animals in costume), what this group was doing caught my eye.
Okay, I have to admit that I was kind of skeptical about how much interest I would actually have in following Weather Channel boards. But honestly, they’ve gotten creative. Besides boards called ‘Winter” and “Spring”, there is a board dedicated to Cold Weather Gear, Weather Gadgets, Teaching the Weather, and Funny Weather Channelisms. Because the weather can be funny, really! And my favorite is of course Space Weather. Fascinating!
The key here is that they’re letting some personality show through. The weather can be a pretty stale and boring topic, but these boards make The Weather Channel human.
So, the takeaway here is: brands should use Pinterest not just to showcase their products, but to share images and videos that are important to their customer’s lifestyle. That means that pins should be curated from all kinds of places, not just the brand’s own website. Even if it means you’re pinning from Gimbel’s.
What other compelling ways do you see brands using Pinterest? Let’s discuss in the comments.