Today 42% of all online women and 13% of all online men use Pinterest. Those numbers make Pinterest one of the world’s most popular social networking sites — and they’re attracting marketers hoping to reach more readers. So can you pick the best business Pinterest for marketing?
In case you’re not familiar with Pinterest, it’s a virtual pinboard where you can pin images from other sites, linking back to the source. Other users can re-pin those images to their boards, thus sharing it with their followers. Just like Facebook or Twitter, it can be a great way to attract new audiences. And it is almost entirely visual.
To give you a sense of how businesses are using Pinterest — and to provide inspiration for your own Pinterest use — we collected a few brands that are awesome in their Pinterest applications.
Pinterest boards that we selected each have their content strategies, executed with unique goals in mind. Although we don’t have metrics on each campaign’s performance, we hope these examples can inspire your thinking and experiments with Pinterest.
Gaining momentum on Pinterest isn’t easy. It takes time, patience, and a well thought out strategy. To get good results, you need to see things for yourself, not just read theoretical tips. The brands below are doing everything right, showing us how Pinterest should be done. Learn from them!
Business Pinterest … Nordstrom (Nordstrom)
An early adopter of Pinterest, Nordstrom started using the service as a way to inspire customers and tell a visual trend story. They added the Save button to their website so customers could easily collect their favorite items, spreading Nordstrom Pins virally across Pinterest. On their Pinterest account, they curate popular products from Nordstrom.com, inspirational images from blogs customers love on-trend fashion and helpful tutorials.
What’s interesting in their strategy is:
- They rarely use hashtags in their pin descriptions. The text is typically short, briefly describing the product, usually with a link back to that specific product’s sales page on their website.
- The vast majority of their pins link back to their website, notto third-party This is counter to how most brands are using Pinterest at the moment. With this many followers, Nordstrom must be receiving a hefty amount of traffic to their site thanks to Pinterest.
- They’re leveraging the most popular topics on Pinterest to great effect. We can see this by looking at their most popular board (based on some repins and followers), ‘Our Favorite Things.’
- They use their Pinterest account offline. Nordstrom was one of the first companies to use their burgeoning Pinterest presence in their offline stores. Not only do they use Pinterest data (repins, likes, and comments) to help decide which products to stock in brick-and-mortar stores, but they also mount Pinterest badges on actual products in the store to show which products are the most popular online, thereby bringing that social proof offline.
Their Our Favorite Things board is a collection of the top products from Nordstrom.com and relevant content from third parties.
Their goal is to inspire customers—in the way they shop, share and Pin. One of the things they love most about Pinterest is that customers can get inspired and take action on their terms. They believe that it’s the world’s biggest wish list.
An early business on Pinterest, Nordstrom created content that aligned with the DIY spirit of Pinners. They tested live-pinning at Fashion Week, created boards for each season (Winter, Spring, Summer, Fall) and added Pins from the Nordstrom catalog early on.
For holiday seasons, they created customer experiences around Pinterest. This included a Top Pinned Gifts category on Nordstrom.com; Top Pinned merchandising in-stores and exclusive social media posts from the Nordstrom holiday catalog before it hit homes or the Nordstrom.com homepage.
Many Nordstrom customers, about 4.4 million of them, have chosen to follow Nordstrom on Pinterest.
The retailer is testing showcasing the most popular items on Pinterest in various departments of its physical stores.
Nordstrom attached signage—hangtags, cards, and clips—with the Pinterest logo to dresses, handbags, and shoes that received the most engagement on Pinterest. Initial feedback was so positive they rolled it out to more stores across the West Coast, Midwest and East Coast.
Now, all 117 Nordstrom stores feature Top Pinned signs on merchandise in women’s shoes and handbags, two of the most pinned categories from Nordstrom.com.
Business Pinterest … Random House Books (random house)
Random House Books is the largest English-language publisher in the world, with Pinterest boards covering every literary interest you may have, from Book Club Picks and Literary Tattoos to Bookshelf Envy and Game of Thrones.
But let’s look at a few points that stand out in the way they use Pinterest:
- Unlike Nordstrom, the majority of Random House’s pins link back to third-party websites rather than their site. This makes their account far more attractive to people who have a more general interest in books and literature, rather than people who’re loyal solely to Random House.
- Similarly to Nordstrom, Random House doesn’t use many hashtags in their descriptions, but rather provide simple, short captions to their images.
- On their website, Random house gives some quality space to a ‘Discover Your Next Book’ widget, which links to a specific Pinterest page which makes use of the social network’s first API release. This ‘online bookshelf’ promotes not just Random House’s books, but also their Pinterest account, ensuring they leverage their website visitors to the best advantage. This is where Random House takes advantage of Pinterest’s Business features, using ‘Rich Pins’ to provide more information about specific products, and more direct calls to action that can be found on usual pins.
Random House was among the first businesses to add Pinterest’s API (application programming interface) to their websites, with the goal of making content sharing more integrated and convenient for all users.
The idea is to help site visitors discover new books, as well as to increase the number of readers pinning books. It will also help make the publisher’s websites more colorful. The integration will begin with Randomhouse.com but will follow on the publisher’s other sites.
Business Pinterest … Wholefoods (wholefoods)
Wholefoods are the world leader in natural and organic foods, with over 300 stores in the US and Canada, and making some exciting inroads in the UK. But with little mention of Pinterest on their site (other than an icon in the footer), how have they become so popular?
- As with Random House, Wholefoods aren’t selling products on Pinterest. They’re selling a lifestyle. Green living, environmentally friendly products, upcycling. People don’t want to be sold to, they want to be inspired, and that’s exactly what Wholefoods offer on their Pinterest account. This approach means these boards will appeal to a wide range of Pinterest users, from vegetarians and foodies to craft lovers and wine connoisseurs.
- Being in the FMCG (Fast Moving Consumer Goods) market, Wholefoods avoid posting many links to its products as these change often, so the majority of their pins on most of their boards link back to third-party
- There are a couple of boards, however, where most pins link back directlyto the company’s website. The most prominent of these boards focus on recipes, which are some of Wholefoods’ most popular pins. According to consultancy, “500,000 visitors from Pinterest have viewed Whole Foods pages 760,000 times. Of that, 80% came from recipes”. This is a strategy they’ve been using for a while, linking pins back to recipes on their website and blog.
- The company runs various projects which are later incorporated into Pinterest boards. For example, not too long ago, the company published an ‘Urban Farming’ video series on YouTube, which turned into their ‘How Does Your Garden Grow‘ Pinterest board, which now boasts more than 130,000 followers!
- Finally, Wholefoods have also been making great use of Pinterest’s collaboration features. For example, their ‘Why Austin‘ board now has over 100,000 followers thanks to Wholefoods inviting other Austin-based Pinterest users to collate pins for the board, thereby massively increasing the reach of each
Whole Foods was one of the first brands on the site, debuting a brand account in July 2011. For those out there who don’t see how Pinterest could benefit their business, here’s Wholefoods brief explanation: It allows us to curate images from across the web that speak to who we are as a company, images that reflect our core values and essentially communicate the essence of who we are. At a time when consumers are concerned about who they’re buying from and want companies to have a soul, it’s important to convey this information.
Thus, the carefully curated boards capture these values in a visually stunning user interface. You might look at Pinterest and think it’s really simple, but that’s exactly what makes it a great platform:
To make a lasting connection, the goal is not to promote the shampoos, strawberries, and steaks that are sold in the actual stores but to communicate the lifestyle that the Whole Foods team aspires to — an appropriate ambition, given that Pinterest has often been likened to a digital inspiration board. And by creating an aspirational lifestyle, Whole Foods can convert casual pinners into brand enthusiasts and, hopefully, customers.
What’s amazing about Whole Foods’ use of Pinterest is that their boards, you’d be hard-pressed to find an actual Whole Foods product — that’s not how they curate the site. Not only does this help to promote the Whole Foods lifestyle, but it also gives a nod to bloggers who devote their time and writing to sustainability, upcycling, DIY projects and the environment by putting their work in front of a new audience with every re-pin.
The lesson? Careful curation of niche board topics can help you attract a much wider audience, via the search function and a pin’s natural course through the Pinterest ecosystem. For example, when someone searches for “kitchen” and finds an entire board devoted to immaculate kitchens — like Whole Foods’ Super Hot Kitchens board — they could follow it without also being forced to consume Whole Foods’ pictures of heart-shaped cookies, too.
The bottom line
Of course, there’s no one, single way to use Pinterest effectively. These brands are all having a massive success on the platform, but are each using different techniques and strategies. The important thing is to always think about what your audience wants to see.
After all, Pinterest is addictive to its users, so you need to be thinking strategically. Consider what you can do not just on the platform, but off the platform, too.
Are there companies you love following on Pinterest? Tell us about some that are nailing it!
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Mike Schoultz is the founder of Digital Spark Marketing, a digital marketing and customer service agency. With 40 years of business experience, he writes about topics that relate to improving the performance of business. Go to Amazon to obtain a copy of his latest book, Exploring New Age Marketing. It focuses on using the best examples to teach new age marketing … lots to learn. Find them on G+, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
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