Did you know that Pinterest is the 3rd largest social network behind Facebook and Twitter? It’s been around for less than three years and already has over 20 million members. For those catalogers who have never heard of Pinterest, you’re in for a treat. Before we get into some of the details, you may be surprised to learn that many of your products may already be posted on this social media site. There’s a simple trick to check … type http://pinterest.com/source/yourURL into your browser. If any of your products/images are present, you will see them along with descriptions and who has pinned them.

What is Pinterest?

Pinterest is an image-driven online community where users share pictures they like on pin boards. Think of a pin board as virtual bulletin board. Remember those pictures of toys you found in catalogs as a kid? Remember cutting them out and pinning them on a bulletin board or on your bedroom walls? Users of Pinterest can have their own online pin boards, view the boards of others, re-pin images to their own collection or ‘like’ and comment on images on others boards. Many retailers like The Gap, Chobani, Nordstrom and West Elm use Pinterest as a tool for online referrals. As a matter of fact, merchandise on your website may already be receiving referrals from Pinterest even though you aren’t a member.

Why does Pinterest matter?

  • It expands your social footprint
  • Provides links to your products
  • Drives website traffic through referrals

I’m not necessarily trying to get catalogers to create an account with Pinterest, instead I’m merely trying to expand your knowledge about the power of social media. If you decide that Pinterest is right for your company and create a Pinterest account, you’ll see how many followers are following your brand and pinning your products. It’s not about pinning your entire product line, but more importantly, it’s about people (consumers) pinning images they love, which means you don’t have to commit your valuable time on another social network.

Facebook focuses on who you are, who you know and where you are, where Pinterest focuses on who you want to be, who you want to know and where you want to be.

Social Usage Statistics

Still not convinced Pinterest is for you? Here are some statistics that compare how much time users spend on social media sites:

Average Pinterest User: 89 minutes/month

Average Twitter User: 21 minutes/month

Average Facebook User: 405 minutes/month

Source: WorldClass Brand 2012

What can you do with Pinterest?

  • Test Products – To see if they are popular.
  • Increase Brand Awareness – Have more social exposure allows your company to reach your audience.
  • Host contests – i.e. – encourage people to pin and reward them with an incentive like a give away.
  • Establish two-way Communication with Consumers

How does it work?

The first step is to get an invitation to register. You can do this at the Pinterest website or have a friend send you an invitation. Although this is a bit cumbersome to register, it’s the way it works right now. Pinterest is not about self promotion, instead it’s a community where people engage with each other or with brands.

Images/products, along with descriptions, are pinned (posted) and/or repined on Pinterest boards. Users can have an unlimited number of pin boards on their account. Each board may have a theme like audio gear, clothing, furniture, etc… As a user, you can “like” or follow others pin boards. It’s a very visual experience.

There are a couple simple strategies to get people pinning your products. Give them something great to pin. Do you have great product photography? Also, having great life/style photograph on your website will help give people a reason to post your images on Pinterest. Content like “how to” guides or video’s can also be shared directly on Pinterest. Look at what your competitors are sharing on their boards and ask yourself if your photography stacks up.

Pinterest users can add a pin-it bookmark on their browser menu to make it easy to pin images. You can and should add a pin-it button next to your products on your website to make it even easier for consumers to add your products to their boards. If you are using WordPress you can install the pin-it button using the Pinterest plug-in. It allows you to write a description and upload an image. If you’re not using WordPress you can add a pin-it button to any website where you have control of the html. If you go to http://pinterest.com/about/goodies/ you can add Pinterest pin-it code to create buttons to your images. Unfortunately, you’d have to do it manually for each item, but it’s a way to see if this social community is worth further exploration for referrals.

Happy pinning!