“Pinning” has rapidly become a buzzword in social media and it’s taking consumers, as well as brands, by storm.  Joining the ranks of prominent sites, such as Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr, Pinterest has brought attention to social interest sharing, with a visual platform as the core feature.

Differing from social media sites that focus on status updates and current events, Pinterest is viewed as a “digital corkboard” for users to share, discover and engage with a community that expands beyond people they know in real life.  According to Comscore, Pinterest pulled in 421 million page views during the month of October, despite the fact that it’s still an invite-only site.

Several brands have started to find their place on the site; however for brands and consumers that are still considering engagement on the site there are some key practices to keep in mind before the “pinning” begins.

Best Practices

Currently, Pinterest does not have official brand pages, which means brands need to create a normal user account. When a brand engages on Pinterest an important thing to keep in mind is that it’s a source to share and represent the image of the brand. For a brand to succeed on Pinterest the 70/30 rule is recommended for engagement. This means a brand will engage 70 percent of the time and send out brand content 30 percent of the time. For example, Whole Foods pins images that represent a healthy and active lifestyle. Their pins don’t always represent products you can buy in the store, but they bring further attention to the lifestyle and meaning of the brand. On other occasions they might feature a pin linking to a product you can buy in their stores. Department stores like Nordstrom’s and Bergdorf Goodman are also using the site to streamline the shopping process, by showcasing style ideas and unique trends in one board.

Similar to influencers on other social media sites, there are several Pinterest users who can set the tone for successful pins in a specific category.  Well-known bloggers are often influential within their niche, such as food, design, etc. Connecting with individuals who understand a brand’s category and presence on Pinterest is a great way to make a meaningful impression within the Pinterest network and amplify the brand’s online presence and reach.  Sponsored bloggers connected with a larger digital program could disclose their relationship with the brand through a description feature on their board.

In terms of sourcing, every pin is tracked by a link that will take the user to the original destination. When a pin is repined several times it can build up a substantial amount of backlinks. As a result it’s important the pin is linked with the correct source, providing the user additional information beyond the pin. Pins can also be added by uploading an image from your computer. However, when this occurs it prevents a user from identifying the original source. A brand can use this tool when working with copyrighted images; however it’s not the recommended approach as most users rely on a further source of information.

The description is where most users look to understand the context of a pin and the description of a pin can get lost in translation after several repins. Before repining something it’s important to make sure the description reflects the idea you want to represent.

There is no set number for the amount of boards a brand should have and it will often depend on the context of the brand. However, it’s likely that boards below the fold of a page will gain less attraction from users. As a result, it’s recommended to stick with a few boards that can represent a distinct theme and stand on its own.

Sharing on Facebook and Twitter

Every pin can easily be shared via Facebook and Twitter channels. It provides a great way for a brand to connect their current communities with the Pinterest network; however the tool should be used with some restraint. Pins that are shared with a wider social network should provide additional context to those channels, rather than a stream of images. At this time brands only have the option to sync with their Twitter account, due to a Pinterest setting that does not permit linking to Facebook brand pages. Down the road we expect Pinterest to update their settings, especially as more brands interact with the network. Once an account is created the user can choose to remove the link from Facebook or Twitter at any time. Pinterest will also source the individuals from the user’s Twitter network that are currently on Pinterest.

A recent announcement highlighted a new Facebook app for Pinterest, providing deeper integration for the two sites.  It’s important to note that this will not change the current settings for a brand page. However, this could provide further amplification for repins that will automatically show up in a user’s timeline and newsfeed.  A user can choose to select a feature in their Pinterest settings that will automatically link pins to their Facebook timeline. If a user selects this feature, their pins will show up in one post highlighting a summary of their most recent pins, compared to separate posts.

Thoughts and Considerations

When it comes to engaging on Pinterest there are a few key considerations to keep in mind. There are currently no privacy settings for a Pinterest account, which means that users can’t have a private pin board. This means that every pin and board can be seen by everyone regardless of followers and following.  Several users have started to request private pin boards, which could become an addition down the road.  In terms of the demographic on Pinterest, the user base is heavily female. There are opportunities to engage men on this platform, specifically with the right brand connection. Brands that appeal to men and women can attract their social communities from Facebook and Twitter over to Pinterest by creating the right niche for each demographic.

A separate gift section highlights pins that feature the dollar sign within the description.  Pinterest recognizes the dollar sign and will automatically categorize the pin under gifts; however it will still be present on the user’s board and live updates.

Pinterest is currently tight lipped when it comes to sharing stats and measurement; however there are qualitative and quantitative ways for a brand to track their success on the network.  Repins, likes, comments and number of followers are all numbers that can be manually pulled to reflect a brand’s engagement on the site.  A user can also track how many original pins are being pulled from a specific site through a source feature. From a qualitative perspective, monitoring the types of conversation, comments and users talking about the brand is a useful way to gage the level of influence the brand is experiencing on the site.

Aside from the traditional forms of engagement there are plenty of opportunities to make the most of a brand’s experience on Pinterest. Lands’ End recently used Pinterest for a “Pin it to Win it” contest. Participants were encouraged to pin items that they liked from the Lands’ End Site and the most stylish and creative items won prizes.  Similar contests would work for a variety of brands, such as highlighting creative recipes. However, if a brand was to run a contest they would have to review Pinterest’s Terms of Service and define accompanying rules.

Recommendations:

Pinterest, along with sites such as Tumblr and Instagram, represent the rise of content sharing in social media and the importance it places on creation.  Quality content, which varies from an influential blog to The New York Times, is being shared at a rapid rate and it’s important to take note of where this content is being shared and what is being shared.  Recommended articles below further discuss the influence Pinterest is having on brands and individuals.

**Update from the Author**: In addition to the Pinmarklet button that users can add to their bookmarks, there are two additional sources to pull pins from websites. If a user prefers not to add another bookmark they can use the Add + feature on the upper right-hand corner of the Pinterest homepage.  Adding the URL for the image will automatically allow users to add the pin to the board of their choosing.  For brands that want to provide immediate access for images to be pinned from their sites, they can add a “Pin It” button that will automatically connect the image to the user’s Pinterest account. Etsy is one example of a site currently using this feature. When a user pins a product from Etsy via the “Pin It” button, it automatically sources a description and product cost, eliminating a few steps for the user.

Image credit: Hello Jenny

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