HomeBlog A Very “Pinteresting” Potential Referral Engine

A Very “Pinteresting” Potential Referral Engine

March 01, 2012 | By Erin Provey

Pinterest is popping up in social media discussions everywhere, despite the fact that it’s still not available for widespread use (invitation or wait-list only). Why? And, perhaps even more importantly, why should the B2B marketing community care? Keep reading.

Pinterest is popping up in social media discussions everywhere, despite the fact that it’s still not available for widespread use (invitation or wait-list only). Why? And, perhaps even more importantly, why should the B2B marketing community care? Keep reading.

Pinterest is a rapidly growing visual bookmarking site, a la Tumblr or Delicious. Like both of those sites, it uses a bookmark to allow users to collect and post ("pin") things of interest as they surf the Web. Unlike the other two sites, Pinterest relies solely on image content — resulting in a collection of virtual pinboards that allow users to collect and showcase their interests and revisit sites at a later date. The site is an extension of users' social networks, and is becoming a browsing destination in and of itself. The visual appeal of the Pinterest site sets it apart from other bookmarking and referral sites, making it more popular as a destination and more powerful as a viral sharing channel on the Web. It's curation at its finest, literally a public pinboard, with little reminders to ourselves and signals of our great taste and interests to the outside world.

A glance at what's popular on Pinterest (the site actually has a Popular page) quickly reveals more about its demographics than you’d learn from Google Analytics: fashion (many concepts via Polyvore, a fashion "mood board" site), recipes, craft concepts, quotations, home décor wish lists, workouts, fun activities for kids and other hot topics…you get the picture. There are also, shall we say, an inordinate number of cupcake recipes. Once again, the business audience is not exactly on the bleeding edge of social uptake.

But the best answer for why B2B marketers should care about Pinterest, what truly makes it powerful and compelling, is its capacity to be a massively influential referral engine. During my first day of use, I posted several infographics that I wanted to keep track of, as well as a couple of possible updo's for my soon-to-be-married sister to consider. Both were repinned by at least five people I didn't know within the first 10 minutes. So, is this tool currently a no-brainer for establishing a brand presence and generating demand? Certainly not. But neither were blogs, communities and something called Twitter just five years ago; the gap between early adopters and social laggards is now readily apparent.

One caveat: Pinterest works only for pages with images, and pinners will only pin images that reveal exactly the concept they are seeking to either share or remember. How visual is your blog? As the visualization of content becomes increasingly imperative to its organic distribution, it will be interesting to see how Pinterest impacts Web and content development trends. In the meantime, as you strategize for your latest Web site revamp or new blog strategy, give more consideration to meaningful content visualization. Talk to your agency, shared service or creative team about ways to optimize assets and activities for this powerful new word-of-mouth engine. And take a look at the few B2B organizations such as GE who are out there doing interesting things on Pinterest, bringing new visual life and leverage to years of historical data and analytics through this emerging channel.

Erin Provey

Erin Provey is a Senior Research Director of Corporate and Executive Marketing Strategies at SiriusDecisions. She has more than 10 years of experience in brand strategy, including positioning, identity, public relations, digital strategy, copywriting and account management. Follow Erin on Twitter @erinprovey.

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