Pinterest – everything you need to know about the social networking site making a stir in 2012

26Jan12

Back in 2011 I was hailing Pinterest as the site to watch for 2012 and talking about my ridiculous obsession with it.

Since then I’ve watched in excitement as people flocked to the site wondering what all the fuss is about. After the jump I’m going to explain what Pinterest is, how to use it, how brands are using it, and to top it off I’ll give you some basic resources if you want more info (and yes, you will want more info).

So what is it?

These are my Pinterest pinboards. You like?

Pinterest is a virtual pinboard allowing users to pin all the wonderful things they come across on the Internets – essentially it’s a visual social bookmarking site. As one of the 10 most visited social networking sites on the Internet, it’s easy to see why it’s taking off. The learning curve is virtually nil and with the availability of mobile apps and browser add-on’s adding things to your pinboard a snap! According to the Mashable article linked above,

The site is especially popular with women between the ages of 25 and 44, which comprise 59% of its readership, and the majority of those visiting Pinterest are female, consisting of 58% of its visitors in the past 12 weeks.

Although the site may be popular among women, lots of my male counterparts are flocking to it out of curiousity and have started their own pinboards for topics that interest them. There’s literally something there for everyone. (Aside: There’s also a male Pinterest spin-off called Gentlemint if the guys feel they need something a little more focused.)

What is it used for?

Couple people have been spreading this on Facebook and it made me laugh. I went straight from step one to three, skipping two. Did you?

Although you can use it as a storage facility of cool stuff, I use Pinterest much like a virtual vision board – I pin pictures of the home decor that inspires me, healthy pictures/quotes/recipes that I want to try, and funny little sayings that make me happy. I find because I check Pinterest daily, it’s a re-affirmation of my vision which I believe will help me stick to my goals in the long run. Although I love old school vision boards, I have a hard time with the idea because it’s not dynamic. It’s a static, physical entity that sits in my room so the second I leave, it’s out of sight, out of mind. Even if I were to make a picture of said static board my iPhone homescreen, I’ll never see it amongst my file folders of apps.

Additionally, adding to a well planned vision board can be like trying to fit an 8×11 picture in a 4×6 spot – it just can’t happen without tearing the thing apart to make room for that little addition. Virtual pinboarding lets me add to my boards in (literally) a click!

Now if you’ve read my blog before you’ll know I sing the praises of Evernote (like here and here) and Pinterest has not changed that. Instead I found two very different uses for them:

  • I use Pinterest for items I enjoy/things I aspire to do. If I like something, it gets pinned. It’s that easy.
  • I use Evernote to curate information/ideas that I will be using so it goes beyond something that I like. It’s interesting articles I want to read/reference later in my blog, ideas for holiday/birthday gifts, items that can be clustered using tags and notebooks for improved searchability.

Can brands use Pinterest?

Yes, Pinterest presents a HUGE opportunity for brands to engage with their customers/fans and also to get more exposure to others who wouldn’t necessarily find them otherwise.

Pinterest helps shift the consumer process away from search and focuses more on discovery. Normally when you want something, you Google or crowdsource an idea. Because you already know what you’re looking for you’re in search mode. Pinterest is a constant sharing of ideas so users are in the discovery phase – they didn’t know they wanted something until they came across it.

Not convinced? According to this Mashable article,

Pinterest, with only 5.3 million active users, drives more traffic to Real Simple than Facebook.

In addition, Facebook recently announced Pinterest as one of 60 apps that will function with their new Timeline feature meaning more exposure to brand content (reach is now farther if I post on my Pinterest plus link it to Facebook Timeline), but also likely higher user adoption as non-Pinterest users get exposure to the social platform itself. This is like discovery squared!

How does discovery work? Well take this example: I’m single so I’m about as far from planning a wedding as one could get, yet I have a Wedding Bells pinboard. There I have ideas for creative “save the date” notes, table settings, themes, colours, hair do’s, dresses etc. Now these may not come in handy in MY immediate future (one can only dream haha) but already my friends on Pinterest who are planning weddings are re-pinning my finds and going after them.

Or take my Travel pinboard. I try to take one large trip a year but I normally go to the usual vacation spots – Cuba, Mexico, Europe. Thanks to my travel board (and one Jill Clark where the bulk of these pins are from) I’ve discovered great little nooks of the world I’d like to visit that I would have never considered and am now actively pursuing. Without this discovery I wouldn’t have known I wanted to travel to see the turquoise water in Slovania, the gorgeous sunsets of the Maldives, the architectural homes along the water of Portofino Italy, or the tropical heaven that is Wineglass Bay in Tasmania. By constantly discovering new ideas I’m shifting my purchasing habits to items I may not have considered before.

These are just some of the West Elm pinboards.

So take a big established brand like West Elm – their Pinterest not only showcases their products but also gives added value beyond just the products they carry. They have boards just dedicated to different decor styles (like modernism and naturalist). trends (like stripes), or ideas (like how to furnish that space that doesn’t get used under the stairs). I never thought to put a powder room under the stairs, have you?

Then there are brands who I think would really benefit from Pinterest. Take a brand like Audi – the maker of (my favourite) luxury automobiles. My Cars pinboard is 99.9% Audi (I aim high!) and Audi shared some great shots on their Instagram feed recently from NAIAS (North American International Auto Show) that they could have shared on Pinterest for traction. One could argue that perhaps the Pinterest demo isn’t necessarily the Audi demo given that Pinterest is a female dominated space, but automobile purchases are not a male dominated decision. (Check out this study for more info on that.)

Or what about one of my favourite brands, lululemon athletica. I was surprised that I couldn’t find them on Pinterest (excluding their lululemon lab profile which is on there). Remember this is a huge opportunity not to push the products but to plug their brand proposition which they do so well on their blog. They could showcase their running playlists, desktop screensavers, or their successful goal setting content for others to share.

But don’t be disappointed if you don’t see your favourite brands on Pinterest yet! As I said before, this is a huge opportunity for brands to engage pending there is room in their social engagement strategy for Pinterest as a platform.

Predictions for the future? I think we’ll start to see that it’s not just a consumer tool as more brands adopt the tool over the coming year. Now does it have staying power? That’s a whole other blog post my friends!!

Want more info on Pinterest?

So tell me – do you use/have you thought of using Pinterest? Know of any brands using it well? I want to hear all about it!

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3 Responses to “Pinterest – everything you need to know about the social networking site making a stir in 2012”

  1. Great blog A!

    I find pinterest to be the thing that I always wanted but never could express into words. It has a visual intensive component that is like a board but not static (like you said)…

    One thing I started using it for was bookmarks and work stuff, I never got into evernote but perhaps I should since some stuff may not have a picture… I will look into it. I am waiting for pinterest to allow for private boards so you can organize personal stuff you don’t want to share like work stuff and bookmarks…hehe.

    J

    • Thanks for the kind words lovely!

      You’re right – it is missing some privacy features. I know people that purposely don’t tell anyone they have Pinterest so they can keep their boards to themselves. Like you, they have work info or inspiring pictures that don’t need to be front and centre for all to see.

      I’d also like to see better tagging features because once the boards get big they also get unruly so how could you ever find anything?

      And maybe sub boards. One level of hierarchical structure is hard. Anything more than two is too much.

      What else do we need while we’re building a wish list here… ;)

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