Can Pinterest Deliver Value for Non-Retail Companies?


Can Pinterest deliver value for non-retail companies? 

Pinterest has 10.4 million registered users, a jackpot for companies! 10.4 million people potentially sharing images and links to your products and services. No more creative postings, games or even shared stories (and other types of Facebook advertising).  Simply, pin an image!

American users of Pinterest spend an average of 1 hour and 17 minutes on the site.  This is well ahead of Twitter (36 minutes), LinkedIn (17 minutes), and Google+ (six minutes).

Perfect! Not only is it easy to share an image, but companies have the sustained attention of potential customers. If you pin the right images you have a chance to reach out to your potential customers for more than an hour. I would say that’s excellent brand awareness.

80 percent of Pinterest Users are Women

No problem right? Companies reach out women and women love to buy things. Sounds like a simple and ideal solution.  The only reason I could fathom for anyone to not be using Pinterest, is if you have been living in a social media cave for the past few months and you don’t know about Pinterest.

Let’s assume that you don’t know about Pinterest.  So, what is it?

Pinterest is a pinboard-style social photo sharing website that allows users to create and manage theme-based image collections. These theme collections rang from events, interests, hobbies and more. Users can browse other pinboards for inspiration, ‘re-pin’ images to their own collections and/or ‘like’ photos. Pinterest’s mission is to “connect everyone in the world through the ‘things’ they find interesting.” It allows it’s users to share ‘pins’ on both Twitter and Facebook, which allows users to share and interact with a broad community. Founded by Ben Silbermann, the site is managed by Cold Brew Labs and funded by a small group of entrepreneurs and inventors.

Can Pinterest work for non-retail companies?

Pinterest is a jackpot for companies right now,  but can it work for non-retail brands? I wanted to find this out for myself, so I did a little research. Does Pinterest live up to all of the hype? Is there more to it beyond retail?  Can companies sell banking services or car insurance on the platform? Can these companies use Pinterest as a tool to target and brand products and services to consumers?

First let’s start with the easy, low hanging fruit… for the most part Pinterest is flooded with brands like Pottery Barn for Kids, West Elm and Martha Stewart.  All of which are doing a fantastic job of showcasing their products. They’re all using two successful techniques: Using collections to show products and putting multiple product collections together in order to feature different product combinations.  We also see them organizing products by boards. Pottery Barn for Kids takes advantage of the ‘board’ feature that Pinterest has by organizing products by a ‘board’ so that they can gather feedback and stats behind each group of products.

Techniques are important on Pinterest, and smart brands understand this. Women think differently than men and marketers on Pinterest need to think like women.  Women are better organizers of content and socialize with other women in order to come to decisions on products and services. Of the 100+ companies on Pinterest most of them are tailoring their messages to women.   Products like tupperware and bed sheets are easy wins on Pinterest, but other services are a little tougher to show to a female audience.

Southwest Airlines does a pretty decent job on Pinterest. The airline’s strategy appears to be about building relationships and a community feel. They feature images of:

  • Employees
  • Upper Management
  • In-Flight Images
  • Destinations

So is this working? It’s hard to tell at this point, has Southwest’s ticket sales increased since they started using Pinterest?  I don’t know. What I can say is that people (women) are commenting a ton on these pictures, in some cases ‘repining’ them and sharing them with other women. I like to refer to this as organic social media. Organic social media is when a company uses channels to organically reach out to customers and fans in order to brand themselves. Conversations, comments and sharing is what is important here. The hope (goal) is to reach out to enough people in order to organically grow the brand, so that when a purchase decision is at hand, the customer ultimately chooses the company based on the sum of everything they have seen. Will you get a lot of companies choosing this as a goal for there social media strategy?  Yes and no. It really depends on the company and their goals.

Let’s go deeper, stick with me. What about banking?

First, are there any banks using Pinterest?

Second, what types of banking images are on Pinterest?

Let’s look at an industry that is finding a little sweet spot on Facebook and Twitter and let’s see how this translates on Pinterest. There aren’t many banks or financial institutions on Pinterest, but there are plenty of banking images. There are images of banks, people in banks, money charts and graphs. You name it and someone has pined it or ‘repined’ it on Pinterest. Thi is what I love this about social media, it’s almost like ants to a piece of food. You can’t stop and you can’t contain it. Like it or not these images are being shared about the banking industry, a mountain of information and yet few banks have profiles on Pinterest.

But again, it all goes back to how a company wants to capitalize on this information. My advice for banks? It seems like the natural strategy for a bank might be to start producing and commenting on these images via Pinterest. They should be using the platform to start lending (dare I say it) free advice to customers and fans.

Obviously, this is just one technique and one industry.  The point I’m trying to get to here is that, Pinterest has countless possibilities for companies and if you are a non-retail company Pinterest could be a goldmine in the wild, the wild west that is social media.

I’m interested in hearing what you think?

  • Do you have a company that is non-retail and are you using Pinterest?
  • Have you seen techniques on Pinterest that work well?