An In-Depth Look at Pinterest


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An In-Depth Look at Pinterest

  1. 1. PinterestRunning Head: PINTEREST An In-Depth Look at Pinterest Katie Shuford Kennesaw State University
  2. 2. 2Pinterest There is a lot of buzz surrounding the newest social media platform, known as Pinterest.What exactly is Pinterest? Creators describe the site as a virtual pinboard, where people shareand collect the things they love. Users collect images known as “pins” and place them onto theirvirtual bulletin boards know as “pinboards.” To become a member, an individual has to beinvited; he or she can request an invite directly from the site or a friend can invite him or her.Once an individual becomes a member, Pinterest will ask the user to find friends from his or herFacebook and Twitter accounts to follow and ask the user to create his or her boards. Boards areused to categorize pins. Users can choose to use the default boards provided such as My Style,Books Worth Reading, For The Home, etc. or they can personalize their boards by creating theirown. Users can have as many boards as they want and can pin as many things as they like. Userscan tag their followers in pins by typing the at sign and a follower‟s name in the description of apin i.e. @Katie Shuford. The characteristic that makes Pinterest so unique is that the original source of a pin isalways attached. If I pinned a recipe I found on the internet, the website I found it on would beembedded into the pin which could be located by simply clicking on it. For instance, if my sisterwanted to know how to make the Blow Pop Martini I pinned last week, all she has to do is clickon that pin which would take her to the site that hosts the recipe, a website Pinning can happen in two ways: users can repin others‟ pins through the site oradd new pins from outside sources on the internet. The pin-it button is a tool that allows for easypinning which a user can add to his or her toolbar. Once the pin-it button is installed, a user canpin an image directly from a website he or she has pulled up. Like other social media sites, usersreceive notifications when someone repins, comments, or likes their pins. In this way, users getconnected to one another.
  3. 3. 3PinterestThe site was created in 2008, but only gained popularity within the last few months. In fact, thepopularity of Pinterest is impressive. An article from Mashable Business states: “Pinterest‟s user base grew from 1.6 million visitors in September 2011 to 11.1 million visitors in February 2012. It became the fastest site to reach 10 million users. In February, it was announced that Pinterest drives more traffic to retail sites than Google+, YouTube and LinkedIn combined, and Pinterest drives more traffic to blogs than Twitter. When it comes to engagement, Pinterest is second only to Facebook — its users spend, on average, 89 minutes per month on the social network” (Drell, 2012).With statistics like these, it‟s hard not to agree that businesses should get onboard and activate aPinterest account. Before any brand makes that decision, there are three questions they shouldask themselves, says Taylor Valentine, VP of social media and relationship marketing at HorizonMedia: Is your audience there? Is the conversation that‟s happening one that you want toparticipate in? Are you equipped to participate, when it comes to content, resources and peopleto keep the presence active? If the answer is yes to all three, Valentine says it‟s a no brainer(Drell, 2012). Furthermore, there is a list of 13 verticals that can leverage a brand on Pinterest accordingto an article from These include Apparel—men‟s, women‟s andchildren‟s, Food/beverages, especially recipe-driven, Architecture, Interior design, Weddingthemed, Technology, Sports, Health care, Personal care, Home improvement/DIY accessories,Pets, Kids products/toys and Travel (Hemley, 2012). The next step then, is deciding how to bestutilize Pinterest for your brand.
  4. 4. 4Pinterest One important rule for businesses to remember is to embrace Pinterest etiquette: Sellyour culture and people, not just your products. Getting creative on the virtual pinboard is thegoal. You can share photos of your business art gallery, employee of the month, outsidecompany events, conference photos, etc. Thinking beyond your product line and sharing yourculture is key. It‟s important for brands to remember the demographic of users on the site. The majorityof users are women. Therefore, Pinterest is most useful to brands that offer a tangible product forwomen. Crafting your pinning strategy around that idea is smart for brands‟ success. Accordingto a Washington Post article, “Ritani is a jewelry company who specializes in engagement rings,so the brand pins its products along with wedding-related content. So even if a Pinterest user islooking at cakes instead of wedding rings, Ritani can still drive traffic toward its boards”(Khazan, 2012). As you can see, pinning for businesses is more than pinning its own products, asthe idea is to strategically pin a culture that is also catered toward the demographic. One important way for companies to let clients and prospects know about its presence onPinterest is to add a Pinterest button to its websites. When you add a Pin It button, you encourageyour customers and visitors to pin your products and photos. Pinterest is way to connect withothers on a more personal level, and brands can use this to their advantage. People shareinterests, passions, dreams and sense of humor in a more natural way on Pinterest than on othersocial media platforms. Therefore, a company can use Pinterest to gain insights about its targetconsumers by looking at the pinners who follow their brand, what these people are pinning andwho else these people are following (Hemley, 2012).
  5. 5. 5Pinterest Companies can use Pinterest to crowdsource which can be very effective for brands. Away to do this is asking fans of your brand to take pictures of themselves with your product andtag you. You can then repin those pictures into a VIP board. It‟s a free way to get advertisingfrom real customers and show potential customers that current customers really like using yourproduct. A company who is doing this successfully, according to an article from socialnomics.netis Gap (Samhota, 2012). Gap has 3,177 followers and 12 boards with two of the boards dedicatedto real fans. One board, Everybody in Gap, has the description “Gap outfits as worn and styledby you.” There are 55 pins on this board, which showcase fans wearing Gap clothing. Eachdescription highlights the item of clothing and the person‟s name, i.e. “Emily of the blogCupcakes and Cashmere wears a Gap leather dress.” Pins and boards may be used as opportunities to converse with users on Pinterest, aswelcoming and encouraging comments builds brand engagement. Popular pins on Pinterest havethree things going for them: likes, comments and repins. A way to get users to leave a commentis by asking a question or asking them to tell you what they think of your new products line, etc. Brands can use keywords and hashtags in their pins to generate the likelihood ofreceiving more views. When creating a description for a new pin, you can optimize the pin byadding keywords that users may be more likely to use if they‟re searching for specific content onPinterest. Adding #home, #decorative, #remodel, #DIY, etc., would be smart for a home andbuilding brand. Companies can also add specific website links into their descriptions to bringusers to a certain page. Lastly, adding your website link on your Pinterest profile assures peoplewill find your website online.
  6. 6. 6Pinterest An example of a home and building company active on Pinterest is Masonite Doors.Because the brand is a door manufacturer, boards were created that reflect the company culture.One such board is titled, Famous Doors of the World, which shows images of iconic doors suchas Number 10 Downing Street, Gates of Paradise, and even Shakespeare‟s first home. Anotherboard is titled Quotes & Sayings, which displays sweet quotes related to the home such as“Home is where the heart is” and “Lessons learned in the home last the longest.” A board titledCool Door Culture hosts unique images of doors in beautiful landscapes and vibrant colors. Some of the most popular brands on Pinterest include Gap, Nordstrom, West Elm, EtsyWhole Food and the Travel Channel. Pinterest gave a shout out to The Travel Channel formaking use of the interplay between Pinterest and other social media sites. The Travel Channelreached out to its Facebook Fans by asking them what pinboards it should create. BergdorfGoodman also earned a mention from Pinterest. The department store asked Facebook followersto complete the sentence "In the morning I never forget…" and then displayed the responses on acompany pinboard, according to an article in USA Today (Tansey, 2012). Each of these brandshave embraced the culture and best practices to succeed on the image-sharing site. Measuring ROI for Pinterest is very difficult at this point. A service called PinPuffmeasures a user‟s pinfluence. PinPuff defines pinfluence as, “a relative measure of yourpopularity, influence, activity, reach (& celebrity levels if applicable) on Pinterest on the scale of100. It also decides monetary value of your pins & traffic your pins generate” (PinPuff, 2012).In an article from, Laura Edwards says of PinPuff, “the algorithm createdcomes off wooly at present” (Soar, 2012). PinPuff is still in beta testing, so as the service growsand perfects its algorithm, pinfluence for users will hopefully become more accurate.
  7. 7. 7Pinterest Another source for Pinterest analytics is PinReach. PinReach says on its homepage, “Weare working to empower people and brands with the tools necessary to monitor trends,understand activity, and gauge impact, easily” (PinReach, 2012). Edwards also says of PinReach,“They have hopes of becoming more than just a scoring devise, something that Klout has nevermanaged. PinClout (updated name, PinReach) has plans to offer analytics and data on Pinteresttrends - this could prove useful to monitor ROI on your Pinterest campaign or to help plan one”(Soar, 2012). Pinterest is no doubt on the radar of many public relations professionals and many keyinfluencers are talking about the site. The parallel that Pinterest has to public relations isreputation management. In the traditional sense, public relations professionals own the reputationof the client they represent. PR folks are advocates for the company and try to bring attention totheir positive aspects. On Pinterest, doing that is easier than ever, and one simple board dedicatedto the companies‟ philanthropy and corporate responsibility is a way to accomplish this. Public relations professionals engage in two-way communication with target audiencesand publics. Pinterest allows for easy two-way communication between a brand and its users andfans. As mentioned earlier, brands communicate with their audience through comments, as wellas likes and repins. Users on Pinterest have the ability to talk to brands and vice versa, a perfectexample of two-way communication. Public relations professionals are responsible for predicting trends and staying up to dateon current issues. PR professionals can become aware of trends online by using Pinterest. Thereis a thread dedicated to the most popular pins on Pinterest. A PR pro could see what imagesresonate with the most people and use this information to craft similar pins for their brand.
  8. 8. 8Pinterest The biggest con for public relations professionals to consider is Pinterest‟s terms of use.A lot of agencies are uncomfortable recommending Pinterest to its clients. According to NeilKleiner, head of social media for AIS, “there are huge potential copyright issues that I wouldn‟twant to expose our clients to” (Drell, 2012). In fact, there is a campaign on Pinterest with themessage, “Dear Pinterest, please change your terms or I‟m leaving.” The current terms of usewere brought into light when a lawyer named Kristen Kowalski deleted her account, aftercarefully reading them (Danzig, 2012). The problem is when you pin anything, you are agreeingthat you own whatever you‟re pinning or you have permission to do so from the original source,you‟re also agreeing to let Pinterest sell anything you pin, you agree to pay legal fees, and youagree that the entire risk remains with you (Kyle, 2012). Pinterest‟s founder, Ben Silbermann,actually responded to Kowalski, saying he‟s just “a guy with a computer who had a vision tocreate this site where everyone can share stuff”(Danzig, 2012). Pinterest spokespeople respondedto the campaign and said they are working on it (Kyle, 2012). In this paper I‟ve discussed the background of Pinterest, its popularity, best practices forbusinesses with examples, ways to measure ROI, how it helps public relations efforts and itsbiggest con. After thorough research, my assessment of Pinterest is that it is a successful socialmedia platform and it is innovative in design and sharing capabilities. Pinterest is a great tool forbusinesses to employ and I‟m a loyal user myself. However, I feel as though it is in the bestinterest for Pinterest to change its terms of use to ensure happy users and to avoid majorbacklash.
  9. 9. 9Pinterest ReferencesDanzig, C. (2012, March 12). Pinterest‟s Terms of Service Screws Its Users…Or Maybe It‟s Just Like Every Other Social Networking Site. Above The Law. Retrieved March 12, 2012, from maybe-its-just-like-every-other-social-networking-site/Drell, L. (2012, March 8). Why Big Consumer Brands Have Yet to Tap Pinterest‟s Potential. Mashable Business. Retrieved March 9, 2012, from brands/Hemley, D. (2012, February 27). 26 Tips for Using Pinterest for Businesses. Social Media Examiner. Retrieved March 5, 2012, from pinterest-for-business/Khazan, O. (2012, March 11). Pinterest: What‟s the role for businesses? The Washington Post. Retrieved March 12, 2012, from whats-the-role-for-businesses/2012/03/09/gIQAsvdu5R_story.htmlKyle. (2012, March 7. Pinterest: Change Your Terms or We‟re Leaving. Posted to company blog at leaving/? (2012). What is Pinfluence? Retrieved March 13, 2012 from (2012).Pinterest Influence & Analytics. Retrieved March 13, 2012 from, www.pinreach.comTansey, B. (2012, March 11). Small businesses use fast-growing Pinterest to boost sales. USA Today. Retrieved March 12, 2012, from 03-11/cnbc-pinterest/53443230/1
  10. 10. 10Pinterest References ContinuedSamhota, P. (2012, February 14). Five Brands Engaging Like Pros on Pinterest. Social Nomics. Retrieved March 5, 2012, from on-pinterest/.Soar, D. (2012, March 1). Which Brands Are „Winning‟ Pinterest? Social Media Today. Retrieved March 5, 2012, from