As consumers flock to Pinterest, brands including HGTV, Mattel, and Whole Foods Market are pinning marketing to the scrapbooking service.
Less than two years after its founding, Pinterest drove more referrals in January than Google+, Reddit, YouTube, LinkedIn, and MySpace combined, according to Shareaholic. Pinterest is nipping at the heels of Twitter and Google and is well on its way to the No. 2 spot behind Facebook, which drove one-fourth of all traffic in January. Referrals from Pinterest increased to 3.6 percent of all traffic in January 2012, from 0.17 percent in July 2011.
Unique visitors to Pinterest grew 155 percent month-over-month in January, Compete found. Late last year, Hitwise ranked it fifth on its top 10 list of social networks, beating-out LinkedIn (ranked sixth) and Google (which placed eighth). Pinterest just became the fastest-growing standalone Website ever, with 10 million monthly unique visits in the United States alone, ComScore said in early February.
On Pinterest, users create virtual pinboards or scrapbooks by "pinning" pictures or videos they like and uploading content to share. Users can sort their content, creating boards such as “Kitchen Remodel,” “Pets,” or “Vacation Clothes.” And, of course, they can share content and comments.
And Pinterest is attracting brands. Some share product shots; others are pinning less formal, more heart-tugging shots showcasing their employees, customers, families, and pets. Others post infographics and videos, perhaps demonstrating how to use their products.
In the case of HGTV and HGTV.com, the entertainment brand is increasing its use of Pinterest to build relationships with its TV and Website stars. HGTV, which has used Pinterest since 2011, recently debuted several staff-curated design boards showing home design, decor, gardening, and lifestyle ideas from the hosts of the company’s television and Web shows.
“While HGTV has been on Pinterest since last spring, we are excited to reveal a new and much more dynamic HGTV Pinterest presence,” said Jillian St. Charles, vice president, programming and strategy at HGTV.com, in a statement. “Fans who follow our Pinterest boards will find creative inspiration when they see the great new ideas and images that we pin every day.”
The High Point Market uses Pinterest as part of its overall social media plan to increase brand awareness, create a community within the overall world of home furnishings, provide customer feedback, and quickly share information about the Market, said Cheminne Taylor-Smith, vice president of marketing for the High Point Market Authority. In October 2011, the Market launched Style Spotters, home-fashion trendsetters who showcase their favorite products and top trends from Market exhibitors on Pinterest.
Mattel brought Barbie and her ever-expanding wardrobe to Pinterest, it announced at this year’s annual Toy Fair in New York. Grocery chain Whole Foods Market is also using Pinterest to foster a sense of community with its customers and encourage shoppers to purchase its goods. Makeup vendors are sharing tips and techniques for the latest styles, retailers are posting coupons, and chocolate-maker Lindt is combining Pinterest with a fundraiser for Autism Speaks.
With so many consumers turning to Pinterest, with the site driving so much referral traffic, and with early content already at marketers’ disposal, return on investment should be easily quantifiable and measurable. Also clear, Pinterest is a social media phenomenon marketing professionals can’t afford to look away from. Too many shoppers’ eyes are on it.
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— Alison Diana is a freelance writer and editor specializing in business, IT, and healthcare topics. She has contributed to many industry-leading publications such as InformationWeek, eWEEK, and CRN.