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What’s the Point of Pinterest?

A Pinterest photo collage of, well, photo collage inspiration. Meta!

Do you remember when you were a teenager, and you’d spend hours at a time sprawled across your bedroom floor paging through magazines? You’d cut out pictures of people you liked, bands you loved, quotes you admired, and anything else inspiring, and you’d spend another few hours carefully taping everything to the wall above your bed in an ever-growing collage?

No? I’m the only one that ever did that?

Well, if you missed out, never fear. There’s a place you can recreate that experience — albeit with less tape – on the internet, and it’s called Pinterest.

What Pinterest is

Pinterest is often referred to as a “virtual pinboard.” I like to think of it more as visual bookmarks. But instead of simply bookmarking the page that contains an image you like in your browser, you can instead click the “pin it” button (available as an add-on to your browser) to pin the image to one of your boards. You can also peruse other users’ pinboards and “repin” images to yours. As you pin, your board fills with a rich mélange of photos all in one place — much better than having to click into individual bookmarks.

Pinterest as a social network

Much like Twitter, you can choose to follow and unfollow other users’ boards. The pins of those you follow appear in your Pinterest stream, allowing you to build a custom online community tailored to your interests and tastes. Similar to Facebook, users can comment on and even “like” pins.

Who uses Pinterest?

All types of people use Pinterest, but interestingly, in the United States, the network is especially strong among women ages 18-34 who live in the center of the country in households with incomes between $25,000 and $75,000 per year.1 Accordingly, some of the most popular topics are weddings, babies, interior design and decorating, clothing and hairstyles, and recipes. It will be interesting to see how user content and demographics shift and change as the site continues to grow in popularity — and all signs are indicating that it will.

Companies on Pinterest

Lately, more and more companies have been getting into the Pinterest game. Big brands like HGTV, Whole Foods, Kate Spade, Real Simple, and Apartment Therapy currently have a huge pull, but there’s still plenty of room for small-business creatives — people like designers, wedding planners, and photographers — to carve out solid niches as well.

How Pinterest can work for your business

More than any other social network, Pinterest can help drive traffic and revenue to your business. How? Well, when pinning an image from a website, Pinterest automatically collects the source URL so that it the original creator is credited. That means this little nugget of metadata works hard to keep pointing people back to your website. The more an image gets repinned, the more Pinterest users will click, share, and – ideally – buy.

And since users are more likely to trust the recommendation of someone they follow than a pitch from company representative, here’s where the social network aspect of Pinterest does the heavy lifting of selling your products. It’s a genius setup.

…And how it can’t

If your site isn’t optimized for e-commerce — meaning you don’t have a shopping cart linked to an image-based online store — then you’re not likely to see any kind of monetary benefit to joining up with Pinterest.

That said, Pinterest doesn’t necessarily have to make you money in order for you to incorporate it in your business. Consider its application as a brainstorming or inspiration source for your employees, particularly if they’re creatives. Consider also its application with customers and clients. Stylists at a hair salon could maintain pinboards to inspire themselves and show clients different haircut options, for instance.

It’s all about the visuals, baby

Bottom line? Pinterest works best for your business if you have unique, styled, visually attractive product images that will drive people to pin and repin them. Pretty pictures trigger the impetus to buy, and the way the network is set up helps direct sales like no other social network currently in existence.

Happy pinning!


1 Source: The Atlantic.

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