Thursday, September 6, 2012

The Power of the Pin: Elevate Your Brand Using Shared Images

Trisha Beausaert

Pinterest for business: Two things that only recently have been considered in a sentence together. However, we know with full certainty that the result of such collaboration will be something quite wonderful, and until recently, unexpectedly successful.

For those who have yet to experience and understand Pinterest, transitioning a website based on pictures into a networking and marketing opportunity may not seem as ludicrous as it would to those who already use the site. Originally used for simple picture sharing of “lovely things” between individuals, Pinterest has the quality of something rather trivial and frivolous. The truth is, this “pretty site” is a remarkable, untapped communications resource. Pinterest can be leveraged to be a powerful marketing and advertising machine, if used correctly, for digital interactive and gaming companies, just as Real Simple, Time Magazine, and Mashable have successfully done for their brands via boards on Pinterest.

Launched March 2010, Pinterest is a free, virtual pin board where users around the world connect through the sharing of appealing pictures of DIY projects, recipes, products, inspirational quotes, places to visit, clothing, movies, etc. On Pinterest, stories are told by the sharing of fragments of other stories, represented by images on seemingly never-ending pages to create a personal “board.” The boards join all of the selected fragments to create a representation of the person or brand responsible for the search and pinning of those pictures.

Making up 80% of the site’s user population, with the highest percentage in the 25 to 34 age group, women are the largest audience on the site. Despite the overwhelming representation of female users- the undisputed driving force behind the majority of the country’s consumption patterns- the number of men using the site continues to steadily climb as stats have shown increased traffic for images of expensive import cars and motorbikes, funny videos, and video game paraphernalia . Only 2 years after the site’s launch, Pinterest now gets 21 million unique visitors, and was ranked above Google Plus on Hitwise Social Networking and Forums. Touted as “online, word-of-mouth marketing,” Pinterest is quickly moving away from the personal, and into the professional as marketers and companies begin to realize the value of the image-driven site.

Brand loyalty can be built and recommended to millions of users through the sharing of images, links, blogs, and videos that a web and game company, itself, finds interesting and decides to represent itself with. An entire brand can be easily and inexpensively elevated from the traditional logo and tagline to an experience and representation of a lifestyle the company aligns itself and its products with through the pins added to boards. “Pinning” takes the advertising goals of an entire business to a level that had marketing teams labouring after- with minimal results- only a few years ago.

Recognizing the potential in using Pinterest to leverage the marketing processes of a game and web company is the first step. Creating an account and building boards that will actually appeal to your company’s target audience is the next one. Currently, the only way to sign up for Pinterest is to request an invite. After approximately a week, access will be granted, and the account and its subsequent boards can start to be built up by following “pinners” and beginning the process of pinning images and organizing them by determined categories on the appropriately, and often cleverly, named boards.

When using Pinterest to market your company, there is more to it than just uploading your catalogue to boards. Pinners- your audience- are turned off by such blatant self-promotion. Rather, the goal is to attract followers through images that speak of your company’s culture, hobbies, interests, and lifestyle. Focusing on relatable and appealing pins, instead of just pictures of your finished projects, will generate more interest, as well as a kind of relationship with your customers that is often overlooked; you’re getting friendly. Much the same way an “outside-of-work-activity” does wonders to build bonds and loyalty while networking with new clients or partners, pinning pictures and links that build interest beyond the company’s explicit activities pulls in a more understanding and devoted base. 

 Think outside the box when deciding what to pin. Pin links to your company’s blog, or to blogs that your co-workers find interesting, or even to sites that mention and support your brand; Pinterest also allows for simultaneous cross-promotion. A company can also upload pictures of the workspace with a “day in the life” theme, and show a side of the business that very few customers ever get to see. Snap teaser pictures of projects in the works to generate buzz, or dig up vintage products from the company’s earlier years. Find recipes that your team enjoys, or create a board based entirely on pictures that inspire the next campaign and the company’s goals, Oprah-style. Allow followers to pin to your boards, engage casual conversations via the comments under pictures, and add a “Pin It” tab to your company’s site right beside the Twitter and Facebook ones. As well, building on communications-awareness, it has been shown (via “marketing pins” on Pinterest, ironically enough) that one of the best times to pin during the work week are between 2:00pm and 4:00pm on Thursdays. However, be sure to allow team members access during off-hours to pin more non-work-related things to build up the open and friendly image that is being constructed by the brand.

It seems that we are constantly chasing “the next big thing” when it comes to internet trends, but if Twitter and Facebook have taught us anything, it is that to overlook and dismiss up and coming social media that proves to have exceptional potential- with the stats to back it up- would be a big, professional mistake. Every day, Pinterest is proving itself to be a marketing expert’s dream come true as more and more international brands acknowledge the power of the pin. It’s time to request that Pinterest invite.

Happy Pinning!
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