Pinterest use must differ from other social networks

Pinterest is one of the fastest growing social networks and offers brands a platform to drive high levels of traffic back to e-commerce sites. It will, however, only add value for brands if they use it differently to other social networks rather than replicating Facebook content.

Pinterest

The online pinboard site only opened its doors fully to the public in August this year, after being in invite only beta mode. Its user base in the UK has increased in the last year from 68,000 unique visitors in August 2011 to 1,288,000 in August 2012, according to ComScore.

The site grew its share of all visits to social sites in the UK by 1489 per cent between July 2011 and July 2012 and Brits spend an average of nine minutes on the network per session, the data analytics firm says.

The worth Pinterest offers brands in terms of traffic referrals is key to how brands can measure its value.

Jewellery brand Swarovski has used Pinterest since it was invite only and says it offers “freedom unlike any there social media platform”. While it has no analytics on the site’s performance as a selling channel, it is convinced of the opportunity to link directly to e-commerce.

By using Pinterest to run a bridal promotion, it increased followers from 20,000 to 500,000 in just a few months.

Yelena Leshchinsky, head of communication and social media at Swarovski, says: “Brands are on the same level as individual users, and are able to reference and curate visuals from many sources on the web – from our own e-commerce sites to bloggers, to other users. This creates an interesting content mix that is inviting and inclusive. Pinning directly from the e-commerce site also offers a very direct link to retail, so our boards can serve as an inspirational window-shopping experience, one click away from the online store.”

E-commerce traffic driver

Earlier this year, US marketing performance tracking firm Convertro claimed that Pinterest drives more revenue that Facebook and Pinterest and is the fastest growing source of traffic or e-commerce brands.

Robin Goad, head of digital analytics at Experian Marketing Services, says that about 10 per cent of users leaving the Pinterest site go directly to a retail site which demonstrates that the level of brand engagement it offers is good for directing traffic.

He cites fashion retailer Etsy as one of the best examples of a brand getting good referral traffic from Pinterest.

Etsy draws traffic from Pinterest

The site received 5.8m visits in the UK in August. Of these: 1,633,000 came via search engines, 474,000 came via Facebook and 121,000 came via Pinterest.

A recent report from market research firm InSites Consulting claims that Pinterest and photo sharing app Instagram (now owned by Facebook) have the biggest growth potential of any social network world wide, adding that a large percentage of people are considering using the site.

Professor Steven Van Belleghem, who authored the report, says that Pinerest’s potential stems from the fact that it offers a “unique function”.

Van Belleghem says: “Only sites that bring something new into the mix are able to arouse the consumer’s interest, which explains the success of both Instagram and Pinterest. Both sites offer something that Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn don’t have and that’s why consumers are interested.”

Pinterest’s appeal and value to retail and fashion brands is clear but there’s also huge potential for other sectors.

Charity is one sector that could benefit a great deal from the viral and visual nature of Pinterest to raise awareness of campaign and lobbying issues and raise funds.

WWF, the wildlife charity, has started to use Pinterest and says that its benefits come from “using the platform for what it’s good at – sharing visually appealing assets and letting supporters share what they like.”

Scale

Despite its rapid growth over the past year, scale is still a barrier for a lot of brands who have not yet invested heavily in using Pinterest.

Dan Rubel, marketing director at online fashion retailer Very.co.uk says that although Pinterest’s “potential to be a widespread phenomena is clear” because its scale in the UK isn’t even close to

Facebook’s, the brand’s priority remains Facebook and Google+ for now.

Fashion brand Hackett says it uses Pinterest to capture its Britishness and “a way of life” for its customers rather than just its products. While it is currently a supporting platform for the brand, it is looking at how to make Pinterest central to promotional activity. The fashion brand is developing its strategyin partnership with agency Beyond.

Experian’s Goad adds that it is important to note, however, how Pinterest works alongside Facebook, with brands and users often pinning images from Facebook to Pinterest boards or sharing images from Pinterest via Facebook.

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