The Social Marketing Secrets of Pinterest

The Social Marketing Secrets of Pinterest

I have to hand it to the marketing strategists at Pinterest. People can’t keep a secret, so they leveraged that insight into a social marketing strategy.

It’s unlikely that you are reading this blog and you haven’t heard of Pinterest, but here’s a little background anyway. You collect photos from the web by using a bookmarklet in your web browser, and then those images can be collected by others who discover your collections on Pinterest. People can comment on the images, and discover the source. I know it sounds weird, but people love it. It’s like baseball card collecting in the digital age. Or maybe more like scrapbooking.

Two years in the making, Pinterest reached a tipping-point in late 2011 and started going viral despite its super-secret invitation-only membership. Having either Twitter or Facebook is prerequisite, and they man the wheel on your already-established social circle to help you build your new Pinterest social circle. Actually, they’re pretty proactive on this part. They encourage the process, meaning they go ahead and create social connections for you.

As a marketing professional, my first thought was that Pinterest is ripe for exploitation by affiliate marketers. If you search Pinterest for jewelry or shoes, you will find massive product catalogs that were assembled by individual members, not the brands or major retailers. These are most likely linked to accounts that pay a commission when somebody clicks the picture and ends up buying a product. It turns out my concerns were only partially warranted.

Josh Davis caused quite a stir when he exposed a dirty little secret about Pinterest. The developers realized the social site would be spam-bait for affiliate marketers, so they decided that rather than fight a losing battle, they’d just skim the profits with a clever piece of software. Pinterest replaces affiliate links with their own links so that the commission goes to Pinterest instead of the affiliate marketer. I have to hand it to them, that is some forward thinking. They also provided “do-follow” links for some great early-launch search-engine juice, but changed that feature over the past few weeks. You no longer get those juicy inbound links to your website.

With Pinterest now on the tip of everyone’s social media tongue, marketers are getting into the act and recommending Pinterest for every sort of business. Just this week I saw a recommendation on Law.com advising attorneys and law firms to jump on the Pinterest wagon. This is pretty bad advice, unless you go about it with a very clever social strategy–definitely something other than the typical law firm strategy. I did share a strategy for law firms on LinkedIn that I think would be quite effective.

In the USA, the Pinterest demographic is estimated to be around 80% women with a household income of $25-$75k. It is a consumer-savvy crowd, they know a marketing play when they see it, and they’re not necessarily there to shop. My advice? Play with Pinterest, get to know what it’s about before you just decide to load it up with images from your website. Discover your audience, and create a content strategy based on what they are sharing.

If you need a Pinterest invitation, let me know in the comments section and I’ll send you one. But if you’re a guy, perhaps you will be more interested in Gentlemint.

February 20, 2012 / Blog

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About the Author

Tim is digital marketing strategist and technology solutions architect at ProSocial Marketing, LLC.

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The Social Marketing Secrets of Pinterest