Pinterest, one of the myriad social networking platforms, has created itself a niche that is focussed on the visual. Pinterest is essentially an internet based pin-board full of things that excite you. Users include links and pictures of anything that holds their interest. From home decorating to craft, motorcycles to DIY, there are opportunities for everyone.
From a business perspective, this is an exciting way to engage with customers, especially if something you do can benefit from being portrayed visually. Human beings by nature are very visual, connecting images with memories, thoughts and feelings. These connections can create very strong calls to action if you connect genuinely.
If you think of Twitter as being the Shakespeare of social networking, then Pinterest is the Da Vinci. Beautifully crafted images or just very well targeted pictures are the keys to success. Pinterest has grown 52% (source: comScore Media Metrix Mar 2012) in total unique visitors between just January and February 2012. This exponential growth says something about the human need for connection and the strength of the visual medium.
Users can pin to their account information from websites they find interesting as well as uploading their own pictures. The use of information from other sites allows businesses to benefit from viral marketing when it works well. Businesses can gain most when they contribute images to engage, entertain and inform. If you do this well, the Pinterest community will want to follow you, and when they do, you can showcase your products and services to those who are really interested in what you do.
Enterprises with rich grounds for mining images include:
- services which ‘sell’ a look such as hairdressers and makeup artists, specialist motor spray painters, interior designers and other artists
- products which need to be seen before a sale is made, such as fashion designers and clothing retailers and home decor retailers
- products which may not be easily recognised by name such as plant types from nurseries and specialist food products which may benefit from showing all the different shapes and types of pastas or chilli peppers
- products or services which generally engender little emotional connection can create a ‘feeling’ through video. Some may remember the old advertisement for international direct dialling by the Australian company OTC (by George Patterson), which showed images of families in Greece and the UK amongst others, with tears in their eyes and shouting for the rest of the family to come to the phone when they received a call from their family which had emigrated to Australia…cue the highly emotive and visual Barbra Steisand song ‘Memories’ in the background. This award winning ad (it was the first Australian advertisement to win the Grand Prix in Cannes) had people crying in front of their televisions in the 1970s and reaching for their telephones like never before. This created an amazing depth of feeling especially as telephone calls were intangible, were utilitarian and had traditionally held no obviously emotional connection until this ad came along. Connecting images with feelings creates an incredibly strong bond so that when you ask for the sale, you have fertile ground for acceptance.
The SEO connection
Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) has generally not benefited by social networks (other than Google+) as links have tended to all be of the ‘no follow’ style. Pinterest currently allows ‘follow’ on all the links within its domain. Therefore, take advantage of this wonderful free tool. Set up your Pinterest account and start sharing targeted images linked back to your website (don’t upload from your desktop). This allows all of those images to be associated with your website, thus increasing your legitimate back links and not only being attractive to your audience, but all the while improving your website’s organic rankings.
Take note however, that this will probably come to an end, there are always those unscrupulous internet fraudsters who will utilise this helpful tool to increase their backlinks in an inappropriate manner, this will force Pinterest to remove the ‘follow’ from posts as Facebook and other social networks have had to do.
Another area of concern is that of scammers putting links into pictures which imply safety but are in fact redirected to a scam site. The way it works is a picture related to a high profile organisation is tampered with by hackers who attach their own coding to the image, thereby redirecting users to a site which may be porn, gambling or just trying to sell something you don’t want. Vigilance is currently the only way to stop this, check your links regularly to make sure they lead where you expect them to lead.
Pinterest is now the 3rd most popular website for sharing, thus giving you a useful tool which is large and continuously growing. A further attraction is that it is one of the only sites to successfully aid in the ‘discovery’ of video online. So where there are video clips available for various interests on say, websites, Pinterest is a way of collating and making these available to many others who would never have found them.
As one of the newest method of connecting with people, Pinterest is a visually appealing, enjoyable sojourn into each others worlds which we can use for enjoyment, networking with like minded people and showcasing our businesses.