Brands and Pinterest, Pinterest and Brands

Ideas February 23, 2012 8:52 am

Yes, this IS my 3rd post about Pinterest, thank you very much. Just like the rest of the Internet world, I am fascinated by Pinterest– especially with the site’s rapid [organic] growth.

And of course, conversations around Pinterest’s rapid growth are almost always followed by conversations about brands, and the question of how brands can harness the power of Pinterest to connect with their target audience. (cough, cough, find a way to make money out of Pinterest’s popularity)

I emphasized the word organic above– I think it’s important to remember that Pinterest has grown based only on user’s interests {the interest graph} and the subsequent sharing that occurs because of these interests. The site very beautifully visualizes a user’s interests and enables easy sharing, connecting people through their shared love of products, places, and ideas.

It’s through this sharing that Pinterest has grown, and it’s through this sharing that brands have seen benefits– through increased referral traffic to their sites, based on the products, places, and ideas that users have shared.

A great way for brands to harness the power of Pinterest, especially in its traffic generating capabilities, is to thank the users who share their products, places, or ideas. And not in an overt, ‘we’re running a Pinterest contest,’ way, but in a more quiet, organic, and on-going manner. You see, if I, as a user, like something I see on Pinterest, I’m going to either ‘like’ it or re-pin (aka, share) it to one of my pinboards. And because my followers also share my interests (that’s why they’re following me), there is a high likelihood that they’ll like or re-pin it after me, which then pushes the impact of the share even further as their followers re-pin them, which then gets re-pinned again, and again, etc.   Brands needs to respect this organic, interest based sharing model.

Brands need to participate in the model, not act on top of it.

To participate in the model, they need to first follow users who pin their products/places/ideas. They then need to randomly reward users for pinning their products/places/ideas– by giving them the very product they pinned.  This shows users that the brand is in tune with and values them, which creates value and positive brand sentiment among users, which in-turn creates value for the brand in terms of positive association, which can lead to tangible values like increased purchase intent.

The concept, illustrated:

1) A user pins a product. For example, I pinned this great Target lampshade a few weeks back. My pin then got ‘liked’ and re-pinned several times over:

2) By doing a simple search for ‘target,’ Target can find pins of their products. (*Right now, if you pin something and don’t tag the brand, it won’t return in search. But that’s from the front-end experience. I’m sure on back-end search products are searchable in many different ways).  Say Target finds my pin, which I labeled with @target. They see that I love the product, want to buy it, and have had others agree with my sentiment by re-pinning the product. A great way for them to become a part of the experience is to thank me and offer me the product:

3) By Target commenting on my post and offering me their product, they have accomplished two things:

Offered excellent and unexpected customer service, making me believe they care about me, which creates an enthusiastic brand fan.  And brand fans share their love of a brand to their friends, family, and on their social networks…

Created a positive branding moment that will live indefinitely on Pinterest; when anyone else sees the pin after Target has commented on it, they will also see the comment.  Target has now embedded themselves as part of the pinning model, rather than living separately on top of the pinning model.

It shouldn’t be a splashy promotion, nor should it be touted by the brand, it should just be a simple ‘thank-you’ from a brand to a Pinterest user for loving their product and for sending referral traffic their way.

(Inspired by the Pinterest experiment I saw @garyvee do with his wine board and ‘pin and win’ experiment)

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