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Pinterest - potential marketing nirvana or just sentimental fluff?
10 August, 2012 - 08:00
Pinterest is the latest tool to take the social world by storm, plastered with cupcake recipes and wedding dresses. We spoke to Jeremy Waite to see if Pinterest has the legs to be a social media heavy weight.
All the figures can seem a bit overwhelming. We took a breather, a ‘pintermission’ if you will, and sat down with Jeremy Waite, Head of Social Strategy at TBG Digital. He’s a familiar name in the social media world and a self-confessed Pinterest addict; we asked him what all the fuss was about.
“Anything that grows incredibly fast is always going to be a big deal. But one of the things you have to remember is that there’s only 18 million users, when you compare it to Facebook’s 800+ million; it’s David and Goliath,” says Waite, “But if you look at it as a traffic driver, Pinterest drives more traffic than Google+, MySpace, LinkedIn and YouTube combined.” Waite believes the growth of sites like Pinterest has the potential to be a real contender among the social media giants.
“At the heart of Pinterest’s charm is a great story,” says Waite. Its founder, Ben Silbermann, enjoyed collecting insects and stamps as a child. Pinterest was founded in his garage and without commercial intent. Waite adds, “he just wanted to create a social network where people could share really cool stuff.”
But does it have legs?
“There is still no advertising or Application Programming Interface (API) on Pinterest, which is why brands haven’t figured out how to use it properly yet,” reveals Waite, “and probably why it’s still such a beautiful experience!”
Pinterest is steadily growing a solid and passionate user base, one that logs on more frequently than Facebook. The 21st century equivalent of mood boards are still relevant today. Waite believes, “people want to express themselves and share the things they are passionate about.”
“You can go on Pinterest and in 10 seconds find out more about a person than you could do on any other social network,” a statement very true of Waite: it is possible to quickly deduce that Jeremy is an avid cyclist who likes Basset Hounds as well as a good infographic.
For anyone who has started browsing on Pinterest, five minutes can quickly turn into half an hour, so is it just a time waster?
Waite is quick to pull a quote from musical legend, John Lennon, “Time that you enjoy wasting isn’t wasted – and that sums up Pinterest!”
“We’ve got very short attention spans in today’s world; we need to consume bite size bits of information very quickly,” he adds. Pinterest’s visual platform encourages this process.
“But I think it has a much deeper meaning, that will prove to be a useful tool for businesses. It’s a really great place to put stories, including quotes and infographics and a click through will take a user through to the source.
“Everyone approaches Pinterest with a different agenda and everyone can have their need satisfied. Pinterest is totally open, it’s a discovery platform.”
Will it be good for business?
A frequent analogy that’s used to describe the potential power of Pinterest is the story of the red trainers; a potential customer uses Google to shop for red trainers but Pinterest is where he discovers he wants red trainers in the first place. Waite explains with growing enthusiasm:
“As a marketer I’m interested in that initial interaction, where you discovered the red trainers and why.
“When Pinterest opens up its API and makes its data accessible that will be very powerful to brands. That’s every like, every click and every bit of human behaviour.
“The insights on Pinterest will be much more detailed and granular and marketers will be able to be very specific. You’ll be able to micro target to such a degree that your marketing is going to be much more effective. The costs per click may be higher but the subsequent clickthrough rates will be huge because you’ll have targeted exactly the right person, at the right time and in the right context. It’s a very exciting time for brands.”
At the moment Pinterest is being used purely for a good PR story. Uniqlo’s Dry Mesh Project is one example and Kotex is another example of reaching out to influential users. Honda hosted a Pintermission, giving $500 to top users to spend on doing the things they had pinned so passionately about. There are few benchmarks for campaigns on the new social tool and it’s important to remember that its reach is limited but some companies are getting very creative. Waite adds words of warning; “Large companies are thinking about spending huge budgets in Pinterest but there’s not really the area to spend it yet. It’s a playful platform; the commercial angle needs to be secondary on Pinterest, otherwise it will fail.”
Waite eloquently concludes, “Great social media does five things: it educates, informs, entertains, inspires and solves problems – and that’s why Pinterest works.”
More to come.
Feeling inspired by Jeremy, simply have started their own Pinterest board, so if you're visually inclined, here's another way to digest our content.
Growing popularity of sites like Pinterest and huge developments made by Facebook and Google+ to feature images signals the prominence of the visual over copy. In a few weeks time we will be looking at this in greater detail, speaking to Justin Sutcliffe, freelance photojournalist, Suzanne Salvo, corporate photographer and Jeremy Waite.
TBG Digital is a Social Media specialist helping global brands to advertise and engage through Facebook and Twitter. The company’s team of experts has delivered more than 550 billion impressions and over 50 million social connections with a focus on ROI. TBG creates custom social experiences that are amplified through targeted media. All activity is supported by proprietary technology and benchmarked against a data store of more than one trillion events.
Jeremy has been at TBG Digital for 5 months and heads up Social Strategy. He was previously Head of Social Media at Phones4U. Author of "Sex, Brands & Rock'n'Roll", he’s currently writing "Follow Me, I'm Right Behind You". Prolifent on Twitter, Storify and of course Pinterest.
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