At Open we identify and examine customer issues. At DNA we deliver on that thinking.

"We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them." - Albert Einstein


Bridgette Roe November 2012
open pinterest

I am sure by now some of you would have heard the hype around Pinterest. Pinterest was established in 2001, yes it's 11 years old would you believe. The social media platform invented and created from a garage, now attracts a total of 25 million monthly vists .

It is being hailed as one of the fastest-growing platforms, reaching 10 million monthly visitors more quickly than Facebook or Twitter did. Today it ranks among the top 30 U.S. sites by total page views .

So what is this application everyone is raving about, and how is it being used to boost the positioning and awareness of brands on both a local and global scale?

Pinterest explained

Pinterest is a virtual pinboard. It lets you organise and share a whole heap of things and pin them to your personal pin board, either by a downloadable pinner in your tool bar or by simply scrolling through other peoples pins and choosing to repin them. It also allows you to sort the things you pin into folders for easy reference.

Arranging your boards is kind of like writing a ‘my favourite things list’. If you are interested in food and drink, keeping up with the latest clothing designs, architecture, gardening or mountain gorillas, you can make a board for each. You can also have event based boards - for planning a wedding, designing a kitchen or a nursery or searching for ideas for a kids party – all can be made into boards, for the collection of ideas, pictures and references.

And then when you feel like some light heartened relief, you log in to Pinterest and just keep scrolling through the things that help you dream, create or generally make your heart skip a beat. It has been likened to the escapism that one gets from reading a favourite magazine title, but it is endless millions of pins are pinned & repinned each day, and it is there for you all the time at no cost.

Similar to Facebook you gain followers and you can follow people or their boards dependent on your ‘Pinterests’, I mean, interests. You can also tailor your newsfeed (again similar to Facebook) specifically to you. Weekly emails are also sent out providing top tips on who to follow, whats trending and a summary of your weekly activity.

Plus your newsfeed is always changing , every time you ‘repin’ or ‘like’ a pin, your settings update and your newsfeed will adjust to keep you up to date with your followers new pins. No need for bookmarking. And if you want take a closer look at a picture, such as a piece of jewellery or recipe, you just click on the visual and it takes you to the direct source. Pretty damn clever huh?

Because of its cleverness and ability to be all things to all people, Pinterest is fast becoming one of the worlds most referenced research tools. Coming from consumer roots, regularly referenced for ideas on weddings, babies, cooking, photography and so on, it’s now being used by businesses for inspiration and by brands to drive awareness and positioning in market.

If we look at Pinterest stats site Repinly it tells us that the most popular boards are interior styling, art, design and products. It also tells us the average person when engaging with pinterest spends 83.9% of time ‘pinning’, 15.5% of time ‘liking’ & ‘0.6%’ of time commenting . This tells us that users are active in generating and repinning information onto their own page, ensuring constant engagement with the platform.

To demonstrate how popular this platform is – you only need to look at the top ‘pinners’, the followers they attract and how they engage with the platform. Here are the current top 5 pinners:

  1. Joy Cho (LA) – Followers 11,575,859 | Following 135 | Boards 77 | Likes 9 | Pins 7319
  2. Maryann Rizzo (Northeast USA) – Followers 7,684,518 | Following 1,119 | Boards 245 | Likes 1965 | Pins 82,876
  3. Bekka Palmer (Brooklyn NY) – Followers 7,642,246 | Following 128 | Boards 36 | Likes 145 | Pins 4013
  4. Bonnie Tsang (LA) – Followers 7,325,446 | Following 195 | Boards 42 | Likes 51 | Pins 12,811
  5. Jane Wang (Antarctica) – Followers 7,069,504 | Following 192 | Boards 98 | Likes 2,378 | Pins 21,133

So with the ever increasing numbers, we have all be waiting, like we were with Facebook, to see how the Pinterest team are going to try and drive revenue from the platform. No doubt somewhere along the line advertising will be introduced. In the meantime Pinterest is trying to drum up as many new subscribers as possible and encouraging people to come back and stay for longer. Driving greater engagement with business and brands is the natural next step for Pinterest.

Pinterest for business

To create engagement with business, Pinterest has just introduced ‘Pinterest for business’. Resources such as a forum and support network, has been introduced to provide guidance and inspiration for businesses & brands. In conjunction with the launch of the business pages on the 14th November 2012, Pinterest is gearing up to provide a compelling and engaging offer to business and brands. Given the business page is brand new, it doesn't look like much has changed yet, aesthetically the business pages still look the same, but I would say that customisation is just around the corner and I would hazard a guess that features such as analytics, and targeted advertising will be introduced at some stage.

The Pinterest statistics for business are pretty damn powerful:

  1. Pinterest buyers spend more money, more often, and on more items than any of the other top 5 social media sites.
  2. U.S. consumers who use Pinterest follow an average of 9.3 retail companies on the site
  3. Pinterest pins which include prices receive 36% more likes than those which do not
  4. The number of daily Pinterest users has increased by 145% since January 2012.
  5. Pinterest leads in both awareness and visitation among social image sharing sites, with 36% of online consumers aware and 19% visiting.
  6. Pinterest generates over 4x as much revenue per click (attributable to first touch) as Twitter and 27% more revenue per click than Facebook
  7. 47% of U.S. online consumers have made a purchase based on recommendations from Pinterest
  8. 81% of U.S. online consumers trust information and advice from Pinterest
  9. Pinterest attracts 1,090 visitors per minute
  10. Pinterest is retaining and engaging users as much as 2-3 times as efficiently as Twitter was at a similar time in its history
  11. Pinterest drives sales directly from its website – of people with Pinterest accounts, 21% have purchased an item after seeing it on Pinterest
  12. Pinterest generated more referral traffic for businesses than Google+, YouTube, and LinkedIn combined.

So given how popular Pinterest is and the strong the engagement users have with the site, how well are businesses doing in taking advantage of Pinterest?

Pinterest is currently well developed in the US, however New Zealand is still coming to grips with it. A little bit of ‘desk research’ tells me that a lot of New Zealander ‘consumers’ are starting to use it, usually sparked by an event or reason to be there – job based research, getting married, dinner party recipes etc. Once people are there, it’s usually something they come back to time and time again. But its looks like New Zealand brands are slow to adopt.

International brands that are already making their mark on Pinterest include:

ASOS – Followers 15,692 | Following 69

Online fashion site ASOS states on its page ‘Welcome to the ASOS Pinterest page. Here, we'll be pinning inspirational products and people we heart.’. It’s boards consists of trends, celebs & event based themes and competitons. So lets talk competitons. All brands are trying to do it, but I think ASOS does it best. Currently they have a competiton running – ASOS loves [insert name].

With three boards available to pin from – all the images are scrambled. Participants must select a board and then re-pin the images onto their own Pinterest board, to recreate the original image, allowing them to guess the celebrity. Once they have guessed, they must then rename their Pinterest board ‘ASOSLoves’ and insert the name of celebrity in the unscrambled image. Pretty damn clever. Pity the prize is only worth a 20% discount voucher!

Other competitions they ran were:

  • Rucksack challenge – People are asked to take a picture inside their rucksack. Most interesting wins!
  • Mid season steal – People are asked to make their dream ASOS sales board, repinning their favourite clothes. Winner won $200, better than a 20% discount!

Pinterest, a perfect positioning tool, ASOS are able to align themselves as trendsetters, bumping themselves to the front of the line.

Sony Electronics – Followers 9,870 | Following 1,805

Sony’s page is more like an ode to the Sony brand. Sharing interesting, creative and innovative bits and also paying homage to the old school Sony ads. This site is not about selling product, its about remaining relevant & close to the Sony customer.

Elle Magazine – Followers 33,430 | Following 19

Elle uses Pinterest to drive brand awareness and engage with its readers and stay relevant and meaningful.

"Elle joined Pinterest a little over two weeks ago, so we're really in the infancy stages here and seeing what works and what doesn't," Mr. Pollock said. "What works for Facebook isn't necessarily working for Tumblr, and what works for Tumblr isn't necessarily working for Pinterest. With each one of these platforms, it's just a completely different behaviour and different need, and we try to approach each one with different objectives. So far, however, the results look promising. "We are seeing traffic increases and high engagement, and it's great branding for us to get our content out there," said Mr. Pollock Editorial Director Vogue"

Showing commitment to the platform, the magazine have hired ‘pinterns’ to do the pinning!

Whole Foods Market – Followers 80,207 | Following 1,152

The Whole Foods Market is an example of a brand who not only drives brand awareness (by pinning products they sell in store) they also pin items relating to a lifestyle that can be achieved by shopping at their store. Their Pinterest board is very much a reflection of the brand and its healthy, organic, sustainable and recyclable values.

Here are other ‘best in breed’ case studies of brands that are pinning and winning!

At a local level, Pinterest has been a slow build. When searching for New Zealand brands on Pinterest, only a few brands come up when serching for New Zealand, with the majority attracting only a small handful of followers.

This could be due to:

  1. The accounts are only in the early stages of establishing themselves within the platform
  2. The accounts were created and then left and not used. Suggesting a lack of understanding around the platforms benefit and its use

Let's take a look at how some local brands are using Pinterest:

ASB – Followers 70 | Following 78 | Boards 16 | Likes 0 | Pins 121

ASB has a new Pinterest account, it looks like its focus around pins is centred around driving greater awareness of its sponsorships. However it has boards that focus on careers, branches etc. It feels a bit confused and looks like they have no current strategy in place.

Air New Zealand – Followers 1,810 | Following 18 | Boards 19 | Likes 7 | Pins 532

The Air New Zealand board has a clear strategy, it provides a personality and feel for the product & the service. It’s boards are focused on everything from what the plane looks like ‘meet the fleet’, to destination ‘where we fly’, to paying homage to its key sponsorships ‘Lord Of The Rings’, WOW etc. 

Superette – Followers 793 | Following 18 | Boards 21 | Likes 1 | Pins 715

Superette is a popular fashion boutique. It uses Facebook well to generate awareness around new products hitting the store and new designers that have come on board. It has around 31K followers on Facebook but Pinterest is trailing far far behind. That said recently they launched a ‘summer offer’, $20 off if you subscribe. Quite clever really, click on the image and it goes directly to the source within the website where you can redeem your offer, that's the kind of integration that you want with Pinterest. 

House Of Travel – Followers 6 | Following 18 | Boards 4 | Likes 0 | Pins 35

House Of Travel’s Pinterest board looks like it is the very early stages. Some would question whether it would be detrimental to have a Pinterest board up and live when so few pins are being featured. Travel ranks highly in searches and repins on Pinterest, so it could be viewed as a missed opportunity. 

So how can you use Pinterest to drive your brand?…

Pinterest does not allow direct sales, so think of it as a brand building tool. A way to stay relevant to your audience, and position yourselves at the top of your category. Making it perfect for both service and product based brands. Here are a couple of pointers to help you on your way:

  1. Create boards that include your audience: Either with your product or in a lifestyle they may want to achieve in conjunction with your product i.e take investment products, folder for wealth management could have images of people relaxing on a beach, happy and comfortable.
  2. Product pins: If you are a product, how about creating boards showing your products. If you pin it straight off your webiste then when users click on your link, it goes directly to your site.
  3. Group specific pinboards: You can make pinboards that relate to an audience segment – ‘Going on an OE?’ ‘saving for that first home?’, ‘retiring’. Perfect for a service orientated brand.
  4. Cross promotion: Promote your content from your Facebook, blog or website on Pinterest. If you pin it directly from the source, then that means when people click on the pinterest image it goes direct to your source. Widening your reach ten fold!
  5. Ease of use: Make it easy for people to pin from your website. Include a “Follow Me on Pinterest” button to your website and blog as well as a “Pin It” button. This makes content more shareable and drives a wider audience.
  6. QR codes: How about storing all your QR codes into one Pinterest folder, with the QR codes going directly to the website, its another way to get people enagaged with your brand in an interactive way.
  7. Research and inspiration: Pinterest is a valuable research tool and to generally get inspired, think big and be different.

So why don't you hop on the Pinterest brand-wagon? Here is the link to login and get started

Got to pin it to win it!



Priyanka Sareen 27 December 2012 at 11:28am

Great article Bridge. You're spot on in saying those who are getting it right are understanding what their audience are looking for, taking it beyond just product and service shoving. They are taking time to share content that engages customers and gives them the control in how they'd like to interact with the brand - be it competitions or trends or even linking to their site. It's important to get a strategy in place to get it right, otherwise your brand is just an 'unpin' or 'unfollow' away.

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