Pinterest is a Social Bookmarking service akin to Reddit, Stumbleupon and Delicious but its focus is on bookmarking or pinning visual media (images and videos).
This is an important distinction, through focusing exclusively on photos, images and video, it is one of the simplest sites around to use. It is this ease-of-use that would appear to be significant in stimulating its rapid rise from relative unknown to Social Media challenger.
We will explore the key features of Pinterest, discussing its recent performance and the reasons why we believe this channel has enormous potential for many consumer-based businesses. The performance of this nascent network is breaking all kinds of records:
- Pinterest is the fastest growing website of all time reaching 10 million users in only 9 months 
- Recent figures suggest Pinterest is rivalling Twitter in terms of referral traffic (3.6% of all referral traffic) 
There are 2 important points to make at this juncture:
- We’ve been here before: Pinterest is not the first platform to be heralded as ‘game-changing’ – we were once awash with foursquare articles. And notably, it still trails Facebook considerably for referral traffic (26% or more of all traffic comes from Facebook) and has no where near the user base of a Twitter, Google+ or Linkedin, never mind Facebook’s 850m users.
- But don’t overlook some key differentiators: It is precisely because it only has 13m users that makes the referral statistic so exciting. Pinterest’s users appear to be more engaged and more influential. In fact, Pinterest is not only seeing stellar growth but also stellar engagement – users are spending on average 15 minutes and 40 seconds on the site – nearly double the time spent on LinkedIn.com .
In the US, the Pinterest user base is predominantly Female, aged 25-54, college-educated and reasonably well-off (with a median-income of $50k/annum) . Importantly, this is not the same early adopter audience of other social networks. Arguably Pinterest is attracting a wider, less tech-savvy audience .
The UK marketplace is far smaller than the US, with an estimated 200,000 users and unlike the US the majority are male, for now anyway . This is important to understand if considering the potential of Pinterest for your UK-based customers.
The sorts of themes that are more popular are unsurprisingly, visual:
- Art | Photography | Restaurants (anything related to food) | Weddings | Vacation Destinations | Tourism | Clothing | Home Décor 
And the early adopting companies have very much a US focus and include:
- Whole Foods | Martha Stewart | Better Homes and Garden | Travel Channel | Nordstrom | Gap 
Speaking to a local Scottish textile design company, Pinterest is certainly of interest. Having a platform that can increase the awareness of their niche products amongst a largely female, US audience is attractive. As a design company, the ability to capture ideas (creating mood walls if you like) is also a big plus.
Pinterest has other technical features that make it an attractive proposition for businesses. Links built through images outperform regular text links in terms of click-throughs . The fact that these ‘backlinks’ are automated through Pinterest only increases this phenomenon.
The channel may appear immediately attractive (particularly if you are a brand or business within one of the popular themed areas) and we would advocate getting up the learning curve.
This involves creating an account and getting involved. A few articles are emerging with best practice business advice. Tips such as how to add Follow or Pin It buttons to your site or on Facebook timelines, how to appear in Gift lists or just get found more easily .
Pinterest has also lifted some of its workings from other channels such as the use of the @account in much the same way as Twitter. There is a relationship building protocol to understand and one which Pinterest will no doubt develop over time .
Ultimately, we would advise a strategic approach to this channel that involves articulating how Pinterest will help you achieve core business objectives. A key aspect, is to confirm that your quality customers are ‘hanging out’ here.
As for Pinterest…
It is all well and good having a popular site but being popular may not pay the bills. For companies like Pinterest it is often a balance between making money without disrupting the user experience (heck they have a formula that works). And with this said:
- It is interesting to note that they are monetizing their referral traffic through affiliate site Skimlinks .
- They have also opened up their API for others to develop – no doubt hoping for the same success as Facebook 
We are confident that despite the hype that surrounds this site, Pinterest has enough of interest for many businesses out there. One to keep an eye on.
What are your thoughts or experiences of Pinterest? We would love to hear from you.
Alan, Jim and Vincent
1. 10 Pinterest ‘Pinboards’ You Absolutely Need To Follow
2. Pinterest Rivals Twitter in Referral Traffic
3. If LinkedIn.com Fails in the Social Network Forest, Will It Make a Sound?
4. Pinterest demographic data
5. Pinterest In UK Very Different [Infographic]
6. Pinterest for Businesses and Brands
7. Pinterest Part V: 100+ Brands on Pinterest
8. Why Pinterest is so popular
9. Pinterest and Technology: Not Just for Women Anymore
10. Top tips for brands on Pinterest
11. Pinterest Part IV: Making the Most of Pinterest – Tips and Tricks
12. Pinterest Partner: Yes, They’re Making Money from Pins
13. Pinterest API Release Promises To Be Big Business