Imagine combining the visual aesthetic of Delicious with the sociability of Twitter. Now throw in the organizational sophistication of Google+, with a pinch of Facebook integration, and you’ll have cooked up what looks to be the web’s most promising up and coming social media platform.
Between the rapidly growing user base, the simplicity of the platform’s integration across other social media tools, and the sheer quality of the content that is being created, Pinterest is serving itself up as a fantastic new opportunity for web users to communicate their passions. With such opportunity in mind, let’s dive in to exactly how it is that we can use this tool to build an organic community in a matter of clicks.
What Is Pinterest?
The Pinterest About Page sums up its description the best. “Pinterst lets you organize and share all the beautiful things you find on the web.” Think of it as a social scrapbook for organizing and sharing all the things on the web that fascinate us.
It all starts with a ‘Pin’. A Pin is a single item that a user tacks onto a ‘Board’ that has been specifically customized to hold all of the Pins that pertain to a specific topic. As soon as a Pin hits the Board, the magic begins. Users can search, share, tweet, Re-Pin, and comment on everything that they can easily find on the site.
Not impressed yet? I don’t blame you, it sounds like every other social media craze from the last two years…until you take into account the fact that Pinterest’s growth rate right now is explosive! The platform has increased its user base by 40x over the last six months alone, and Time Magazine is even referencing it as one of the top 5 social media companies of 2011. That being said, the developers behind this project have begun restricting their own growth rate by creating an e-mail waiting list for new applications, just so that they can space out the rate at which people join the new site. As if this site wasn’t cool enough, it’s now exclusive!
How can I use Pinterest?
Pinterest is easy to setup, and even easier to use. Start by getting an account (don’t worry, the waiting list is only for a few days to keep the servers from crashing), and creating a topic board that centers around a specific topic that you are passionate about. Add a few Pins with some clever descriptions and you’re done. It gets even easier when you take into account that there’s a simple plug-in for Google Chrome that lets you Pin things from all over the web, and a Mobile app that lets you do it from the comfort of your IPhone.
Are you already managing a website, and hoping to integrate Pinterest functionality? No problem! Between RSS compatibility and the embedded sharing functionality, you can integrate a Pinterest board with your web-page in as little time as it took you to patch in Twitter.
Who Uses Pinterest?
Simply put, young women use Pinterest, and they use it a lot. Take a look at these Alexa stats:
Now don’t get excited guys, this isn’t a dating site. But those are some pretty confident statistics for an extremely valuable demographic. It’s no wonder that topics surrounding fashion, photography, and aesthetics are the most popular boards right now.
So who is using Pinterest right now to access these demographics? Martha Stewart for one. Martha’s already managed to attract 29,000 followers with only 10 Boards and 108 pins. Alternatively, arts and crafts mogul Etsy has jumped in with over 1,100 Pins spread across 27 Boards. Etsy’s use of the platform leverages the aesthetic appeal of its products to engage its consumer base, while still indicating the commercial nature of all of the items listed through use of the ‘price tag’ feature.
By allowing users to include a price tag to an item, the platform leaves the door open for retailers and independent designers to show off their most viral designs. The Gap has also begun experimenting with this sort of consumer engagement by emphasizing the design elements of its fashion lines. In one of its Boards, the Gap identifies individual lines of clothing with the designer that styled the work in the first place. In another, they draw attention to design enthusiasts that bring the brand to life. Lastly, they include an extremely promising Everything In Denim board that demonstrates the versatility of how a user can draw attention to their brand, without simply listing products and prices.
How to Benefit Most from Pinterest
Looking at how it is Pinterest is coming along as a community, there are some obvious best practice trends emerging that indicate how users should contribute for the most impact.
- Specificity: As with most search-based platforms, specificity is key. Make sure to organize content in a way that focuses on a single topic, so that users know exactly what they’ll be signing up for if they follow you. Think of Pinterest as providing you with an opportunity to further build upon your role as an expert in a given niche.
- Visual Emphasis: Pinterest lends itself mainly to visually pleasing content. The Pins themselves are centered around an image, and thus we can see how it is that infographics, photography, and fashion have all taken first precedent as the most popular topics. Make sure that your Pins look good.
- Content Amplification: By the time you’ve got a Pinterest account, you’ve already got a Facebook page and a Twitter page. Take advantage of the synergies and link them together. Communicate updates across all of the platforms, and try to use your existing presence to suck in more followers.
- Drive Traffic: At the end of the day, it all comes down to driving traffic to some destination. While Pinterest serves more as a discovery platform than a referral engine, it can still act as a powerful tool for building awareness. Take advantage of your creative pins by including a call-to-action in the description box. Even the addition of a price tag is an effective mechanism for subtly suggesting there’s more to be had at a homepage.
Need some inspiration for your latest Board? Think about your passions, take a look around at what other people are doing, and then consider the following as a list of possibilities for going viral:
- Online Cataloging: That’s the obvious one, but it’s effective.
- User-Generated Content Boards: User generated content is one of the oldest tricks in the book. Let people use your board as a way to submit their own contributions with similar topics. Want an aggressively simple example? Think Memes.
- Event Management: Events are dynamic and exciting, which is why they’re perfect for Pinterest. Preview pics, guest profiles, and count-down boards are all in play for event profiles.
- Product Launch: Looking at getting some initial traction on that basement project? Get a Board going and start getting feedback. Engage your potential user base with bios of the staff, functionality Pins, and suggestion boxes.
- Discounting: Pins are almost eerily coupon-sized. Time to load up that Groupon RSS feed.
- Contests: “Pin-To-Win” contests are a fantastic opportunity to build a follower base, and to generate some viral buzz about an offering.
- Media Aggregation: Take advantage of the aggregation functionality of the RSS feature. Pinterest makes organizing Youtube videos a breeze, or juggles a photo gallery into an easy-to-read catalogue in seconds.
Optimizing Pinterest for SEO
As a link-building tool, Pinterest has some pretty valuable features. Firstly, there’s the ease with which a user can simply share a Pin. From there, we can see just how valuable the social aspect of the platform can be when we realize that every single Pin, no matter how many times it is Re-Pinned, always maintains its original link that points back to its originating location. This means that every time your Pin is shared, you get another back-link to your main page. Best of all, these are full-fledged do-follow links, meaning that you get all the link-juice of Pinterest supporting your page for every time that a user shares one of your links. From there, we simply need to follow the standard best-practices for building quality social media backlinks.
For starters, make sure that specific Boards and about pages referring to your profile are keyword specific. From there, be sure to build up the quality of the links from the Pinterest page itself by using an existing description page from an outside URL as your ‘business url’. Lastly, integrate your boards with your other communications platforms as frequently as possible. Facebook feeds, Twitter posts, and blog posts all help to support a strong traffic source for your target page to leverage.
If you haven’t been keeping track of the social media trends yet, let me sum it up for you: this is it. Pinterest is building up a massive community of content-focused users that are looking for anything new and exciting that’s close to their interests. Between the sociability, scalability, and sheer ease of use of this platform, I think it’s safe to say that we’ll be seeing quite a bit more of this product to come in the future.