Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Pinterest's New Business Pages Befriend Brands

Boards, pins, likes, repins—what does all of this Pinterest jargon have to do with building your client's brand? As a chief brand strategist, you must learn this social media startup's lingo. Pinners are your brand's new evangelists, driving more traffic to your website, stimulating engagement through comments, pins and repins and influencing trends. With Pinterest's launch of business pages on November 13, brands with an aspirational, visual content focus that want to speak to a female audience now have another way to engage consumers. As a Medill IMC graduate student at Northwestern University, I have experience crafting social media best practices for brands and as an avid pinner who follows her favorite brands on Pinterest, I have firsthand experience with the platform.

Image source: Curalate Insights

With a 56% increase in unique visitors year over year ( and with 11.7 million members as of May 2012 (, Pinterest is becoming increasingly influential. Once considered a mere virtual scrapbooking pastime for housewives, today Pinterest is an optimal platform for brands to engage with consumers. An Advertising Age article published earlier this month underscores the importance of brands establishing an identity on Pinterest, especially given the launch of business pages. Brands that were early adopters of Pinterest have already realized the strong correlation between browsing pins on Pinterest and subsequent online purchases. For example, early adopter Real Simple (the magazine with the most followers on Pinterest—over 100,000), regularly experiences surges in referral traffic to its website and bumps in subscription rates because of the popularity of its Pinterest boards.
Its "New Uses for Old Things" board, which illustrates how ordinary household items can be used in novel ways, has over 166,000 followers. One of the board’s most popular pins, a Heinz ketchup bottle repurposed as a pancake batter pourer, generated 390,000 impressions and 4,260 repins. With the advent of Pinterest's business pages and its introduction of two widgets that allow brands to embed pins and boards on third-party sites, brands' potential for reaching consumers across platforms through sharing is amplified.

Allrecipes, the world's largest digital food brand, has experienced the power of pinners to evangelize content and to grow its online food community. A recently published Pinterest case study about Allrecipes demonstrates how Pinterest, when used by brands alongside other channels, including the brand's website and email marketing, creates a seamless experience across touch points and deeper engagement with the brand community. By adding "Pin It" buttons to its website, Allrecipes experienced more sharing of its content and extended the reach of its brand. For instance, Allrecipes redesigned its website during last year's holiday season to include the "Pin It" button above the fold and alongside videos and photos of food, making it easier for people to share content. The results were unprecedented: within three months, more than 50,000 recipes were pinned to its boards, creating 139 million Pinterest impressions and increasing clicks on Allrecipes' Pinterest content by more than 900%. Featuring strong Pinterest calls to action in its email marketing, including "Give it a Re-Pin," to its 6 million subscribers generated a fourfold increase in clicks to Allrecipes' website from Pinterest and a threefold increase in likes and repins. Further, Allrecipes identified key social media influencers—the Allrecipes Allstars—to create and share content on Pinterest, thus growing the passion community organically.

As a chief brand strategist, here are three ways you can advise your agency clients to best leverage their business pages on Pinterest:

1.  Create inspiring content. See Pinterest's platform as a way to further engage your brand's intended audience through captivating visuals and through presenting a specific topic your followers care about. For example, the holidays are a perfect time for retailers to create boards about seasonal trends and gift ideas. Follow Nordstrom’s Pinterest lead in terms of seasonal fashion trends with sales and aspirational visuals.

2. Share your brand’s core values. Express what the brand stands for through boards and pins. That is, what does the business care about? Whole Foods exemplifies communicating its mission of sustainability through its boards on DIY (Do-It-Yourself) projects and volunteering efforts.

3. Build a community. Use Pinterest to get feedback from pins and generate consumer insights. Listen to customers to learn what they want from the brand and keep their recommendations in mind when planning future products and services. Utilize Pinterest to identify brand evangelists who will be inspired by your content and who will share it accordingly, thereby strengthening ties to the community and helping to expand it. Brands such as Z Gallerie host “pinning parties” for pinners to collaborate on boards, creating opportunities for followers to create their own content and to further engage with the brand.

With the introduction of business pages, Pinterest is laying the foundation for an increasingly brand-friendly platform. Social media industry analysts believe that this launch foreshadows the release of Pinterest tools with greater data and insight-generating capabilities for businesses. Pinterest is moving away from a purely editorial model to a more commercial one that brands should embrace to extend reach and drive engagement. Brands, welcome to the new social media trifecta of tweets, likes and pins.

Maegan C. Paniewski is an IMC graduate student at Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism, Media, Integrated Marketing Communications where she is pursuing a concentration in Brand and Advertising Strategy. She is an experienced creative director and photographer and enjoys running and practicing yoga. Connect with her on Twitter @mlotusdesign and LinkedIn.


  1. Great insights Maegan! As a male product manager, it's easy to forget about Pinterest since I rarely visit the heavily skewed female hangout in my own personal online life. However, its potential to reach them (a group which makes up over half of my market!) is undeniable. Now that they have business pages I'm going to reach out to my company's social media team to get Pinterest added to our social marketing stream.

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