Inspired by pinboards and scrapbooking, Pinterest launched in March 2010 and has been generating a lot of buzz in the business world since 2011 as more companies capitalize on the social photo sharing service to build links to their websites and generate additional web traffic. In early 2012, comScore reported that Pinterest had nearly 12 million unique visitors from the United States alone in January and found 17% growth in views from February to March 2012 – making it the fastest site ever to break ten million unique visitors.
With all of these potential customers using Pinterest, how do you tell if this new social media website is right for your business?
The first and most obvious way to tell if you should give Pinterest a look is to examine your analytics logs. Are you already getting hits on your website from Pinterest? If so, someone has probably found an interesting image on your website and pinned it. In this case, Pinterest is probably a good choice for your business.
Other good indicators that Pinterest is right for your business include how many existing quality photos you have on your website and whether you already have high-quality visual content. If not, you will need to re-examine whether you are interested in providing this kind of content. Pinterest is a visual experience for its users, and websites with little visual content will not do well devoting time to it.
When using Pinterest, your content must be highly visual, since a picture may be the only thing someone sees before deciding to visit your website. Pinned images must be compelling, easy to read if they have text, and convey the whole message of the content on the page it links to.
Sites that have images managed through Flash do not work well with Pinterest. If your business website primarily shows images of your products or selling points using Flash, those images will not be pinnable. If you do not have the ability to post images without using Flash, Pinterest may not be the best choice for you. However, videos from YouTube and Vimeo are able to be pinned, so if you use video on your website through one of those services, Pinterest may be a good choice.
One of the biggest benefits for businesses using Pinterest compared to other social media options such as Facebook or Twitter is that Pinterest is more passive and requires less active management in order to engage users. On Facebook and Twitter, messages and conversations are quickly buried beneath more recent content. On Pinterest, content is found and shared more easily over a longer period of time, making the life of its content more similar to YouTube than to other social media websites.
Pinterest is a great social media choice for many businesses with highly visual content, and it has the potential to give your shared content a long shelf life. However, like any social website, it has specific ways of sharing that may not fit your company or your website. As with any social media, it requires consistent management to distribute your important content and works best when you use it to actively engage with your customers.