Pinterest proliferation – how and what brands are pinning

Last month, much was made of the international study published by Experian, the global information services company, on the meteoric growth rates enjoyed by niche social networks. Across the globe, Pinterest and Instagram massively increased their market share.

Pinterest growth rates

Indeed, weekly visits to Pinterest’s website from North American users hit nearly 29 million in July, up from 1.27 million a year earlier. This represents an increase of 2183%.

Of course, from day one, Pinterest was a hit with women and a natural fit for clothing brands, wedding planners, luxury goods and beauty products, giving them a fabulously designed platform to beautifully catalogue their wares.

So while you won’t be surprised to come across boards bearing the names of famous fashion labels and beauty products – other brands in completely unrelated sectors have also spotted the potential of this platform to engage with their audience in new ways. These include Coca-Cola, upscale department store Nordstrom, General Electric, American Express and Accenture.

It’s becoming a playground too for carmakers. For example, to coincide with the launch of its 2012 CR-V, Honda encouraged some of the most active pinners with $500 to get out and live life to the fullest by going cold turkey from the site and taking a ‘Pintermission’ for 24 hours to go out and enjoy themselves. On their return they had to pin pictures from their 24-hour break on their personal Pintermission board hosted on Honda’s page.

Just recently, Volvo US launched a promotion on Pinterest inviting pinners to pin their favourite Volvo adventure for a chance to win the ultimate Volvo joyride. To be eligible to win an iTunes gift card, fuel voucher, clothing gift card, and hotel accommodation, users need create pinboards featuring their favourite roadtrip destinations, stops, outfits and music.

Interestingly, while pharmaceutical companies very rarely, if ever, make a first move in any marketing medium, they can certainly claim early adopter status on this social media platform. For instance, Novo Nordisk, the global healthcare company that specialises in medication for diabetes and haemophilia has four topical boards and 94 pins across them. The four boards: World Diabetes Foundation, Patient Stories, Sustainability and World Haemophilia Day provide a simple and accessible touch point for patients and others to find out more about living with these illnesses and connect with others with similar conditions.

Meanwhile, Bayer Corporation in the US has 85 pins across seven boards. In comparison with Novo Nordisk, their boards seem to be more conventional focussing on Bayer’s Businesses, Sustainability, Innovation, High-tech Materials, Gardening, Bayer Advertising and Science Education.

GE Healthcare has an interesting mix of pinboards while Boehringer Ingelheim has four boards that include picture competitions, a Welcome board and a History board.

Clearly, Pinterest gives healthcare brands a trustworthy and reliable platform upon which to provide patients with easily accessible information simply by pinning images from their corporate sites together with other relevant images from third-party sites. Without a huge investment in time or resources, pharmaceutical marketers can publish a board of photos, videos, charts, infographics and other relevant content to help patients living with that condition. The Patient Stories board from Novo Nordisk for example is a real standout in that it links to videos that feature narratives spoken by real patients who suffer from various forms of diabetes.

While Pinterest does offer brands a nice playground in which to engage with customers, as a marketer you surely can’t add yet other social media platform to your over stretched budget without a definite ROI.

The team from Pinterest wants you to buy into the notion that Pinterest solves the problem of discovery on the web by delivering a curated user experience. What does that mean? Well, whereas Google requires specific search queries in order to yield meaningful results, when you’re not sure what you’re looking for  – such as when you want to find something special for your brother’s birthday but don’t know quite what – Google won’t be much help.

Of course you can go to any online store and browse their range, but if you’re looking for ideas, it could mean trawling through any number of pages and any number of sites before you find something that piques your interest.

Pinterest, they say, helps you cut to the chase. For marketers, opportunities abound to pay Pinterest’s uber pinners to pin an image of your product. If their personal style ties in with your brand, chances are that you can reach more than a million of their followers for a fraction of the price that you would pay a magazine to reach a fraction of that audience.

In an interesting article in Fast Company last week, Greg Fant, chief marketing officer at One Kings Lane, the highly successful US designer home décor and furnishings sale site, says that Pinterest users who find their way to One Kings Lane are three times more likely than the average shopper to make a purchase. He also mentions that referrals to One Kings Lane from Pinterest have nearly surpassed traffic from Facebook. According to research from ecommerce firm RichRelevance, the average sale resulting from a Pinterest user following an image back to its source and then buying the item is $180. This compares with $80 for Facebook users and $70 for Twitter users.

These are certainly interesting thoughts to ponder. For any brand electing to spend time on Pinterest, the most important point is to determine exactly what value you want Pinterest to deliver.


Simon van Wyk
BY Simon van Wyk ON 24 September 2012
Founder, HotHouse Interactive. Tweet him @Hot_House