CK Insights

April 4, 2012

How Pinterest Created a Nation of ‘Pinners’

cooperkatz

I recently picked up Malcolm Gladwell’s book, “The Tipping Point,” written a decade or so ago about how “little things can make a big difference,” or essentially – how seeds of ideas become full-blown trends.

When the book was first published in 2000, we were just starting to see social media becoming a trend unto itself. In the late-90s it started with blogging, as people started to express themselves both personally and journalistically in a shiny, new and engaging platform. Less than a decade later, Facebook and Twitter took the social media world by storm, bringing an even more micro-personal and instantaneous nature to social networking. Now we’re watching it again with Pinterest – a trend spreading so fast that it is literally redefining “word of mouth” as I write.

(Source: Housewag)

I recently picked up Malcolm Gladwell’s book, “The Tipping Point,” written a decade or so ago about how “little things can make a big difference,” or essentially – how seeds of ideas become full-blown trends.

When the book was first published in 2000, we were just starting to see social media becoming a trend unto itself. In the late-90s it started with blogging, as people started to express themselves both personally and journalistically in a shiny, new and engaging platform. Less than a decade later, Facebook and Twitter took the social media world by storm, bringing an even more micro-personal and instantaneous nature to social networking. Now we’re watching it again with Pinterest – a trend spreading so fast that it is literally redefining “word of mouth” as I write.

According to PR News, as of February 2012 Pinterest already had 10.3 million monthly active users, compared to 6.6 million just a month before. Then news hit that Pinterest surpassed Twitter in blog traffic referrals, which had everyone buzzing, including TechCrunch and Mashable.

What is it that makes Pinterest such as hit? Director, Client Services, Meredith Topalanchik, provided some personal insights on our blog recently about how Pinterest has become a daily ritual for her – much more so than other new social network contenders like Google Plus. For me – someone who folds pages in every magazine I read, jots notes in 20 different notebooks and grew up scrapbooking like it was going out of style – this is the best Web creation yet invented. I can’t deny that it’s also in my nature to share my ideas with everyone I know … and yes, also those I don’t know. (If you ask anyone sitting next to me at a dinner party, I’m sure they’ll agree.)

From a business perspective, Pinterest was incredibly smart about their approach from the get-go. Instead of creating a platform that is similar to Facebook or Twitter, which many argue of Google Plus, they took a fresh approach to both purpose and layout – with an emphasis on the visual. And, instead of asking users to yet again build a network from scratch, they joined forces with Facebook to match us “Pinners” with our Facebook “Friends” – taking advantage of the social connections we’ve already established. They also combined the basic elements of social media (which I consider to be a healthy mix of narcissism and sharing), and wove in a beautiful display of imagery that really allows people to dream and be inspired. Why do retailers love it? Well because it is so easy to pin, save, share and click through to Websites – without feeling like you’re shouting over a microphone every time you post something online.
What amazes me is to consider how much Pinterest will likely evolve in ways that may not even seem conceivable at this moment in time. Let’s recall the early days of Facebook, when only college students were allowed to participate. Our profiles slightly resembled personal ads, we poked each other and posted Flair, and we created Facebook groups for everything under the sun. Then photos were introduced, and the whole platform shifted. It suddenly became, “What on earth did you do on Facebook all day before photos?”
Now that Pinterest is here to stay, every PR professional and marketer is asking him or herself what we need to do for our clients. Here are a few things to keep in mind, from one Pinner to another.
1) It’s all about the photos. They should be simple, beautiful and high-quality. As any Pinner knows, you may love a recipe, dress or pair of shoes, but if the photos are subpar, it’s probably not making it onto your board.
2) A picture must tell a thousand words, because the Pinner is likely going to say it in one or two. Let’s take one of my favorite pins “Backyard Movie Night.” Since Pinning it over two months ago to my “One Day” board (because as a city-girl, having a backyard is definitely on my “one day” list), I’ve seen it crop up on friends’ boards with a good five to 10 different descriptions – under everything from the “Entertaining” category to “Home.”
3) It’s not about you as the brand, it’s about the Pinners. Personalization is so incredibly important here, because most Pinners only repin something that they feel a personal connection with or want to try one day – like a new recipe, or a place to go. They are pinning it not just to show others, but also for themselves.
4) If you’re a lifestyle brand and not on Pinterest, you need to get moving…fast. I’m not saying that Pinterest, or even social media as a whole, is the solution to every brand’s needs. Many business-to-business or other types of organizations wouldn’t benefit from a platform such as this. But brands in the home, life, food, fashion or general consumer categories should think very hard about how they can incorporate Pinterest into their social media platform if they haven’t already, and do so as soon as possible. Because if it’s anything like Facebook or Twitter, yesterday is too late.
5) This takes relationships with bloggers to a whole new level. We know how critical it is to engage with bloggers and treat them with respect, and with so many pins originating from blogs, thus increasing their traffic ten-fold, it will likely reshape the blogging industry very soon. We shouldn’t just watch – we should join.

I would love to hear your thoughts on Pinterest as a PR tool. What do you think is next, and how can brands participate?

 


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