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How Brands Can Use Pinterest to Connect With Consumers

Confession: I am, without a doubt, addicted to Pinterest.

The good news? I am not alone. According to Compete.com, the monthly unique visitors to the social bookmarking site have grown from around 41,000 in November 2010 to almost 4.5 million in November 2011. With the platform’s astronomical growth and brands like Nordstrom, AMC Theatres and Real Simple jumping on board, it’s important for brands to understand the platform and consider whether it is something to incorporate in their 2012 social strategy.

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Pinterest is a virtual pinboard for users to organize and share what they find on the web. Using the website, its bookmarklet tool or the mobile app, users can “pin” an image to the board of their choice. Boards and pins can be organized by topic area and suggested topic areas include wedding, DIY, travel, products, women’s apparel and more.

Pinterest also works as a social network—you can follow other users and their pinboards, repinning or commenting on items you find interesting. If you find something on the web that you think a friend would be interested in, you can tag them as you post. You can also create a board with multiple contributors—a neat way to crowd source inspiration.

Why do I love using Pinterest? It is a great way for me to discover and share new content beyond the results I get when using search.

For example, I got engaged on October 1st and immediately attempted to research wedding dresses. With no prior wedding dress shopping experience under my belt, I turned to Google. Hours of searching continued to bring up the same images of Kate Middleton and Bella from Twilight’s long-sleeved wedding dresses, making me wonder how I could possibly pull off a long-sleeved dress without itching and sweating like crazy.

Feeling a tad defeated, I turned to Pinterest and started following several wedding blogs like Style Me Pretty. After a few months of following them and a few other wedding bloggers on Pinterest, I have a better idea of what I want in a wedding dress… and bridesmaids’ dresses, wedding colors, wedding favors, centerpieces and bouquets.

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(How did people plan weddings before Pinterest came along? I shudder at the thought.)

Pinterest is a visually stimulating way for brands to amplify their content and interact with their audience. Some brands are even sharing content that isn’t directly coming from their website. There are blogs and magazines like Women’s Health Magazine sharing content relevant to their audience. Women’s Health pins books, healthy recipes, and printable workouts.

Furniture and home décor retail brand West Elm organizes their boards by design inspiration, pinning products that they sell and linking to inspiring home design blogs. And Lands’ End is already incorporating Pinterest into a contest by asking for users to create pinboards of their products for a chance to win gift cards.

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What are other ways brands can integrate Pinterest into their social strategy?

  • Travel and tourism organizations can pin inspirational photos of destinations on a “Travel” board.
  • Retail brands can organize boards by color or style and pin photos of outfits using their products.
  • Restaurant or CPG food brands can pin recipes using their product or recreating a product they make.

As customers begin using Pinterest for shopping inspiration, we may see Pinterest grow into an ecommerce site in 2012. Either way, the platform is fun, beautifully designed and addictive for the users. It presents a great opportunity for brands to get creative and connect with their audience on another level.

Happy pinning!

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Laura Watkins

December 23, 2011

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