I started using Pinterest about a year ago, soon after graduating from college. The first time I went on the site, it took me all of five minutes to become hooked. I had to wait four days to receive my invite, which was as agonizing as standing in front of the microwave waiting for my food to reheat. I remember thinking, “I’m so thankful I did not discover Pinterest until after I got done with school.” Why? Pinterest is a procrastination haven because the site is beyond addicting. If I knew about Pinterest during my college career, many papers and reading assignments would have been completed a lot closer to deadline, because I would have been pinning instead of writing and reading.
People Are Pinning in Record Numbers
It’s hard to explain to someone who hasn’t been affected by the Pinterest pandemic exactly why the site is so captivating. I think it has something to do with the eye-catching photographs and the fact that you can access a wealth of information through Pinterest—from how to replicate a Wendy’s Frosty at home to how to paint snowflakes with pine needles. The numbers prove that Pinterest is popular: unique visitors increased 2,702% from May 2011- Feb 2012. The site reached 10 million monthly unique views faster than any other standalone site in history.
Pinterest: Depleting My Bank Account Since 2011
I initially used Pinterest to find recipes, but after perusing the “Women’s Apparel” category, I found this pin:
I ordered these immediately. Now, Pinterest has become one of my go-to sources when looking for new products—and not just fashion-related products. The site features a wide array of merchandise: home décor, items from various types of Etsy shops, gadgets for the tech savvy, books, music memorabilia. It has introduced me to several online retailers, four of whom I’ve purchased multiple items from. Before I discovered Pinterest, I shopped online every once and a while; now that I’ve become pin-happy, I do almost all of my shopping online. This led me to thinking about Pinterest, marketing, and sales. Was I an exception to the rule, or is Pinterest turning other users into paying customers as well? And, is Pinterest a valuable use of time and resources for businesses? That is, does Pinterest pay?
The Pinterest-Profit Connection
Here is the research:
- Pinterest accounts for 40% of social media driven purchases (Facebook accounts for the other 60%)
- Buyers referred from Pinterest are 10% more likely to buy something than visitors referred from other social networks
- Those buyers spend 10% more on average as well
- Pinterest tops Twitter when it comes to getting info about products, finding out about new merchandise, and seeking advice and recommendations (Source: Mashable)
- 81% of women trust blogs and Pinterest; 73% trust Twitter; 67% trust Facebook (Source: AdWeek)
- Online U.S. consumers report that they follow an average of 9.3 retail companies on the site, compared to the average 6.9 retailers they follow on Facebook and the 8.5 retailers they track via Twitter (Source: National Retail Federation)
Marketing on Pinterest does pay. Two of the most interesting findings in my opinion: Pinterest tops Twitter from a marketing perspective (even though Pinterest was established nearly five years after Twitter) and people trust Pinterest. This trust might stem from the lack of both advertising and incessant self-promotion on Pinterest. Brands are very transparent on the site. Consider Whole Foods, which has close to 41,000 followers. The Whole Foods Pinterest account raises brand awareness and creates brand affinity, but the account is more about promoting a lifestyle rather than selling a product. Authenticity is actually a hallmark of Pinterest etiquette.
To Be Continued…
It looks like I’m not alone when it comes to using Pinterest to find out about new products. Pinterest can pay, but like everything else, businesses and websites need a winning strategy, one that fosters trust among consumers. They also need to pin things that stand out and catch people’s attention, pins that make people stop and click on them. Those can be anything from the bedazzled sandals above to picturesque landscapes to infographics. My next blog post: how to be pinteresting.