What’s The Benefit of Using Pinterest for Ecommerce?
A USA Today article published in March of 2012 tells the story of Carl Christensen, a middle aged fine art photographer, and his experience with Pinterest. A self proclaimed social media novice, he felt awkward and uncomfortable boasting about himself and his work so candidly. After little success on Facebook, and some convincing from his wife, he decided to give Pinterest a try. Mr. Christensen discovered that not only is Pinterest’s setup better suited for his personality, but also his clientele’s. His revenue started increasing shortly after he built up his boards, and he was soon attributing a whopping 50% of his site sales to Pinterest!
Christensen sells his products through Etsy, a popular vendor site for homemade goods. So when my own Aunt asked me to help promote her handmade jewelry creations on Etsy last year, I remembered Christensen’s story. I helped my Aunt set up her Pinterest account, and within half an hour she had her first sale. Like Carl Christensen, I was inspired to promote her store using Pinterest because I appreciate its unique structure. While Facebook and Twitter typically use photos to supplement informational posts, Pinterest communicates to users using images. As an individual, you may not have a clue what the hype is over Pinterest, or you may regularly go on “pinning sprees,” yourself. Regardless, if you’re in the ecommerce business, you need to be on Pinterest.
Of the 7 million users currently on Pinterest, 500,000 are business accounts. Like most fairly new social media networks, these numbers are only getting bigger. In fact, as of late 2013 Pinterest is officially growing at a faster rate than Facebook. With hundreds of pins for every category one can think of, your company’s genre of products almost certainly already has an established niche on Pinterest.
Its generally understood that Facebook is the unofficial powerhouse of social networking, especially for businesses. However, recent studies have put Pinterest ahead of Facebook specifically for ecommerce sharing. And unlike the Facebook we have come to know, businesses don’t need to spend money to have success on Pinterest. According to a survey by Gigya, compiled in 2013, Facebook and Twitter do lead social sharing with 41% and 30% respectively, compared to Pinterest’s 20%. LinkedIn and Google+ follow, each with less than 5%.
However, you may not know that Pinterest leads the pack for ecommerce related sharing. Ecommerce shares on Pinterest accounted for 44% of the total, while Facebook followed with 37%. This discrepancy between ecommerce and social sharing is likely attributed to many different factors.
First of all, unlike Facebook and Twitter, Pinterest gathers around individuals who share topics of interest, rather than relationships. Shoppers tend to think alike, whether they know each other or not. Pinterest is not the place to scrutinize relationships between connections. While Facebook referrals do attribute to sales four times as much as Pinterest, IBM’s “Black Friday 2013” report found that Pinterest users spend $92.51 compared to Facebook shoppers’ $52.30, an average of 77% more.
One of the biggest assets Pinterest holds over other platforms is that pins avoid what Business Insider called the “frozen in time” effect. Pins get passed around from user to user, board to board, constantly. A really great pin will never sink to the bottom of a page.
Lastly, while many small businesses struggle to surpass single digits in likes, shares, or retweets from Facebook and Twitter, a pin is repinned an average of 10 times. In the world of marketing, there is no sure-fire formula for success. All the same, the following ten rules have proved necessary to follow by the most successful businesses on Pinterest.
10 Best Practices
1. Have a Business Account instead of a Personal Account
Pinterest offers built-in analytics for your business, which tell you how well pins coming directly from your website are performing on Pinterest. Number of pins, pinners, Repins, and Repinners are all included, as well as the overall reach, impressions, clicks, and visits. Ensure that your brand information is consistent across all platforms. Use a recognizable logo as your profile image, and link your Facebook and Twitter pages to your Pinterest. If you are now suddenly realizing that your Pinterest is set up as a personal account, never fear. Pinterest makes it easy to switch over.
2. Have a Good Variety of Boards and Pins
We know you love your business, but go beyond your products. Do you sell dresses? Pin ideas on how to wear it, different things to wear it with, where to wear it, the best food to eat while wearing it, the possibilities are endless! The best businesses on Pinterest (we’ll get to them later), have a vast variety of pins outside of just their products. Make sure your website’s blog has its own board on your Pinterest page as well. Bounce around between boards, so your pins aren’t too repetitive. No brand is limited to just what it sells.
3. Stay Organized
It may seem impossible when discussing an endless virtual pinboard, but always attempt to keep somewhat organized. It will increase your overall visibility, and your followers will thank you for it. No one wants to sift through a pinboard with thousands of pins on it. When categorizing your boards, be specific. And if you find a sub-category is taking over one board, don’t hesitate to create a separate pinboard for it.
4. Use Quality Images
It goes without saying: prettier images will get pinned more. Photos that are too small won’t garner any attention, and remember that vibrant colors always stand out. Remember that Pinterest is built around images, this is not the place to cut corners on photography.
If you don’t have quality images on hand, feel free to repin others’ images. A word of caution when repinning: Pinterest allows users to change the URL an image links to, and while it’s tempting to link back to your own site, give credit where credit is due. Always be linking images to their original source. Read through, and comprehend Pinterest’s copyright laws to avoid any confusion or trouble.
5. Be Creative
Have you been hearing the word “Pinspiration” more and more, frequently? There’s a reason for that. What inspires you? Pinterest is the place to share your hopes and dreams with your consumers. Try to relate to them. One of the many great things about pinterest is that anyone can take an image and make it their own.
Beautiful pictures are already there, ready for you to apply to your brand. The best way to succeed on pinterest is to make it your own. Don’t be tied down by the limitations of your own brand, and share your inspiration with the rest of the world.
6. Use Rich Pins
Pinterest offers “Rich Pins”. A rich pin is designed to make your pins more useful, they’ll include information like where to find a product, and the price. Rich Pins allow your brand to communicate valuable information more efficiently, as customers can get their questions answered without even having to ask them. There are four types of rich pins: products, recipes, movies, articles, and places.
7. The Pin It Button
Adding the Pin It button to all of your site pages makes it easy and convenient for your followers to pin your products. Normally, an individual would need to pin your site page manually to their own pinboard. Streamlining the process helps you to increase traffic, and it looks more credible to your potential customers. You may be surprised by what the most frequently pinned images are from your own website!
8. Don’t Overdo It
You want your boards to be thoroughly developed, yes, but like most things, there’s a fine line. Just like followers don’t like to be bombarded with too many of your tweets in a day, they don’t want to have to scroll through nothing but your pins of what is essentially the same product in different colors just to get to the bottom of their feed. Best practices can vary, but nobody likes to be bombarded by one single account. Some like to limit themselves to a certain number of pins per day or week. If you’re likely to get carried away and forget the pre-determined number, set a timer and only allot yourself a specific amount of allotted time for pinning.
9. SEO Keywords
Similar to blogging, keep SEO keywords in mind when pinning. Caption your pins with current SEO keywords to make them more visible. When repinning an image, you can always change the caption to make it more applicable for your customers.
10. Engage with your Followers
Commenting on Pinterest boards and images isn’t quite as common as it is on Facebook, but remember that buyers coming from Pinterest usually purchase more. Monitor your page regularly so that if a potential customer asks a question about a product via pinterest, you can respond in a timely and informative fashion. The most repinned, and most clicked pins from your site are both readily available in your analytics. Keep your followers’ behavior in mind while you are planning your boards.
Which Brands are Winning at Pinterest?
As with most things, no one can seem to agree on the best. After carefully analyzing the expert opinions of a few various bloggers, and my own personal preference, the following 5 pinners are deemed 5 of the most influential brands on pinterest.
If there’s one thing we’ve learned from Instagram, its that some people love pictures of food. But for a company that specializes in groceries, Whole Foods’ Pinterest features an impressively diverse selection of images. They demonstrate a thorough understanding of the typical lifestyle of their average follower. The healthy, organic habits exhibited by so many of Whole Foods’ shoppers is represented, but seasons (“Colors of Spring,” “Winter Entertainment,” “Back to School!”), Gadgets, and Books each have a home on Whole Foods’ Pinterest page as well.
Whole Foods also employs another one of Pinterest’s features on their page: shared boards. This enables other subscribers to add pins to Whole Foods’ boards. This aspect of community sharing is in line with Whole Foods’ company personality.
Lowes Home Improvement
Lowe’s Home Improvement leaves no stone unturned in developing its brand’s potential on Pinterest. They explore far beyond just pinning products, but demonstrate all the different things potential purchasers can use their products for. Their boards cover all things pertaining to the home, including gardening tips and “doggie dream houses.” And any blog post about Pinterest would not be complete without a salute to DIY’s. Lowe’s features a “Build It!” board filled with doable home projects anyone can try.
Their page also includes some helpful home maintenance tips, and some not so doable projects that equally exciting to look at, but likely require an expert attempt. Every room in the house has a home on a cleverly titled board and clever decorating scheme.
It’s a rare occasion that I’ll scroll through my Pinterest feed and not see one of Etsy’s many rich pins at least once. Etsy fully utilizes its diverse range of homemade products, and promotes beautiful images on its page.
One clever aspect to observe on Etsy’s page is their boards designated for various guest pinners. Each of these guest pinners (noteable mentions include Martha Stewart, Whole Foods, Refinery 29, and many more) has their own sizeable following, and has created a board of their favorite Etsy finds. This is a great way to engage followers with similar shopping interests.
This is social network sharing at its finest, as it helps connect consumers find products suited for them more efficiently, but also helps Etsy to gain followers from other established Pinners.
Apartment Therapy, a popular blog dedicated to making homes more beautiful, isn’t technically an e-commerce site. However, their page does harness a few of the key practices we mentioned earlier.
Apartment Therapy’s influence is similar to Lowes, in that it fully utilizes follower’s interest in home improvement. They also keep cost in mind, and focus on cost effective ways to upgrade the home. Their page features a variety of boards, with at one dedicated to almost every color a child’s room could be.
This brand isn’t afraid to branch out from their comfort zone. In addition to home DIY’s and gorgeous living spaces, Apartment Therapy hosts boards for creative cupcakes, childrens books, and parenting tips.
One of Sony’s primary uses of Pinterest is to communicate their sense of humor to followers. Boards titled, “I Can Haz Gadgets?” featuring animals and their favorite electronics.
This board is an excellent example of a company utilizing images already on Pinterest, which wouldn’t normally fit in with their typical marketing strategy, to benefit their brand. “So Hipster It Hurts” is another board titled according to current trends, highlighting artsy shots of old-style cameras, and filtered colors. A mark of a great brand, like Sony is the ability to communicate a brand voice using mainly images, and few words.
Each of these brands uses their own recognizable logo as a profile image, and fully explores their consumers interests, even if those interests don’t necessarily match up with the company product selection. They fully utilize their shoppers’ lifestyle and aren’t overwhelmed by the numerous possibilities their brand’s related topics have to offer. Follow these tips, and seek inspiration from some of the best. Your ecommerce business is officially ready to join the exciting world of Pinterest.
Use these pro tips for your Pinterest account to see a boost in your sales and marketing. Have any more tips of your own? Leave them down below in our comments section.