Should brands pin their hopes on Pinterest?

While some big brands have been successfully using the likes of Snapchat and Instagram to market themselves, it would appear that Pinterest has been a little slower to take off here in New Zealand compared to abroad. However, with Pinterest announcing its Buyable Pins which began rolling out last month, we imagine many more brands will jump onboard once they’re available here. Here’s a look at the platform and a rundown of which New Zealand brands are using it.

Pinterest is best described as an online pinboard where users can share photos or ‘Pins’. Boards (much like categories) can also be created which contain a series of collated pins. The site was founded by Ben Silbermann, Paul Sciarra and Evan Sharp and in 2010 and is managed by Cold Brew Labs.

Once users have set up their own boards, users can follow other users’ boards, eventually making the content in their main feed or dashboard more curated.

Silbermann has dubbed the company as a “catalogue of ideas” as opposed to a social network, that inspires users to “go out and do that thing”.

While there doesn’t seem to be any Pinterest spokesperson for New Zealand we have tried to collate some New Zealand information as best we can and have included some US information as a potential benchmark for where New Zealand Pinterest could be headed.

As of February last year Pinterest is now used by more than one in five US adults (21 percent) as well as a full third of US women, according to Marketing Land.

From September 2012 to September 2013, Pinterest drove more referral traffic to publishers than Twitter, Reddit and LinkedIn combined.

The average US Pinterest user has a household income of over $100,000.

And not only is Pinterest a good marketing platform, it’s also a good place to discover what your demographic wants to purchase, by looking at the type of products collected in their different boards. 

We spoke to social media marketing agency Socialite’s general manager and senior strategist Victoria Graves and community manager Lizi Oldham who provided us with some insights.

While there is no official list available of the top New Zealand accounts, Graves and Oldham provided a list of a bunch of New Zealand accounts they’ve encountered which have large followings.

Magnolia Rouge – 16,682 

Country Road – 11,148 

Annabelle Langbein – 11,121 

Air New Zealand – 5,991 

The Denizen Co. – 3,833 

Superette – 2,739 

Glassons – 2,521 

Rue De Seine – 2,412 

Lonely Hearts and Lonely Lingerie – 2,402 

Mildred & Co – 2,365 

Freedom Furniture – 2,297 

Let Liv – 1,422 

Graves says it’s also a popular platform for lifestyle bloggers such as The Style Insider, This is Meagan Kerr and The Modern Girl.

“I think at the moment without that ‘buy now’ functionality it [Pinterest] has mainly been used for brand building, she says. “Air New Zealand is a good example of a brand collating images people might be interested in,” Graves says.

“Their [Air NZ’s] profile focuses on re-pinning content that falls under selling New Zealand with beautiful travel shots, appealing to the plane geeks with a mix of nostalgia (uniforms/posters) and current plane shots and showcasing their human side through introducing staff.”

Graves says The Warehouse has a different strategy that is more sales focused, with the majority of their pins being their own products from the website categorised into boards.

“When you look at The Warehouse that is going more towards the pointy end of retail [uploading products etc]and the ability to buy now will hugely change the outlook to the platform.”

According to Pinterst Blog, Buyable Pins are available to iPhone and iPad users (sorry Android folk) in the US. “You’ll start seeing Buyable Pins all over Pinterest – in your home feed, on boards you love, and in search results. When you spot a Pin with a blue price, that means you can buy it.”

Seeing as the Pins were only announced last month and it’s still early days, there has been no word yet as to when Pinterest will begin rolling them out to other countries, but we’re sure it’ll only be a matter of time until they are available here.

Pinterest also announced “Promoted Pins” which have been available to all brands in the US since January this year, which are essentially targeted advertisements.

Oldham says the platform works particularly well for drawing attention to fashion brands. “It’s a great way to get their look-books out there each season and to spread it far and wide. I think it hasn’t so much been used here but people have done Pinterest competitions as well as getting people to create their own board with the brand’s name, like a look for the season with hashtags and things and it’s a good way to get brands name out there.”

Glassons’ Pinterest.

She says the platform really seems to be taking off among wedding brands. “Bride and Groom magazine [has]quite a large following as well as Mildred and Co which is a registry and Magnolia Rouge a wedding blog ..” 

“Back in the day you would rip stuff out of magazines, this is just another way of collecting,” Graves adds.

Graves says that men are starting to take an interest in the platform. “Last year, globally only five percent of Pinterest users were male, now it’s 18 percent. And it’s still growing as well.”

“They [men]are the fastest growing users on Pinterest,” she says.

We asked if Pinterest could be suited to brands less focussed on retail or beauty like banking brands or insurance. “They would need to be quite creative,” Graves says. “It’s a hugely visual platform so it is quite difficult … Which is interesting for brands to consider when creating content elsewhere.”

She says ASB launched a few years ago with a Pinterest profile. “They seem to have removed that now.”

She says the bank may have found it quite difficult and that the platform does naturally seem to fit better into the retail space.

An ASB spokesperson told StopPress: “Pinterest has a heavy Northern Hemisphere membership base and we made the decision to concentrate our efforts into platforms such as Instagram and Facebook where our community is more active.”

However, the bank is seeing success with fellow platform Snapchat.

Our sister publication, The Register asked Amy Sznicer, owner of Auckland blowdry bar Dry & Tea how her business uses Pinterest.

Dry & Tea have 17 boards and 389 pins and Sznicer says the platform is used in the company’s three salons every day.

“Any brand that’s got any product would be crazy not to use [Pinterest],” she says.

The business has turned away from the usual magazines and hair boards salons normally show their clients for inspiration, and instead shows customers its Pinterest Pinboards on iPads.

The boards include a range of different categories like “Wavy Baby”, “Loose Curls”, “Straight and Sleek:, “Catwalk & Party Ready” and more. The Dry & Tea account has 1,093 followers.

Sznicer says the platform is extremely collaborative as each staff member can use it, adding their own inspiring images to the existing collection.

Overseas brands have used the platform quite creatively. Mashable reported in 2012 British Midland International (BMI) launched a “Pinterest Lottery”. “The airline has posted a series of boards on its Pinterest page, featuring numbered and logo-clad photos from five destinations: Beirut, Dublin, Marrakech, Moscow and Nice. Users are asked to repin up to six images. At the end of each week, the company will choose a number at random; the users who had repinned the image with that number will be qualified for a chance to win a pair of free return flights to any BMI destination.”

Barneys New York encouraged followers of its other social channels to follow its Pinterest page and create a “Barneys New York Valentine’s Day Wish List” board in the Women’s or Men’s Apparel categories. Participants were welcome to pin anything they wanted to their boards, but at least five items needed to be sourced from barneys.com to qualify for the contest. Entries were handled by email.

Mashable notes the campaigns are similar to the ones marketers ran in the early days of Facebook and Twitter when brands offered goods in exchange for likes, shares or re-tweets.

Pinterest co-founder Evan Sharp told the Guardian there had been minimal backlash to Pinterest advertising, which appeared in users’ feeds.

“They’re not really even ads. If you show someone a version of the homefeed without the promoted pins label, and one with it, people might be hard-pressed to pick out which one is an ad,” he says.

“It just gets back to the nature of Pinterest: brands happen to create a decent percentage of the stuff you find, and as long as we keep the format native to the experience, and as long as the type of content feels relevant… It’s not a service about your friends, so brand stuff doesn’t feel like a jarring disconnect.”

While Pinterest is less popular than Facebook, Instagram and Tumblr, eMarketer has estimated its US user base will reach 47.1 million this year, and worldwide it has more than 70 million users.

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