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This chapter is from the book

From the Field

We reached out to business professionals who use Pinterest to get their take on how Pinterest affects their market. As mentioned, many B2C companies find success by integrating Pinterest into their strategy.

Many people have already brought Pinterest into the mix, and we talk about specific case studies and results in Chapters 5 and 6. But we can learn from others’ successes and failures.

So, we ask:

What’s your take and opinion on Pinterest?

Sharon Binford of Shoplet.com (see Figure 4.6), http://www.shoplet.com, an online retailer for office and business supplies, says:

  • “While the majority of our sales are B2B, a good portion of our business is done directly with customers.”

    Figure 4.6

    Figure 4.6. Shoplet’s Pinterest profile (see also Figure 4.7). To learn more, visit http://pinterest.com/shoplet/.

    Figure 4.7

    Figure 4.7. Shoplet’s Pinterest boards

    “Recently, Pinterest has changed its stance on self-promotion. In response, companies have started to build profiles that promote their wares, drum up referral business, and seek followers.

    “With this recent policy change, where do you draw the line between what’s hot and what’s not on Pinterest? Some companies are taking this change to extreme and merely pinning their products, listing the price, and adding the SKU. Shoplet.com has decided to join the discussion with our own Pinterest account, and we are taking a different approach.

    “ As a virtual retailer of office and business products, and an online catalogue that boasts over 400,000 items, it would be easy to limit ourselves to fun-themed product boards such as: Working on My Fitness, Business Travel, and study, work, play.”

    “However, we have branched out to other areas of the office experience. Who doesn’t love Office Fashion, or get a case of the Mondays, each week? We are contributing to the Pinterest community with more than just our products, and infusing Shoplet.com with some personality.

    “Our personality is derived from our unique selling proposition of simplicity, service, and selection, and that is at the center of everything that we present to our customers. This is why we have devoted several boards to illustrate the benefits of using Shoplet.com and not just push our products. Another Shoplet.com value that manifests on our Pinterest account is our commitment to the sustainability of our customers’ businesses.

    “Our Recycled Office, Earth Day 4/22/12, DYI Upcycle Art, and Outdoor Inspiration boards not only appeal to Pinterest users, but they also say a lot about who Shoplet.com is.

    “We definitely see Pinterest as a benefit. Getting people excited about office supplies is not always easy. Pinterest is a creative way to talk about more than just paper clips, but the whole office experience, as well as the whole office supplies procuring experience.

    “Pinterest is a young social media site that blossomed in the past few months. As Pinterest determines what direction it will take its site, Shoplet.com is proud to be part of the discussion.

    “With Pinterest being so young, it is important to experiment with different ideas on your boards. And, while the site continues to grow, there are a large variety of avenues that will open up for your network.”

Karen Bantuveris, founder and CEO of VolunteerSpot.com (see Figure 4.8), http://www.volunteerspot.com, an online community that enables easy volunteer communication, says:

Figure 4.8

Figure 4.8. VolunteerSpot.com’s Pinterest profile. To learn more, visit http://pinterest.com/volunteerspot/.

  • “We’ve has been using various social media platforms to market VolunteerSpot.com and engage with her community members for several years, building VolunteerSpot’s user base to more than 1.5 million volunteers, mostly busy moms. VolunteerSpot has 6,000 followers on Twitter and more than 20,000 fans on Facebook. Most recently, VolunteerSpot started using Pinterest as a new way to engage the VolunteerSpot community and to add a visual element to email marketing campaigns. VolunteerSpot currently has 12 boards, 128 pins, and over 1,500 followers.

    “Through VolunteerSpot’s email marketing campaign, we prepare monthly email newsletters to send to the community with seasonal topics of interest, tips for active parents and volunteer leaders, and new features updates. This helps VolunteerSpot further engage with their community and drives conversations of their coordination tool users to their social networks on an ongoing basis.

    “By adding links to seasonal Pinterest boards in email newsletters, readers are able to engage with VolunteerSpot in a new and fun social platform. Instead of focusing Pinterest boards tactically about how to use VolunteerSpot, the team creates boards and pins ideas related to events and topics of interest to VolunteerSpot’s community—covering everything from teacher gift ideas, to classroom party tips, to school carnival games, to healthy snack ideas, to ideas for recognizing volunteers and charity fundraisers.

    “ Pinterest has been a huge benefit for VolunteerSpot.com in helping new potential users find VolunteerSpot and engaging current users with new and interesting ideas related to their personal GOOD work.”

By preparing a network around deliverables, your Pinterest account will grow with your crowd. Integrating different models, such as email marketing campaign, will help not only grow your social networks, but your business as well.

We went in depth to uncover the history and goals of a company using the social networking tool. Following are questions and answers we asked Amelia Lerutte, a social media strategist at iLoveDogs, Inc. (see Figure 4.9), http://www.ilovedogs.com/, a dog products and lifestyle brand dedicated to educating pet parents on all aspects of enjoying life with a canine companion.

Figure 4.9

Figure 4.9. iLoveDogs, Inc.’s Pinterest profile. To learn more, visit http://pinterest.com/ilovedogsinc/.

  • How long has the company been on Pinterest?

    “ Our company has been on Pinterest since November 2011. ”

    How did you go about gaining followers? Was there a strategy? Are they mostly personal acquaintances of the company members (including gained through Facebook or Twitter linking) or people who found you via Pinterest?

    “ To gain new followers, we generally Tweet or post a link on Facebook to our boards. This strategy worked really well in the beginning, and as we continued forward with Pinterest, I found that liking or commenting on people’s photos helps gain followers as well. ”

    How much of what you pin is your own product, or that of vendors you have business relationships with, and how much is repinning from random sites?

    “ On our boards, we pin our own products and stories, as well as cute, random pictures of dogs. As for a ratio, we repin about 70 percent of the time onto our dedicated ‘Pawesome Repins’ board and we pin our own content the other 30 percent of the time.

    “ This strategy for pinning helps show that your company’s Pinterest has personality, color, and that you care about what your followers are pinning. ”

    Do you track the referrals from Pinterest to your website? If so, how? Have you seen an increase?

    “ We track referrals using Google Analytics. After getting started in November, Pinterest has been a steady traffic referral in our top 10 referring sites each week. ”

    In your opinion, does Pinterest have an advantage as a business tool over Facebook and Twitter?

    “ One advantage Pinterest has over using Facebook and Twitter for business is that it allows us to see the various dimensions of our readers’ personalities. We love seeing what fashion trends and recipes they love and that inspires us to pin cute and creative pictures of dogs. ”

    What advantages does Pinterest offer your business?

    “ One advantage Pinterest offers our business is that it allows us to connect with our readers on a whole new level. We get to see more of their personalities, what they like to watch, and what they want to cook, and it gives us insight into what our readers like that a platform like Twitter doesn’t allow us to do. Pinterest is perfect for two-way communication.

    “ For B2C companies, Pinterest is a great way to foster your connection with your user base, as well as show off new products and their surprising uses. But how can Pinterest aid your company if you are primarily B2B? ”

B2B Model

Companies that use Pinterest in the B2B market are currently few and far between. Although social media has proven to be capable in driving interest for brands that cater directly to this market, they are still passive to the idea of Pinterest. This type of passive social nature is not indicative of what social media represents.

Instead, media offers an opportunity to strategize and share details pertinent to your business. Being a business that works directly with other businesses, this market tends to be tight. That is, the strategies between the two industries don’t always coincide. One example comes from Shrita D. Sterlin, chief executive and brand officer at Penn Strategies (http://www.penn-strategies.com), a full-service, boutique communications firm specializing in branding, public relations, and marketing campaigns (see Figure 4.10). Sterlin says:

  • “As a B2B, we are using Pinterest to track visual issues and themes that are gaining popularity. Pinterest enables us to gauge the zeitgeist of users by tracking the most popular images, videos, and other content that individuals are pinning to their boards at any given moment.

    “With people browsing one another’s boards for ideas, leisure, or inspiration, the platform is fertile ground for new concepts and trends.

    “ We are also using Pinterest to identify visual elements for branding and positioning. Pinterest, like other social media platforms, allow us a prominent stage to showcase swag and an assortment of other client-branded materials.

    “ Beyond that, Pinterest provides a window onto images, colors, and textures that are resonating with users.

    “ This surface-level psychographic information can be useful for fine tuning campaign branding, collateral, and other online marketing or promotional materials.”

Figure 4.10

Figure 4.10. Penn Strategies’ Pinterest profile. To learn more, visit http://pinterest.com/pennstrategies/.

As mentioned, the visual themes of Pinterest can really capitalize on any industries that need to see and experience products directly. This really applies toward the growing ability to share the processes involved with whatever your company creates.

This goes a long way toward developing your brand, as you can generate awareness by organizing your creative assets. In addition, it is a great benefit to allow your customers to share your images and allow you to track them.

Marisa Brayman, director of Web & Marketing at Stadri Emblems (see Figure 4.11), http://www.stadriemblems.com/, a family-operated supplier of custom embroidered patches and promotional products, says:

  • “Our company is a mix of B2B and B2C. Most of the time, businesses want embroidered patches, but we also provide them to organizations such as the Boy Scouts of America and nonprofits, as well as bikers and other clubs.

    “Pinterest works so well for the type of business we have. And our company, which sells embroidered patches, is a little unique, allowing us to have an interesting Pinterest strategy. By pinning the images of these embroidered patches, we can generate massive amounts of interest.

    “ The key is that individuals don’t have to have an interest in embroidered patches, but rather, what is depicted on the patch. If we pin a patch that showcases a well-known phrase or quote, for instance, most people who see it that relate to it will repin it. If we make an entire board full of animal patches, animal lovers will follow us—not because they love patches, but because they love animals.

    “ This expands our reach and increases the chances we’ll get seen by individuals who actually are interested in embroidered patches, thus driving more traffic to our site. So, both types of pinners are valuable.

    The pinners who are not interested in our products are valuable because they increase exposure to those who are. It’s not often that an uninterested person will click the link to our site, but those who want patches will; therefore, most of the traffic is high-quality.”

Figure 4.11

Figure 4.11. Stadri Emblems’ Pinterest profile. To learn more, visit http://pinterest.com/stadriemblems/.

A B2B model is elevated by thinking of business leadership decision makers as consumers in their day-to-day lives, and reaching them as individuals who make decisions within their organizations based on their daily interactions.

Jessica Kupferman, CEO and founder of Badass Biz (see Figure 4.12), http://www.badassbiz.com/, a digital marketing company that helps business owners and entrepreneurs set up easy-to-use, low-cost, and great-looking web and social media marketing solutions, answers the next set of questions.

Figure 4.12

Figure 4.12. Badass Biz’s Pinterest profile. To learn more, visit http://pinterest.com/badassbiz/.

  • How long have you been on Pinterest?

    “ I’ve been on Pinterest since June 2011, so about eight months. ”

    Did you create a Pinterest with the intention of using it for your business or did that idea come to you after making an account for personal reasons?

    “ No, actually, my sister was pregnant with twins last summer and on bedrest and she spent the summer using Pinterest for possible nursery decorating ideas. She had me sign up for an account so that I could help her decide on things. Since she’s on the West Coast and I’m on the East Coast we couldn’t do it together. ”

    How did you go about gaining followers? Was there a strategy? Are they mostly personal acquaintances or people who found you via Pinterest?

    “ At first they were just people I was connected to on Facebook, and then I started using Pinterest as a search for things I was interested in, like hairstyles for people with curly hair, I would follow people with boards like that, or interesting jewelry or social media articles. Mostly my followers are Facebook friends I think, or people I’ve followed on Pinterest first. ”

    How much of what you pin is your own product, or that of vendors you have business relationships with, and how much is repinning/from random sites?

    “ I think I pin about 20 to 30 percent of my stuff: articles, graphics, past designs, and wallpapers I’ve designed. The rest is repinning and pinning things I like that I find on the Internet.

    “ I have a board of my favorite resources, and plan on doing one of my favorite tech tools like email marketing or WordPress themes, but mostly it’s stuff I like.

    “ I find that it’s more beneficial to be personal, especially on Pinterest, but this philosophy on Facebook has done well for me too. ”

    Do you track the referrals from Pinterest to your website? If so, how? Have you seen an increase?

    “Yes, and yes I have—since January it’s become the #2 referring site for traffic to my website. ”

    In your opinion, does Pinterest have an advantage as a business tool over Facebook and Twitter?

    “ Yes, but only if people are willing to use it for business, and personal. Pinterest is so visual that it’s the first time you can give a feel for your brand and give it a live personality that is outside of just what services you offer and what information you can share.

    “ YOU are a living, breathing thing, and your brand can be that now, too: What foods, gifts, wish lists can your brand recommend? What businesses or celebrities or entrepreneurs does your brand support? It’s so much more than just services and expertise. And that’s what makes it fantastic. ”

    What advantages does Pinterest offer your business?

    “ For me, it offers the ability to share more of a movement—my business encourages small business owners to really show how they shine using digital media—and being able to do that myself is key.

    “ So I can create a visual movement of sorts—pins with ‘swagger’—pins that make the viewer feel confident, cocky, even, to realize that they themselves are “bad ass” at what they do.

    “ That’s our mission and [Pinterest] helps me reiterate that even more through what I’m pinning, what I say about those pins, even what I name my boards. It’s a business person’s dream, if they use it the right way.

    “ By focusing on how a brand can gain traction from having their name spread out into the digital community, you can take advantage of the ripple effect.

    “ Even though it might seem like B2B companies have much less to do on Pinterest than B2C companies, our interviewees show that B2B brands can still thrive. But what if you’re not in the business of making money? ”

Nonprofit Organizations

Non-profit organizations have just as much an opportunity to use Pinterest to generate awareness for their brand. The idea of creating a brand for your nonprofit is not against the mission of your company. Developing a system to share the message and news of your organization can offer great dividends toward your platform. So how does a nonprofit take advantage of a social market that can drive an audience to its brand?

Kate Brodock, executive director of Digital & Social Media at Syracuse University (see Figure 4.13 for the Pinterest profile at the university), http://www.syr.edu/, says:

Figure 4.13

Figure 4.13. Syracuse University’s Pinterest profile. To learn more, visit http://pinterest.com/syracuseu/.

  • “We use Pinterest to reach out to our entire community: alumni, current students/faculty/staff, prospective students, etc. We see the platform as allowing us a space to be:

    • Very visual.
    • Very lighthearted.
    • And very fun.”

    “Several of the important things we’ve thought about using this platform (which is important for any organization trying to use it, for-profit or non-profit) are:

    • Don’t make it a direct repeat of your other platforms.
    • Make sure that as many pins as possible are connected back to your brand in some way (whether it’s to the website, one of your other social platforms, or is simply labeled with your brand).
    • Make sure that the platform is integrated with your other platforms, and is not just a standalone solo.”

As you can see, the market for nonprofit organizations to use social marketing has great potential. Whether you are in education, healthcare, fundraising, or philanthropy, sharing the news behind business through pins is a great opportunity.

One approach to Pinterest in this industry is your creativity. Think outside the box, and make your boards work for you. There are great opportunities to increase awareness of your cause. Try creating boards around your fundraisers or events. There is also a chance to reach out directly to your potential donors.

Nikki Hess, public relations representative at Health Advocate (see Figure 4.14), http://www.healthadvocate.com/, one of the nation’s leading independent health-care advocacy and assistance companies, says:

Figure 4.14

Figure 4.14. Health Advocate’s Pinterest profile. To learn more, visit http://pinterest.com/hlthadvocate/.

  • “We follow health bloggers and nutritionists, health publications, nonprofit organizations, other healthcare organizations and facilities, and people who simply have an interest in health and wellness.

    “ Repinning from this diverse group (many of whom also follow Health Advocate in return), we’re able to compile a robust set of boards that feature information that health-minded people and organizations are interested in. We also pin and promote plenty of original content from Health Advocate’s own publications, webinars, blogs, and more.

    “ This promotes awareness of and drives traffic to our products and publications.

    “ By having a presence on Pinterest, we are able to reach consumers in a new way, giving them valuable health and wellness information. We are also increasing our brand awareness to other businesses: through our boards, they are able to get a better sense of what Health Advocate does. Additionally, having a Pinterest presence allows our company to be viewed as modern and innovative, as well as more personal.

    “ Our Pinterest boards show that we not only have a wealth of knowledge, but also a personality and sense of humor.”

Humor, creativity, and originality are the tenants that drive views toward your boards. It doesn’t matter what industry you are in, you can use Pinterest to your advantage. The message behind your business is worth sharing. So the big question is, where does your company fall in line?

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