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Pinterest for B2B Marketing - What Are You Waiting For?

April 11, 2012

If you're waiting for the dust to clear from the recent furore over Pinterest's copyright infringement issues, before jumping in, think again. Your competitors are moving in. In a previous post, 'What's The Point of Pinterest,' I blogged about the opportunity for brands to use this social networking site as one massive canvas to study consumer behaviour. What a treat to be able to listen to users saying, 'This is how I want to decorate my home' or 'these are the places I want to go'. This time, I'd like to address the B2B marketing sceptics. Here's why you should be 'Pinterested'(I know, I know, I had to use that word!):

1. It's cleared the 'another social media fad' test. You've heard the stats - today, Pinterest is driving more traffic to websites than Linkedin, YouTube and Google+ combined. Yes, the audience was primarily female when it started and the boards were mainly about home interiors and fashion, but take a look at this infographic (via Kerrmunications - thank you Claire) that shows the difference between Pinterest users in the US and UK and see the potential from a B2B perspective.

Key takeaways are:

• The UK user base is skewed to a higher male population, with higher net worth and a broader interest base.

• Based on its current track record and growing unique visitors, we can expect this demographic to expand further based on content made available.

Can your brand really take the risk of being left out? It's not about having a presence, it's about giving your audience an option to reach you on their turf, where they like to hang out, similar to the idea of using Facebook pages or a YouTube channel.

2. The cost of entry is low, you need to move fast to create brand thought leadership. Ask yourself what are the major transformational themes impacting your industry today. For e.g. if you are in IT, chances are Cloud Computing and Big Data are two themes dominating your mind space. Go to Pinterest, put these words in the search bar and see what you come up with. It's likely you'll find images and videos from challenger enterprise IT brands attempting to own this space, act as the voice of the industry and offering audiences a more 'human side' to their company with visuals of their workspaces, their people, their culture and values - the things that define who they are as a brand.Click here to see how IT firm, VMware, is creating a space for itself around themes like virtualisation and cloud computing as part of its bid to compete for industry market share.

3. Drive traffic and generate leads. In an era of big data where we're constantly 'interrupted' with brands' push-marketing campaigns, Pinterest extends Seth Godin's concept of 'permission marketing' where we can allows customers to interact with our brands in their own time and at their own pace. Like other visual marketing friendly platforms like Flickr, brands can use Pinterest to share highly visual content (e.g. an infographic with results from a survey or a research study), offer sneak previews of their presence at major industry events (by sharing images of the stands and specifying when and where they can be accessed at the stands), show-off high impact events and share customer testimonials and drive referral traffic. Unlike Flickr and other visual platforms, you can build inbound links to drive people to websites, blogs and microsites and reap SEO related benefits.

However, here are two things you need to keep in mind before building a business case to use Pinterest:

1) Don't be a drive by pinner. Like any other content platform, you'll need a steady flow of content - whether fresh or existing visual material, that needs to be built into a content calendar. Chances are you've already got a great social media content calendar and can extend your reach by using Pinterest as another platform to place the more image friendly material created. Once you've started pinning, you'll need to monitor comments and respond to queries on an ongoing basis, similar to other content platforms. Moreover, you'll need to study trends in pinning to understand how you can add value to conversations or to the community, rather than just promoting yourself.

2) Don't treat your engagement with Pinterest as an experiment. If you do, chances are you're not going to resource it appropriately and will end up handicapping yourself from the start. Understand the resources you need and have them in place from the start. I'm sharing a tip from a book by Kipp Bodnar and Jeffrey L.Cohen'The B2B Social Media Book', "you'll always need more time and money than you expect for executing your social media tactics"(you can buy the book by clicking on the link!). But done properly, and integrated with a well thought out piece of inbound marketing strategy linked to your business objectives, Pinterest has the potential to deliver annuities on your marketing spend.

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