The PR Potential of Pinterest: Q&A With Jennifer Cario

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Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. Many communicators focus all their resources on those networks, but are they always best for helping them achieve their PR and marketing goals?

Rich media social networks like YouTube, Instagram and Pinterest offer a lot of potential to brands, and Pinterest may be the strongest of the bunch.

We caught up with “Pinterest Marketing: An Hour a Day” author Jennifer Cario and asked her what makes Pinterest so popular and how PR professionals can leverage it.

Q: Pinterest saw a 15 percent climb in sharing in 2014. Why has this network taken off?

Social Sharing Trends - Pinterest for PR

Image from infographic by AddThis.

A: There are two key things at play in Pinterest’s continued growth. I think the primary impact here comes from how easy it is to scan, digest and make decisions about images. Think about running a search on Google. The results are very heavily text based. They require you read, click on, then skim through the content on the page it takes you to so you can decide if you want to stay, or go back and try the next result.

With Pinterest, you are letting your eyes roam over a batch of images, images that allow you to very quickly and easily make a snap judgement on whether or not you think you will like the content you’ll find on the other end of the link. It’s a very different discovery method than traditional searching.

The other thing at play is that concept of discovery as a whole. Over the last decade or so, we’ve gotten very used to the idea that we can find a solution or idea for almost anything with a few simple keystrokes. Pinterest takes that idea and stretches it out into something even stronger. It gives us a place where we aren’t just looking for answers to questions, we’re looking for inspiration triggered by concepts. I think people are embracing that opportunity.

While we might have stopped and looked at the display in an IKEA or Pottery Barn for inspiration of how to freshen up our homes or flipped through a fashion magazine in the waiting room of a doctor’s office to spark an idea on new ways to wear that scarf in the back of our closet…it wasn’t something many of us would actively seek out.

Pinterest has given us the chance to get our inspiration fix whenever we want. We can find, judge and save dozens of ideas in the five minutes while we sip our morning coffee, or the ten minutes we wait in line at the Post Office.

Q: Being an image-based site, should brands use Pinterest only for certain goals, e.g. brand awareness but not mitigating crises? If so, what types of messages will work best?

A: Pinterest works great as a way to be discovered, but it also works very well as a way to draw people deeper. The scannable and sharable nature of Pinterest makes it ripe for social sharing. In fact, well over 80 percent of the content on the site is “repinned” content, meaning content that has been re-shared by someone who discovered it on the site. There’s far more sharing than adding. For brands that are looking for additional exposure, Pinterest offers incredible opportunity.

But when we consider things like brand loyalty and conversions, Pinterest also opens a lot of doors. I’m seeing lots of brands do a wonderful job of showcasing product usage by consumers in a way that drives even more purchases. Showcasing the 27 ways to wear that scarf or the hundreds of recipes that use your food product or the creative ways to use that piece of technology not only creates exposure, it also converts buyers.

Showcasing is really one of the strongest brand messages you can aim for on Pinterest.

Q: Any tips or insights into what sort of brand content works best on Pinterest?

A: Content that shows HOW to use something seems to perform the best. Think of the days of window displays and product demonstrations and light a serious interactive fire under those ideas. That’s what we’re seeing on Pinterest.

If you are selling “Frozen” party supplies, Pinterest is your chance to take the content marketing strategies we’ve all been working on for blogs and to multiply that exponentially. A brand can use a Pinterest board to collect dozens or even hundreds of “Frozen party ideas, while they might only feature a handful on their blog and maybe just one on their Facebook feed. Pinterest is the place where you are not only allowed to dig deep on a single topic, you are pretty much expected to.

Want more Pinterest insights from Jennifer? Register for her “Pinterest 2015: Pin a Winning PR Strategy” now!

Q: Pinterest presents a great opportunity to use user-generated content. What are some best practices for doing that?

Starbucks - White Cup Contest - Pinterest for PR

Images from Starbucks’ White Cup Contest.

User-generated content from Pinterest can be used in much the same way that user-generated content can be leveraged from other channels like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. Contests, compilations and so on can easily be put together from Pinterest content, but I like to see companies take it further.

One of the key ways we use Pinterest for user generated content is actually to use the content as inspiration for new content marketing programs. We’ll scan content and look for ideas for new ways to present content, or we’ll look at board titles to see how people are co-opting the content we’ve created and using it for other purposes.

Q: Recently it was reported that Pinterest is exploring using more ads. Should PRs feel optimistic, pessimistic or indifferent about this? Any near-term risk in the network becoming Facebook with minimal organic reach?

I think there’s a lot of potential to be had with Pinterest advertising, primarily because you pay for clicks, not impressions. This means that with careful bidding and smart image selection, you can snag yourself an awful lot of eyeballs without paying much of anything.

So far, early case studies and numbers are looking strong. I think any network will see a decline in organic reach when advertising is introduced, but I’m not entirely convinced that’s a bad thing. It’s simply part of the evolution of a service and requires us to find new and creative ways to better serve our audiences.

Q: What are some tips for PRs who want to use promoted pins?

Promoted pins are a great way to highlight featured content that has particular appeal to searchers. Knowing that search is one of the top drivers for exposure of promoted pins, and knowing you can target your pins to particular search terms, it’s a good idea to ask yourself what type of mindset someone is in when using particular search terms. User intent plays a huge role in deciding what type of content to put out there.

Don’t miss Jennifer’s Pinterest webinar! Register now!

Image: mkhmarketing (Creative Commons)

Tags : social media

About Brian Conlin

Brian Conlin is a content marketing manager for Cision. A former journalist, he enjoys researching and developing accessible content. When not writing, you will find him watching baseball and college basketball, sampling craft beer and enjoying Baltimore. Find him on Twitter @BrianConlin13.

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