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Think BR: Pinterest - social bookmarking for brands

Can Pinterest make the most of its recent growth surge, asks Lexi Brown, comms planning assistant, Carat.

Lexi Brown, comms planning assistant, Carat

Lexi Brown, comms planning assistant, Carat

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Chances are that by now you’ve heard of Pinterest, the ’next big thing’ taking the social media world by storm.

The site has been around for a while in the US, but its recent growth in the UK has been explosive.

It defines itself as a place to ‘organise and share all the beautiful things you find on the web’.

Pinterest is a virtual noticeboard, where users can pin what excites them in different contexts.

It is another platform allowing users to express themselves using visual content.

The good news for brands is that users are pinning images of things they lust after.

The majority of users, 61%, are lucrative ABC1s. More than half the visitors to the site are aged 18-34.

It is fairly safe to assume that Pinterest is full of affluent users with a high disposable income and a keen interest in investing in lovely things.

Pinterest is also attracting a substantial amount of users who are looking to redecorate their homes or plan weddings and are creating mood boards documenting inspiration.

Food and fashion are also popular niches. The site allows brands to add prices to each pin - generating a substantial amount of referral traffic and offering real business value from smart use of the platform.

Those with an eye for the visual and the ability to sniff out ‘cool stuff’ may be able to utilise that innate sense of style to generate substantial business value for their clients.

In fact digital ad agency Work Club is putting this theory to the test by recruiting a creative director through the site.

And brands could look to inspire consumers through designing creative and ‘must-have’ visuals to drive interest and sales.

To generate additional visibility, brands can connect with influencers who actively like their products, who in turn will expose their products to new audiences who can re-pin the item to their own board if it appeals to them.

This functionality is great for brands launching new products and collections, to get them seen and shared, and offers the tantalising prospect of harnessing the endorsement of users with followers who trust their taste and recommendations.

The company itself has kept quiet about its data, but the RJMetrics analysis, based upon an analysis of nearly one million pins, noted that the site is retaining users up to three times more than Twitter did at this early stage.

No UK brands have really begun to dominate the space yet, although in the US Whole Foods, Mashable, Sony Music and Gap have all made their mark using Pinterest.

The biggest danger is that Pinterest will turn into another social network that failed to really cash in.

Twenty three percent of Pinterest traffic comes from Facebook, which suggests integrating the site as an app in the new Facebook timeline could have helped to drive the recent spike in growth.

Of more concern is the RJMetrics discovery that the quality of new users is declining.

Users who joined the site in recent months are two to three times less active during their first month than more established users were during their first month on Pinterest.

In many ways the rapid growth stage is the most precarious for a new social site. Remember Quora?

There are issues the site needs to iron out, such as the search function that prioritises pins over people.

But if brands with online retail sites can harness it, they could see a surge in referral traffic.

The brains behind Pinterest might do well to position the site as an affiliate marketer for brands - turning it into a social commerce site rather than just another social network.

Lexi Brown, comms planning assistant, Carat

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