Social media for the design savvy: Pinterest

There’s no shortage of press flying around about the world’s newest online network. With 4,000% growth in four months this isn’t surprising, but should we really bother spending time getting to grips with it?

We’ve all seen social networks come and go, so when people start spouting superlatives about another startup it’s easy to cast such comments aside as hype. But then clearly from the opening statistic, Pinterest, the social network in question, is attracting a huge number of eyes to its pages.

More so, it’s pointing them on to even more, with a better rate of referral traffic than YouTube, Google+, and LinkedIn combined. Needless to say then, it can pay to be on the end of those links, but first and foremost it’s important to establish that this isn’t Facebook, or Twitter, or…

As some have put it, Pinterest is a lifestyle brand building site. Not that the developers want business or self promotion to become part of day to day activity on the network, apparently. Which is surprising, as this is a place for people to post things that interest them- be that a photo, video, article or blog- and have it presented in cleanly designed glory, a great way to advertise services or stock.

The real question is whether Pinterest is right for your brand. So far the biggest take up has been amongst women aged 25-34, which is indicative of the way things have a kind of ‘fashion spread’ feel to them, with a clear visual focus. As such without content that suits great video and pictures it’s really a redundant resource, but clothes brands, design firms, freelance creatives, food manufacturers, retailers, entertainment firms, and more should certainly take note.

An estimated 3.3million unique users access the site every month with wheat in mind, not chaff. So only quality posts- or ‘Pins’- are any use, as you’re looking for someone to ‘re-pin’ the content they like from your page to theirs. This means you don’t want mindless clutter, and it’s vital you think in terms of longevity.

Someone may have stumbled upon your Pinterest account accidentally, which means there’s no guarantee they’re going to comeback. Those purely using the platform for advertising experience a far lower number of returning fans and get less followers than those pushing content from other sources. Again, the comparisons with a lifestyle magazine are prominent; it’s about recommending the best to people, and making sure they refer to you as a high standard source; standard social media behaviour, really.

Of course there’s nothing to stop you running competitions, and opening things up to ‘guest pinners’, allowing people to pin whatever interests them to your noticeboard. Take a look at the so-called ‘World’s First Pinterest Campaign’, which saw Kotex use the network to find 50 Israeli women, and what inspires them, before creating individual gift boxes based on what each had on their Pinterest noticeboard. Take a look at the video below:

That’s about as business focused as the network can get at the moment though, so really it’s all about redirecting traffic to your site (the items pinned act as links to the source material). This also means doing the same in reverse, so promoting your Pinterest account via Facebook, Twitter, and all other online outlets is a must. After all, this is a social network for sharing, not simply communicating.