5 Habits of Highly Successful Brands on Pinterest

It’s been two years since the launch of Pinterest. Most marketers are still trying to figure it out, but there are others that, through trial and error, have found what works and what doesn’t. Here are some lessons from those who are finding early success there.

Promote
Setting up shop on Pinterest isn’t enough. The brand’s site and microsites need to be Pinterest-ready, with Pin-it buttons throughout, allowing consumers to share photos. Thought should be put into the images. They should be high-res, large images of things you want people to share.

Take Zappos, for example. The retailer has integrated Pin-it buttons all over the site and promotes pinning in all it does. Etsy.com also has Pin-it buttons throughout the site, allowing consumers to share anything they find aesthetically pleasing.

“Pinterest, not unlike other social networks, is not a standalone experience. If you want pinning to equal winning, you need to consider how Pinterest fits into your entire ecosystem,” said Adam Kmiec, social media chief at Campbell Soup. “Adding Pin-it buttons on your site is a simple way to start connecting the ecoystem. Evolving to what Lowes has done, including a Pinterest call to action in their TV spots, is the holy grail.”

Be Subtle
Always remember with Pinterest — and all social media pages — that consumers don’t like to feel like they are being bombarded. That means spacing the pins out throughout the day so that followers are not just getting a stream of pins all at once. It also means pinning from various sources rather than one specific site. Another important thing to remember is that the best marketing is the kind that does not feel like marketing at all. A good example is what Whole Foods is doing with Pinterest. Instead of just having boards full of products it sells, the grocer uses the platform to feature its work with its foundation.

Marc Pritchard, global marketing and brand building officer of P&G, summed this idea up well when addressing an audience at Procter & Gamble’s Signal event in Cincinnati in April. He said that brands need to shift the way they market, alluding to the fact that marketers are shoving products down people’s throats. He talked about the need for “more personal, one-to-one conversations with individuals and the communities in which they’re active.”

Although Pritchard wasn’t specifically discussing Pinterest, his comment is very relevant. It embodies this idea of marketing that doesn’t seem like marketing at all. That’s what Pinterest is all about. It’s about an emotional connection with users, through pictures.

Network
Pinterest should not be a one-way dialogue, with consumers just talking and pinning among themselves. Brands need to get involved as well.

Repinning is one of the most social activities on Pinterest, and it’s how any user really builds a network of followers. Pinterest itself suggests creating at least a few boards that cover a broad range of interests as opposed to maintaining a single board devoted to just one topic. Macy’s is a great example of this. Boards include summer styles, culinary ideas, inspiring flower colors and red-carpet inspirations.

“For brands, pinning can be a great way to highlight aspects of your brand that may not come to mind at first when people consider your brand,” Pinterest says in a section of its site devoted to providing tips to brands. “Pinterest can also be a great tool to learn what your audience, users and customers want and like.”

A neat SEO trick is remembering that Pinterest, like Twitter, makes use of the hashtag. Hashtagging pins means that they have a better chance of being discovered through the on-site-search functionality that Pinterest has. Additionally, the @username feature lets brands communicate directly with their fans. This is a great way to cultivate the heavy pinners and ensure they keep up the pinning.

Be Social
The best way to get insight into what consumers expect from their Pinterest experience is to ask.

For example, The Travel Channel created boards on its Pinterest accounts only after it asked its Facebook fans what types of boards they would like to see and the types of things they’d be most willing to pin. Bergdorf Goodman asked Facebook followers to complete the following sentence of Facebook: “In the morning, I never forget …” The luxury retailer then pinned consumer responses via images here. That’s one way of getting to know what consumers want on Pinterest. But according to Kmiec, analytics are a must.

“Just because Pinterest doesn’t have built-in analytics doesn’t mean analytics don’t exist,” Campbell Soup’s Kmiec said. “Startups like Pinerly, Curalate and Triple Lift are filling the analytics gap. If you can’t track it, you can’t measure it, and if you can’t measure it, you can’t evaluate and optimize. Pinterest, more than any other social network, gives us a direct line of sight into the hopes, wishes, desires and passion points of people. There’s more value in understanding what people pin and why than getting them to pin your content.” 

Integrate
It’s long been the holy grail of marketing. Integration is the term that’s easy to preach, hard to practice. With digital media channels exploding, it’s more needed than ever. A Pinterest page that’s an island won’t do much for a brand.

Feminine hygiene brand Kotex used Pinterest to bridge the online and offline worlds. Its “Inspiration Day” campaign targeted 50 influential female Pinterest users for whom Kotex curated a tailored virtual gift — hand-painted vases or kitchen utensils with the signature Kotex icon — based on the consumers’ pins and interests. Kotex then rewarded the women who pinned their virtual gifts on Pinterest by sending the actual gift straight to their real-world front doors. All of the women who received the gifts posted something about it either on Pinterest or on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. The campaign resulted in 2,284 interactions on Pinterest and 694,853 interactions in total.

“If you are a retailer with both brick-and-mortar and digital business channels, your ability to understand how individual customers are engaging and transacting with you across channels and address each customer based on that holistic view can clearly differentiate your business,” said Elana Anderson, executive director of cross-channel marketing solutions for IBM’s enterprise marketing management group.