Scripps Finds Foodies on Pinterest

Pinterest is the latest social platform to take its turn in the spotlight. With 10.4 million registered users, Pinterest has become a phenomenon, particularly among women.

Scripps Networks is betting big on Pinterest for its pair of food-related properties, Food Network and user-generated site Food.com. Food Network  boards range from seasonal recipes and home gifts to show- and event-specific events, like Next Food Network Star and the Super Bowl. All boards are focused around “Let’s,” for example, “Let’s Watch,” “Let’s Share,” “Let’s Get Healthy” and “Let’s Celebrate: Spring!” Food.com boards range from recipes with a twist on regular things and inspirational/aspirational recipes to clever solutions to everyday problems.

Food Network’s Pinterest account has 24,633 followers, 69 boards and 957 pins. Some pins have been pinned more than 500,000 times and are driving traffic back to the site. In fact, Pinterest is now referring more traffic to Food Network than Yahoo or Bing. Food.com, meanwhile, has 3,677 followers, 39 boards, and 1,182 pins.

“We want to be on all the social platforms that our audience is on, and we also use Pinterest to drive traffic to our website, which we monetize,” said Kate Gold, social media director at Food Network. “We are also hoping to drive interest for our shows. But the big part of it is really brand awareness and being part of a community.”

Food Network claims success with cross-promoting Pinterest on its other social networking platforms. One Facebook call-out drove more than 3,000 new Pinterest followers. Additionally, a call for new board ideas on Twitter resulted in 1,000 recommendations from fans. Pinterest is a top social referrer for FoodNetwork.com site traffic. In May, for example, Pinterest drove more than 305,000 visits and more than 640,000 page views to FoodNetwork.com.

“One challenge is that Pinterest has no insights dashboard, like Twitter and Facebook have,” Gold said. “We have, however, identified some metrics that we look for weekly. We look at which boards have the most traction through followers. We also look at which content gets repinned the most. We use Omniture to see what content on our site is being pinned as well.”

Gold said that Food Network has even been able to outline some key best practices on Pinterest. The first is always thinking about it from the user perspective. Pinterest is based on interests and brands, and publishers need to think about the best, most non-intrusive ways they could fit into those interests. Another best practice is spacing the pins out throughout the day, so that followers are not just getting a stream of pins all at once.

Food.com uses its boards to introduce users to recipes for Easy Garlic Chicken, which has been pinned 675,000 times. Melt in Your Mouth Chicken has been pinned more than 481,000 times. It recently added a DIY Cleaning & Beauty board to its Pinterest account. The board grew very quickly and was cross-promoted in Food.com’s weekly Tuesday newsletter. Food.com monitored and determined who its power pinners were and followed them, began liking and repinning them, and @messaging them. Monitoring the power pinners like Daniel Hunley (with 1,285,969 followers) and Jane Wang (who has 2 929,424 followers) also turned into Food.com’s strategy, with the publisher pinning items it knows its power pinners will love.

In May, Pinterest drove more than 445,000 visits and 555,542 page views to Food.com. In addition, two chicken recipes on Pinterest alone have driven more than 700,000 page views to Food.com.

“It’s fun to watch how Pinterest changes on a daily basis,” said Mark Levine, vp of digital at Food.com. “It makes stars of our recipes over night. It is almost like an informal focus group that helps shape our ideas of what people are looking for.”

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