In the last year, Pinterest has really taken off as a unique and visually entertaining photo and image sharing service. Even without uploading any images yourself, you can quickly put together some pinboards of the things that interest you. Pins contain an image, a short description (which can contain clickable hashtags, and links in itself) and a link to the source.
It’s that last feature – the link – which quickly saw Pinterest become a contender in the “other websites that can send me traffic” category. In fact, in its early days, many were reporting that Pinterest was sending more referral traffic than Twitter. This made a lot of brands and businesses suddenly show pinterest … sorry … interest.
While Pinterest has faced more than its fair share of copyright infringement issues, perhaps the cause for this report from Shareaholic which suggests that traffic is dropping, but Pinterest do appear to be working on features that help to improve the correct credit is retained when an image is repinned (pinning anything from Flickr adds a Flickr logo and a link to the Flickr user’s profile. Pinning anything from Facebook is blocked completely).
It’s only recently that I started putting a bit more effort into Pinterest. When I first started, I did the classic “follow a few popular users” to see what the deal was. I then checked back a few days later and my newsfeed was entirely full of shoes, hair, fashion, cakes and general ‘pink’.
It took a while for me to refine my follows and find a few more people more relevant to my interests to follow, but once I had I sat back and proudly looked at my new ‘much more me’ newsfeed which was full of content that I would really want to discover and learn more about.
I’ve also tailored my own boards a lot more to suit my own interests. Some boards relate to the web, others to cars and bikes. I also have a board that displays photos of New Zealand (bit nervous about losing the credit on that one). Check ’em out by clicking below.
Adding Pinterest Buttons to your Blog or Website
Encouraging others to ‘pin’ images from your own website or blog can help to increase awareness of your blog and can also increase referral traffic to your site. Pinterest provide a few goodies so that you can add both ‘follow me on Pinterest’ and ‘Pin It’ buttons to your website. At this stage the button isn’t as dynamic as, say, the Twitter button, in that it doesn’t display the user’s name. It’s actually just a html link and image. That’s made this post a bit tricky but luckily there’s a standard “Pinterest” button that displays no name at all.
The Pin It button can be a little tricky to set up. If your blog is set up on the WordPress platform, simply search for a good plugin to make things easy (I’m using this one at the moment – so long as I’m still using it while you’re reading this, you should see a Pin button at the top and bottom of this blog post).
Click the Pin button and you’ll be presented with the images from the page you’re viewing. Choose the image, select an existing board or create a new one, add a description and the pin will be … pinned. It will automatically include a link back to the source (i.e. in this case, this blog post).
Businesses Using Pinterest
While the majority of users on Pinterest are using the service for their own entertainment, there are still plenty of brands and businesses using the service. Some in a way that is quite a strong ‘sell’ – you can add an image for a product along with a banner that displays a price simply by typing in a dollar amount as part of the description. That image can then link straight to the product on your website.
Pinterest also has a nice feature which allows you to quickly see who has pinned content from your website. Just swap out your website address in this URL:
Plus you can install a Pinterest tab on your Facebook Page, displaying all or a select few of your boards. Check out Woobox for that. The tab looks like the below (I set this up for my other blog, NZ Raw):
Other businesses are using Pinterest simply to get their brand out there and to show that their brand has personality and is staffed by real people with real interests.
New Zealand Brands on Pinterest
While I haven’t seen many business websites displaying a link to Pinterest, I had a quick play around guessing Pinterest usernames and within minutes I’d found a few New Zealand brands using the service.
No surprises here. ASB have shown themselves to be leaders in their field when it comes to making the most of social media. It looks like they’re in the early stages of experimenting with the service. At this stage they’ve set up 5 boards and have 14 pins.
Follow ASB Bank on Pinterest:
As an entirely web-based company and one that millions of people upload photos to, it’s also no surprise that Trade Me are on Pinterest. Again it looks like early days for Trade Me. 5 boards display a total of 9 pins. Board titles include “The Office”, “Blasts from the Past” and “Cool Auctions”. Could some users get upset if they upload a photo to an auction and it appears on one of Trade Me’s Pinterest boards? I personally wouldn’t – extra attention for your auction would be great. But some people might be funny about it.
Trade Me look like they’re set to be a pretty cool brand to follow. Their office looks very modern and trendy and, to some degree, you could almost determine the state of the nation by viewing current cool auctions and comparing them to past epics – like the classic ‘handbag’ incident. I hope they get the scary washing machine on there soon as well. The birth of viral in New Zealand.
Trade Me also have a separate account for Trade Me Motors. That one contains some great looking cars and is worth a follow if you’re an automotive fan. Cans can make for great pins as they’re obviously so visual.
Follow Trade Me on Pinterest:
Follow Trade Me Motors on Pinterest:
Other than those, I haven’t come across too many other New Zealand businesses on Pinterest. Even the above two – very ‘web 2.0’ companies – don’t appear to be using the service in full force yet.
If your business is on Pinterest or if you’ve seen a few good Kiwi brands on there, feel free to leave a link to them in the comments below.
Air New Zealand
Another hugley ‘socially-aware’ brand. Air NZ are so into social media that they have a separate blog specifically built for it, entitled The Flyng Social Network.
Unlike others, Air NZ also feature a ‘follow me on Pinterest’ button on their blog which suggests that they’ve had a good play and they’re pretty happy that they’re ready to push follows on their Pinterest boards to the general public.
As a service that’s all about travel, in some ways they have it easy. Boards include those dedicated to New Zealand photography as well as a ‘Meet the Fleet’ board for aircraft interior and exteriors, a board for locations that Air NZ fly to, a board dedicated to ‘retro’ photography, and more.
Follow Air NZ on Pinterest:
International Brands on Pinterest
Overseas, a few brands are already full-swing when it comes to setting up their Pinterest presence. An interesting one for Twitter fans is Hootsuite. They have 28 boards and 418 pins although a fairly low 145 followers. To be honest, I think they could do with re-arranging their boards slightly and eliminating some boards altogether.
Anyone interesting in Hootsuite is going to be interested in Social Media. They have a ‘Social Media Best Practices’ board which I’m sure would contain some useful tips, but it’s relegated to the second row. The top row is dominated by owl boards. Owls & Crafts, Owl Chow, Wild Owls, and Owl Wear are the first 4 boards. It doesn’t stop there either, there are heaps of other owl boards further down. Ok Hootsuite, we get that your mascot is an owl. But… 15 boards dedicated to owls? Seriously? “Owls that come in handy”? “Owls at work?” Hmm. I think a fair few people will find their boards a bit off-putting at first glance.
Starbucks are far more onto it. Their boards recognise the interest of their fans in relation to their own products. At this stage they have just 8 boards and most are related to coffee and cafe culture. This appears to be paying off well for them and they have over 2,200 followers.
The Problem with Pinterest for Brands
Two big problems for brands that use Pinterest are reasonably serious ones, especially considering Pinterest’s history with copyright issues.
These two problems are related to each other:
- There’s no way to recognise a brand Pinterest account as being official. Twitter displays a blue tick next to a select number of brands and celebrities and clamps down on anyone pretending to be someone else without stating the facts in their profile.
- Username squatting already appears to be widespread on Pinterest. It looks like it’s quite easy to take a brand name and use it for your own.
It looks like the problem exists for some pretty huge companies as well. I didn’t spend long trying but the usernames for Ford, Audi, BMW, Coke and even Apple were all already taken by personal users. A couple of others look like they’ve been set up different like Pinterest. Trying pinterest.com./facebook will take you straight to the Pinterest app on Facebook, for example.
On Twitter, it’s reasonably easy for a brand to flex their muscles and take-over a Twitter user’s username if it’s too close to their brand name, but so far it doesn’t look like brands have bothered yet for Pinterest. Or maybe they just didn’t have much success when they did try. Audi simply went with AudiUSA instead.
As Pinterest grows and becomes even more useful for brands, this could cause plenty of issues. New Zealand brands could also suffer – TVNZ is already taken by ‘Tia Venezia’. Looks like brands might have to get more creative with their usernames.