Thursday, August 30, 2012

How Pinterest Will Evolve for Business Marketing

Pinterest will be the hottest social media platform for business marketing…in a year from now. 

Despite the hype and the record-breaking growth rates, as it exists today, Pinterest is not ready for business marketers; the demographics are wrong, the categories are too consumer focused, and there are significant copyright and measurement issues to overcome.   

As it stands today, Pinterest is following the “next big social media thing” strategy of getting the audience first, and figuring out the business model later.  That audience for now is mostly women, who are, as Ryan Deshazer, VP of Search and Social at GSW Worldwide described in a recent post, doing “social scrapbooking.”  However, within that audience there are also business decision makers.

As Pinterest’s internal analytics capabilities evolve those business decision makers will become known, and when they do, the marketers will follow.   As a result, Pinterest could quickly become the best social platform available for business-to-business content marketers. 

While other platforms such as Twitter and Facebook, are mostly content distributors (sharing), Pinterest’s platform has the potential to offer far more value as a content aggregation and curation tool, as well as a content destination and repository.   Here’s why:
  • Scalability and Scanability – the rate of which new content is being added to the “www” is mind-boggling.  According to Hubspot, 70% of bloggers add new content weekly or daily, 500,000 new posts are added everyday alone on WordPress.com   As a result, it’s becoming more difficult to find high quality, relevant content.  The “internet” must evolve in order for audiences to navigate faster through this growing mass of content to find what they are looking for, which opens the door for Infographics and Pinterest.  By making content visual, it also makes it more scanable.  The average person reads between 200 to 300 words per minute, but visually it takes only 1/20th of a second to process an image.  Pinterest platform accelerates the process by aggregating and organize images by category or theme making it easy to search. 
  • Valuing Content – business marketers are constantly wrestling with trying to understand the value of their content (relevancy, insight, utilization, etc.) based on how and when it’s consumed by various audience segments.  Lacking a closed loop system to provide feedback, it’s been difficult to know exactly what resonates, with what audience, and why. Curating content naturally within Pinterest provides marketers the opportunity to capture deeper insights into audience consumption habits.   For example, business marketers tend to organization content along the “buying process,” which is typically defined by steps within the sales process.  Marketers may find that business audiences within Pinterest organize and consume content by categories defined as “applications” -- how they intend to use the product, and not how they will buy it.  This insight could help define the real purchase path and key influences along that journey.    
  • Audience Insight - lastly, and perhaps most interesting, will Pinterest have the ability to provide “affinity data”?  As Scott Bayer, CTO of Baynote wrote“individual pinning choices are interesting, but there is even greater opportunity to analyze segments of people who express an affinity for a product or category in aggregate.” 
If available, this information could allow marketers to create new segmentation clusters based on common interests, which could help improve messaging and targeting.  “Clustering” could identify brand advocates, key influencers and connectors, local “hot spots” and new ideas for reaching them.   

While we still have some time before Pinterest evolves there are few things to consider now:
  1. Integrate “Pin it” button into your website - it will do nothing for conversions, but it may drive some traffic that could provide some insight.
  2. Make your content more visual – if content marketing is part of your marketing plans,  experimenting using Infographics (visit Visual.lyfor a starting point).
  3. Experiment – whether or not you’re a believer in social media platforms, the fact remains that Twitter and Facebook have impacted how we go to market.  Pinterest also holds the same potential to change the way we create, produce and consume content.  Start to brainstorm on what that change might be and/or what you might like to change given its functionality. 
I realize that there are skeptics out there, I might even be one, but as we’ve learned with other social media platforms, if you don’t think it’s valuable tool, then you’ll be right…it won’t.  Pinterest holds great potential for business marketers, but that “potential” will only realized by those who seek to define it by experimenting…or dare I say, “pin it.”  

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