5 Reasons Why Pinterest is a Must of Business Marketers

Pinterest is likely to be the hottest social media platform for business marketers—next year.

Despite the hype and the record-breaking growth rates, 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.

Still, there is ample evidence as to why Pinterest could be huge for business-to-business marketers.  In many ways, Pinterest’s platform has the potential to offer far more value than Facebook and Twitter because of its ability to aggregate and naturally curate content. Here are five areas to watch:

  1. Traffic – Much has been made about Pinterest’s ability to drive referral traffic more than Google+, YouTube and LinkedIn. Traffic generated from pinning and repinning is important but most likely benefits small businesses(in particular, retailers). For larger organizations, the following areas may offer greater potential.
  2. Scannability  Business-to-business communication tends to be content heavy. There is a great deal of written content and it keeps expanding. Much like in the consumer world, business decision makers are becoming far more accustomed to searching visually. The Pinterest platform accelerates the process by aggregating and organizing images by category or theme, making it easy to search. For example, we are redesigning a corporate website for a professional services firm. Its “knowledge center” holds a deep repository of data-rich content and is now being reshaped to look like a Pinterest page to make it more inviting and searchable.
  3. Speed – That’s why it is essential to experiment with Infographics (visit Visual.ly for a starting point). As content becomes more crowded and competitive, audiences typically move faster. 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. Mashable’s eye tracking study shows that Pinterest is also changing viewing habits from left to right, to top down the center, improving users’ ability to scan information quickly. Offering a “light visual appetizer” may stop audiences long enough for them to order the full content entrée.
  4. Natural Content Curation – This provides marketers the opportunity to capture deeper insights into audience consumption habits. For example, business marketers tend to organize content along the “buying process,” which is typically defined by steps in the sales process. Marketers may find that business audiences within Pinterest organize and consume content by categories or by a pinboard defined as “applications,” i.e., 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 influencers (pinners) along that journey.
  5. Affinity Data – As Scott Brave, 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 enable 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.

I realize that there are skeptics out there. I may even end up being one, but as we’ve learned with other social media platforms, if you don’t think there is value for the business marketing, there won’t be. Pinterest holds great potential, but that “potential” will only realized by those who seek to define or dare I say, “pin it.”

Can The Fancy Fulfill the Dreams of Pinners

This post appears today on MediaPost’s Online Media Daily

Fancy (www.thefancy.com) is being totted as the next “Pinterest.”  Now having passed a million members, its becoming the social media darling of the digital media.  Add to that an all-star cast of investors, a defined business model based on commerce and you’ve months of hype to come.

What It Is

It combines the transaction capabilities of a daily deal site, like Groupon, with the visual imagery and organization of Pinterest.  Like Pinterest, The Fancy lets users curate and organize images into list or boards.  Unlike Pinterest, users can shop and with a click buy the product at on a third party site.  It’s built with the intent of driving commerce.   The Fancy, like daily deal sites, pushes out a daily email of specials to members.

Pinterest member commenting on a new flash drive

What’s Cool About It

Unlike other social media platforms (Pinterest, Twitter, Facebook, etc.) who first built a member/user base, Fancy is placing a bet on a defined revenue model out of the gate.  And that bet is commerce, not advertising, at least not yet.  As it is today, the Fancy will get 10 percent of each sale, paid for by merchants.


The Flash Drive, mentioned by the Pinterest member, on sale on The Fancy site.

But the real attention getter is the bet it’s placing on the power of social networks on purchase decision.  The “holy grail” for social sites, is the ability to show a direct correlation between brand preference and buying that brand.  Fancy, because of the integration of commerce and an ability to track conversion, has the potential to link intent with purchase.  If successful, Fancy will attract merchants (and eventually advertisers) like a moth to a flame.

Three Reasons It May Not Work 

Although I love the concept, there are several potential risks that could derail its success:

  • Boxed in – The Fancy, unlike others, is trying to build a community around a business model.  It’s a high risk gamble because, as other have seen (Linkedin and MySpace for example), business models often evolve based on users behaviors, which is often hard to predict.   The other question – is Fancy entering a market that appears to be on a downward trend or could it be the next generation of daily deal sites?
  • False Positives–  It’s unclear how users will respond to unsolicited recommendations.  The hope is that followers of users who had post products will self identify and make their intent known.   The risk here is triggering “false positives,” in that, users my signal intent (“Fancy It”) without having any real motivation or desire to make a purchase decision.  Yes, I want to buy the Ferrari you posted, but the reality is that’s not going to happen.
  • Too Cool  – one thing is certain about Fancy, members curate eye-catching products (carbon fiber beach paddles by Channel, for example).   As Tim Peterson of Adweek points out, “Fancy is most useful to trendsetters and tastemakers, particularly those with disposable income.”   But are the products being aggregated too cool for commerce?   To scale the business will Fancy have to aim lower to drive transaction volumes?

Today, Pinterest’s conversion rate is now 3x that of Facebook (1.1% versus .35%).  The big question is will that rate go higher with the integration of a commerce engine, like Fancy?   If so, Pinners just might fancy a transaction on another platform…and merchants and advertisers will be right behind them.