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In previous articles I have mentioned the importance of social media and its role in promoting your showroom business. I personally think it is one of the best, and most inexpensive ways to convey what your message is to your customer. It is a unique way to get in front of them and catch their interest.
With so many forms of social media what is the best one to reach your customers? I personally do not think there is a perfect one so to speak. I think you have to have a combination of different media you are a part of. However, they only give so much space in The Wholesaler so I am going to focus on just one of these today – Pinterest! So I am sure there are a few, and maybe even more than a few that are saying what the heck is Pinterest, and why should I care? So let’s start with the basics.
What is Pinterest?
Pinterest is a company that provides an Internet service that they describe as a visual discovery tool. People use Pinterest to collect ideas for projects and interests. Pinterest is like a virtual bulletin or cork board that allows users to find and curate images and videos. Unlike other photo sharing sites, the emphasis here is on the discovery and curation of other people’s content, not storing your own.
Using a visual orientation, the social network is very much focused on the concept of a person's lifestyle, allowing you to share your tastes and interests with others and discovering those of likeminded people. The social network's goal is to "connect everyone in the world through the 'things' they find interesting." Users can either upload images from their computer or pin things they find on the web using the Pinterest bookmark. This is certainly right on trend with social media’s continued emphasis on rich media — think of Twitter’s enhanced video and photo viewing as well as the recent changes to Facebook’s image viewer.
How does It work?
Pinterest allows you to use visual assets like photos or infographics as a type of social currency in their own right — garnering likes and “repins,” the equivalent of shares or retweets — instead supplementing web pages, blog posts, or other text-based media. You can easily post images from other websites to your Pinterest account using the “Pin it” task bar button, or you can just browse the Pinterest platform to discover, like, or “repin” content others have already posted.
This visual aspect of the site is one reason why it’s captured the interest of so many businesses, from retailers to photographers and designers, who are using it as a portfolio or product catalog. Customers and clients can say which products they love (faucets, sinks, tubs, toilets, bathroom furniture … you name it) and want to buy for themselves, and their friends can further the endorsement by pinning the pictures to their own walls.
How do you keep all your interests separate?
Under each Pinterest account, you can create and curate multiple boards. This is an interesting solution to the problem of having one social media account, but various interests. For example, many people manage two Twitter accounts, one for business and one for pleasure. On Pinterest, you can curate boards that are totally unrelated and it doesn’t unnecessarily clutter your followers’ streams. That’s right, you follow people on Pinterest (like you follow people on Twitter) but you can choose to follow all of a user’s boards or just one — so that you can find the content that’s most relevant to your interests. You know, like your love for toilet design. This type of followship up-ends the Facebook model where content segmentation lies in the hands of the Page or Profile only, not the friend, fan, or member.
Can you control who can pin to your boards?
Yes. You can create boards that only the admin can pin to or boards that allow the admin and other specific people to pin. Or you can create a community board that anyone can pin to. This multi-tiered curation model under a single profile is unique to the platform and one of the reasons why I believe Pinterest has captured the imagination of social media nerds (like me).
So WHY Pinterest, Dion?
I am glad you asked! Pinterest saw incredible growth in 2013 — for the first time ever, Pinterest surpassed email as a sharing medium, and even outpaced Facebook. According to the study, that’s all thanks to the ladies, especially in the Midwest, because 80% of Pinterest users are women. Beyond this, more than 90% of all pins are created/shared by women. There are apparently “15 times more pins by women than by men” on the site. I'm not quite sure why - as far as I can tell, men like looking at photos as much as the ladies, but I suspect it has to do with the fact that in the beginning Pinterest seemed to have been started with interests in the home arts like cooking, decorating, fashion, gardening, and other topics of greater interest to women.
However if you look today you will find there are boards on Pinterest for some decidedly, male-oriented interests like fly fishing, hunting and cars, so I wouldn't be surprised to see the statistics on male usage for Pinterest climbing. If you have an interest of any sort you will find pins and boards for it on Pinterest. My personal boards are a mix of many things such as kitchen and bath, interior design, industrial design and much more including my love of sci-fi and super heroes. Yup and I am comfortable enough in who I am to admit it and even put it out there.
Interestingly, Pinterest is now the fastest-growing platform for online content sharing, according to a new report from online content distribution service ShareThis. The report analyzed the millions of monthly shares made through ShareThis in the third quarter of 2013 across more than 120 social media channels and two million websites and discovered that content sharing on Pinterest jumped 19.2% in the latest quarter of 2013, and LinkedIn sharing grew 15.1%. Facebook saw content sharing rise 14.7%, while sharing on Twitter fell 7.6%.
The new data offers a reminder that businesses should look beyond Facebook and Twitter when managing their social media outreach. According to ShareThis CEO Kurt Abrahamson: "The more advertisers understand how consumers are using all social channels — beyond Facebook and Twitter — the more effectively they can use social media to augment and improve campaigns".
Small businesses can capitalize on the Pinterest surge to market their products and grow their consumer base. Pinterest, a highly visual medium, gives businesses a chance to engage consumers with compelling images and colorful infographics that promote deals and new products. Pinning pictures of employees could also help customers identify with the people who work at the company, putting a face to a name. Small business owners can also help facilitate conversations about their brands online by adding "share" buttons to their websites. These digital icons allow site visitors to easily click and share a piece of content through a specific Pinterest board.
Of all the social networks Pinterest behavior is arguably most in alignment with commerce. People are using the site to get ideas for a wide range of activities from home improvement to cooking to travel. This makes commercial content on the site more “viable” and less at odds with user behavior than, say, on Facebook. Pinterest user behavior is not unlike search activity, though often more “aspirational” and less “directional” than search. They are creating the stuff of their dream, and it just might include you. Well not you personally your business but I think you knew that right?
Through Waterhouse’s Pinterest page and my own personal page I follow many manufactures, showrooms and their boards. They provide me inspiration on products and displays. You want to know who impresses me just check out who I follow on Pinterest. Because they are also showrooms you should also be following like Decorator’s Plumbing, Astro Design Center and The Bath and Beyond just to name a few.
All that said, Pinterest like other social media channels, can help create brand awareness and possibly facilitate website leads. That is the end game, getting the consumer in contact with you so you can convey your story in person! So start pinning and you may just find me following your company and it boards. Until then, have fun!
Dion Wilson, Manager of Waterhouse Bath & Kitchen Studio and interior designer, has worked in the K&B industry for the last two decades. Under his direction, Waterhouse has garnered national attention. He is considered one of the industry’s leading social media experts. Wilson can be reached at 419-874-3519, firstname.lastname@example.org; or www.waterhousebks.com. Find him on Facebook www.facebook.com/Waterhousebks or on Twitter @dion1701.