Everyone wants to be a Pinterest pioneer. The allure of 20+ million women madly pinning, re-pinning and endlessly gawking over all kinds of merchandise is irresistible for many marketers.
In the wake of the land rush to set up branded pin boards and become first movers comes the first data on the dynamics of brand interactions on Pinterest, courtesy of Pinsights. Analysts at the Banner Peak Group tracked pinning and virility for 22 retail brands with an average of 30,000 followers who had been on the platform for at least 60 days and had a minimum of 100 pins. The goal was to establish performance benchmarks. You can get the data here.
They found that brands are trying to understand how women use Pinterest and to find the right content and cadence to appropriately represent their brands and engage likely customers and prospects. For example, they identified three basic pinning strategies.
Mavens pin images from sources other than their own websites. These are the guys who aren’t heavily regulated by their legal department. Connectors re-pin stuff that’s not their own. These marketers are insulating themselves from copyright or trademark liability by passing along stuff that others initially found. Showcasers stick to pinning content from their own websites. These brands, like several of my clients, are under strict orders not to create new legal liabilities.
And guess what? Mavens get the most viral pass-along: 60 percent higher than the brands that only pin their own stuff and 30 percent higher than the perennial pass-along re-pinners.
This suggests that Pinterest users are more attracted to how a brand connects with their interests and sensibilities rather than how a brand displays its wares. The user expectation seems to be that collectively we surface and celebrate images that resonate with our friends or reflect our tastes, aspirations, aesthetics, sensibilities and interests. Users voting with the “pin” button are indicating that brands are welcome but not the focal point.
In terms of tactics, brands pinned to an average of 25 boards, pinning 60 images per week. Four out of five of those pins are original content, but 2/3rds are images from websites other than their own. The average title length is five words or less and the average pin description is 14 words or less.
Brands stick to pinning in the official Pinterest categories. The most popular brand categories are women’s apparel, hair and beauty and DIY & crafts. Pinning strategies go from brand pins or re-pins concentrated in a single category to brands pinning across a wide spectrum of categories.
Retail brands have imported Twitter directional/sorting conventions onto Pinterest. On average 28 percent have imported the hashtag (#) into pins but only six percent have used the @ symbol. In general, brands don’t automatically reciprocate when women follow them.
The data illustrates the awkward struggle retail brands face in this new game. Brands are out there looking for appropriate boards to meet, greet and engage their peeps. They are sensitive to being to egocentric and too pushy. Using test-and-learn methodologies and borrowing the conventions from other social networks, brands are seeking out the right openings, the right tags and associations, the right one-to-one call outs and the right inflection points to enter the conversation.
What’s not clear is what, beyond a presence, do brands want to achieve? And what role does Pinterest play in a broader social or integrated marketing plan?
Many brands rushed to Pinterest because of the hype and because that’s where the customers are. Less clear is how Pinterest plays in-tandem with Facebook, Twitter or Tumblr and how a presence on Pinterest might create an experience that synchs up with, compliments or enhances brand assets like stores, websites, catalogs or advertising. If Facebook is about sharing and liking, is Pinterest a variation on that theme or something entirely different? Is Pinterest the vehicle to communicate a brand’s back story, expose its essence, voice and personality and articulate its design or visual perspective?
Virility on Pinterest has its own patterns. Brands using pins from other sources enjoy 50% more virility than images from their own website. Re-pins are twice as viral as original brand content. But only 3% of pins get more than 10 re-pins per 1000 followers. And unlike other social media, the 80/20 rule doesn’t apply. On Pinterest the top 10 percent of pins generate less than 40 percent of re-pins.
It’s about finding things that appeal to different women in different ways. Unlike hitting the “Like” button, which has become an almost automatic response, the content on Pinterest prompts a different consideration algorithm. Re-pinning is a considered statement of self-definition, association and taste. It has a greater ego cost than simply liking a picture of your friend’s kid.
By voting for content with a re-pin, women are announcing who they are, what they value and what they aspire to. It’s potentially a much richer and more predictive connection than simply becoming a friend or follower. And perhaps in this heightened self-revelation lies the key to consumer relationships that brands crave.