Compound Pinterest

Pinterest is the new poster child for social media and the question on the minds of marketers is how to use its platform to hawk their wares.

According to a free Pinterest marketing kit from Marketing Profs currently available on their facebook page, the image-oriented blogging service was recently added to the top 10 in Hitwise’s Social Networking & Forums category, it was the target of over 11 million unique visitors on January 20, 2011 (a little out of date but gives you the idea), up a mind-boggling 815% from six months earlier, and traffic has been growing on average by over 60% per month.

Pinterest’s main user group appeal seems to be in hobbies and crafts, skewed towards females (58%) aged 25-44. Retailers like Nordstrom and Macy’s are tapping in to this by using the site as a visual catalogue for women’s fashion and homewares. Martha Stewart has 11,000 followers. Etsy is the most popular source of pin content.

What stands out is that Pinterest’s performance looks considerably more robust than Twitter’s did at the equivalent stage in its lifecycle. Should the online corkboard continue on this trajectory it is likely to become one of the most dominant forces in social media, if Twitter’s popularity is anything to judge by. Pinterest is retaining users 2-3 times more efficiently than Twitter did at this point in it’s infancy. 80% of pins are repins proving that Pinterest’s virality is almost epidemic in nature. When Twitter was this age, only 1.4% of its tweets were retweets. And Twitter’s decay rate (falls in usage after the initial excitement has worn off) was twice that of Pinterest’s.

This all bodes well for the future of Pinterest in the socialsphere. So, what’s in it for marketers?

Well, according to the Marketing Prof’s kit, Pinterest’s viral nature is driving referrals up the ying yang, more than Google+, LinkedIn and YouTube combined. This is especially the case for food, fashion and furnishings. It’s caught up with Twitter in referral traffic and the growing number of eyeballs on the site suggests that the referral stats will only climb.

Pinterest is compellingly visual and doesn’t provide for wads of sales guff, which means it’s likely to continue to engage visitors on a more powerful emotional level – and keep them. It’s a potentially useful consumer insights tool for brands, allowing them to see who’s liking, pinning and repining what. A presence on Pinterest can also help with your SEO. It’s a huge network and it presents great backlink opportunities.

Some major brands are actively showcasing themselves on Pinterest. Check out Virgin Atlantic and Macy’s. It may or may or not be right for you as a marketer, depending on your industry and resource levels. But it’s free to use and growing in dominance as a social network so it should be on your radar at the very least.

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