In the mix: Should you be marketing through Pinterest?

When most people think of building a successful social media strategy, they usually focus on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. There are up-and-coming platforms like TikTok that might get thrown into the conversation, but for the most part, marketers will focus their time on the big players.  

With Facebook’s monthly user base of 2.4 billion, Instagram’s 1 billion, and Twitter’s 330 million, it’s easy to see why. 

But a lot of brands fail to consider online scrapbooking tool Pinterest, which now attracts more than 300 million people a month, all looking to be inspired visually, whether it’s to find out how to redecorate their home, host a themed dinner party or make their own wedding invitations.

“Pinterest brings everyone the inspiration to create a life they love,” Pinterest Australia and New Zealand country manager Carin Lee-Skelton says. “This means not only inspiring people online, but also enabling them to get off their phones and do more in their lives.”

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Pinterest allows users (or Pinners as Lee-Skelton calls them) to create boards to pin images to. These could be ideas for a project, a wedding, a new wardrobe, or just images they want to save for later use.

Four million pins are saved in Australia and New Zealand each day, and billions of searches occur each month, Lee-Skelton says.

So, what’s in it for business? 

Pinterest launched almost 10 years ago, but lately, the social media platform has built in handy new features specifically for businesses to engage with customers. 

“Pinterest is unique for businesses of all types and sizes because of the mindset of our Pinners, the timing of when you are reaching them, and the context in which ads are surfaced,” Lee-Skelton explains.

Because Pinterest acts as a personal scrapbook, content that populates a user’s feed is based on their own personal interests, rather than what their friends or family is doing, or what has happened in the news. 

“There is a unique and positive mindset where people are open and undecided to new ideas,” Lee-Skelton says. 

By reaching a customer when they are in this discovery phase of a budding project, businesses have the opportunity to be a potential answer for a question – rather than a means to an end. 

Furniture online retailer Koala has recently begun focusing on Pinterest and now attracts 644.1k monthly viewers to its page a month. 

“Pinterest’s audience is actively looking for inspiration at stand-out moments in their life,” Koala brand manager Annika Messing tells Inside Retail.

“From home inspiration after moving or buying their first houses, it covers unique events that need planning and action. It is a platform that inspires DIY – recipes, decoration, craft – Pinterest users are looking to get specific inspiration.”

According to Messing, while Koala has had a lot of success on other social media platforms, the furniture retailer really only started utilising Pinterest in earnest earlier this year. 

“We had success in running a giveaway to encourage people to post their favourite bedroom styling. It created great engagement and increased the number of followers.”

According to Koala’s paid social media manager Isabelle Zonderland, the platform functions as a great way to reach the upper funnel of customers, and as such, their main focus is on creating brand awareness rather than pushing for conversion. 

“So far, we have had a larger conversion rate coming from Facebook or Instagram. In saying this, we only actively started investing in paid ads on Pinterest mid-June in earnest this year,” Zonderland said.

“It definitely offers a value for the marketing mix, especially considering the relatively low costs on CPMs, it is a channel that is worth it to discover further.”

Looking forward, Koala’s head of performance Phil O’Connor explains that as the retailer’s offer grows, the business will continue exploring what the platform offers. 

“Koala is relatively new to Pinterest. Early results are promising, however, and as our product range expands to include furniture products for the whole house, we expect Pinterest will become a critical channel to reach customers,” O’Connor says. 

Pinterest’s audience is somewhat unique in that it is aligned with what advertisers are looking to accomplish. According to Lee-Skelton, people go to Pinterest for the discovery of products and new concepts, and in turn, advertisers are also there for Pinners to stumble upon. 

Interestingly, Pinners also tend to search the site in terms of an idea, rather than a specific brand. In fact, 97 per cent of the 1000 most popular searches on Pinterest are unbranded, providing a massive discovery opportunity for brands. 

Customers searching for ‘engagement rings’ for example, rather than a specific-branded ring, are likely more open to trying a new product. 

Pinterest has been taking a more focused approach to its brand and advertising support over the last year, introducing new features such as videos, and the ability to integrate third-party e-commerce platforms such as WooCommerce and Square Online Store.

And the platform is just getting started, having opened an Australian office recently in order to better cater to the local market. 

“The more people that use the service, the more local content is generated, and it builds from there,” Lee-Skelton explains. 

“The more local content we have on Pinterest, the better the experience is for people to find ideas that are relevant, and the better experience is for content creators such as businesses who will increase engagement with customers.”

What do Pinners want? 

The top categories on Pinterest are fairly consistent around the world, with most users targeting some combination of food, home, fashion, and beauty.  

“However, the ideas that people are saving in each country is aligned with their local tastes. For example, cheese is the most saved ingredient for food recipes in Australia, but in France its chocolate, and avocado in the UK,” Lee-Skelton says. 

This invariably puts retailers in these categories in a better position to capitalise on the platform, though there will also be more competition.

Furniture brand Castlery, which has operated in Australia since 2017, has found as much success on Pinterest as it has on any other platform, according to country marketing manager Leah Howatson. 

“Pinterest gives really high engagement,” Howatson tells Inside Retail

“As it is quite targeted, the number of people who pin to their own boards is high. I also think this is the nature of Pinterest. People don’t go there just to scroll, they go there to search, pin, and build an inspirational board.”

While Pinterest is a powerful tool for Castlery, it isn’t the only one the business uses, as it’s also found on Facebook and Instagram. However, while the business has approximately 120,000 followers on Facebook, and around 20,800 on Instagram, it sees more than 960,000 unique viewers each month on Pinterest. 

“Strong content on Pinterest needs to be complemented by having it across all inspiration channels. Users don’t just use Pinterest when they’re deciding what furniture to buy, so having strong content is important, but equally as important as every other discovery channels,” suggests Howatson.

The type of ads Castlery runs are tailored to Pinterest platform in order to most effectively reach their target audience.

“[Pinterest users] are at a different stage of their purchase cycle, so often the images and types of ads that perform well on Pinterest don’t perform well on other social media platforms,” Howatson says. 

“In general, the content or message that works on Pinterest is more inspirational and less value or sales based. People go there chiefly to be inspired and put together looks for their ideal home.”

Similarly, Australian fashion brand PS Frocks uses the platform to reach new audiences, noting users tend to use the platform in a similar way to a shopping cart or wishlist by saving items to view or interact with in the future. 

“It definitely helps with conversions, and it also helps customers get to know your brand through pinning and sharing,” says PS Frocks digital marketing manager Kaylyn Taylor.

“We began using Pinterest only a few months ago, and we already have over 400,000 page views. [It’s] more about inspiring our customers and having fun.

“We like to show our fun brand personality on there, share our maxi dresses and jewellery, as well as post what inspires us as a brand, like weddings, hairstyles and beauty.”

However, Pinterest is seeking to expand its offer beyond these successful categories to areas such as travel, automotive, technology, telco and financial services. 

“We’re even seeing categories such as entertainment and restaurants gain momentum, as movie studios turn to Pinterest to launch movie trailers, and we see shifts towards in-home dining,” Lee-Skelton says.

The next frontier 

While the realm of video is largely owned by YouTube, Twitch, and Facebook, this is an area of focus for Pinterest, which has added a new drop-down menu to brand pages that can house video content for users.

However, due to the nature of the platform, inspirational or instructional videos tend to be more popular with viewers – searches for ‘inspirational videos’ rose 31 per cent in the last year.

“On Pinterest, people are seeking videos that help them to discover, learn, take action and be inspired,” Lee-Skelton said. 

“Interestingly, Pinners are twice as likely to view videos to find an idea, product, or service that they can trust compared to videos on other media platforms.”

UK business John Lewis was one of the first retailers to get on-board with Pinterest video, and utilised the platform to reach their target audience – new parents – at a time when they were looking for help or inspiration.

“Pinterest allowed us to execute our audience-first strategy perfectly by allowing us to provide helpful content and support to future parents at the right moment in their lives,” says John Lewis & Partners senior manager of social marketing Eva Bojitos. 

“[We’ve] always seen Pinterest as a key platform for increasing brand awareness and purchase intent. It was no surprise at all to have this supported by such amazing brand uplift study results.”

According to a post campaign study, John Lewis & Partners saw a 20 per cent increase to brand awareness, as well as a 33 per cent increase to customer purchase intent.

“With millions of people around the world coming to Pinterest to discover ideas to try, video can be one of the best tools for helping them bring those ideas to life,” Lee-Skelton says.

“We’ve always led with the idea that our service is about creating a life that you love. We want to help give you inspiration for the big and small things in your life, from discovering a new recipe to trying a bold new beauty look.”

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