Pinterest: Electronic Hoarding or Free Advertising?

New social media tools are popping up everywhere lately, and businesses are definitely taking notice. Pinterest is one of these rising tools that businesses are learning to use as a method to build and expand their brand. Pinterest is currently the third most popular social networking site in the U.S. in terms of traffic and it is retaining and engaging users as much as 2-3 times more efficiently than Twitter was at a similar time in its history.

This site began as a place for users to collect images and pin them onto various different boards such as ones relating to fashion, home decorating, recipes, and even wedding planning; however, it has grown into much more than just a place to share images. Some could argue that Pinterest is just “electronic hoarding” but Pinterest’s actual mission is to “connect everyone in the world through the ‘things’ they find interesting and to reveal a common link between two people.” Pinterest can help create said links between people and businesses, while also helping to define their “personality” at the same time, thus making it an ideal tool for connection. However, the endless possibilities of this new communication tool have businesses eager to see the opportunities that may come from this gargantuan sharing outlet.

One of the aspects of Pinterest that entices businesses so much is that it isn’t all about pinning someone’s personal pictures onto their boards. Pinners are not only posting their own personal pictures, but they are also constantly posting images of their favorite products or goods. Because the image directly links the user to the site it originated from, this acts as a platform for free and easy advertising. Businesses can ultimately thrive because of the added traffic to their site. For example, there are some businesses in Wilmington such as Edge of Urge and Fedora Boutique that have been able to successfully adapt their communication style to promote their brand because the general interests of their businesses fits into the interests of Pinterest users.

On the other hand you have businesses like the British Airline BMI, that can’t use Pinterest in the typical way other businesses can, so they are forced to come up with more creative ways to use it to their advantage. For example, they have designed a lottery contest for users to win trips to a travel destination of their choice; all they have to do is re-pin a picture from BMI’s website of the destination they wish to visit. This way BMI does not intrude its products on a potential customer, who may not be choosing to play the role of “buyer/consumer” when they are logged in to their Pinterest account. This method gives the user complete responsibility in their involvement with the product and they also have nothing to lose in participating in the lottery. This tactic not only creates more traffic to BMI’s site, but it also entices the user to become more familiar with BMI’s brand.

At the end of the day, Pinterest is still the third most popular social networking site in the U.S and many businesses are using it to their advantage. And why wouldn’t they? With the right strategy, it is a win-win for both businesses and consumers.

Lucy Rojo, Sierra Scellato, Shauna Seaver, Nicole Betterbid, Rachel Betterbid