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

22 thoughts on “Pinterest: Electronic Hoarding or Free Advertising?

  1. Pinterest is a social network that uses some of the 4 P’s. For example, product becomes consumer. Even if one has the best product, it is all about the consumers, which pinterest focuses mainly on through the use of sharing pins. It gives the user or consumer of Pinterest to focus on what they like, which in essence gives them the epiphany that it is not all about the product, it is all about the consumer. It gives the consumer an outlet to one of the 4 p’s which is place becomes convenience. For example, BMI wants consumers to notice the company, which they do through allowing users to have the convenience to look online and click on their upcoming lottery. Two of the 4 P’s are focal points in the use and consumption of Pinterest.

  2. When I first heard about pinterest I did not imagine it would be a site that major businesses would soon have an account on. I thought it would simply be about sharing your interests with your friends in a new and unique way. I think the fact that companies now use pinterest sites to advertise is a great oppurtunity for them. It is creative and shows a unique side to the company that might not be shown otherwise. Also this allows the audience to feel like they are connecting more with the company, rather than just being fed advertisments like they would be on other sites like Facebook or Twitter.

  3. When I first heard of pinterest a friend at work tried to describe to me how it works. You pin items on different boards that you like, find interesting or would want to refer back to. I later became hooked on this website and use it all the time. Not only did the clothing boutique I work at get ideas for upcoming trends to order in our summer wear but I found great recipes and deals on their. I think it is a great middle man for websites, blogs and companies to get traffic and attention to their websites or business for that matter. I recently found a pair of shoes on pinterest that I ordered and they were from Urban Outfitters online. Without the help of pinterest I would have never seen or bought them. I think this is a great way for businesses to boost sales and get more circulation on their websites.

  4. I think pinterest makes it very convenient for the consumer, due to the fact that if you see a picture of something you like, say a pair of boots for example, you can click on the picture and majority of the time it will take you to the website to buy the boots. In that aspect, I would say yes, it is a very good way advertise. However, many people, including myself, pin things that I know I will not be able to afford or have realisticly. So in that way, I can see how many of us do use it as a way to hoard things electronically.

  5. I had no idea businesses were using Pinterest as a means of advertising, and as the article began I pondered how they could possibly do that. But it all makes sense, the statement that said, It’s a win-win for both the businesses and the consumers is absolutely true! I am a “pinner” and love it. I use it to get new, or shall I saw borrowed ideas for creativity in every way possible. It just exposes different images and ultimately I chose which images I want to see. The categories and the people I follow are all chosen by me. So I would say I am at a win. BMI definitely has the right idea, not only are they trying to produce more website traffic but they offer incentive, which just hearing about their giveaways makes me want to go re-pin an image they have. The only downfall for a business that I can see, is not actually clicking on the website. I have over 400 pins and can say I have only clicked to see about 9 or 10 of the websites, and they were all for recipes or how to do a hairstyle. I know a lot of people that just re-pin and don’t look at the source. Overall it is a great source of advertising especially since Pinterest blew up so fast in popularity and I am excited to see where it goes. I may even start clicking on websites to introduce myself to new businesses.

  6. When I first discovered Pinterest I though it was just something like Stumbleupon, but then as my roommates directed me around the site I found it to be much, much more. I have discovered so many new website, recipes, household tips, etc. from Pinterest. Aside from how fascinating it is and how many neat things you can find on Pinterest I think it is a wonderful source of advertising for companies, there are so many companies I had never heard of until I got on Pinterest; I think that it is a spectacular place for companies to get their name known.

  7. I think using Pinterest for advertising is a useful tool for companies and can be useful for users, as Pinterest is currently set up. Because users decide who they follow, I do not feel companies are “intruding” or disturbing the purpose of Pinterest. I follow companies and brands on Pinterest because I like seeing their products and recipes. It works. I get the convenience of seeing what I want to see all one website. The companies are exposure for free. However, my main concern with the idea of advertising on Pinterest is it becoming like the ads on Facebook and Twitter. If Pinterest allows companies to buy ads and throws them in there like Facebook and Twitter, I think Pinterest will loose alot of what currently makes it what is it.

  8. I am not surprised at all that pintrest is the third most popular social networking site in the U.S. now. I am a pretty avid pinterest user. While I see it as a way to get creative ideas from other people all over the world it is also very apparent how it can be used to advertise for anything from clothing to restaurants to art and sell their different brands. I believe pinterest is a very successful website that aids and entertains many people. I see many advantages with it, not only does it serve to entertain and inform its audiance but it also serves as a great way for businesses (especially small businesses) to advertise their products. While social media can sometimes be dangerous for companies I believe pinterest serves as a successful social media site that benefits many different people/ audiences.

  9. I agree that Pinterest is ideal for both businesses and consumers. Lately, I have used pinterest as an online shopping guide, where I find ideas for anything and everything. By attaching sources to the photo, where you simply click the joined website to purchase an item, the businesses are able to benefit from their pictures. Pinterest is also a great example of how holophrasm becomes attached to a brand or business. For example, if I was to search “boho style” or “goth punk” I would find pinners that have a collaboration of those styles or genre of clothing, which ultimately categorizes these brands.

  10. I first came across Pinterest from the website StumbleUpon. This was before it took off, so I mainly saw pictures of quotes, fashion and animals. I barely saw specific products that were being marketed via Pinterest. As Pinterest became more and more popular, I noticed specific brands had not only “pins” of their products, but they had their own accounts to promote their brand. I am also a Twitter user and follow people in the fashion industry. People like Rachel Zoe tweet about contests they are promoting via Pinterest where users create a board that revolves around some sort of theme, and the best board wins the product. This social media site started off like Tumblr, but with “repin” rather than “reblog,” but now it is like an entire website dedicated to advertising, and it definitely works.

  11. I aboslutely love using Pinterest! It comes to no surprise to me that this social media site is ranked 3rd most popular. It has become such a great avenue for businesses to take advantage of this new-age word of mouth marketing. By allowing Pinners to view and share their individual interests, it has created a way for products to be used as a direct connection to others who share similar interests. I believe Pinterest has been able to effectively achieve its mission by connecting people through various products and creative ideas. The boards of individual Pinners express the personality of that particular person through the things that have been pinned.

  12. I think that Pinterest is an amazing way for any business to advertise. When i first heard about it, I thought that it was just another way for people to communicate through social media, now I understand that its just a way for people to gather what they enjoy and think is interesting. One reason that I think it’s an effective means of advertising is because I have recently ordered things off websites that I have found on Pinterest! I agree, its a win-win for everyone.

  13. This is quite the interesting piece. So many businesses have created such creative ways to take a personal or enjoyable site like pinterest and turn it into their own free advertisement campaign. I would’ve probably never thought of doing something like that but it definitely works. Also, I really like how most people are busy just pinning away while they don’t even realize that they are being advertised to. Simple yet elegant.

  14. Pinterest is a great example of the 4 P’s in Marketing becoming the 4 C’s in IMC. It is a consumer based website, although it allows businesses to benefit as well. Convenience is possibly the most evident of these four elements. Once a consumer has found something that they are interested in they have the options of repinning it to a board in their profile or to click the picture which will take them to the original website that the picture originated from. Thus, allowing the consumer to make a closer step in the buying process with just a click or two. Communication is also a big part of Pinterest because followers are able to “tag” another follower into a pin that they believe will be interesting to them. This is can be considered an electronic version of word of mouth marketing. Speaking as a current addict of Pinterest, let me explain the last C–cost, which happens to be my favorite because it is free to join Pinterest. This is a very important aspect because it allows the consumers and businesses to interact freely without the constraint of costs.

  15. I think Pinterest is a great way to build a relationship between businesses and consumers. I had no idea that Pinterest is ranked the third most popular social media site, but I can’t say that I’m surprised. It seems as if almost every conversation nowadays is beginning with “I saw on pinterest that….” or “Pinterest taught me…”Overall I think Pinterest does a great job of utilizing both the convenience and communication elements of the four C’s of IMC. With one simple click of the mouse a consumer can be easily directed to information about a specific brand, whether food/beverage, healthcare, fashion, government etc. Pinterest really has it all. Businesses are able to communicate about their brand in a unique manner, and makes learning about their product both enjoyable and effective.

  16. I am personally a huge fan of Pinterest. At first I was not sure what all the talk was about and I was kind of confused about what the whole concept behind it. After I signed up to create an account and anxiously waited for about a week to receive my invitation to the Pinterest world, I was quickly hooked. Now that I understand how to navigate the site I find it extremely easy and very addicting. I find myself on Pinterest almost everyday for hours at a time. I can see how companies would want to use this site as a way of Advertising. After all, they are getting their message across in a fun and easy way to consumers.

  17. Pinterest is definitely addicting and typically adds no intellectual value to my life, and yet I spend a majority of my free time either on my phone or my computer between classes. It allows you to get everything you could ever want from recipes, memes, and online shopping all in one place, which touches on the topic of “convienence” of the four C’s that we learned in IMC. Pinterest has definitely opened my eyes to a lot of new businesses also through word of mouth. Businesses market well on pinterest well also by the pictures they choose to use. I know I have pinned hundreds of things based solely on the picture it presents, not even looking to see where the website will take me.

  18. Before this blog, I only saw Pinterest as a hoarding website for bored people but this blog has made me see it in a totally different light. It makes so much sense for businesses to use this site for free advertising. Pinterest has, in fact, grown to be an extremely popular site and one can only assume that it will grow even bigger in 2013. I think that businesses, especially small, local businesses, should take full advantage of this site. After all, when does a business get a chance at free, great advertising?

  19. Pinterest has become a convenient way for consumers to look at products and have an idea of what they are looking for so it makes it easier to go shopping. Products displayed on pinterest are useful to stores because they can see what items are more popular than others and know what’s going to create good sales for them. Boutiques can know what clothing items and handbags to sell as well as furniture stores know what items people want to purchase to decorate their homes. Not only is pinterest convenient, but it’s also fun. It’s a way for people to display what they like and communicate with their friends similarities with items and cooking recipes. I am not surprised at all that it is the third most popular social networking site. I have a pinterest and it’s where I go to look for decorating ideas as well as shopping ideas.

  20. Whenever I see a picture of some crafty thing on facebook or instagram, the captions is most likey “pinterest idea!” It has become so popular that people are making the items constantly. I think that if small businesses promote their product on pinterest it would get people to be interested especially if they were not doing as well. With my pinterest account, I have random people following me and re-pinning my stuff and I am not even a business owner. I love it and people should start using it more!

  21. The concept of Pinterest has completely taken over in America. Not only are people making their dinners from recipes they find all over people’s boards, but they are planning their future weddings and deciding what outfits that they should put together. I believe that this website is extremely smart in the way that it combines the act of advertising (subtly) through continual clicks of a picture until you reach another website, and making something personal. You have your own board to share all your favorite things and also keep them organized for you to look at all the time. Pinterest is a very useful tool for large and small companies alike. Once one person has pinned an item from your website, it is sure to be quickly shared with the rest of the country and be continually repinned over and over.

  22. Electronic hoarding is a very good way to describe Pinterest. I would say that at the end of the day it’s a companies biggest promotion, at least to girls and women it seems. By having pictures of their goods and then further having links to actually go and buy the item it makes it kind of like ebay, except better. I’m a huge user of Pinterest, and I’m aware of the fact I won’t actually go and buy every item of clothing I pin to my boards, or try every workout it seems that more and more frequently instead of googling say a black polka dot sweater, I am going on pinterest, searching the product and then finding one exactly like the one I want. This is because it gives you a look at products from many different websites and stores, instead of having to go to a particular stores site to search and having to repeat that process until I find what I want.

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