May 2012 | Vol. XI - No. 5
Connect With Your Customers on Pinterest
Toy co's can connect with influential Women and Moms on Pinterest
In an article on The Next Web, Brad McCarthy says, "You could easily define Pinterest as a way for people to ‘window shop’ for anything that interests them, whether that’s a physical object or something as intangible as quotes. They can then show off their ‘purchases’ (pins) to their friends, and even re-pin and create discussions around what they’ve found. It’s a social shopping experience, disguised as a website full of interests."
Why women (and moms) are turning to Pinterest
Kat Gordon writes a blog from her perspective as both a mother and a marketer, where she says that, "Pinterest is like catnip to women." Gordon explains, "Women – especially those with kids – have a lot of noise in their lives. Most social networks add to the cacophony – with video sharing, podcasts, and music sharing. Even sites without sound have chaos built in. Twitter moves at the clip of Class VI river rapids. Blink and you might miss something. Yet Pinterest is soundless. Something about the sumptuousness of the imagery, combined with the hush of its presentation, creates a deeply zen experience. I feel younger after every visit."
Women trust Pinterest
According to a BlogHer social media study conducted with Vision Critical, a research and analysis firm, 81 percent of women trust the information and advice they find on Pinterest, which is more than they trust information from Twitter or Facebook. ComScore and TechCrunch report that in March, Pinterest reached 11.7 million unique monthly U.S. visitors, “crossing the 10 million mark faster than any other standalone site in history." Perhaps even more importantly, this rise is being propelled by 18-34 year old, upper income women. According to an article in TechCrunch, 97% of Pinterest's 1.8 million Facebook fans are women, and the percentage of women using the site itself may not be much different.
Pinterest, Moms, and Toys
Due to their roles as decision makers in their households and the high influence that mommy bloggers have, this group of women is very important for toy retailers and manufacturers to target. Pinterest has become the favorite place for these mothers to "hang out" online, and they are going on Pinterest to actively search for things that they want or like. Having a Pinterest board is becoming the easiest way to make your products known to these influencers, and all on their own terms. These women are not being advertised new products--they are discovering them.
Build connections to create a community around your business
"Pinning" is the act of "bookmarking" or saving a post, and "boards" are the folders that display each pinned item. Users can upload and pin their own content, repin content posted by other users, or pin content found on other websites. It is important to do all three, to make sure that your boards are as well rounded as possible. According to Pinterest's own list of best practices for brands, "repinning is one of the most social activities on Pinterest, and it’s how any user really builds his/her network of followers."
Pinterest has a community feel to it, and while users can use it to interact with people they know in real life, "repinning" and commenting on posts by unknown people is a common practice. Due to the informal nature of sharing and engaging on Pinterest, it is easy for brands to join in the conversation. In order to succeed, brands must relate to other users as one of their peers, not as a brand trying to sell them something. Users choose to follow other users with similar tastes, so they can find things to pin to their own boards. You want users to see your board as a resource they value, not as a catalog or an advertisement.
Another way to connect with others is by tagging them in your pins by using "@username" in your descriptions. Beth Hayden says in her Pinterest article on CopyBlogger, "Network with other professionals and vendors in your field by using this feature. Not many people are doing this yet, so it’s a great way to build your following and stand out."
If you have a website, add “Pin It” buttons to your products or blogs, so users can find your boards even if they are not looking for you on Pinterest. You can also pin videos, so consider uploading tutorials or demos to your boards.
Promote a lifestyle, not a product
Pinterest designer and co-founder Evan Sharp says in an article for Mashable, “For most consumer brands, the idea behind your brand makes sense on Pinterest.” Mashable writer Lauren Drell elaborates, saying, "Since you’re not supposed to blast pictures of your products on Pinterest, try to think outside the box and pin images that capture a lifestyle and/or the essence of your brand. Pinterest calls for a more holistic approach to marketing, and it can be more effective and engaging than traditional advertising because the consumers can really see how your brand fits into their lives."
If you already have stock/press images of your products, it might be tempting to use them for your Pinterest board. The aesthetics of your board, however, are very important. Beth Hayden says, "Part of Pinterest’s appeal is that it’s beautiful. Enter the lovely world of Pinterest, and all the troubles of your day-to-day life just seem to slip away in a stream of perfect little black dresses, baby otters, and cherubic children who never seem to get dirty or mouth off to their parents." The more natural or artistic your images are, the more likely they are to catch a user's eye, and encourage them to want to show it off on their own board. After all, users do not want their own boards to look like catalogs, either.
Use Pinterest to tell stories, and find relevant places to feature your products
Use your boards to tell stories. For example, instead of making a "Card Games" board, make a "Family Fun Night," board. Then, you can include not only your own card games, but also simple, fun recipes, movie recommendations, arts and crafts projects, and more. Try creating holiday themed boards for an easy way to stay active on Pinterest all year long. For example, on the Alex Toys Pinterest, they have an Easter board with art projects and recipes on it, to which they also have added their own Color & Cuddle Bunny toy. By mingling your products with similar, themed images on a board, customers can see where your brand or product fits in with their lives.
On Mastermind Toys' Pinterest, they have boards ranging from "Dream Playroom," to "Just Plain Fun!" Try to keep your board titles concise and interesting, because they will be shown whenever you pin something new to it.
Worst case scenario: Pinterest won’t drive sales (but it will give your brand personality)
Keep in mind that Pinterest might not drive direct sales for every brand, especially if your products do not lend themselves to whimsical photos, or if they are more traditional than creative. However, remember to have fun with Pinterest, and use it as an extension of your company. If Pinterest is not suited to selling your products, it can be used to inspire your coworkers, or highlight their accomplishments. Add some behind the scenes photos to add depth to what you create. At the very least, a Pinterest account will flesh out your brand's personality, and build lasting trust with your consumers.
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Writer's Bio: Sarah Hanley graduated from Emerson College in 2011 with a BS in Marketing Communication. She worked in the Boston Children's Museum gift shop for nearly two years, where she enjoyed merchandising and demoing all of the fun toys in the store. Sarah was also a marketing intern for “e” inc., a nonprofit that teaches kids about the environment. She now works in downtown Boston while doing freelance writing and marketing work. Read more articles by this author
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