By Joanna Kulesa
The latest social media craze is the pin board-style social photo sharing website, Pinterest. This fast-growing company entered the top 10 social networks in Dec. 2011 with 11 million visits per week, and in Jan. 2012 it drove more referral traffic to retailers than LinkedIn, YouTube and Google+. This year, ComScore reported it as the fastest site in history to break the 10 million unique visitor mark.
With the mission statement to "connect everyone in the world through the 'things' they find interesting,” Pinterest is clearly a fantastic opportunity for companies whose products translate well into images, but my question is this: How does the image-based design of Pinterest translate to enterprise software companies with products that are not as easily transformed into eye candy?
Companies with particularly gripping photos, such as jewelry, cookware, and clothing retailers, have been especially successful via Pinterest. This could have something to do with the site’s general user base. Almost directly in answer to Google+, whose users are predominately male, Pinterest’s users are almost entirely female. In fact, 97 percent of Pinterest’s Facebook likes are women. Lo and behold, it’s not entirely surprising that the most successful companies using the site are marketing glitzy, fashion-forward or home-care-based products that are more traditionally marketed toward women.
So, how are companies with less compelling product photos—tech companies for instance—competing on Pinterest? One way to do it is to make serious use of infographics and eye-catching charts. For example, Constant Contact has a relatively successful presence on Pinterest but their products—email, event and social media marketing—are not naturally converted into imagery. So, they’ve posted a board of infographics, and an array of charts that spruce up their “boards” (which are set up like bulletin boards) on Pinterest. Their Pinterest presence is more focused on displaying their company's overall culture than specific products. In the end, you get a “feel” for, and hopefully connect with, the brand.
So when it comes to Pinterest, if your product doesn’t translate directly into compelling, brightly colored photographs, think about what your product or even your company or team represents and start pinning. For instance, does the company have regional managers with unique backgrounds to share? If so, display those visual stories on Pinterest boards. Post images from seminars or company events, or “day in the life” photos that show off the office culture and individual personalities. Consider getting the feedback of an experienced graphic designer or art director with a keen eye for image, who can help translate your company’s mission, vision, values or culture into something of interest on Pinterest.
Joanna Kulesa is principal of Kulesa Faul, in San Mateo, CA. Kulesa Faul focuses on public relations, social media and communications strategies for enterprise software and consumer technologies companies.—www.kulesafaul.com