Out of Pinterest: Bridging the gap between search and social


Pinterest is one of the youngest popular social media sites today. Sitting somewhere between the search capabilities of Google, and the social circles of community sites such as Facebook and Twitter, Pinterest is the happy medium combining the two functionalities.

Ultimately, it is a sharing space, a collection of virtual ‘pinboards’, that allows its users to create lists of images, web pages, and other online content that they are interested in. Each user can ‘pin’ things that interest them to come back to later, and combine related pins into ‘boards’ for easy organisation. These boards can either be shared publically or kept private.

The website’s key strength lies in its search functionality. Users are able to specifically search for content, finding boards and pins that others have shared publically, and ‘repin’ or save what interests them. And it is totally image driven; in fact, you cannot share anything on Pinterest that does not have an image attached. The website’s interface is attractive, functional, and easy to use; and has obviously proven popular — there are an estimated 3 million pins generated per day from the UK alone!

Promoted Pins: what are they and how do they work?

At the beginning of 2015, Pinterest introduced ‘promoted pins’ for businesses in the US. This paid advertising was originally only available to Fortune 500 companies; but was then opened up more widely, to any business in the US. In April of this year, it was extended further to include all UK businesses. That means that any UK business with a business account on Pinterest can promote their brand through promoted pins.

There are a couple of ways in which you can use promoted pins. Firstly, you can pay for specific ‘search terms’; your promoted pin would appear in the search results whenever that term is searched, much like the way Google advertising works. Additionally, you can specify your target audience, such as by gender and age preferences, and your promoted pin will appear in your target audience’s feed. This reflects the way many other social media sites approach paid-for ads; Facebook included. Pinterest allows you to use these two methods in conjunction with each other, widening your scope for brand awareness, pin engagement, and click-throughs to your site.

But what makes it so successful? One key benefit of the promoted pins is their seamless fit alongside the organic pins. Whereas on other social media sites, sponsored posts, or paid-for adverts, tend to stick out like a sore thumb, Pinterest’s promoted pins so closely resemble the organic posts that there is little to stand out as alien to an audience; they can easily sit alongside user-generated content.

Not only is it stylistically suited, but the content itself is not out of place. Users come to Pinterest to search, find ideas, and explore, on any number of topics. Being able to click through to a site that fits your search criteria, meets the needs of the consumer, whether it’s organic or promoted. This means the advertising is less intrusive, and therefore more preferable to those you’re trying to sell to. What makes Pinterest so unique for advertisers, is that brands are able to catch consumers at the decision-making phase of the buying process, planting the seed as a potential product source while the customer is still considering options.

What brands are proving successful on Pinterest?

Pinterest is already home to a great number of brands, with users often pinning website links and product images. This has made the transition to using the space as an advertising tool a smooth one for both the company and the consumer. In other words, the paid content does not jar with the general content already being shared. As a site dedicated to imagery and creativity, companies that align with this are going to be incredibly successful on this social site.

Pinterest’s most searched themes include DIY, food recipes, and home decor. It is no wonder, then, that Tesco was utilising Pinterest for recipe sharing long before paid advertising was on the cards. Through its popular pins and shared recipes, Tesco became the most followed UK supermarket on the site. It makes sense, then, that Tesco was one of the launch partners for Pinterest when it rolled out its promoted pins for business accounts in the UK this year.

Made.com is another of Pinterest’s launch partners and, again, the company was active and engaged on the site before the introduction of paid-for ads. Their organic content was perfectly suited to the design-focused Pinterest users, making their account incredibly successful with users ahead of the promoted pin roll-out. This success has only grown with their use of paid posts. With the growing number of brands beginning to use Pinterest as a marketing tool, the platform’s success is only set to grow.

To takeaway…

With promoted pins only introduced to the UK market in April, it is still a relatively new marketing strategy, meaning costs are still low in comparison to other social media advertising methods. It is the perfect time to invest and see how positive an effect promoted pins could have on your business or brand. Pinterest provides a platform ripe for non-intrusive advertising; with promoted pins and organic content side-by-side, consumers are more likely to engage with your post in a natural way.

Ranking within the top 5 most popular social media sites in both the US and the UK, Pinterest is certainly not to be overlooked when planning your next social media marketing strategy. With its unique position as both a social site and a search platform, it provides brands with a multi-faceted campaign approach with proven success.

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