Pinterest is over-hyped

If you didn't hear about it last year I guarantee the platform Pinterest has cropped up on your radar in these past few weeks of 2012. But does that mean it should feature in your 2012 digital marketing planning?

No.

Why it's too early to use Pinterest for interactive marketing

There’s no denying that Pinterest is fun, looks great, and a lot of people love playing with it. That is also true of kittens but no one’s rushing to include them in their 2012 marketing plans (except for maybe Karl Lagerfeld).

A couple of talking points circulating are getting way out of proportion:

  • Rapid growth: The Hitwise figures released before Christmas show undoubted growth as a social network, but it’s nothing compared to the current growth of Google+. Pinterest is also lauded for making a list of Top 10 Social Networks in November which, while impressive for the little upstart, can’t be that meaningful if marketers aren’t deploying tactics for established Top 10ers like Tagged and Yahoo! Answers
  • Traffic driving potential: While Pinterest is a growing source of traffic for Etsy and others, the data is yet to be analysed for relevancy to the interactive marketer and certainly doesn’t separate relevancy between general online brands vs. online etailers and news publishers. Shareaholic, also responsible for the dramatic headline ‘Pinterest Drives More Referral Traffic Than Google Plus, YouTube and LinkedIn Combined’,  uses data captured from their own plug-in and is not necessarily representative of wider web user behaviour either

At most these early statistics put Pinterest as ‘one to watch’ for 2012 but should be way down the interactive marketers list of trends to consider for 2012 and firmly behind issues of multiscreen marketing, customisation, local-mobile, effective media buying and attribution (the last being where Pinterest will really be weighed and measured).

What we can learn from Pinterest

If there’s one thing interactive marketers should take away from the current Pinterest mania it’s the enduring appeal of beautiful imagery. From design to user-experience to communications, the effective use of imagery is tried and tested.

Over-looked fashion moodboard site Polyvore identified this potential back in 2007 to develop a fashion clip-and-share tool, working in partnership with retailers, to drive sales – and create themselves a smart revenue share model alongside all the pretty.

The trend for moodboarding may splinter into a range of niche content curation networks; home interiors seems an obvious fit, there is already one just for ‘men stuff’ and Good Reads takes care of curating people’s reading habits in a social networking environment.

By all means stay interested in new social networks and experiment to develop great digital marketing strategies but in a time where every marketing dollar has to deliver, Pinterest is too unproven alongside other investments you should be making today.

Also Recommend: Don't Believe The Hype: 5 Trends to Watch (and 5 to Ignore) for On-line Retail in 2012

Comments

I think the web world needed

I think the web world needed a new type of social bookmarking site and Pinterest fills that void. Whether it stands the test of time is another story though. Many social bookmarking sites have lost traction over the years.

Don't pull any punches

Nice work Darika. I look forward to more in the same vein. Congrats on the new gig! xx.

Pinterest

When it comes to stratagem this article is right. If you have the time and money to experiment though, why not?

I love the spirit of start-ups, and Pinterest is another start-up I'm excited to experiment with when I have a little extra time. Since I'm going to be on there leisurely anyway. ;-)

Additionally, using it while I have the time has allowed me to get into the mind of what is making it so addicting unlike any other service out there. I do use Polyvore, BTW. But I have women in my circles having Pinterest parties of all things. No one had Polyvore parties. Just saying. I think the functionality of Pinterest, the simplicity, and the following will give insight on the kinds of "apps" or user experience to create for customers of our own company.

Experiment if time & budget allow

Totally agree, if you have time to experiment then you should do. I tend to talk to Enterprise-level marketers that can't experiment at scale without making significant investments with both time & money. Once the experimental phase is over there's nothing to say Pinterest isn't going to hold it's own alongside other priority platforms.

You're also right in that the *love* for Pinterest is really special and unique. That's what people should be enjoying right now instead of trying to insist every marketer jump aboard.

Shareaholic data

Thanks for mentioning Shareaholic's data in your analysis! We're humbled that Forrester took notice of our study.

Pinterest has certainly gotten a lot of hype, and I think it's well-deserved and on point. As the marketing person responsible for Shareaholic's eloquent blog headlines and data collection, I'm happy to add to the conversation by providing context to our statistics about Pinterest. Our metrics are certainly based on our Shareaholic plugin users. Those users are a global publisher network of more than 200,000 sites that just crossed more than 270 million unique monthly visitors each month. This is a significant dataset from which we can teach content marketers and bloggers about general user trends on the internet. It is in line with the growth that many other reputable sources report - no magic voodoo math, I promise.

My personal, non-data-driven take: There's always a shiny new social media object for marketers to get caught up in. Google Buzz? Quora was it last year. People were hot for LinkedIn company pages this fall. Jury is still out on Google +. I like to just think logically sometimes about the people I know in my life and how they use the internet. With just about every other social media thing that has come along over the past few years, it's only been my startup and marketing friends who used the service. Of my friends on Pinterest, there's a teacher, nurse, textbook book editor, paralegal, civil engineer and pharmacist... it's not just marketers! It's not like this for Twitter, FourSquare, LinkedIn... and Google +? Forget it. On Pinterest it is not just early adopters... So metrics can tell the story for sure, but if I see that kind of universal popularity in a service, that indicates some type of progress to me.

Can that progress be leveraged for every single industry out there? Clearly the usage is more obvious for visual companies like J Crew than it is for Salesforce. But that's what marketers get paid to do: investigate potential opportunities... brainstorm... strategize... and use words like "leverage" and "mindshare." :)

Thanks again for including Shareaholic in your write-up!

- Janet Aronica
Head of Marketing
Shareaholic

Thanks for the context

Hey Janet - the former PR in me says your headline was great and you had some cool data and timing so great work.

Something interesting I wanted to tell you that the team were discussing was about the different users appearing early on with this social network. These would be classified as "Collectors" http://www.forrester.com/Groundswell/ladder.html But Collectors are one of our smallest technographics groups. It may be that different won't equal mainstream in this case. But time will tell... :-)

respectfully disagree

Pinterest is affecting buying and spending decisions and trends for many industries more than any social network has to date.
Our team is paying attention to it and it's already paying us back more than years and thousands of followers on Twitter.

Can you share some data?

My point is that we haven't yet (and won't this year) seen the type of data that can drive robust decisions. Can you point me to some data I haven't found then?

Untapped potential

One element being overlooked with regard to driving traffic that is the "Source" feature of Pinterest. Whenever you are on a pin, there is an area (either at the bottom of the lightbox or at the bottom left of the pin's page) that shows other pins from that source. For example, a pin of a West Elm rug that was pinned from WestElm.com using the Pinterest bookmarklet will show other pins from the same domain. You can click on that source and you end up on this page:
http://pinterest.com/source/westelm.com/
All the pins from West Elm, all in one place, with shiny smiley faces attached to them and even (on some pins) the prices. To me, this source page could be turned into the world's best landing page for West Elm (or any company being pinned a lot on the network). Tie in connections' pins from the same source, add featured pins that the advertiser/company could choose to feature, multiply it by a critical mass and you've got a great platform on your hands.

Cool function

Another great thing about the UI - I won't deny it's a great design that looks like a marketers wet dream.

The Business of Cool's Lifecycle

There are many intangibles in regards to the true 'value' of technology companies whose biggest asset is a captive audience. Popularity erodes, feature sets get bloated, and eventually the new technology first movers resent the very technology they were advocates for originally. No matter how much money Facebook spends to resist the movement - social media sites are just not quite as cool after Grandma has a username or an potential employer is digging through your personal information.

Pinterest, and it's rapid growth, is this demographics answer to "What's After Facebook?" and successfully fills a void that Facebook has created in it's own gargantuan wake. At the end of the day, too many people were waking up and thinking, "I liked Facebook more when only College kids were allowed to be on it."