If you haven't been living under a rock for the past couple months, you've probably at least heard of Pinterest, a social bulletin board where people can easily post visuals they'd like to save and share. Pinterest has built up an impressive following in the stylish scrap-booker set in a short period of time. Marketers and publishers are starting to take notice.
Take Time Inc.'s Real Simple, the print magazine whose ethos probably best embodies the Pinterest's female-skewing demographic. "Pinterest is a huge source from a referral standpoint, even beating out referrals from Facebook in the month of October," said Shannon King, GM of digital for Real Simple magazine. "It speaks to the power of engaged audience members. We view it as an important part of our social media strategy."
Moving forward, Ms. King hopes to integrate Pinterest more deeply into RealSimple.com, starting with a 'Pin it' button on the website, but notes that she would also '"love a white label version" that publishers could make all their own.
While driving traffic is great, the true potential in Pinterest may be in its ability to impact purchases, which is why retailers like Etsy, Nordstrom, and Lands' End have taken to developing a presence on, and strategy for, this new platform. Today, in fact, today Lands' End is kicking off a holiday campaign and contest, "Pin it to Win it," centered on Pinterest, the first of its kind.
The Lands' End Pinterest page, launched in November, is run jointly by PR and Merchandise Design team and is focused on their sub-brand, Canvas.
Land's End first learned about Pinterest from a blog community -- Curvy Girls Guide. "They introduced us to Pinterest and at once we realized, it's kind of an immediate attraction, visually stimulating and inspiring and we wanted to see how we can make it work for Lands' End, specifically for Canvas," said Michele Casper, PR director for the company.
"Right now we're still in the learning phase, trying to understand the contagious energy, so we decided to launch this holiday campaign on it – excited to see what the brand engagement is and develop our strategy from there," she said.
While Ms. Casper wouldn't share the traffic numbers or Pinterest's impact on sales just yet, she did confirm that most pins link to products on the Land's End website. "People get excited from the visual and then have the opportunity to purchase. It's very engaging tool in that respect."
Similarly, Etsy representative Adam Brown said the independent marketplace has no "formal integration with Pinterest at the moment," other than Etsy's Pinterest page. However, Adam notes that "Pinterest is a growing source of traffic for Etsy" and that they consider it "terrific for our members because it's another way for shoppers to discover all of the amazing things that Etsy sellers create."
And then there's major retailer and department store, Nordstrom, which created a page on Pinterest back in March, relatively early, even by early-adopter standards. "We found that it's a great way to not only share info but also learn about our community. Pinterest allows us to see what trends and styles the community likes based on engagement - likes and repins," said social media manager Shauna Causey.
"We view this as another way to engage with customers rather than marketing," she said. "Images are a great way to share ideas and trends in the retail social media landscape."
In the spirit of the season, Nordstrom has created a 'Holiday Sparkle' board. And to compliment a 'Nordstrom Santa' Facebook app, they've also created a Nordstrom Santa board on Pinterest.
In what seems like ever-narrowing intervals, Silicon Valley entrepreneurs glom on to one idea en masse, often resulting in a run of overlapping, if not entirely duplicative, incarnations of one core concept. It happened with location-based platforms, group messaging apps, group buying services, and daily deals. The latest such insta-trend is in the apparent reinvention of social bookmarking sites, as a slew of new players have flooded the interwebs, each with its own take on improving what Digg, Reddit, and Del.icio.us set out to do several years ago (and still do, to some degree).
Though Pintrest is by far the most popular, it is but one of many upstarts in the space. SnipIt (my personal favorite), the Gimme Bar, Skimmr, Findings, and Clipboard - are putting a new spin on social bookmarking.
Will these services be an effective tool for marketers and publishers a la Twitter and Facebook?
Well, per Ms. Causey, "We are pleased with the traffic it's driving and how it's helping us sell product."