Pinterest has long been dismissed as online scrapbooking for moms, but the savviest companies are marketing on Pinterest. If a company you follow -- especially a consumer goods company or woman-oriented brand -- isn't on Pinterest you should be concerned.
Frankly, if Pinterest were publicly traded it might be a better buy than the soon to debut Twitter as a long-term hold. Its business was most recently valued at $2.5 billion after it secured $200 million in private equity financing.
Which companies love Pinterest?
In a Business Week interview, William McComb, CEO of apparel retailer Fifth & Pacific, said Pinterest is their number one social media platform. Fashion retailers, especially, love Pinterest and Nordstrom regularly features seasonal, men's fashion, and wedding-related boards. J.Crew debuted its fall catalog on Pinterest.
Companies like Sony (NYSE:SNE), Whole Foods Market (NASDAQ: WFM), and Unilever have been particularly adept at using Pinterest. Sony ran a "Pin It to Give It" campaign that raised money for The Michael Phelps Foundation. Its Pinterest profile is "Pinning the techy, the pretty, and everything in between that tickles our fancy since Dec. 2011."
Whole Foods Market is a "Guest Pinner" on Etsy's Pinterest page, with advice on products and recipes and has over 220,000 followers. Unilever's Ben & Jerry's ice cream brand runs 23 Pinterest boards, each fostering more brand engagement.
It's not just retail or consumer goods companies that are using Pinterest. General Electric's 31 boards may be less promotional than inspirational and educational but it raises the company's profile and offers another way for investors to research the company.
Why companies love Pinterest
Statistics on Pinterest's gender skew abound, from 80% female users to 60% female in the UK. But one point is generally accepted: its female users are well-educated with higher disposable income. Although it has a much smaller number of active users than Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) and Twitter at only 48.7 million users as of December (but growing, from 9 million in 2011), its advantage is it is much more product-oriented.
Companies can easily follow Pinterest metrics on the success of their Pinterest engagement. Average likes and comments per pin, number of clicks, and follower engagement are metrics that companies can track and should.
One other rarely mentioned advantage to corporate Pinterest promotion over Facebook and Twitter is the long tail of content. Brian Madden of Hearst Digital Media told The Wall Street Journal that content is rediscovered months later adding, "The longevity of content [on Pinterest] is very valuable to us," noting traffic to Hearst brands generated from Pinterest was more than double the 1.5% rate of Facebook and Twitter. Allrecipes.com told the Journal that Pinterest-generated traffic was six times that of Facebook.
Why companies will keep loving Pinterest
Pinterest is just launching a "promoted pin" feature in which companies will be able to promote branded pins on category feeds and search results for a fee (during beta companies will not pay a fee). This service will be transparent with disclaimers on paid pins and will not include banners or pop up ads.
Companies are also able to cross-promote on Pinterest and Facebook, growing both the number of a company's Facebook and Pinterest followers. In May Pinterest introduced "rich pins" that include more text and strongly highlight brands like Urban Outfitters and Target.
More importantly, Pinterest is rapidly growing mobile engagement, something that was an issue for Facebook investors until its most recent earnings results. A Pinterest spokesman told TechCrunch,
The world is going mobile and we're excited about that trend. Traffic continues to grow, breaking records consistently month over month and week over week. Mobile usage became the majority of traffic last summer and continues to grow in absolute numbers and as a percentage of traffic, which may account for third party discrepancies in measurement.
Keeping the mobile momentum going, Pinterest announced that Android users would be able to add Pinterest to Facebook HOME, a win-win for Facebook and Pinterest.
A boon to investors is that it's very easy to see exactly how much their company is engaging customers on a Pinterest page. On every photo, who pinned, how many repins, how many likes, and comments are there for all to see. And by following this link investors and companies can see what's trending most on boards ... currently, Halloween, fall fashions, and college football.
The Foolish takeaway
If you own a company with a strong brand and it isn't on Pinterest you'll want to know why not. If your company is on Pinterest, check its boards and the number of followers and repins. Either way, Pinterest can no longer be dismissed and the best companies know it.
AnnaLisa Kraft has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends Facebook, Unilever, and Whole Foods Market. The Motley Fool owns shares of Facebook, General Electric Company, and Whole Foods Market. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.