Pinterest isn't a brand new social network. It's been driving some really impressive web traffic recently, but many marketers are still in the dark as to its potential for branding. Pinterest is a unique social network that goes by its own rules of engagement and user dynamics. Brands risk damaging their reputation through a misguided use of Pinterest. Here are five most persistent marketing misconceptions about this increasingly popular social network.
1. Pinterest is perfect for branded imagesPinterest is about inspiration. Brands often make a huge mistake by including a large number of branded images. A perfect ratio is one branded image to 4-5 inspiration pictures or 20% to 80% of the page filled accordingly.
An example of poor board handling is Kohl's Falling for Autumn board. One look and we see 6 products out of 13 photos on the page – this is close to 50% and way too much. Just a few inspirational images won't do the trick. Content needs to be varied and engaging.
Instead of creating boards filled with branded images, marketers should keep them relevant by adding pins that don't market their products. Otherwise, they'll simply look like category pages on the brand website. And that is something Pinterest users won't appreciate.
2. Board names and descriptions aren't importantCreating boards on Pinterest, content marketers marketers often concentrate on visuals, easily forgetting about the board name and description, which are both essential for users to make sense of the images featured in that space.
Marketers should go for simple board names and descriptions rich with relevant keywords to build their SEO. Random House has a great board called Words to Live By, which features a simple description: 'Quotes from some of our favorite authors', allowing users to immediately engage with the collection of inspirational quotes from literature.
3. Hashtags are all the rageSome marketers are convinced that hashtags work for every social network. Pinterest is a bit different in that regard – too many hashtags might actually harm a board and discourage users from clicking through the content to brand website.
A good example of hashtags gone overboard is this board from ZARA – see how each pin features two hashtags, which are identical and seem really repetitive? A hashtag like #ZARALOOKBOOK seems slightly redundant in a content that is so self-explanatory.
4. Verification is not a mustSocial media marketers aren't eager to verify their Pinterest profiles, convinced that user won't care anyway. Well, they actually do. And a verified account brings lots of benefits – some smart analytics tools, a detailed coverage of top boards on the basis of unique impressions, a ranking of most repinned content and an insightful guide to the interests of brand followers. All in all, verifying a brand account is definitely worth the trouble.
5. Pinterest is just like other social networksPinterest isn't social. It's mainly about developing interests, interacting with ideas and appreciating the beauty locked in mood boards and pins.
Marketers are often perplexed why users aren't interacting with their content by commenting, like on other social media. A user repinning brand content isn't an invitation to interaction – it simply means that they liked your pin and want to save it. Pinterest is hardly yet another platform for brand-consumer interactions and marketers will do well to remember that.
All this is not to say that Pinterest isn't a viable marketing option – just that marketers shouldn't assume that this social network works exactly like all others. Once marketers learn their way through Pinterest, they'll be ready to leverage its potential for marketing. And being aware of the major potential fails is the first step to starting a good practice.
Monique Craig is an Australian blogger and marketing specialist who works for Oneflare, an online marketplace which connects customers with local service providers.