As an investor, founder, CEO and business book author, I write about startups, design, how to build a good business, and I like to muse about culture in any form.

Four insider tips for businesses trying to figure out Pinterest

Inc. magazine recently recognized Daily Grommet for our effective business use of Pinterest.  (Here’s the article.) It’s kind of ironic because in the last three weeks some investors have been asking me “why can’t you be more like Pinterest?”  (Last year it was Groupon, the year before it was Gilt Groupe.)  Here is what a fellow entrepreneur, Jonathan Edson, retorted:

I’ve decided that the “Be More Like Pinterest” is the annoying comment of the day.  Next time someone pulls that on you, ask them if they would rather have been investors in Friendster or in Zynga.  I’d invest in the company that figures out how to monetize the ecosystem any day of the week.

Anyway, here’s what Inc. wrote about Daily Grommet:

The folks at Daily Grommet have been active on Pinterest since late August 2011, and in only one month’s time Pinterest was among their top 15 referring sites; today it is in their top five. According to their analytics, site visits from Pinterest increase on an average of 160 percent each month, with 83 percent being new visitors. Since they sell unusual products curated from all over the world, the folks at Daily Grommet created a group board to act as an extension of their community and for sourcing new product ideas. This board grew to over 3,000 followers in the first few weeks. So far, they’ve seen over 60 pins from their Pinterest community, affectionately known as their PinPals.  They’ve also pinned conversation starters and hosted a giveaway for their PinPals, so their activity is not limited to pinning.

Three weeks later, these article stats are already way out of date, but I guess our experience gives me credibility to share some advice for embracing Pinterest, for business users.

1. Don’t Pollute.

This is a visual bookmarking tool.  The operating word is “visual”.  So make sure whoever represents your company on Pinterest has a pretty good aesthetic sensibility.  I am already seeing businesses randomly posting ham-fisted pins like pictures of their software developers clowning around at their desks, or ordinary advertising messages.  This is like bring Cheese Curls to a garden tea party.

2. Care about what Pinners care about.

Here’s a Mashable article with brand new stats about what people are pinning on Pinterest, to help you navigate (it’s home/garden, food, fashion largely).  Even with Pinterest at the 15th most traffic-rich site on the web, I still hear people dismissing Pinterest as “just a bunch of Midwestern scrapbookers.”  (As though this is some unimportant or stupid population, rather than the one that actually controls 80% of the consumer economy.) If your business does not have any value to these women, maybe your business does not belong on Pinterest.  You could damage your brand more than help it if you are constantly off-key with your business posts.  Consider saving Pinterest for personal use.

3. Pin Products. 

There are several pages of repins of this Grommet on Pinterest, all of which occurred in a day.

But only innovative ones.  Products are most popular subjects for repins–in fact 80% of repins are products.  The Pinterest community is very cutting edge in its appreciation for the new, well-crafted and problem-solving products.  Here’s a screen shot of one of the Daily Grommet Pinterest product hits.  It’s a line of paper bakeware (Welcome Home Brands) that the Pinterest community grabbed and shared because it is new to the US.  Pinners are sophisticated enough to realize how fresh this product is, whereas it would probably go right over the heads of other demographics.

4. Experiment.

Daily Grommet’s kinda surprising “Pin it to win it” winners’ choices: Yantra accupressure mat, One Good Earbud, Better Life Green cleaning products, a Yakitori BBQ grill and a Cocoon GRID-IT Electronics organizer

Our Community Manager Tori Tait invented a fun “Pin it to win it” raffle on Pinterest.  People pinned whatever Grommet they most coveted and five were selected.  I was surprised that people pinned what they really desired, rather than just expensive choices.  (Here are the links to each one:Yantra accupressure mat, One Good Earbud, Better Life Green cleaning products, a Yakitori BBQ grill and a Cocoon GRID-IT Electronics organizer)

Tori Tait

Our customer’s world moves with lightening speed and our Community Manager Tori is being sought out–already–as an expert and innovative Pinterest user.  She had embraced the platform first as a personal user and kept encouraging the rest of us to follow suit.  (I did, and will share my personal experience separately.)  Tori’s been the focus of two crazy-busy Tweet chats where she shared her knowledge.  Here is the transcript of the Pinterest chat two days ago (hosted by Kelly Westhoven Lieberman and the data is from our friends at Hashtracking) in case you want to grab Tori’s wisdom and see what other business users were asking.  (This chat alone had a 2.9 million impressions reach on Twitter.)

I helped Tori with an earlier Tweetup on Pinterest  and I had to laugh at the reaction of one of my favorite technology journalists, Wade Roush, when he tried to participate:

Wade Roush’s reaction to our “Pinterest Party” on Twitter

13 Responses to “Four insider tips for businesses trying to figure out Pinterest”

    • Kelly Lieberman

      Thanks so much for making the correction to the post, I really appreciate it. Tori was an amazing guest and offered so much great insight about Pinterest and how you guys are using it to develop relationships with your community.

      Thanks again and have a fantastic Sunday!

      Kelly Lieberman @tribe2point0

  1. ConnorMeaks

    I am a bit confused by the first point, specifically “businesses randomly posting ham-fisted pins like pictures of their software developers clowning around at their desks.”

    I personally think these types of boards serve an amazing function of humanizing a brand. Taking people inside your workspace is a sacred thing. It is a fun and cool way to communicate your company culture.

    Do you think this type of stuff is taboo?

    • julespieri

      Hi Connor,

      You know, I almost didn’t use that example because I agree with your basic point. I really like that kind of sharing on Facebook, Twitter, company blogs. But my gut reaction is that these pins look more like pollution and self-absorption on Pinterest. Mainly because they are not attractive. The only photos of people that are consistent with Pinterest tend to be very stylized, not ordinary snapshots.

      But…you would be right to point out that no one has to follow that company’s board if they don’t want to, so how can it be pollution?

      Maybe the more fundamental point is that people on Pinterest are not really there to learn about your company’s culture. But they certainly are if they become Facebook fans or follow your blog.

      Could this shift? Sure. But the net effect on Pinterest would probably not be good. Twitter has had that downward slide…less real and useful than it used to be. I am worried about brand marketers diluting Pinterest. Longer term users are already complaining about that. Ironic, I know, since I think it is a great place for many businesses. Just not all. I think Facebook, Twitter, blogs are great for most businesses.

  2. Linda Sherman Gordon (@LindaSherman)

    Hi Jewel. Thanks for the tweet. I focused on the Pin it to Win It promotion when I looked at and pinned this article. My thank you and enthusiastic support of #pinchat probably led to this misinterpretation. I think it may have been added after I commented. (I didn’t get pinged by Jules’ reply to me). A lot of people get confused on hosts of Twitter chats.

  3. Jewel Fryer (@jewelfry)

    @LindaSherman, do you know of any other time when there was a confusion? I think it’s only right that we correct it. Since it has been added to the cloud are you going to correct it?

  4. Linda Sherman Gordon (@LindaSherman)

    Jewel, I’m sure that Jules will make the correction. Please enjoy the rest of your holiday weekend. As I mentioned, both Kelly and I just became aware of this error today. Tori must not have seen it either. The “cloud” just refers to a tag on the post, which can be corrected. The only person who can make any corrections to this article is someone at Daily Grommet, probably Jules herself since she is the author.


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