Reluctantly Pinning My Way Around Another Social World

Guest Post by Laura Beck

Last month, I finally broke down and joined Pinterest. I didn’t want to. I held off for as long as I could, for a few reasons: I have a hard enough time keeping up with Facebook and Twitter, my two social means of choice; I heard Pinterest is a time sink hole, hours suddenly vanish and you are still pinning away; and I heard Pinterest is for housewives with lots of time on their hands: that cannot be me!

But you see, it is exactly my customer. Now at nearly 1.4 million users DAILY, Pinterest users are nearly 70% women, 50% with kids, most in that coveted 25-35 year old age bracket, and most with upper middle class or above household incomes.

THAT is exactly my customer, my target. You see, not only am I personally almost exactly that demographic (thought aged out now at 40), but this is who I market my business to. I couldn’t afford to miss Pinterest, for my brand, especially now with the opportunity to get in and “get pinning,” while it is still evolving.

My business, stripedshirt.com, focuses on fan-wear for women, kids and babies. Two color combination striped shirts to support a team, school, cause, organization. Women, aged 25-35, with kids and with disposable income are my ideal target. Pinterest gathers them all for me. OH AND my product is extremely visual – multi color shirts. Pinterest is built for beauty, color, great images, physical goods, pretty products, designs.

I’ve been on Facebook and Twitter for my business since day one, simultaneously setting up these business table stakes while getting my URL and building a website. But, I had not yet taken the Pinterest leap as of a month ago, honestly, out of fear that I’d get personally sucked in and lose more precious hours of my already-too-short days to yet another online social time suck.

I was intrigued, of course, especially by the recent “tipping point” for Pinterest. See, Pinterest is hardly new. It started Thanksgiving 2009. It’s been around over two years now. But this one is a strange one: it took off very slowly, plodding along really until something magical happened that other startups would likely kill to replicate. Somewhere around September 2011, Pinterest started taking off like a rocket ship. (Was it truly the power of PR? Pinterest was included in a Time Magazine Top 50 Best Websites of 2011 list in August. Who knows. Again, if the magic trigger could be identified, oh, how others would jump on board!)

Per Wikipedia, in January 2012, comScore reported Pinterest had 11.7 million unique users, making it the fastest site in history to break through the 10 million unique visitor mark. And founder Ben is now a beloved name and face to thousands of Mommy Bloggers and average middle aged American women. I heard he was mobbed, rockstar-style, when speaking at the AltSummit conference in January.

Somehow, refreshingly, Pinterest ignored the latest start up mantra of “Fail Quickly” and stuck with it until that magic moment when it went viral about six months ago. Shouldn’t be a surprise, Pinterest was BUILT to be viral – pinning and repinning is all about the “network effect” and, like Twitter, you don’t have to be friends to follow, or like, or pin. Also like Twitter, search in Pinterest is great (unlike Facebook), to find what you like, dig into topics of interest, find other inspirations.

And, a bit like Etsy, Pinterest is super easy, and all-inclusive about “selling” – simply add a dollar sign ($) to your image description and it beautifully tags the image as something for purchase. And you can post and pin your own stuff with ease, pimp your own goods! (Please, Pinterest, take your time in monetizing this feature, I know you will, but for the poor start ups out there, take your time!)

For all these reasons, I broke down and personally joined Pinterest, to be able to promote stripedshirt, my ecommerce business, THROUGH my own personal account. That’s deliberate. I do believe there will be strict rules for businesses on Pinterest, soon, regarding ecommerce and affiliate programs, percentages of sales to Pinterest and others. And I know soon we’ll be hearing a lot more about trademark and copyright rules with images. The big guys, and brands killing it on Pinterest like Real Simple and Martha Stewart Living can roll with those punches. Little startup me wanted to be more cautious.

For now, I’m one of the 12 million pinning away in Pinterest, and my business images, my products to shill, are clearly featured on my own boards, with information, URLs, pricing details indicating they are products for purchase, easy clicks to transactions. My friends are repinning my stuff and the images are starting to spread beyond my personal network to the wider Pinterest world.

Have I gotten a sale yet directly from Pinterest? Not that I can tell. But brand building and visibility is king. And again, if I’m a brand that cares most about Moms with kids, it would be dangerous to dismiss the power of Pinterest and be absent from it. It’s where my customers are, it’s where I need to be.

How about you? Have you also reluctantly pinned your way into a new social corner?

Laura Beck IS Pinterest. She’s a 40 year old Mom of two with a disposable income that could easily be blown on the gorgeous products featured on Pinterest. With 20 years of PR experience, she threw it all to the wind and started www.stripedshirt.com May 2010. stripedshirt is two color combination shirts to support a team, school, cause, organization, worn by exactly the kind of women – and their kiddos – who are loving and living in Pinterest today.

  • Anonymous

    Great post and example of how to use Pinterest for exposure/business. I still see the biggest hurdle being that of many platforms; time commitment, strategy and funding to do it. Many businesses, including the company I work for, struggle to justify the money needed for alternative marketing/sales/PR. It is over-simplifying it to say “okay marketing/social/sales team, START using Pinterest.” ;) I am really not trying to be snarky.. It is one thing to use it as an individual, when you want to relax or buzz-around the web.. it is very different to approach it as business. It requires resources. I equate it to a successful hotdog guy in a balpark. You cant keep giving him more to do like selling the soda and the cotton candy too.. these are separate people selling something specific..I do think Pinterest could be very valuable.. with effort, resources and $$$.
    ;) 
     

  • Heather Strout

    Hi Laura, great article! I love that people are embracing Pinterest. It’s a powerful tool that needs lots of support to make it even better. People seem to want to limit its possibilities but as posts like yours are published, we can start going beyond the boundaries set by the random few naysayers.

    All that said, where can I find your Pinterest page? Pinterest’s search is underwhelming and I can’t seem to find you or your business.

  • Laura

    THX for letting me have a spotlight on your blog!  Here’s another great Pinterest article, from Fri: And another great Pinterest story, just posted last Fri: http://tech.fortune.cnn.com/2012/03/22/pinterest-silbermann-photo-sharing/

    • Anonymous

      approved


      Aaron Strout
      WCG (Austin)
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  • Aaron Strout

    @bsimi:disqus thanks for commenting. And great point about having the time to focus on additional channels. Not sure what the anser is. Look forward to Laura’s response.

    @heatherjstrout:twitter since I know where Laura’s page is (and she’s probably chasing her kids around at this moment), here you go.  http://pinterest.com/laurabeckcahoon/. I’ve also added the link into the post (first sentence).

  • http://www.microsourcing.com/ MicroSourcing

    It’s a great platform for designers and average users who need an outlet for their creativity. The interesting thing about Pinterest is how clearly defined its primary user base is – middle aged women. This is something that Facebook and Twitter haven’t achieved.

  • Heather

    Hi I’m Heather! Please email me when you get a chance! I have a question about your blog. HeatherVonsj(at)gmail(dot)com