Everywhere you turn these days, there are hordes of blog posts about why Pinterest is the hottest new social network and why your business should join it ASAP.
While some of these posts are a little too effusive, none of them are totally off the mark.
Pinterest is awfully awesome…
- It does drive a lot of traffic to websites.
- People spend loads of time there.
- It is growing like wildfire.
But, before you decide to jump on the Pinterest bandwagon too, I’d caution you to think twice.
(And really that should be true of any new social network you encounter.)
Ask yourself, is Pinterest right for YOU?
For many clients I work with, the answer is “no,” and here’s why.
1. Your clients or customers are not there.
This sounds like a no brainer, but you’d be surprised by the number of companies who never actually answer the question of, “Is our target market there?” before they join a social network.
So before you dive in, start doing some research on Pinterest to see if this demographic is a good match for your company.
- Are people already pinning things related to your business’ focus?
- How are they categorizing these pins? (Are these “dream boards” or “I want to buy” boards?)
- How often are they pinning?
Basically, answer this question: “Are the people we want to reach here and does it seem like they want us to be here, too?”
2. What your business does is not visually interesting.
I read a post recently on a blog for marketers in the financial industry, which was recommending that banks get on Pinterest. They theorized that, “If a woman is going to pin pics of her dream wedding, why wouldn’t she also pin pics of how she can finance that wedding?
Um…maybe because pictures of people financing a wedding are boring?
The reality is that not every business can be well represented in visual form. For many B2B or service companies, Pinterest just isn’t going to be a great fit. On the other hand, it can work really well for consumer products and, in particular, products that are interesting to look at.
(Although, companies that make less pretty consumer goods, such as Kotex, are having some success on this platform, too.)
If you’re thinking of setting up an account and find yourself really straining to coming up with any images in-house that you can pin, take this as a sign. Maybe a blog or another text-based social network might be a better fit.
3. You could get into legal trouble by pinning other people’s stuff that IS visually interesting.
I’ve made no secret of the fact that I pulled down our Kane Consulting Pinterest boards because of legal concerns. Most of what I had pinned was content/imagery other people created, and I had not received permission from these people or these companies before I pinned it.
“So what?” You may be thinking, “Everyone on Pinterest does that.”
You’re right, except, my company was on Pinterest to build business and ultimately make money. As a consequence, we might ultimately derive a profit from the intellectual property of someone else. And that made me uncomfortable.
Many artists, illustrators and photographers are none too pleased about their IP being used and traded as a commodity on Pinterest. If any of them decide to sue, they’re not going to go after Sue in Montana who pinned the pic they took of an eagle for National Geographic, they’re going to go after XYZ Corp. that pinned that same picture on the “inspiration for our logo” board and has potentially much deeper pockets.
If that were to happen, as the terms of service currently stand, XYZ Corp. would be liable for the costs associated with the lawsuit, and not Pinterest. Be aware of this risk before you start sticking “found treasures” on your boards willy nilly.
4. You don’t have the time to commit to maintaining the account.
Pinterest is not an advertising platform. It is a social network. And, as with any social network, maintaining a presence there will take effort.
You can’t just set up some boards, stick up some pics and expect the traffic to start pouring in to your website. You will need to build a community — and interact with the members of that community — just like you would on any other social network.
Also, you will need to build your presence SLOWLY. I cannot stress that enough.
I’m seeing many companies set up their entire Pinterest presence in one afternoon. And that’s not a wise move.
This isn’t like building a website, folks. Each time you add a pin, it goes into a public feed (which an astonishing number of people seem to be monitoring in its “everything” form). If you add dozens of pins all at once, you’re going to flood the network with your promotional content and look like an ass right from the get go.
5. Your company is freaked out by breasts.
If you’re going to be a class act on Pinterest, you’ll need to track down the source of the pictures you pin and cite them, and that means you are going to be clicking around a lot of photo and illustrations sites or on other boards within Pinterest. And when you do this, you’re going to run into breasts…at work.
How do I know this?
Because photos of breasts are everywhere on photo-centric sites.
And, unlike having a new Twitter follower who made an off color joke that you can easily delete before your boss walks by, a photo of a topless lady on the screen in your cube is going to be far more difficult to explain as “work-related,” no matter how social-friendly your company is.
Don’t get me wrong. I have no problem with breasts (I even have some), but I work in a home office, so they don’t cause any ruckus for me. You, on the other hand, may have a very different experience in store for you.
Even if you ultimately decide not to set up a Pinterest account for your company, that doesn’t mean that you have to miss out on all the fun…
- Consider setting up an account for yourself to get to know your potential clients and customers as an individual first. They might actually be more receptive to this type of relationship than one with your brand.
- Make sure the information and images on your company’s website are pinable.
- If people do start pinning info from your site, track that traffic to learn if you should adjust your strategy and set up a business presence on Pinterest, too.
No matter what level you decide to get involved in, I invite you to connect with me on Pinterest and tell me how your experience goes. Has Pinterest been a boon or a bust (ahem…no pun intended) for your business?