You can’t open your browser these days without being bombarded with posts about Pinterest
. Still in invitation-only beta, Pinterest is attracting women in droves and driving more traffic to retail sites than Facebook.
All of this is driving bloggers to write posts with headlines such as, “8 ways to use Pinterest for nonprofits” and “Six steps to driving traffic from Pinterest.”
(Think I’m overstating the case? Scroll through the 50 million-plus Google Blogsearch results for Pinterest
Inevitably, the naysayers have been nipping at the heels of the enthusiasts. Forrester analyst Darika Ahrens was among the most prominent, writing on her Forrester blog
“There’s no denying that Pinterest is fun, looks great, and a lot of people love playing with it. That is also true of kittens but no one’s rushing to include them in their 2012 marketing plans.”
I won’t spend any time on the fact that, unless you run a pet-related business, kittens wouldn’t be part of any
marketing strategy. Instead, I’d like to pose a question: Does everything
need to be part of a strategy? Is it never appropriate to just try out a tactic?
Ahrens argues that Pinterest is too new, and she may be right; the bloom may, indeed, fade from the rose. On top of that, there’s nothing proprietary about the Pinterest platform. As Groupon experienced, anybody can duplicate the Pinterest (and some already have
On the flip side, consider this:
• The number of people (women in particular) who are already thoroughly addicted to Pinterest, my 22-year-old daughter among them. (As I write this sitting in the audience at a conference where Chris Brogan is speaking, Maggie Fox is sitting beside me surfing around Pinterest);
• The fact that it is, beyond doubt, a traffic driver for retail sites;
• The incredibly easy process of setting up pinboards;
That last point is critical. A company like Land’s End doesn’t need to figure out how Pinterest fits into its marketing strategy. At the most basic level, all they need to do is get somebody to start pinning product photos to boards (briefcases, outdoor clothing, etc.) and including a link to the item’s page on the Land’s End site. That’s it. Done. You don’t need a social media specialist to create boards on Pinterest. An intern can do it.
What if Pinterest fades into obscurity in a year, you may ask. My answer: So what? If you drove a ton of traffic and generated sales in the preceding 12 months, you got your value out of the site without a massive investment in time.
Of course, a community manager can spend more time answering questions from pinners and engaging with fans. Some companies have had a lot of success with contests. Like any social site, you can always do more with it.
But to ignore its current potential is foolish given the minimum time investment required just to get items up there that people can repin and share. Wouldn’t you want your products on hundreds of “Wish List” pinboards?
Yes, you could integrate Pinterest into a strategic social marketing plan, investing precious time and resources in a service that may wind up a flash in the pan.
But that doesn’t mean there’s no value in approaching it as a pure tactic. Get what you can out of it now and if it thrives, you can figure out where it fits in a larger strategy later. By then, you should have learned enough about it to make the right strategic decisions.
Shel Holtz is principal of Holtz Communication + Technology. A version of this story first appeared on his blog a shel of my former self.