Social Media Roundup: 7 Top Trends for 2015

Welcome to post #6 in a 7 part series examining the top trends in social media for 2015, brought to you by @natureclicker (with much assistance from the rest of the internet). Check back later for #7 in the series!

pinterest

6. Pinterest Power

Today is an amazing day, because I get to talk to you about one of my all-time-favorite platforms/time-sucking pastimes, Pinterest.

Pinterest can be used online via desktop and mobile devices, or downloaded as an app. Its sleek minimalist design allows for users at all levels of tech-literacy to create and save web-links, called “pins” on their own collection of “boards.” While the inspiration behind Pinterest is clear, its users are engaging with Pinterest in a myriad of different ways, some of which come as a surprise to even the platform’s design team.

In all fairness, who could have seen this coming?

In all fairness, who could have seen this coming?

When the interest in Pinterest surged back in 2012, critics were quick to point a laundry list of reasons why Pinterest wasn’t “the next big thing” in social media. Despite some of the negative attention the platform received early on, Pinterest has continued to attract new users, generate revenue, and provide its “pinners” with creative and unique experiences.

So, what’s so great about Pinterest?

I will never make this delightful fall bowl. Never.

I will never make this delightful fall bowl. Never.

In a word, its adaptability. Sure, I use Pinterest in my personal life. I have entire boards devoted to DIY projects I will never attempt, home improvement projects I will never complete, and countless recipes that you’ll never see at my table. However, Pinterest is more than just a digital scrapbook for all the things I won’t do, it’s also a curated collection of experiences, projects, products, and ideas that I might, and in fact will do.

Thanks to the “Pin It” tab, I’m also able to add my own pins directly from my browser to my boards. This often leads to suggestions for pins or boards from other “like-minded” pinners — and the end of my productivity for the day (depending on how you define productivity, of course).

Screen Shot 2015-10-16 at 5.36.38 PMAnd I don’t just use Pinterest in my personal life. I also have boards of social media strategies, research materials and tools, as well as graduate information. Using Pinterest for my work allows me to organize the images, information, ideas, products, tools, and resources that I find online in a way that makes sense to me. The images and “add text” option allow me to personalize why this information matters to me and how I can use it to expand my knowledge, improve my work, and create opportunities for new experiences. With Pinterest’s security settings, I can make these boards as inclusive or private as I want.

Now that I’ve rattled on about my personal use of Pinterest, let’s get down to why this platform matters to organizations.

Essentially, I am reason that Pinterest matters to organizations. Well, users like me, anyway.

When I’m on Pinterest, I’m actively seeking out new information about products, places, and experiences. My focus is on whatever information is the most attractive, interesting, and informative. If you’re an organization looking for an attentive, interactive, and available audience — you’ll find them on Pinterest.

I’ve spoken to many organizations about Pinterest this summer, and while a good number of my interviewees do have Pinterest accounts, they weren’t often able to provide a reason for exactly why that was or what they were doing with it. While most everyone has a strategy locked down for platforms like Facebook and Twitter, I only spoke to a handful of individuals that had given a similar amount of attention to other shareable platforms like Pinterest.

This isn’t to say that organizations don’t have an interest in working with Pinterest — many of them do. The issue seems to be that no one is really entirely sure how Pinterest works, who its audience is, or what kind of goals or benefits you can even attach to this type of platform.

So, the silver lining is that if any of this sounds familiar to you — you’re not alone. Even ‘big business’ marketers are frequently bewildered by Pinterest’s unique blend of potential and ambiguity. On his blog, Principal Analyst at Forrester, Nate Elliott, called Pinterest a “conundrum” for marketers, describing the platform as a “confusing… bundle of contradictions,” while pointing out that it “offers marketers huge potential and huge frustration.”

I might not be able to answer all these questions today, but hopefully I can shed a little more light on the topic.

For instance, who is on Pinterest? According to the most recent research, about 47 million people — and that number is expected to grow in 2016.

The majority of Pinterest’s audience is made of up women in their 20s and 30s, which can be viewed as either an incredibly lucrative or incredibly limiting demographic. Admittedly, I’m in there, too — which may influence my own participation in the platform. Meanwhile, the percentage of 18- to 29-year-olds using Pinterest is also rising, from 25% in fall 2013 to 33% in the spring of 2014, which is an even greater adoption increase than Snapchat’s.

Many of these users have young families, which makes it a very popular marketing option for products and services seeking the “chief household purchaser” demographic. A handful of brands have even invested in “Pinfluencers” in order to guide traffic their way, as Pinterest users are often dedicated shoppers, and have a good history of clicking pins to travel into hosted web content. Pinterest has also started offering promoted pins, which operate similarly to Facebook ads.

So, how does Pinterest work?

Pinning the great outdoors.

Pinning the great outdoors.

Creating great content for Pinterest isn’t just about marketing products to young moms, it’s also a great resource for visual storytelling. Pinterest, at its heart, is a land of images looking to engage an audience — something many organizations already understand and excel at. Think of it this way, if you’re using platforms like Instagram to share images and experiences with an audience, you already have a great strategy for using Pinterest.

However, unlike Instagram posts, pins connect automatically with your own hosted content, making it even easier for users to find out more about the story behind the image. This is one reason Pinterest is already a popular platform for bloggers, who often use catchy titles, images, or infographics to attract traffic to their posts.

What are the goals for Pinterest? How and why should we use it?

I’m going to break protocol here and begin this section on a personal note, so here it is: I wish that more organizations knew how interested “pinners” are in finding and engaging with their content.

Pinterest marketing isn’t just for baking blogs or baby toys, it’s a rich and virtually untapped playground for ideas and inspiration. The number of “nature” or “inspiration” or “interests” or “places I want to visit” boards I stumble across on a daily basis would amaze you. People are looking for great places to visit, to protect, and issues to care about. Make sure they find yours!

Everyone’s goals for social media are different, but at the end of the day they all center around exposure and interaction. Obviously, Pinterest is not a perfect fit for every organization or every social strategy — but it is something I think deserves a mention, especially since Pinterest is second only to Facebook in the amount of traffic it drives to websites, its user base is growing as fast as Instagram, and there are already plenty of non-profit organizations engaging with the platform in diverse ways.

Image from charity: water

Image from charity: water

For more on the “best practices” of Pinterest, check out this post on Cision, John Haydon’s 12 tips for using Pinterest as a non-profit, or head on over to Pinterest and type “Pinterest for non-profits” in the search bar.

See you there!

Are you using Pinterest? Have you integrated pinning into your social media strategy? I’d love to hear your thoughts on the platform!

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