Brands don’t find it as sexy as Instagram or Snapchat. It doesn’t have the scale of Facebook, nor does it have its scandalous reputation. You just don’t hear as much about Pinterest as some of the other social media platforms.
But maybe you should. Last year, Pinterest had 250 million monthly active users. Its audience is still female-heavy, but it’s steadily increasing in popularity among male users. Those numbers are small relative to the social media landscape, but while Pinterest technically fits the bill, the “social” label doesn’t quite fit.
More people follow brands than their actual friends and Pinterest has a lot in common with a search engine. That makes the platform inherently more shoppable, something that’s become more apparent over the years. Brands have always been able to curate boards to reflect their personalities and product lines. But for marketers today, there’s so many more advanced options. Here are four examples and how brands have used them:
Home decor is a popular Pinterest category so a brand like IKEA is perfect for the platform. And as more brands publish print magazines, the Swedish furniture giant is integrating its signature catalogs onto Pinterest. That puts the catalog in front of plenty of eyes — IKEA’s Pinterest presence amasses 9.3 million views each month — without being redundant.
The catalog isn’t one of IKEA’s boards. Instead, users take a questionnaire about their personal style. With that data, the brand learns enough about people to make recommendations, populating personalized boards with product pins. They’re all shoppable, too, of course.
This isn’t IKEA’s first foray into personalizing individual boards. Last year, the company asked users to look at seven home photos and choose their favorite. The Pinterest Developer’s API then scanned their boards, determining what they’d be most likely to like and purchase.
Two years ago, Pinterest introduced Lens, a product that took the platform’s visual search offline. When a user sees something they like IRL — a stranger on the street’s jacket or tattoo, a random item at the grocery store — all they have to do is use their Pinterest app to take a picture. The platform’s visual search technology then finds similar items.
One year in, Pinterest was handling more than 600 million visual searches. A brand that sells seemingly everything, Target was the guinea pig, becoming the first brand to integrate Lens into its app, starting with its registries. The camera served as a substitute for a keyword search, serving product pages comparable to the original item.
Gift-giving can be a challenge. This is doubly true on Etsy, a DIY marketplace that sells tons of items you may not have thought to search for. Like a vintage flamingo toothpick holder. During the holidays, Pinterest helped Etsy used its massive presence on the platform to help customers out there.
Putting its recommendation technology to work, Pinterest helped developed the Mad Libs-style Etsy Gift Finder, which asks three simple questions about who you’re looking for. The answers then provided users with custom recommendations. The platform created similar tools for Macy’s, Lowe’s and Kohl’s and they were a resounding success, according to survey company Toluna. Surveying Pinterest users, Toluna found that 87% believe Pinterest helped them find the right products during the holidays.
Using Pinterest’s tagging tool, Shop the Look allows fashion and home decor brands to call out individual items within a Pin. For example, a retailer may be highlighting a sweater, but say you like the model’s jeans. If you see white dots, you can click through to them, too.
Shop the Look’s combination of computer vision technology and human curation makes the perfect fit for Home Depot. The brand boasts countless Pins featuring tastefully-decorated rooms filled with products from its inventory. Shop the Look makes them easier to find. Here’s how it works in action, zooming in on different Home Depot products pictured in this kitchen:
Ten years ago, Pinterest didn’t exist. Development began in December 2009, with the platform eventually launching in beta three months later. Now, it’s a must for marketers, given the size and suggestibility of its audience. According to internal data, more than two billion searches happen on Pinterest each month and 97% of them are unbranded. In other words, the majority of users are still in discovery mode and not necessarily married to any one brand.
As Pinterest has grown in reach, it’s also grown more tech savvy. First came Promoted Pins and targeting, eventually leading to visual search and personalized recommendations. A new feature called Complete the Look combines the two, recommending complementary products to those featured in an image while demonstrating Pinterest’s continued dedication to innovation.
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