And, here it is. Another social network to help us share information – this time, an online pin board. Social networks are on fire with questions about why we need another network and how it will work for the business community. Not too long after the Pinterest debut came the responses – an onslaught of suggestions for how to use Pinterest for your brand and how it is the latest way to give your customers and prospects high-value content. We also heard this about Facebook and Google+. After years of floundering, brand pages are making traction on Facebook. The jury’s still out on Google+.
Pinterest uses the tagline “Organize and share the things you love.” It doesn’t say “Organize and share the things you know your customers will love and care about.” What we have in Pinterest is another solution in search for a business problem to solve. (By the way, there was a time when we all had bulletin boards in our offices. They became over-crowded and things fell off. Have we learned nothing?)
Before you add Pinterest to your overcrowded digital bulletin board, consider these three things:
1. What do your customers want and need from you?
There may be subtle nuances between businesses and industries but, across the board, the one thing your customers want is to know what you have and why it’s the best one for them. A well-planned marketing plan, with social media as a deliberate channel, can answer those questions in meaningful ways.
However, when there are too many channels and too many messages, marketing has the opposite effect. Instead of highlighting your brand, the channels will dilute it. Before you pin your hopes and dreams to the newest channel, do some research to find out if this is where your customers will expect to find you and what they’ll want to see and hear.
2. How are your existing social networks performing?
If you’re like many businesses, you started with Facebook, created a Twitter profile for the sheer traffic and added Google+ for SEO benefits. Consider how well they are helping you meet your business objectives. What? You don’t tie your channels to an objective? You’re counting numbers of followers but not their action/engagement with your brand? It’s time to reconsider.
Start with a clear business objective, use the social channel to give your customers a specific call to action then measure the results. If your existing channels are working effectively in this manner, it may be time to consider another channel, like Pinterest. Just remember the formula: objective + call to action = measurement. The formula isn’t: Join Pinterest (or any other social channel), build a profile and wait to see what happens.
3. Does Pinterest offer your brand new and unique opportunities?
Before you add one more social icon to your website footer and marketing materials, be sure you understand what is offered that you can’t get anywhere else. Pinterest is visual. The last social channel as visual as Pinterest was Etsy, which has grown into a robust online community for those wanting to purchase goods from independent artists. Pinterest has the same potential for appealing to a particular niche of online users. If you are a photographer, a florist, a luxury car manufacturer, Pinterest may be for you. If you have products that are less visually appealing, those a customer wouldn’t consider for window-shopping, you’re probably better served within other channels.
One last thing:
Pinterest is not the last social channel that will cross our screens. When you see the next shiny offering, write the name of it down on a piece of paper, grab a thumb tack and stick it on your office wall bulletin board. Then, when a business problem comes across your desk, you’ll have lots of options at the ready.