The Selling Power of Pinterest: Can it Work in Your Industry?

By: Kim Hester

Last week I attended a very, ahem, “pinteresting” luncheon presentation on the new social media tool that’s proving to be very effective in marketing products and services.

The presentation, entitled “Pinterest for Business – Making the Most of Your Visual Content,” was organized by the Houston chapter of the International Association of Business Communicators (IABC Houston). Guest speakerKatie Laird Presenting on Pinterest at IABC Luncheon 2012Katie Laird, PR and Social Media Manager for, shared her insights on how businesses of all industries could potentially leverage this tool to sell their products or services to the public.

As Katie explained, Pinterest is the fastest growing social media tool IN THE HISTORY OF THE INTERNET and has only been in existence for two years! What makes this tool stand out from the rest is the sheer dollars it brings in for business. Statistics show that consumers are 10% more likely to buy something via Pinterest than through any other social platform.

For those that are unfamiliar with Pinterest, the concept is sort of like a visual Twitter. You create an account and start “following” people with common interests such as home décor, fashion, cooking, and travel. Those people “pin” images or videos related to your common interests that serve as pictorial hyperlinks to blogs, websites, or any number of web-based sources. In many cases, the pinned item is something that can be purchased, such as a throw pillow.

As Pinterest tends to be more conducive to selling products of an aesthetic nature, companies attempting to sell products that are more abstract or service-based must employ some creativity on Pinterest. In some cases, a company may not even be selling a product, but rather a brand or even a career opportunity.

A prime example of a company that is creatively leveraging the power of Pinterest is GE. Nerdy, engineering types can pin to their brain’s content on GE’s Badass Machines board, or be inspired by quotes from Thomas Edison on the That’s Genius! board. For recruiters that want to help candidates envision the possibilities of a new career, the Jobgram board helps communicate career opportunities through key graphics. GE, BHP Billiton, and Waste Management are all large corporations that have all taken advantage of this literal sense of the term “job board.”

Katie explained a few good best practices and tips for marketing products or concepts that may not be as pictorial as throw pillows:

  • Pin behind-the-scenes images. For example, a construction firm could show pinners a sneak peek of a new sports stadium that is about to be unveiled.
  • Pin images that showcase your company culture. If employees travel often for business, create a board with images from their travels.
  • Pin how-to videos. For example, an engineering firm could show the development process of a new technology.
  • Pin graphical quotes to represent concepts, such as GE did on its “That’s Genius!” board.

It will be interesting to see how Pinterest evolves as a social media marketing tool over time. As a Pinterest addict myself, I am glad to have attended this presentation and hope others can realize the opportunities to be had and ideas to be inspired through Pinterest.

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