Once the preserve of hipsters and mums, Pinterest has just taken another step towards solidifying its status as a valuable channel for digital marketers by unveiling a free analytics dashboard.
The tool allows businesses to track who is pinning content from their website, the type of content that is proving to be most popular, and how people interact with the pins.
Product manager Cat Lee told Reuters that “the goal is really to help websites understand what content is resonating with people on Pinterest".
But at the moment the tool appears to be quite basic, so how useful is it really for social media managers? And how will it impact brand content strategies? To shed some light on the new developments, I asked three social media experts for their opinions.
And if you want to learn more about Pinterest, check out our new Pinterest for Business Best Practice Guide.
1. How useful are the new metrics for marketers in terms of guiding their content strategies?
Matt Owen, head of social at Econsultancy
I think they’ll have different value for different verticals. Identifying the most popular kinds of images on the network is useful for optimising your own content, but if the top ten pins and boards are all about Donkeys and you sell industrial wire grips you’ll struggle to find any meaningful data there.
I think the danger here may be in over-optimising for many busineses. While it’s good to realize that certain items do well, I think that narrowing your content profile will ultimately be harmful to a brand (and Pinterest as a network).
So I think that we need to look beyond ‘Content X does well’ and make sure we don’t forget to keep an eye on the wider network and curate along with trends – the numbers are useful but human touch is important here.
Henry Elliss, digital marketing director at Tamar
They are certainly a big improvement on the internal analytics provided at a base level - knowing who is pinning your content most is a particularly useful piece of insight, as it will allow you to build connections with fans of your brand in a new way.
Collecting together insight about what content has worked best will also be useful insight for most brands.
Jamie Robinson, global head of research and insight at We Are Social
Even if the tool appears to be fairly basic at the moment, it's encouraging to see that Pinterest has started considering how to help brands understand more easily what content on their site is resonating within the social network.
While this does give marketers a deeper layer of insight into what content is likely to work within other social networks, it could run the risk of offering a slightly blinkered view for certain brands.
For example, many pinned images on the site are in fact not pinned from a brand’s official website, but instead from an array of official and non-official sources.
In order to fully understand what content is resonating with Pinterest – and to create a wider and more accurate picture of a brand’s community - it is essential to measure both these angles.
2. With Pinterest’s new analytics tool and Facebook’s continued focus on visual content, how do you expect brands to adapt their content strategies to match? Can SME’s keep up with the demand for visual content?
I think it is going to be tough on a lot of businesses, not just those with smaller budgets. Ultimately we’re going to have to become more creative when generating content, although I’m hopeful this will mean more businesses opening up and allowing us more insight into their internal culture as they instil genuine human interest into their content.
There is an almost endless array of visual content available and it is cheap to create, but it might not always be the most valuable way to communicate with your audience.
The knowledge that imagery is great sharable content has been around for a while now, but a lot of brands still fail to capitalise on this - or at least in a creative way.
Sharing other people's (or publicly available) imagery is one thing - creating great content of your own is a whole different ballpark. Innocent are a great example of this, with the content they share on Facebook.
In terms of demand, the size of your business shouldn't really have an impact - the levels of creativity in your social team is the key.
With Facebook’s focus on imagery in its new newsfeed format, brands will have already been assessing the suitability of their content strategies. There’s no doubt that images are going to play a much more important role.
Brands need to adopt more of a publishing mindset, focusing on image based content pieces to drive community engagement.
While content schedules will previously have been mixed between text and imagery, the latter is now a much heavier focus.
All brands with a social presence - whether SME or blue-chip - will need to be increasingly creative with their social media activity.
3. How important are accurate analytics in Pinterest's monetisation strategy? How do you think it will eventually make money?
Obviously it’s important, but if we look at most social analytics there’s still a lot of occlusion, so it depends on the strategy.
Any kind of ad server or affiliate linking would need to have provable numbers, but I think Pinterest would do well to look into community curation. Flickr used to work in a similar way and had fantastic potential that was unfortunately mishandled by Yahoo.
I think by connecting certain audiences with the correct type of business they’ll be adding value for both sides, so they might need to take a more active role in directing business clients.
Analytics are important in any monetisation strategy - knowing the impact of what you're paying for is a fundamental demand of any marketer.
But how it will impact on the monetisation strategy remains to be seen, since Pinterest are still pretty tight-lipped on what they intend to do. But it's a fairly safe assumption to make to assume it's coming soon.
Accurate analytics are absolutely critical if Pinterest wants to monetise the platform. They enable brands to better understand the impact Pinterest has on their site traffic, and hence conversions and ROI.
This tool very much focuses on referrals to brand websites – which is pretty easily measured in terms of ROI.
If a brand can see that an enhanced, paid-for presence on Pinterest is directly responsible for delivering increased traffic to its site, investment in Pinterest will undoubtedly follow.
4. The four main tools on the dashboard measure pins, repins, impressions and clicks. If you could have one other metric what would it be?
Check out. I’d like some way to tie this directly to site analytics and see which content converted well, which in many cases probably isn’t the most shared or liked, but that which connects with a specific audience segment.
I think it would be useful not just from the perspective of making money, but also in identifying audiences that may not have been on your radar before.
Having some insight - albeit perhaps anonymised - about what your competitor’s consumers are pinning would be amazing, although something Pinterest are unlikely to offer.
It’s early days, but at the moment the tool appears to be fairly basic. I’d be looking for three key areas of improvement. Firstly, the ability to track "all" images based on keywords, not just those that link to a brand's site.
I’d also like to see the ability to measure influence, i.e. to uncover which "pinners" are contributing to the viral reach of pins.
Finally, the tool should have the ability to measure the engagement (and impressions and referrals) from a brand's own pinning efforts (their pins and their boards).
If Pinterest incorporated all these areas, it would have a very effective way of providing accurate feedback to its potential advertisers.