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Pinterest’s rapid rise in popularity means it is now the third most popular social network in the US after Facebook and Twitter.
As such, marketers can’t afford to ignore it; particularly as evidence suggests that its users convert at a higher rate than those from the bigger social networks.
To see whether brands are taking Pinterest seriously as a marketing tool, I looked at which of the top ten retailers have Pinterest accounts and how they are using them.
One of the main problems when searching for brands on Pinterest is the number of fake accounts that exist. For example, there are around 12 different accounts that purport to be for Amazon.
But here are accounts for the top ten retailers, which, based on the content and number of followers, I believe to be official...
Amazon’s boards are a strange mix of products, ranging from magazine subscriptions to office toys.
Taking into account Amazon’s product range it could be doing a lot more with Pinterest, as the boards it has created aren’t particularly creative or visual.
The best one is ‘Animal Inspired’ which, as the name suggests, displays a number of animal-themed products.
Compared to its other boards, several of which just look like book catalogues, this board makes good use of Pinterest’s emphasis on bold images.
Despite being an office supplier, Staples’ boards are actually very eye-catching.
‘Easy Across the World’ includes brilliant images taken from every country in which Staples does business – nothing to do with its product range, but very entertaining.
Its other boards display images pinned from around the web, with very few that actually link back to Staples’ e-commerce site. The strategy appears to be to entertain and engage consumers, rather than go for the hard sell.
Unsurprisingly, the world’s most secretive brand doesn’t have a Pinterest account.
Walmart appears to have two accounts, one aimed more at product ideas and one that promotes green living.
The product-focused account, called ‘Walmart Official’, is one of the most active accounts on this list with 26 boards and 2,348 followers.
It uses fantastic imagery to promote creative ideas and special occasions such as Mother’s Day and Easter.
As with Staples, it doesn’t link back to Walmart’s e-commerce site, but instead is more about extending the brand reach and perhaps softening the corporate image.
Dell’s small collection of boards is a decent effort at creating engagement rather than simply pushing out its products, but unfortunately they aren’t particularly interesting.
For a visual medium, the boards are surprisingly text-heavy and the content isn’t that inspiring or eye-catching.
Several of Office Depot’s more recent boards are just used to promote its product range, although it does also have two that give inspiration for office design using content pinned from third-party sites.
These are more engaging than the product-focused boards, as the images show a range of different ideas and styles.
Furthermore, fashion and interior design are known to be two of the most popular activities on Pinterest, so Office Depot may have more success if it focused on sharing ideas for office design rather than simply using it as an extension to its storefront.
Sears does not have a Pinterest account.
The online streaming service has made a token effort at a Pinterest account, creating one board that shows images of its latest releases.
However, it only has 13 images on it and hasn’t been updated in several months.
Best Buy is another brand that has created a Pinterest account but hasn’t truly bought into the medium. Its three boards have just 22 pins.
It does seem to grasp the emphasis on strong imagery though, as well as the social benefits of pinning other people’s content.
None of the images link back to Best Buy’s site, which indicates that it plans to use Pinterest to engage its online community rather than selling products – or that it’s a fake account.
Another office supplier on the list, OfficeMax has clearly seen the commercial opportunity presented by Pinterest and is looking to exploit it to the full.
Its six boards are themed lists of its products, including ‘Office Décor’, ‘Writing’ and ‘As Seen on TV.’
The clean, consistent look of the images makes it look more like the results from a product search than a Pinterest board, which could account for the reason it only has 12 followers.
Only two of the top ten retailers don’t have Pinterest accounts, so clearly marketers are aware of the opportunity the network presents for community engagement.
However, it is also clear that brands are still working out how best to use Pinterest – do you go for inspirational images to promote your brand identity, or simply use it as an extension of your e-commerce site?
In general brands seem to go for a mix of the two approaches, pinning other people’s content but also displaying their own products.
Interestingly, those brands that do focus heavily on their own products tend to have far fewer followers – Office Depot and OfficeMax are the worst offenders, and they only have 36 and 12 followers respectively.
Either way, judging by these ten examples, it would appear that to attract followers brands need to create inspirational boards that include bold, eye-catching images.
Only then can they begin to use it as a way to sell their own product ranges.