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Despite rising to become the number three social networking site in the US, Pinterest has failed to capture the imagination of the UK public in the same way.

While around 12m people are busy pinning images in America, on this side of the Atlantic it only has around 200,000 users, although that number is on the increase.

So why should brands bother to take notice? Well, there is evidence to suggest that Pinterest users are more likely to be in ‘shopping mode’, and are worth more than visitors from Facebook or Twitter.

And while these are anecdotal cases rather than a proven trend, it generally pays off if brands are ahead of the trend testing out new ideas rather than coming to the party late.

So with this in mind, I looked at which of the top 10 UK online retailers (based on the ExperianHitwise top 50 list) are using Pinterest as a marketing tool...

Amazon UK

Amazon’s US Pinterest account contains a good mix of product ideas, although the boards it has created aren’t particularly creative or visual.

But even so, it is a hundred times better than its UK account which has five boards that contain a total of zero pins.

This doesn't look so good, but at least Amazon has grabbed its Pinterest page rather than allowing someone else to nab it. 

Hardly a great effort, and one that is worse than having no account at all.

Argos

Argos has a good collection of boards showcasing different styles and trends, such as ‘Vintage Elegance’ and ‘Urban Revival.’

The images it uses have a different look and feel than you would expect form Argos, so it is a good way of developing the brand image.

However, the boards only feature Argos products, so it hasn’t really bought into the social element of Pinterest.

Apple

Apple has never really embraced social media, and unsurprisingly it doesn't have a Pinterest account.

Tesco

It looks like a lot of time and effort has gone into Tesco’s Pinterest account, yet it only has 32 followers to show for it.

The grocery giant has 21 boards containing 207 pins, and its food boards in particular contain some gorgeous imagery.

However Tesco is another example of a brand that just wants to use Pinterest to showcase its product range, and all of the pins link back to its e-commerce site.

Furthermore, all the images are the same size, so it lacks any character or feeling of spontaneity. 

Next

I didn't find Next's Pinterest account initially, but I've since been alerted to it. 

As with Tesco and others, Next is only showcasing its own products:

Play.com

As well as not having a mobile checkout, Play apparently doesn't think there is any benefit to using Pinterest, not yet at least. 

M&S

As with Tesco, M&S’s boards are a themed around different styles and occasions, and in general they feature some eye-catching images.

It also uses the same tactic of only pinning images of its own products and linking them all back to its e-commerce site. But despite the fact that it is little more than an M&S catalogue, the boards have attracted 561 followers.

John Lewis

John Lewis is yet another retailer on this list that has come up with some really creative pinboards but has then refused to include anyone else’s content.

All the boards promote a particular product range or theme, and include some excellent images.

However some of them, such as ‘My Clearance ideas’, are little more than dull collections of random products.

ASOS

I flagged ASOS up in another post that showed six brands making good use of Pinterest, and two that aren’t.

ASOS has taken to Pinterest with real gusto, creating 35 boards and attracting 7,735 followers – an increase of almost 1,000 people in the past two weeks.

This might be down to its new 4th July competition, which offers users $500 to spend on the site if they repin ASOS’s images.

While none of the other brands on this list have anywhere near as many followers, this is probably due to the fact that ASOS is the only brand that also operates in the US.

ASOS’s boards include product ideas, lifestyle and celebrity content, and competitions.

Unlike the other retailers on this list, ASOS also gets the social aspect of Pinterest and has repinned a number of images that link to other blogs and articles.

Debenhams

It appears that Debenhams started its first pinboard last month, and since then it has created three more themed around various product ideas.

It has a good mix of images from its own site and other people’s content (mainly from Google images), so unlike most of the other brands it clearly see the social potential in Pinterest.

At the time of writing, Debenhams only has 21 followers but it’s a new account so that should grow over time.

Conclusion

Eight out of the top 10 UK retailers have a Pinterest account, so clearly they see the potential in the site despite its relatively low user base.

However most are simply using it to promote their own products without pinning third-party content.

For example, Argos only features its own products, and despite having 11 interesting boards it has only racked up 15 followers.

It’s strange that brands with so much experience of community management on Facebook could totally miss the social aspect of Pinterest, but it could be that they don’t want to dilute their brand or that they want to avoid the murky waters of copyright infringement.

While ASOS has a track history of success on social media and has the benefit of a US audience, it seems no coincidence that brands that repin third-party content attract more followers than those who simply link back to their own e-commerce sites.

Creating an island within Pinterest that doesn’t link to anyone else completely misses the social aspect of the site, and isn’t likely to encourage others in the community to begin following your account.

David Moth

Published 2 July, 2012 by David Moth @ Econsultancy

David Moth is Editor and Head of Social at Econsultancy. You can follow him on Twitter or connect via Google+ and LinkedIn

1679 more posts from this author

Comments (33)

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Fran

This is a really interesting analysis to see how the big brands in the UK are doing it (or not doing it!) It definitely looks like the copyright infringement issue has spooked these brands. It seems likely that when a few more big brands start getting into pinning, the rest will follow. There is so much potential with Pinterest - the next few months will be very interesting to see how brands engage with it and integrate it into their social media strategy.

about 4 years ago

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Chris

Anecdotal evidence that people are in shopping mode = social media fluff

about 4 years ago

Hannah Rainford

Hannah Rainford, Social Media Manager at Jellyfish Online Marketing

Pinning only your own images on Pinterest is the equivalent of only spouting sales messages from your Twitter account. It's not engaging enough to capture attention.

about 4 years ago

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Alexandra Gaiger, Digital Marketing Architect at ThoughtShift Ltd

O dear, I can't believe there are massive brands out there setting up Pinterest accounts without even reading the Business Guidelines! These clearly state that you shouldn't just post images of your products! The proof is in the pudding I guess, none of them have many followers!

about 4 years ago

Graham Charlton

Graham Charlton, Editor in Chief at ClickZ Global

@Chris It's relatively early days, but we do have some case studies which suggest that Pinterest can work well for retailers, and people are more in 'shopping mode' than when they're on Facebook.

http://econsultancy.com/uk/blog/9803-pinterest-drives-more-sales-than-facebook-stats

about 4 years ago

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Lucian

OK, you were saying they're not pinning third party content, but what about the legal issues? There are some very nice images pinned all around Pinterest, but the therms & conditions clearly state that each user (and therefore brand) is responsible for the images they pin and they should share only creative commons images.

How could a brand deal with that?

about 4 years ago

dan barker

dan barker, E-Business Consultant at Dan Barker

Is there any way to count the number of pins for a particular domain?

Eg, I can see content pinned from econsultancy here: http://pinterest.com/source/econsultancy.com/

It would be interesting to compare the number of pinned items/total pins/etc for various sites, but I haven't found a simple way.

Thanks!

dan

about 4 years ago

Graham Charlton

Graham Charlton, Editor in Chief at ClickZ Global

Hi Dan, not as far as I know, but it would be useful.

I can see that Tesco has about 39: http://pinterest.com/source/tesco.com/

But life's too short to count Amazon's: http://pinterest.com/source/amazon.com/

about 4 years ago

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Dan Langley

LavishShoestring.com make a good use of Pinterest and growing fast.

about 4 years ago

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Thom

You might want to correct your article to reflect the fact that Next does in fact have a Pinterest profile: pinterest.com/nextofficial

about 4 years ago

David Moth

David Moth, Editor & Head of Social at EconsultancyStaff

@Thom, apologies for missing the account and thanks for bringing it to my attention. The post has been updated to include it now.

about 4 years ago

dan barker

dan barker, E-Business Consultant at Dan Barker

It's really easy to reverse engineer how often brands actively use these, via the 'Activity' tab. eg:

ASOS - very, very regular:
http://pinterest.com/asos/activity/

Next - one-off-spurters:
http://pinterest.com/nextofficial/activity/

Debenhams - gone on holiday:
http://pinterest.com/debenhams/activity/

dan

about 4 years ago

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Deirdre Attinger

Good article! These pinterest boards can be quite time consuming to keep updated, however these bigger retailers should really embrace them... if they're just posting images of their products, then what is the added benefit for visiting their Pinterest board? You may as well just visit their website.

I'm now following ASOS' boards :-)

about 4 years ago

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Charlotte Heleine, Digital Marketing Manager at Burton - Arcadia

Great to see how everyone else in the market is using Pinterest. We are at the early stages of our journey but certainly can't wait to see if the UK market adopts the network or not, and also more importantly to us if it will continue to have a largely female following like the US...

Check the Burton Pinterest page out here http://pinterest.com/burtonmenswear/

about 4 years ago

Mark Ralphs

Mark Ralphs, Managing partner at Good Rebels

Sometimes you have to look at smaller businesses to learn something about using social media with genuine passion.

For example, check out: http://pinterest.com/fearsandkahn/

about 4 years ago

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Greg Eden, Online Content Manager at Waterstones

We started a Pinterest account here at Waterstones which we are looking to develop given the time to do so - thought you might be interested...

http://pinterest.com/waterstones/

As I say we're working to build on this and share through our other channels - just though you might like to know.

Thanks

Greg Eden (Waterstones.com)

about 4 years ago

Ailsa Illingworth

Ailsa Illingworth, Online Marketing Manager at Citation Ltd

It’s surprising that some of the big retailers have not yet embraced Pinterest – the beauty of the site is that it’s easy and quick to generate content that's relevant to your brand, product offering or customer interests (preferably all 3).

I’d have expected more from retailers who’re likely to have a sizeable staff resource dedicated to online marketing activity.

As Charlotte says, we’re only just beginning to see how Pinterest will develop – however, we’re finding our feed and our follower growth is a testament to that.

We’re pinning (regularly) at: http://pinterest.com/beautybay/

about 4 years ago

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Alex

The often forgotten co-op have a presence here http://pinterest.com/cooperativefood

about 4 years ago

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John

So how about the copyright? Should a big brand have copyrights over the images it pins or can it go with the flow and act just like any other user?

Can anyone answer?

about 4 years ago

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Angela

Hobbycraft.co.uk make a good use of Pinterest by splitting inspiration into Hobbycraft weddings and HobbycraftUK for all crafty ideas - pinned from themselves and others.

about 4 years ago

Ailsa Illingworth

Ailsa Illingworth, Online Marketing Manager at Citation Ltd

It’s surprising that some of the big retailers have not yet embraced Pinterest – the beauty of the site is that it’s easy and quick to generate content that's relevant to your followers.
I’d have expected more from retailers who’re likely to have a sizable staff resource dedicated to online marketing activity.

As Charlotte says, we’re only just beginning to see how Pinterest will develop – however, we’re finding our feed and our follower growth is a testament to that.

We’re pinning (regularly) at: http://pinterest.com/beautybay/

about 4 years ago

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Kate Price

Good article and great examples of the good work being produced on brand boards. We (Event Marketing Solutions Ltd) use Pintrest a lot, it really brings to life the live events we deliver through colourful, inspiring photography.

about 4 years ago

Graham Charlton

Graham Charlton, Editor in Chief at ClickZ Global

Thanks for the examples everyone - we may revisit the topic and look at best practice from some less well-known retailers

about 4 years ago

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Damon Sloane

These are good...but this is true innovation! http://pinterest.com/source/uniqlo.com/

about 4 years ago

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Clare M

It would definitely be interesting to review pins by domain to work out which UK retailers are most popular/pinned on Pinterest (regardless of their level of formal participation). Thinking about my own behaviour, I use Facebook to become a 'fan' of a specific brand but use Pinterest to browse particular products - it would be rare for me to follow the entirety of a brand's account on Pinterest or even whole boards. As with any newish social networking site, it's not yet clear which strategy will ultimately be most profitable for retailers.

about 4 years ago

dan barker

dan barker, E-Business Consultant at Dan Barker

@Damon - those aren't necessarily posted by Uniqlo - what you're looking at there are all pins of content on the Uniqlo.com domain. This seems to be the official Uniqlo one: http://pinterest.com/uniqlo/ (sorry to disappoint!)

about 4 years ago

dan barker

dan barker, E-Business Consultant at Dan Barker

For any retailers/agencies reading this (including those who have already posted comments):

1. What is your current process(es) for using pinterest?
2. How long are you spending each week on it?
3. Who in the organisation is doing it?

Thanks for any answers!

dan

about 4 years ago

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Andy

Interesting piece. Should be noted that the Japanese eCommerce giant Rakuten invested $100 million in Pinterest 2 months ago. They also bought play.com last year. Expect to see a lot more pinning activity from play very soon.

about 4 years ago

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Justine Wyness, Web Trading Manager at Hobbycraft Group

Thanks Angela for mentioning Hobbycraft. We're planning on getting more involved with Pinterest; for us as a brand its a great way to showcase what you can do with our products rather than the actual products themselves. And a great way to establish our authority in the craft arena. We have a page for Weddings and one for all other crafts:
http://pinterest.com/HobbycraftLove/
http://pinterest.com/HobbycraftUK/

about 4 years ago

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alsibley

That brands link only to their own products is not a failure to understand social but instead a circumstance forced upon them by Pinterest T&Cs.

Pinning 3rd party content, however relevant will put the brand in a very uncomfortable position regarding copyright infringement. Sure users can get away with the mass infringement that goes on every single day on Pinterest but brands are in a much stickier position.

Would the Argos legal team really approve of deliberate and large scale copyright infringement, executed for commercial purpose, by their social teams?

about 4 years ago

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Gavin Parkinson, Marketing and Sales Manager at Hitch Marketing Ltd

It would be great to balance the arguement with some examples of those who are doing it right! If the US has some great boards, then let's see them!

about 4 years ago

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Jo

Really interesting article. At Just Bake, we are in the process of embracing Pinterest. It is great for pinning images but also video footage of relevance to our industry.

https://pinterest.com/justbake/
http://www.justbake.co.uk/

about 4 years ago

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A.Jay

It is interesting to have realised that over half of social referral to my site is from Pinterest! Unfortunately, I am based in UK and they originate from US.

over 3 years ago

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