While Instagram and Facebook might be the first port of call for brands on social media, Pinterest is certainly one platform to watch.

Last month Pinterest was valued at $12.3bn, and it’s predicted to generate more than $500m in revenue by the end of this year. This is mainly thanks to the platform's growing potential for advertising, with new visual discovery tools and shoppable content driving interest. In turn, many brands are also starting to take the platform more seriously.

So, what makes an effective Pinterest strategy, and which brands are succeeding on the platform? Here’s just six examples.

1. Whole Foods – Communicating a lifestyle

Whole Foods was one of the first brands to truly understand the potential of a presence on Pinterest, capitalising on its highly visual nature early on. Since it first launched on the platform in 2011, it has gone on to attract more than 327,000 followers.

Instead of treating the platform like an opportunity for sales (though this is obviously a bonus), it largely uses Pinterest to promote its brand values and communicate an identity – and this extends to far more than just food products. 

Of course, a hefty portion of pins are dedicated to recipes and food inspiration, however Whole Foods often re-pins content about sustainability, DIY, recycling, and seasonal events, too. It recognises that fans of Whole Foods aren’t just interested in what they’re eating, but a certain type of lifestyle.

 

This means that whatever users are searching for, Whole Foods is able to engage with people based on broad range of interests as well as simultaneously promoting its own brand identity. 

2. Burberry – Creating personalised content

There’s nothing all that personal about Pinterest at first glance. Most users are considered in terms of broad demographics or thought of in terms of search interest, and there’s less of a focus on conversation and comments than on other platforms. 

Burberry, however, wanted to engage with its audience on Pinterest on a more one-to-one level, creating a campaign that would forge a more meaningful connection. To raise awareness of its Cat Lashes Mascara, it asked users to fill out a simple questionnaire about their beauty habits. It then generated a personalised board of tips, product recommendations and make-up advice individually tailored around each person’s responses.

By creating custom content, Burberry not only managed to increase awareness of its new product launch, but it gave users a far more memorable brand interaction than merely pinning or viewing an ad. Since then, it has also repeated this kind of activity, launching a similar campaign that allowed pinners to create their own personal and branded gift idea boards during Christmas 2016.

3. The Travel Channel – Delivering what users want

Many people think of Pinterest as a place for fashion or food brands, but travel is also a popular category. Pinterest’s 2017 Travel Report states that there are over 3bn ideas relating to travel on the platform, with users searching for inspiration on everything from holiday essentials to how to organise trips for large groups.

While a lot of brands use Pinterest to experiment with content, the Travel Channel has previously taken a more measured approach. It used its Facebook page to ask existing fans what they’d like to see on the platform, using these answers to inform the kind of content it posts. As well as being effective for cross-promotion – pointing Facebook fans in the direction of other channels – it also means that its content was more likely to resonate with users. 

The Travel Channel has also generated success by tapping into a younger, more adventurous audience. So, while its TV demographic might be a little older, it has managed to widen its appeal through Pinterest boards such as ‘Savvy Traveler’ and ‘Spring Fling’.

4. LaurenConrad.com – Capturing a new audience

83% of Pinterest users are more likely to follow a brand rather than a notable celebrity, however, Lauren Conrad holds dual appeal. Drawing on her power as both an influencer and an established brand, LaurenConrad.com has used Pinterest to drive awareness among a specific demographic. 

LaurenConrad.com tailors its boards to a young, female audience, combining a wide range of both product-focused and lifestyle-related content.

One of the most popular boards is ‘get fit’ – which involves a series of instructional pins on exercises and workout regimes, plus content from a more personal perspective (i.e. ‘5 things that changed when I started tracking macros in my diet’. And while this might sound super niche, it enables the brand to capitalise on Pinterest’s status as a search discovery tool, meaning it will appeal to users who might otherwise have no knowledge or affiliation with LaurenConrad.com.

The fact that LaurenConrad.com’s Instagram channel has 945,000 followers while its Pinterest has nearly 1.2m is certainly noteworthy – and perhaps proof that the latter platform is more about the content itself rather than who or what is behind the channel.

5. L’Oréal Paris – Driving purchase intent

Pinterest is largely used as part of social or content marketing strategies, yet L’Oréal Paris has veered into advertising territory with a number of paid-for campaigns. Initially starting with Promoted Pins, the brand then moved onto Pinterest’s Cinematic Pins to promote its new True Match Limi Glow highlighter, specifically to drive awareness and purchase intent in 18-25 year olds.

Involving a motion-based format that animates as users scroll, the cinematic pins allowed L’Oreal to integrate a tutorial element into the ads, demonstrating to users how the highlighter should be applied.

The results of the campaign proved that Cinematic Pins can prompt purchases, with 37% of users showing increased purchase intent after seeing the ad. What’s more, it also showed that Pinterest is becoming a key driver for retail, with users browsing the platform with the intent of discovering new products to buy, rather than browsing purely for entertainment purposes.

6. Penguin Random House – Curated content and collaborations 

Lastly, Penguin Random House has carved out a real niche for itself on Pinterest, creating a vast and constantly updated pool of content to engage book lovers.

It’s an easy (and perhaps rather lazy) tactic to do things like re-pinning motivational quotes, so it's refreshing to see Penguin work hard to curate interesting and inspiring boards based around a theme. Whether it’s ‘books that made us cry’ or ‘favourite books from our childhood’, it is skilled at honing in on specific topics to create engagement.

Meanwhile, it also collaborates with others to flesh out and widen its Pinterest activity. Previously, it has partnered with the Happy Foodie – a site dedicated to cookery books – and Unbound Worlds, a site for literary science fiction. As well as widening its reach to niche audiences, this allows Penguin to encourage participation and user involvement. 

Related reading:

Nikki Gilliland

Published 11 July, 2017 by Nikki Gilliland @ Econsultancy

Nikki is a Writer at Econsultancy. You can follow her on Twitter or connect via LinkedIn.

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