Though Pinterest is no longer the hot new thing that it was for much of 2012, it still has too much potential to be ignored.

Social marketers tend to default to Facebook and Twitter for obvious reasons, but the stats around engagement and referral traffic on Pinterest are compelling to say the least.

We’ve already looked at six brands making good use of Pinterest and blogged nine awesome Pinterest infographics, and now here is a round up of some of the most interesting case studies we’ve seen along with a roundup of useful traffic and user stats.

Most of the case studies suggest that Pinterest is the most effective social network for driving traffic and sales to e-commerce sites, though we did find one dissenting voice…

Traffic stats

Data from Experian Hitwise reveals the extent of the growth in traffic to the social network in the past 12 months.

In the UK Pinterest has seen a 786% increase in the last year growing from 901,761 visits in September 2011 to 7,985,316 in September 2012. Meanwhile in the US Pinterest has seen a 15-fold increase to 139m visits in September 2012 compared to 9.2m in the same period last year.

Furthermore, according to comScore Pinterest is the third most popular social network in the US and had more than 23m unique visitors and 1.7bn page views in July 2012.

Who uses it?

Though its user base is predominantly made up of women (the common estimate is that 80% of active users are female), the exact demographics vary between the UK and US.

A recent Pew Internet & American Life Project survey of 1,000 US adults found that nearly 20% of women using the internet are now on Pinterest compared to just 5% of men. All told, 12% of American internet users are on the image-based social network.

Pew also found that Pinterest’s relative reach is highest for users 18 to 29 years of age.

In comparison, Pinterest’s gender split is more even in the UK according to stats published at the beginning of the year.

We reported in February that although the UK only has 200,000 unique users compared to an estimated 12m in the US, the gender split is 56% male and 44% female.

Popular topics

According to Repinly, the most popular category on Pinterest is ‘food and drink’ with 11.9% of pins, followed by ‘DIY and crafts’ 9.2% and ‘home décor’ (5.9%).

However, looking at pinboards rather than single pins, home décor is actually the most popular category (11%) followed by ‘art’ (10.7%) and ‘design’ (10.3%).

Repinly identifies the top pinning sources as Google and Etsy, followed by pins uploaded by users.

Retailers us email to promote Pinterest presences

According to a new study by Responsys, major retailers have been making Pinterest a focal point of their email marketing campaigns this year.

Since mid-February, Responsys has seen more than 55% of major retailers promoting their Pinterest presences using email. 

Pinboards are the most-promoted Pinterest assets, with 53% of retailers highlighting theirs to subscribers. 17% have also promoted a Pinterest-based contest, while 6% have added Pin It sharing links to their emails.

Boticca finds Pinterest drives more sales than Facebook

A cases study from Boticca we published in May revealed that Pinterest was helping to drive more sales than Facebook.

The jewellery and accessories e-tailer found that after integrating ‘pinning’ buttons across its website Pinterest has become its number one social referrer, assisting roughly 10% of sales, compared to 7% from Facebook.

Furthermore, Pinterest users spend more than twice as much as Facebook users ($180 vs. $85), and the site drives higher numbers of new customers. 86% of visits from Pinterest are new to Boticca compared to 57% from Facebook.

However Pinterest users didn’t trump Facebook in all areas of e-commerce, as the social upstart has a 51% lower conversion rate than Facebook.  

And looking at time spent on site and the number of different pages visited, Pinterest users are less engaged than Facebook users.

Boticca’s CEO Kiyan Foroughi put it down to the fact that Pinterest users are in discovery or shopping mode, while Facebook users are primarily looking to socialise with friends.

For an ecommerce site such as ours focused on fashion accessories, Pinterest’s demographic, which is mostly female, affluent and in the US (where we already make 30% of our sales) is ideal. The better matching demographic results in higher sales.

Pinterest drives more traffic than Twitter for Sony

Back in June Sony gave us an insight into its Pinterest strategy, which began with research into what brand content was already being shared.

By knowing what fans wanted, this allowed the Sony team to plan its potential boards and analyse the assets they already had in its Flickr community, in house and in its archives.

At launch, Sony utilised other channels to promote its Pinterest account. The team also increased pin frequency to four pins a day and created additional boards as needed to keep momentum going.

By June it had more than 2,300 brand followers, 1,200 likes on Sony pins and more than 2,500 pins from the Sony website.

More importantly, Sony’s Pinterest boards have driven:

  • an 800% increase in traffic from Pinterest to the Sony store website.
  • 2.5 times the traffic driven by Twitter (which has 80,000 followers) to the website.
  • 10 times more clicks of the Pin-it button than the Tweet This one.

Study finds that revenue per click from Pinterest beats Facebook and Twitter

According to marketing technology company Convertro Pinterest represented 17.4% of social media revenue for e-commerce sites in April, up from just 1.2% in Q2 2011.

The data was taken from 40 of its clients, most of which are top 500 internet retailers.

Convertro predicted that it would grow to 40% of social e-commerce transactions by the end of Q2 2012 reducing Facebook’s share to slightly under 60% from 86% in 2011.

Furthermore, if you measure the big three social media sites on a ‘first touch’ revenue per click basis, Pinterest is the clear winner beating Twitter by more than 400% and Facebook by 27%.

Study finds Pinterest referrals lower than most other major social networks

It’s not all good news for Pinterest – in contrast to other studies on this list, stats from Shareaholic show that Pinterest’s referrals trailed nearly every other major social network you can think of for most of the year.

It peaked above Twitter and StumbleUpon in June, but otherwise its stats weren’t very impressive.

Here is a summary of Shareaholic’s data, which tracks more than 200,000 websites that use the company’s sharing widget, from January to June 2012.

Bizrate says Pinterest is better at inspiring purchases than Facebook

According to a new Bizrate report 69% of online consumers who visit Pinterest have found an item they’ve purchased or wanted to purchase as compared to only 40% of online consumers who visit Facebook.

The survey, which interviewed 7,431 online buyers from August 9 to 17, also found that significantly more online consumers agree that Pinterest is a place to “get inspiration on what to buy” and “help keep track of or collect things I like.”

The report also shows that Pinterest users are more likely to be ‘creators’: adding and sharing retailer/brand related content. 

In contrast Facebook users are more likely to be ‘participators’: interacting with promotional activities developed by retailers and brands.

However Pinterest still doesn’t come close to Facebook in terms of reach. 

Data from September shows that while 63% of online consumers have a Facebook account; only 15% of online consumers have a Pinterest account.