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.