Pinterest has been all the rage recently, with various news sites and brands sitting up and taking notice. Pinterest.com isn’t new, though…it was (Beta) launched in 2010 and rose to fame in 2011 when it was declared one of the 50 best websites of the year by TIME magazine. By the end of last year, it garnered a lot more attention as it made it to the Hitwise list of top 10 social networks, Techcrunch’s best new startup title and also gained a reputation for driving more referral traffic to online retailers than YouTube, Google+ or LinkedIN.
So what’s the big deal, you ask? And, what, pray tell…is it exactly?
What Pinterest is (and isn’t)
Pinterest is basically like a giant digital tack-board / notice-board / scrapbook. It is a social photo sharing website that allows users to create collections (essentially photos and videos) of the things they like. The site’s mission statement is to “connect everyone in the world through the ‘things’ they find interesting.”
So essentially if you find an interesting photo or video that you like on the web, you can “Pin” it to an appropriate pinboard on your Pinterest profile and add a comment / tagline. You can also follow other users’ pinboards and like or repin the content they share. To make “pinning” easier, you can add a browser bookmark so you can quickly pin the photos and videos you want without leaving the site you’re on.
What Pinterest isn’t is another Flickr or Facebook…there are no status updates and most of the content you find on the site actually lives on other sites, so people can view your pinned content but also click through to the original site or webpage where you found it.
Creating an account is easy, despite the invitation-only mode pinterest.com is still in…just request an invite and you should see one come through fairly quickly.
Why is it popular…and who’s actually using Pinterest?
A good question to ask, of course…after all, does every new social network deserve our attention? We’ve seen plenty of fads come and go in the social media space. While gauging long-term interest in social applications and the longevity of social sites is anybody’s guess (remember MySpace?), Pinterest does seem to have carved out a niche for itself. The site is immensely popular with women and a vast majority of the content on the site is lifestyle based. A recent infographic by Mashable also suggests that the Pinterest.com user base is:
- Fairly affluent, with $100k+ avg incomes and 28.1% users “well off”
- The time (15.8 mins) users spend on the site is significant (more than Facebook and close to YouTube)
- 68.2% are women (an incredible 97% of Pinterest Facebook fans are women) and 50% of users have children
- Attracts approx 1.36 million visitors a day and is growing at 2,702% since May 2011
- Pinterest refers more traffic to retailer sites than YouTube, Google+ & Linkedin combined!
- A vast majority of content is repinned / reshared amongst users on Pinterest
Why should hotels take notice of Pinterest?
While many hotels still need to get their social media basics right, there are quite a few that have invested the right resources in making social media work for them…these hotels can certainly benefit from experimenting with Pinterest. Here are just a few thoughts on applications of Pinterest for hotels:
- Show off your design / style / brand credentials: Pinterest is a great visual way to showcase everything that makes your brand, hotel, resort, restaurant, bar or architercture & design unique. If you’ve invested in great photography and video, this is a great way to put it to use and showcase all the features, design elements and spaces that make up your hotel or brand personality. For long-term rich media content, professionally shot photos and videos are a must…but for regular social media posts even Instagram photos are a great, stylish & free way to showcase the best bits about your business.
- Act as a destination concierge: This has opportunity written all over it. The Pinterest boards you create are limited only to your imagination…a travel bucket list, must-see places, hidden gems from the city and locale, great places for fun, dining & entertainment, etc. Good planning and effort can transform your Pinterest profile into a virtual destination concierge. The beauty of this is you don’t always have to shoot the photos or videos…you just need to find them on the web and showcase them with relevant commentary.
- Add a visual twist to your Food & Beverage marketing efforts: Think recipes, chef profiles, healthy eating tips, in-house / local sustainability efforts, amazing signature drinks, wine recommendations and more…Pinterest offers a great way to visually market everything that’s great about your restaurants, bars, culinary talent and the food you serve.
- Special occasions and events: Pinterest is a natural fit to showcase your facilities and especially tips, layouts and experiential shots of your event, banqueting or wedding facilities. Wedding planning related content is a specific niche to explore if that is an important part of your business. A few choice photos of special events, personalities or setups you’ve hosted won’t hurt either…as long as you have permission to use the photos / videos.
- Search Engine Optimization: Pinterest is a great way to positively impact your SEO efforts – it still does not utilize “nofollow” tags on links like Facebook & other sites, so you still benefit from the links coming in to your hotel / resort / restaurant websites. It’s also another way to capture a natural search engine listing and drive 3rd party listings down for searches related to your brand or business name.
- Website Referrals & Traffic: Pinterest has already proven to be a great generator of direct referral traffic, especially for lifestyle content…this offers a great way to drive traffic to your own site/s, as long as the content you’re pinning sits on your own web pages (another great argument to invest wisely in high quality photos and videos!)
- Crowdsource inspiration and engage users: A pinboard it may be…but Pinterest is still very much a “social” network. Don’t forget to connect with other users, engage with them and like / comment on relevant content. Growing a following is important, as is keeping your activity stream fresh and engaging. Pinterest may be a great way to crowdsource inspiration too…or have your followers contribure content or participate in competitions (e.g. your favourite holiday memories, the best feature you love about Hotel x, your hot tip when visiting xyz destination, etc).
Remember to keep content experiential…Pinterest is not yet another site you can simply “push” content out to (as a matter of fact, if you’re doing that on ANY social network…please stop now). Other tips and caveats:
- Make sure you set up your profile right and remember to include links to your official site
- Use the right captions, keywords and hashtags when pinning content
- Be consistent with your brand values…after all, you’re doing this for a good business & marketing reason
- Pinterest is all about “interests” (therefore the name)…not about promotions, flyers, ads and boring old photography you’d find on your website anyway.
- Remember to observe, like, comment and engage with the Pinterest community
- Be wary of copyright issues…own the content you re-publish, ask for permission if you’re going to shoot and share photos / videos of people and give credit where it’s due. There’s very likely to be more changes to the way Pinterest handles copyright claims in the future (like YouTube does, for example), so that’s something to watch out for.
- When running competitions and other interactive campaigns, remember to spell out the terms and conditions clearly, plus plan for tracking success and dealing with the fall-out if something goes wrong.
Hope you find the above Hotelier guide to Pinterest useful for your hotels or restaurants…here are some more sources of great practical info on Pinterest:
- Pinterest Help and Frequently Asked Questions
- 26 Tips for Using Pinterest for Business
- Mashable updates on Pinterest
Have tips or examples of hotels, resorts, restaurants or bars that are doing a great job of using Pinterest.com? Leave a comment and let us know!