With the considerable attention that Pinterest is getting these days, many individuals and companies are wondering whether and how they should be developing their “Pinterest strategy”. Rather than thinking about a Pinterest strategy, I would challenge companies to use this time to figure out which types of interest-based social networks are optimal for engagement and participation for their particular brands. Influence within interest graphs is often coveted by companies trying to reach their target customers through social technologies. But if the interests of a specific network are not aligned with the products and services of the brand, then spending time defining a strategy for that network may not be the best use of anyone’s time.
To be sure, Pinterest is clearly showing some impressive numbers. Last month, according to ComScore, the site had over 11.7M monthly unique visitors. In addition, a Shareaholic study placed the percentage of referrals from Pinterest at a higher number than Google Plus, LinkedIn and YouTube combined. But looking deeper into the metrics, we see that the most engaged users of the social network are upper-middle class women in middle America. Referral traffic from the site is promising, but it is mainly to lifestyle-focused retailers and it is unlikely that anyone in the web metrics world thought that Google Plus, LinkedIn or YouTube were driving tons of traffic.
The point is that Pinterest is great for companies whose customers fall within the demographics and interest graph where people are having related exchanges. If when you listen, your customers are not engaging on Pinterest conversations, then you can probably hold off on this specific social network. Don’t pay attention to those who say you might miss the train. If you have a strategy for current and future interest-based social networks, you should be fine. But focus on what matters today.
We should also keep in mind that there are a number of interest-based social networks besides Pinterest which already exist: including Instagram, Foodspotting and Fitocracy. In addition to these networks, there are clearly forums and web communities that target on specific interests from maternity to motorcycle racing. If talk about Pinterest has raised awareness for being a part of communities that are not Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, this is a good opportunity to identify the types of communities which are directly to your business.
And it all inevitably comes back to listening. It is a lot easier to be where your customers are talking than to force them to find you on networks that your company thinks are important. Monitor conversations about your company and your competitors, figure out which communities have the biggest bulk of posts, and define your strategy based on this analysis.