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Pinterest Campaigns: Pin to Help Brands Win

Pinterest embodies the essence of visual social media—it delivers information in a perfect visual format, without loading users with extra text. This probably is the answer why the photo-sharing platform has succeeded so much in the past months, is driving a significant portion of users away from other social-media monsters.

The fastest growing social media website has changed the photo sharing habits across the globe and even influenced the way such giants as Facebook with over 1 billion users, short-term rental service Airbnb and global retail site eBay tend to deliver their content. Brands gladly leverage the platform to engage more consumers and promote goods in the new way. Below you can find a review on how global labels engage their consumers using photos and a pinch of creativity.

The website, which evolved from shopping app Tote, was launched in beta in March 2010 and has reached record audience within a few months. In “The Pinterest Pivot” article, Fast Company writes that “by August 2012, the site had 25 million unique monthly users, almost 20 times the number it had the same month a year earlier, and had become the fastest standalone social networking site to reach 20 million visitors, according to comScore data.” Pinterest taps into little girls’ hobby of collecting images of things they like and storing them in an album, diary or a “treasure box.” It’s no surprise that 79% of pinners are female, while it is generally considered that male are quicker adopters in technology (view the infographics below).

That’s why consumer brands’ campaigns on Pinterest are appealing rather to women, than to men. As one may see here, on the Contests board on Pinterest, most promotions revolve around pinning their favorite images for a chance to get a prize, but some brands do not want to follow this trail and start thinking out of the box, making a story behind the board.

Photo: Pinterest figures (click to enlarge), www.fastcompany.com

Connecting Pinterest users with the real world, and driving them back

Some winning Pinterest campaigns focus on sharing personal experiences in the visual form. For instance, in early April Honda launched the “Need a #Pintermission” activity, encouraging selected fans to take “a 24-hour Pinterest break, to get out and do some of the stuff you’re pinning about” (the brand provided a $500 allowance to realize the plans) and then post a photo report of their 1-day vacation. Other users could get inspired by such a great idea of getting disconnected for a while for getting more life experience.

Another car brand, Volvo, encouraged users to tell about their dream joyride using photos for a chance to get one organized by the brand (a four-day journey behind the wheel of brand-new Volvo S50 T5).

Kotex has launched an activation which married women’s passion for sharing inspirational items. The brand selected 50 Pinterest female users and asked designers to recreate the items on the women’s boards—the vases, lanterns and bowls to name but a few—using the brand’s vibrant visual approach. Kotex then asked them to re-pin the gift in order to get it. Over 700,000 impressions is a great result for a campaign on a relatively new platform, isn’t it?

Philips has recently encouraged its fans on Pinterest to celebrate their cities through the #pinyourcity activation on the platform. The brand invited people to share what they love most about their cities, championing things that make megalopolises and towns both livable and lovable. The brand’s judges will select best, most inspiring and imaginative boards, and award the users behind.

Photo: Philips’ Pin Your City competition, www.pinterest.com/philipsglobal/pinyourcity-contest

Raising awareness of social problems and healthier lifestyles

The “pin to win” approach is quite common on Pinterest, but some organizations also add a charity and social conscious twist to their promotions.

UNISEF has launched an initiative on Pinterest to tell the world a story about a 13-year-old Ami Musa from Sierra Leone, who as thousands of other African kids common essentials. The organization raises awareness of the clean water, basic education, hygiene and food issue in the poor African countries by placing a focus on a real living person to pull the emotional string. The board features six items from Ami’s wish-list, including soap, lessons, water and food—and along with repining the images, users are also invited to follow a link to donate the essentials to the kids in need.

The African Medical Research Foundation (AMREF) has also released a similar initiative on Pinterest, describing a day of a 13 year old mother living in Tanzania. Unlike the previous project, this one is just a narrative, without an action component.

Walmart has encouraged its Pinterest audience to share images of things which inspire them to be green. The supermarkets chain invited its consumers to pin 10 photos of goods from walmart.com, which make people’s life greener—participants were asked to use the WalmartGreen hashtag. The company selected the winning boards and handed $500 to the winners. In support of healthy lifestyle, Pinterest also banned pro-anorexia images and thinspiration boards to avoid participating in supporting unhealthy habits among youth.

Confused.com, an online-service which helps compare comparing car-insurance rates from various companies, launched a “high heels” competition to highlight dangers of driving a car in such footwear. The website asked users to pin their most extravagant high-heel shoes for a chance to receive a pair of flat shoes.

Photo: UNISEF’s Really Want This campaign (click to enlarge), pinterest.com/AmiMusa/really-want-these

Providing event coverage

Pinterest turns to be a great platform for covering big events. For instance, Oscar de la Renta selected its Pinterest profile as a destination here it unveiled looks from the new bridal collection as they appeared down the runway. Burberry tested the live photo coverage last week as part of its Tweetshow at London Fashion Week in September 2011, and with Pinterest this format is really winning. The trend is gaining momentum as more events get covered using Pinterest—Social Media Week Chicago 2012 and 2012 Academy Awards were among them.

Photo: Ocsar de la Renta’s show on Pinterest (click to enlarge), pinterest.com/oscarprgirl/bridal

Getting users to other platforms

Earlier this spring, Peugeot also launched an activation, which unfortunately turned to be quite a poor attempt to generate pins, due to some technical issues, not the idea. The auto brand asked users to complete puzzles on the brand’s Pinterest channel by collecting missing pieces on Peugeot.com.pa and facebook/Peugeot.Panama—users who wanted to complete the mission were asked to re-pin images on their boards for a chance to win a prize. A great deal of users couldn’t have as much fun as planned by the brand since they had some difficulties in finding pieces and taking them to the platform. Pinterest is all about the easiest way of sharing, and complicated approaches will definitely fail there.

Reimagining the experience on Pinterest and reshaping banners

UNIQLO has decided to add some action to the Pinterest boards by launching a bold “intervention” kaleidoscopic takeover project.

Gucci has also added the “Pin It” button to its advertising banners to encouraging its fans to pin the ads to their boards, and thus contribute to the bigger impact of the brand’s advertising effort. What Pinterest definitely has to do now is to enable users to pin literally everything they see on the web, not just photos, re-imagine the board format, making the boards easier to navigate, and add some dynamic twist to the way photos are viewed.

Here are five basic rules we have figured out after going through most prominent campaigns on Pinterest, both by global and local brands:

1. Stick to simpler schemes. Multi-stage actions are restricted on Pinterest, the simpler the better. Strip the campaign down to its essence, but be smart, too.

2. Move away from mere pin-to-win pattern. Try to keep the balance between simple approach and cleverness. It’s quite boring to just pin, suggest users a creative idea, a mission, a real challenge to be taken in the off-line world and then covered on Pinterest.

3. Choose the clear, narrow theme, and ask your users to be creative within it. Just like Sephora did with its Color Wash activation, encouraging people to create boards based on their favourite color, or fashion brand Guess, which challenged fans to create boards revolving around four spring colors.

4. Make it useful. Of course, it’s fun to pin and view images, but adding a meaningful component to this action can be just what is needed. Pinning, which either promotes healthy and active lifestyles or helps make well-thought consumer choices, can deliver more positive effects. Brands can either add prices to images with goods, or provide links to dedicated pages below pics (some of brands already do it), or even help people create shopping lists, plan their life, vacations or weekdays (and thus encourage users to think, not just pin).

5. Reward active users. Use their pinned images as the source of inspiration for your own activity. Create something based on the users’ preferences (like Kotex did), help them realize their dreams (Honda showed how), demonstrate your p-interest in what they do. You love people, people love you.

While the web is moving from texts to pictures, platforms like Pinterest are on the rise. Now, people tend to choose pictures rather than text to perceive information. But at the same time, such media can result in poorer intellectual activity and greater informational overload, it’s like books vs. TV. With Pinterest’s little focus on text, the platform should be really creative to encourage image sharing, which will be as meaningful as possible. If not, Pinterest is running the risk of becoming a digital storehouse for a plethora of shallow boards. And which is not useful, is soon to be left behind.

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