Is Pinterest positioned for a comeback?

Red Engine senior digital and content strategist, Paul Isbell
By Red Engine senior digital and content strategist, Paul Isbell | 20 March 2017
Paul Isbell

In 2012 Pinterest had the fastest growth rate of any social media platform growing active users 673% in a single year. Then the wheels seemed to fall off as other platforms began to monetise their offerings, while Pinterest was slow on the uptake.

In addition, the launch of Snapchat and growth of Instagram resulted in the platform becoming the forgotten contender. However, could it be 2017’s comeback kid?

Last week the platform announced that promoted pins have now been rolled out across Australia, and New Zealand and that:

  • Monthly active users grew by more than 20% in Australia last year
  • Two million ideas are saved each day in Australia
  • Top categories include: DIY projects, food and drink, fashion, art and home decor

In addition, The Wall Street Journal reported that the company earned over $300 million in revenue in the US last year where it has been marketed as a visual search engine and already has a huge influence on users’ shopping habits.

One third of Pinterest users have bought something online or in a store after seeing it on the platform (this data comes from a Pinterest-commissioned Milward Brown survey). Suggesting that Pinterest’s search ads may be capturing a wider spectrum of a user’s buying behaviour during search.

Currently you can buy promoted pins to raise brand awareness, promote engagement campaigns and drive website traffic, and like Facebook and Google, you can retarget customer and website databases. The ad API now also works in a similar way to Google by allowing you to bid against key search terms such as ‘healthy dinner recipes’ where users can discover a range of options that fall under that category, or ‘blue shoes’ with the option to click through and buy.

Pinterest is of course extremely effective in delivering results at the bottom of the funnel especially against the intent phase and for verticals such as food and lifestyle, it can deliver instant measurable results for your clients.

Things start to get interesting when we consider the innovations the platform has in the pipeline.

Let’s say your promoted pin leads a user to find your ‘healthy dinner recipe’. Most of us haven’t got the time to go and look for all the ingredients; we all lead busy lives. With partners like FreshDirect or Instacart, you could instantly get the entire recipe delivered to your door. Something Woolworths and Coles must certainly have on their radar.

There is also the launch of Pinterest Lens. Snap a picture of a food item and Pinterest will suggest recipes. Or, snap a photo of a pair of shoes and Pinterest will suggest possible outfits to wear them with. Think of it as a visual Shazam. It’s gone one step further than Google and become a ‘real world’ search engine that helps you find things without entering descriptions that may not deliver you the results you need. Then you can click through and buy the product and the associated pins may even drive up-sell.

The way that users interact with this platform is drastically going to change over the next 12-18 months and if marketed in the right way, we could start to see it widen its user base and appeal.

The elephant in the room is of course that Amazon is about to land, so e-commerce will be a core focus for Australian retailers over the next 12-18 months. With major department stores and discount chains needing to figure out a way to compete. Woolworths has already announced a task force to counter the effect this will have on its business.

So the opportunity is now prime for Australian retailers - within certain verticals - to partner with this social-search engine hybrid and build real associations with the sales metrics and revenue numbers clients have been calling out for since social marketing first became the ‘buzz trend’ in 2010. The challenge for Pinterest is that it needs to show Australian brands it can deliver.

By Red Engine senior digital and content strategist, Paul Isbell

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