Pinterest is Simple, But Strategy is Still Required

As people continue to wrap their brains around Pinterest, writers are offering up some easy explanations for what it is.

“Simply put, Pinterest is a visually dazzling bulletin board, enabling users to bookmark and curate images or virtually fold over pages of their favorite catalogs,” says TIME magazine.

But after some weeks of seeming nonstop coverage of the site, we’re now moving into the phase where people are putting more thought into how it can be used as more than just a hobby. Especially now that we have word that it’s the “fastest growing site ever” and its driving crazy amounts of retail traffic.

This can quickly make things more complicated.

Yesterday, Vitrue’s CEO Reggie Bradford offered five ways that brands can “leverage” Pinterest on TechCrunch. Among them, make it easier for people on your marketing teams to post good content.

And both Kaplow and Mediabistro’s own 10,000 Words give some shining examples of who’s worth following on Pinterest. Kaplow’s list is more general while 10,000 Words focuses on media boards.

As those two posts show, a Pinterest page requires a plan and a purpose in order to rise above being just a bunch of pictures. As with every new channel that comes along, marketers shouldn’t jump on board without a goal for what this new tool is meant to accomplish.

At the same time, it’s important to remember the brilliantly plain point of the site: post up great pictures of things that you’re really interested in.

“The beauty of Pinterest is that it doesn’t manufacture a need,” says PBS’ MediaShift blog. “…Pinterest takes what we all already do, puts it online, and makes it easier, simpler and more elegant.”

Also important for marketers, is the MediaShift quote from the site’s “Pin Etiquette”: “Pinterest is designed to curate and share things you love. If there is a photo or project you’re proud of, pin away! However, try not to use Pinterest purely as a tool for self-promotion.”

In other words, don’t go on there getting all flack-y.

Nieman Journalism Lab published a much-tweeted story last week about the Wall Street Journal‘s use of Pinterest (and other digital channels) to cover New York Fashion Week. It also highlights some of the other ways that the paper is using Pinterest to highlight the paper’s famous wood cuts and historic front pages. In other words, it’s using Pinterest as a way to showcase images that naturally flow from the paper’s everyday reporting process.

“It’s a cool way to expose the Journal’s content to some people who might not know about it,” said Emily Steel, one of the Journal reporters covering the fashion shows.

We still have a ways to go to see Pinterest’s full potential. And there are tools in the works that will enhance the Pinterest experience in the future. But for now, it’s best to take it slow and, if you’re working with a client that may benefit from Pinterest exposure, carefully determine how that can be done without annoying this growing audience.