What Do the Pinterest/Instagram ‘Buy’ Buttons Mean for PR?

Industry vets weigh in.

Last week, Pinterest and Instagram both turned heads by confirming rumors that had been floating around for some time: both would be entering the e-commerce market via “buy buttons” and related tools that connect sponsored posts directly to revenue streams for the first time.

We know this means bigger credit card bills for social media devotees everywhere. It also means that marketers can finally enter dollar amounts in the “ROI” columns of their social media spreadsheets.

But what about PR agencies and their retail clients? We asked some industry veterans for their takes.

From Marco Iannucci, director of strategy at SparkPR:

“The new Instagram and Pinterest units are about instant gratification for the consumer. It changes the whole last-touch attribution model.  You’re no longer driving people to a site, you’re delivering a brand experience within another brand.

The question for the PR paid/earned model is how do you optimize the experience? Every piece of content you put out now is critical. It’s so much more important to be on point. For launches, it could be the digital equivalent of how Beats By Dre launched with Lebron and the Olympic team showing up in Shanghai wearing them.”

From Jasper Nathaniel, VP of business development and strategy at social influence/insights platform Crowdtap:

“Pinterest and Instagram have emerged as leading channels for brand and product discovery, so it’s no surprise that those platforms are evolving their ad offerings to better bridge the gap between social media and commerce.

That said, these are places where real people–not brands or media properties–shape the conversation. Ads are secondary to the overall experience, so PR agencies need to follow the rules of the road and prioritize authenticity and relevance over disruption.”

instagram stock

From Dave Weinberg, CEO of Pinterest-focused influencer platform Loop88:

“We work with many agencies – public relations and advertising – and find that the firms know the value that Pinterest brings for their clients. And Buy It pins take that to the next level.

With Buy It Pins, marketing campaigns are taken to the next level for agencies and clients. Beyond brand awareness and creating original content, the Buy It pins take those pins and makes it possible for people to buy and reach the ultimate conversion.”

From Eric Berto, program director at Seattle’s Voxus PR:

“[These] announcements along with other social commerce opportunities such as Twitter’s buy button and Facebook’s attempt to offer vendors direct purchases all come with a number of opportunities and challenges.

With the exception of the Pinterest button, the others are positioned as ad units, which can be prohibitive for SMBs or those hoping to simply pilot the program. In some instances it even asks merchants to switch their payment processing services, which can be a logistical nightmare as well as an excuse expensive switch.

When looking at this as a PR person, I consider the evolution of the paid, earned, owned and shared model. With the guidance that PR should contribute to a company’s bottom line, there could be some interesting opportunities for direct-to-consumer activations. We are now able to create visual stories that target specific audiences and position a brand directly in front of a consumer, or even influencers. Data has long shown that visuals increase engagement. This is an opportunity to see if visuals increase conversions, which should be a goal of any PR program.”

The basic lessons, then, it that clients must be even more strategic about the material they share on these networks–and that the act of drawing a direct line from a brand’s story to a consumer’s point of sale has never been more important.

What do we think? How have these new tools changed our approach to campaigns involving Instagram and Pinterest?

@PatrickCoffee patrick.coffee@adweek.com Patrick Coffee is a senior editor for Adweek.