There's no denying that Pinterest and its dozens of copycats, like Gentlemint, Pinspire, Grooblin and even Linterest (for Jeremy Lin fans), are a force to be reckoned with. In fact, it's growth over the past six months (the infographic above indicates an explosion from 1.68 million users last September to 16.23 million users in February) have launched Pinterest into the social media lexicon, sparking new conversations between marketers and brands about strategy for capitalizing on the internet's newest "big thing."
What does this mean for your brand?
The above infograpic points to five main tenants largely responsible for the Pinsplosion: Design, Critical Mass, Refuge, Accessible, Get Popular and the I Can Do That! factor. We'll talk a little more about how Pinterest has exploited each of principles below, as well how you and your brand can utilize them, too.
Simplistic design is something we're big on for good reason: it works. Efficient design is paramount for quickly communicating your brand message. When too many messages are packed into one design, let it be a logo, printed piece or website, they tend to get lost in the noise. It's like the old adage says: "When you try to please everybody you end up pleasing nobody." Pinterest has kept their design simple, funneling users to the content that really matters without sidetracking them with overwhelming design.
Critical mass for a service like Pinterest means that they can depend on the snowball effect: an exponential growth of content that is manufactured organically by their own users. Once that content is centralized in one location, convincing users to move to a new location to get the same effect becomes arduous and therefore highly unlikely – just ask Google+. This phenomenon nearly guarantees you an established platform on which to experiment, launch subsequent services and reinforce brand communication.
Pinterest offers a service with a very dedicated objective. While Facebook and Google continue to expand their empires by offering more and more features, Pinterest capitalizes on its ability to focus and excel in a smaller market space. There are no status updates, pokes or complicated messaging systems. You pin photos, videos and articles to an imaginary board. That's it.
It seems like the "simple" premise is appealing not just in the social media realm but elsewhere, too. Dollar Shave Club was one of March's hottest trends, blowing up on Twitter and Facebook. While we are yet to see the tangibility of its virality, it's uber-simple premise – spend a couple of bucks each month and never have to worry about dull razor's again – was certifiable gold in the sharing world (the hilarious video might have helped, too).
The bottom line is that whether you're selling razors or creating the next big social media network, keep it simple. Stick to what you love and know and building something that you honestly believe will change the world for the better.
On the heels of simplicity, accessibility is also a core principle of Pinterest's. Being accessible means that it is easy to integrate a product or service into the consumer's existing routine. While many brands want what Facebook has – the game-changer that shapes the very way the public approach their day – it's important to remember that is an earned privilege.
Pinterest makes it easy for users to browse other sites and still use their service rather than forcing them to scurry back to their site every time they find something of interest. While it is accessible, it doesn't hog the users attention or force them into breaking their existing routine. The two work in harmony.
We all like to see our names in lights, and Pinterest allows that opportunity in their platform. It's the same reason why folks try outrageous food challenges at restaurants – they want their picture on the wall. The takeaway for your brand is to extend to your community of customers or clients the chance to earn the spotlight. Recognition that is merely surrendered is usually forgotten and unappreciated, whereas recognition that is earned is valued on a deeper level.
You could go into a restaurant and see everybody's picture on the wall who ever sat down at a table, or the picture of the folks who finished the 5 pound burrito. Which holds more clout in your mind?
I Can Do That!
Pinterest offers an opportunity for those who are on the outskirts – in this case the outskirts of developing image boards – to jump in feet-first to a low-risk, low-commitment version of that activity. The "I Can Do That" factor means that you're reaching people outside of your normal scope and give them the "okay" to participate. These could be your most passionate users.
To learn more about building your brand to be absorbed the masses, contact TSG today.