12.02.2012 Will pinning become the new tweeting for PR professionals?

It’s our latest obsession at Cake Comms HQ. So what’s fuelling the rise of Pinterest, a new online bulletin board for your favourite images? We take a look at its main features and explore how brands can take advantage of this zeitgeist-storming social networking platform.

Firstly, the idea behind Pinterest is incredibly simple. Find something you like on the internet, ‘pin’ it onto a virtual pinboard and your followers can see your latest discoveries. Whether it’s a pair of shoes, a hairstyle, or a new product in your favourite range, followers can like, comment or re-pin it to their own boards. This means your Pinterest pins can quickly go viral. Pinterest essentially combines the visual functionality of Flickr with the sharing ethos of Delicious.

You can ‘pin’ on the move thanks to the smartphone app, email your Pinterest boards to friends and link them to your Facebook and Twitter profiles to easily share new discoveries. We blogged about the rise of Instagram as a social media tool recently, and we think Pinterest is taking off for the same reason; 65% of the population are classified as ‘visual learners’ – people who prefer to discover and learn new things with visual tools. So it’s easy to see why image-based social media platforms are in the ascendancy.

The site gained more than 7 million unique visitors in December 2o11, up from 1.6 million in September. And it’s driving more traffic to company websites and blogs than YouTube, Google+ and LinkedIn combined, according to content-sharing site Shareaholic. For PR and design professionals, there are a lot of uses for Pinterest, particularly if you represent brands that have a visual offer such as lifestyle products, fashion or food. But as with any new social network, the key is to spend time understanding, exploring and getting to grips with how the community works before diving in.


Firstly, Pinterest offers an exciting, visual way to tell a story and give customers a way to share your story with their personal networks. It’s also a great idea development tool – instead of explaining your vision with words you can create a board and pin onto it a host of photos that illustrate your vision to share with clients and co-workers.

As each pin links back to the site where the image is hosted, it’s also a great way to discover new blogs and bloggers. As with anything we would recommend to a client, the use of Pinterest would be based on whether it’s relevant for their audiences and brand messages. But Pinterest have made it very clear that brands are welcome to take advantage of the opportunity it provides. There are already quite a few companies building a presence on the site. Enid Hwang, community manager of Pinterest, said: “A brand’s account is no different than a regular user’s. We strongly discourage any user to pin purely for self-promotion.

For example, exclusively pinning products or images from your own site is not the primary goal of Pinterest, nor is it an effective way to expand your reach.” If you are interested in tapping into the potential that Pinterest offers, start off by creating your own profile and spending a few hours getting used to ‘pinning’. Then, start looking at how others are using the site.

A good trick is to run a keyword search and see what other people are posting in the areas that you want to pin. As an emerging platform, the possibilities of Pinterest for brands are still to be fully explored. But one thing is clear; if a picture paints a thousand words, image-based social media platforms will be the ones to watch in 2012. Watch this space!