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Pinterest Is a Business Necessity

Pinterest sales actionable social siteIs Pinterest the most sales actionable social network out there? This very question came to me as I came across a recent interview with Pinterest CEO Ben Silbermann in MIT Technology Review. When asked the question oft-dreaded by many a techrepreneur, namely, “when do you plan on making money,” the first sentence of Silbermann’s reply struck me as instructive: “The whole reason Pinterest exists is to help people discover the things that they love and then go take action on them, and a lot of the things they take action on are tied to commercial intent.” While this snippet (the rest of his reply was similarly tangential to the question asked) sounds a bit like an opaque dodge, for business’ and marketers, it should be a clarion call to action.

Affinity, Intent, Proximity, Action

Without getting too opaque myself, I believe that affinity informs intent. In the commercial realm, if I like a certain someone (brand) or something (product or service), I am more likely to feel a connection, and in turn take a commercial (read consumer)-oriented action, than if I am indifferent to or negatively-disposed toward that someone or something.

Moreover, proximity helps transform intent into action. If I am craving a hoagie and there is a deli around the corner (proximate to me), I will probably stop in and purchase a hoagie; if however, the nearest hoagie shop is 10 miles away, odds are I will end up eating something else.

If, therefore, affinity drives intent and proximity drives action, the name of the game for businesses great and small is to be likeable and accessible to ones target audience.

Pinterest is Sales-Actionable

That’s where Pinterest comes in. I honestly believe that every business- regardless of size or market orientation- should be on Pinterest. Why? Because the site’s very structure makes it the most sales-actionable social media platform around. The sole focus of Pinterest is to allow users to visually express (pin) the things they enjoy and then share them with others of like inclination. As such, the site is rife with pools of “affinity,” each one full of latent intent. Brands showcasing products and services on Pinterest are creating ready proximity to these pools, the missing ingredient needed to stimulate consumer action.

Setting philosophy aside, here are some hard numbers in support my contention that Pinterest is the most sales-actionable social network out there. Many of these stats were taken from econsultancy’s recent eBook, “Pinterest for Business: A Best Practice Guide.”

Favorable User Demographics

  • Pinterest has more than 20 million monthly active users spending on average over 90 minutes on the site each month; there are 12 million users in the US alone.
  • Pinterest is now the 3rd highest-trafficked social media site in US.
  • 80% of Pinterest users are women; 50% of all Pinterest users have children. Source: Search Engine Journal

Pinterest Users are Especially Social

  • Pinterest Pins with likes get 36% more Re-pins than those without. Source: Shopify
  • Over 80% of Pins are Re-pins. Source: Media Bistro
  • The average user has 35 boards and 2,500 Re-pins. Source: Repinly 

Pinterest Users are Brand-Focused

  • 43% of Pinterest members agree that they use Pinterest to “associate with retailers or brands with which I identify”, compared to just 24% of Facebook users who agree to the same use with Facebook. Source: Bizrate Insights
  • Also in the Bizrate report, 70% of users say they are on Pinterest to get inspiration on what to buy. By contrast, only 17% use Facebook for the same.

Pinterest Users are Sales-Ready

  • 69% of online consumers who visit Pinterest have found an item they’ve purchased or wanted to purchase. This is compared with only 40% of online consumers who visit Facebook. Source: Bizrate Insights
  • Research from Rich Relevence shows the average sale resulting from a Pinterest user following an image back to its source and then buying the item is $180, compared with $80 for Facebook users and $70 for Twitter users. Source: FastCoDesign
  • Pinterest referrals spend 70% more than visitors referred from non-social sites. Source: Search Engine Journal

Marketing Takeaway

I think every business should have a presence on Pinterest. This is especially true for companies with an e-commerce function, given that images appearing on a company’s boards can be linked to external URLs (for example, if a user clicks on an image, he or she can be brought to the company’s ecommerce site checkout page). Businesses selling directly to consumers (B2C) also should be on Pinterest, using the power of interactive visual imagery to foster brand affinity and increase sales conversion.

The utility of Pinterest for businesses selling to other businesses (B2B), though, is less clear. Frankly, I’ve heard many social media managers and digital marketers say it’s a waste of time. I disagree with this notion, as my thoughts about consumer behavior outlined above (affinity leading to intent, and proximity to action) attest.

This is why. Employees, executives, and owners of every B2B company on the planet have two things in common: they are human (hopefully), and they are consumers.

As human consumers, B2B-ers act just like the rest of us, perusing social networks such as Pinterest, guided by interest and affinity. If they have any love of their job or profession (and hopefully they do), these B2B-ers will likely be drawn to Pinboards, Pins, and Repins which are in some way related to their trade. Finding something of interest (affinity/proximity), it’s not a terrible leap of logic to assume that they'll take some form of action, such as Repin a blog or check out the brand’s website (intent/action). This kind of convergence is a hallmark of the digital age.

So what’s the bottom line? Every business should be on Pinterest, period.

Join The Conversation

  • Nely's picture
    Aug 22 Posted 3 years ago Nely

    Hi Cara it is a very interesting and useful Infographic thanks for sharing it. Many business owners are still not sure about Pinterest; they are afraid to venture into more than one or two social networks, preferring instead to stick on Twitter and Facebook however Pinterest is a great platform as it offers business plenty of opportunities to grow their existing online market. Its size and continued growth plus the fact that Pinterest has been seen to drive more traffic than industry giants like LinkedIn or YouTube means business ignore it at their peril. 

    I have written an article abour it and it has some tools to boost your online engagement, it would be nice if you check it out and give me your feedback. 

  • Cara Tarbaj's picture
    Jun 21 Posted 4 years ago Cara Tarbaj

    Hey Chris,

    I feel like we don't see enough articles proving how Pinterest is beneficial for businesses. Pinterest is already a major source of product discovery for consumers.  

    Businesses are moving their marketing efforts to capitalize on it: 25% of Fortune Global 100 companies have Pinterest accounts. I feel it's especially beneficial for retailers with the product pictures linking back to websites bringing traffic and enabling easy purchases.

    You have a lot of great stats here, my colleague Dany puts a few of the ones you have (as well as some others) into an infographic: Why Pinterest is Good for Business [Infographic]

    Feel free to check it out and tell me what you think!



  • Chris Horton's picture
    Mar 8 Posted 4 years ago Chris Horton


    Thanks for the comment, and the props on the post! I totally understand your point, and somewhat agree- small businesses pressed for time should first get set up on the "mainstream" social networks most relavent to their business (which might be Pinterest, depending on their user demographic). Having said that, a few thoughts:

    a) It doesn't take much to set up a shingle on Pinterest. Once you're set up, it's relatively easy to update without too much effort or interaction.

    b) Point "a", when coupled with the site's robust engagement and conversion numbers, would suggest that it is a smart move to get set up on Pinterest, at least as a beta test.

    c) Admittedly, we don't know what direction the site will go. All of the major social networks started out small. What we do know is that the consumer adoption of mobile devices favors visually-oriented networks and easy touch-screen actionability. Pinterest provides both.

    Thanks again for your comment and insight!



  • Craig Fifield's picture
    Mar 7 Posted 4 years ago Craig Fifield

    love the post (and Pinterest) but I'm not sure *every* business should be on Pinterest. perhaps they should throw up a quick shingle for testing, but most businesses I work with are strapped for time and need to focus where the majority of their customers are, and in many industries the majority will likely never be on Pinterest regarless of how popular it gets.

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