Can social media and e-commerce successfully work together to drive business? In our last post, we focused on why Facebook fails as an e-commerce platform; now we’ll look at why Pinterest works so well for retail.
Pinterest’s growth has been exponential; hitting 10 million visitors per month faster than any other website, and usage numbers recently topped 20 million. Though growth rates are slowing, Pinterest is showing nearly unprecedented levels of engagement, and is driving traffic to retailers at levels no other social media platform has been able to achieve.
Pinterest is a free social media platform that captivates users with the ability to browse through various eye-catching images for inspiration and save and share their findings. Why does Pinterest work so well? It’s focused around sharing and engagement, with a high level of visual interaction that make it an excellent tool for marketing visual brands; it also leverages existing customer engagement and allows them to share it with friends and followers.
Users are given empty boards to fill with images they love. These boards house many different topics and the user can personalize the titles—e.g., fashion, food, holiday ideas, favorite products, etc., and users can also create their own board around any topic that sparks their interest. It’s easy to browse and easy to share: after clicking an image, users can like, comment, pin, re-pin, or follow the side link to the image’s originating website. Being one click away from a product page, Pinterest drives a high number of traffic to external sites—more than YouTube, Google+ and LinkedIn combined. Yes, you read that right.
With virtual storefronts being a driving force in e-commerce, Pinterest is a great avenue for products and stores. In a recent study, five major retailers reported July 2011 to December 2011 total same-store referral traffic from Pinterest rose 289%, with much of that traffic converting to sales.
A major differentiator for Pinterest is the focus on images. We’ve all heard the cliché that a picture is worth a thousand words, and it’s a cliché for a good reason. The images found on Pinterest have been curated by like-minded individuals, and can create an immediate spark of affinity and connection that are lost in even the best retail sites–and the consumer browsing the website is only one click away from purchasing.
Pinterest allows for a high level of interaction among users, friends, consumers, and marketers. To further boost products, a consumer posts a photo on their board or ‘likes’ an image—the user then becomes an influencers to his or her friends and further helps promote the photo or product and make it viral. The number of ‘likes’ also reflect a public endorsement of products. Pinterest allows sharing among other social media sites like Twitter and Facebook. On Facebook, Pinterest has 9 million connected users, which dramatically increases reach and sharing potential.
Pinterest and e-commerce work well together due to the high levels of interaction and engagement between consumers and marketers, and succeed in driving traffic and sales for retail sites where Facebook fails, because it’s one step closer to that shared virtual shopping experience.