With over 70 million users, Pinterest has been getting plenty of attention from marketers. And now that the site has added a "Buy" button, B2C businesses are even more excited about the platform's potential. Meanwhile, some companies are asking if they should be using Pinterest for B2B marketing.
The answer to that question depends largely on your overall marketing strategy, capacity and assets.
Why Are Marketers Passionate About Pinterest?
Pinterest has become a darling of the marketing world for multiple compelling reasons:
- Pins last an eternity ... at least compared to a tweet. The half-life of a social media post is the average time it takes for the post to earn 50% of its interactions. According to the Wiselytics
crew, the average half-life of a tweet is 24 minutes; a Facebook post, 90 minutes. But the half-life of the average Pinterest post (called a pin) is a whopping 3.5 months. That longevity is certainly appealing.
- Pinterest helps your SEO. Pinterest boards do indeed show up in Google search results, so you can strategically name yours to coincide with your targeted keywords. Furthermore, you can include a link to your website in any pin you publish, giving you a means to build up backlinks from a trusted website.
- Visual content sells. 2014 saw a surge in the use of both images and video for marketing because people respond to visual content so well. That trend applies to both B2C and B2B; our friends at HubSpot found that visual content is a key element of all five of the most effective B2B marketing tactics.
- Pinterest's audience is diversifying. With its predominantly female audience, Pinterest has long been seen as a site for women interested in cooking, crafts and fashion. Although the site's users are still over 70% female, its male user base expanded by an incredible 73% in 2014 alone.
Crafting Your B2B Pinterest Marketing Strategy
In the B2B world, however, using Pinterest for marketing has a few caveats.
- ROI can be difficult to assess. B2C businesses can easily track sales directly from Pinterest, but B2B businesses don't usually have the same luxury; the buying cycle is usually longer for B2B businesses, and B2B businesses often sell services, which can't be purchased with a single click.
- Pinterest requires a steady stream of awesome visuals. Maybe your marketing team includes plenty of graphic design gurus who regularly hammer out snazzy infographics at the drop of a hat. (If not, ahem, give us a call!) If not, it can be tough to consistently generate the outstanding visuals necessary to engage an audience on Pinterest.
- Pinterest peeps aren't in business mode. While Pinterest's user base is changing and more B2B companies are using the platform, the majority of Pinterest users are still focused on personal pursuits, not professional ones. That means they may not be primed to respond to B2B marketing messages.
None of these caveats should necessarily be deal breakers. Pinterest can actually play an important role in a B2B company's inbound marketing strategy. If your company is already creating visual content for other aspects of your marketing campaign, Pinterest is a natural (and sometimes even ideal) fit.
And if your company has already undertaken a content marketing campaign, marketing on Pinterest can help you rev up that campaign by forcing you to pay greater attention to your visual content.
As with any inbound marketing tactic, the key is to use Pinterest strategically, as a part of your overall marketing plan. It shouldn't be a standalone or an afterthought. If you've considered adding Pinterest to your B2B marketing mix, try these four ways to integrate the platform in a meaningful, measurable way.
1. Put Pinterest to work for SEO.
As you consider which boards to start on Pinterest, look no further than your Google Analytics. Choose board titles that include your targeted keywords, and add keyword-rich descriptions to your images. Finally, include a link back to an appropriate page on your website for each image. Be sure that the content of the page aligns not only with the board title, but also with each individual image and description.
Universal Engineering Inc., based in West Palm Beach, Florida, specializes in structural and environmental engineering. You might not think of using Pinterest to market that business, but the firm has established 33 boards, each tied to a specific keyword like "foundation contractor" or "ecosystem restoration."
While Pinterest isn't a top marketing priority (the firm is much more active on Twitter), the firm has taken a strategic approach that fits with its other marketing activities and enhances their website's SEO.
To track impact on your SEO, go back to your Google Analytics. Keep an eye out for Pinterest in your list of referral sources, and pay attention to the keywords associated with the most popular boards. To dive even deeper, check out Demystifying SEO with Experiments, from the Pinterest Engineering team.
2. Give new life to your infographics and other visual assets.
Many B2B companies already invest in creating their own infographics, case studies, blog posts and other inbound marketing collateral. Repurposing your content for different platforms is a great way to maximize that investment. Whenever your company publishes content with a visual component, post that same content on Pinterest (with a link back to the appropriate web page, naturally).
One company sharing great industry visuals is the California-based JSI Logistics. The international logistics and supply chain company has a Pinterest board devoted to supply-chain infographics that even laypeople can dig (my favorite: "Top Ten Biggest Objects Moved by Trucks").
In addition to infographics, you can also pin images of ebook covers and blog post illustrations. As you plan your editorial calendar, plan a highly visual element for each item you publish. That way you will get into the habit of producing at least one image to accompany everything you publish.
You can also use Pinterest to help gauge which visual content garners the most interactions, and adapt your approach accordingly.
3. Showcase your company's quirk.
Just because you're a B2B company doesn't mean that you have to act all stuffy. Dedicate a Pinterest board to showing off your company's lighter side. Firms often think to put goofy photos on Facebook or Twitter, but they'll live longer on Pinterest. You can also use Pinterest to highlight your staff's outside interests.
Nobody likes lawyers. But I like the lawyers at Snellings Law, LLC without even meeting them. That's largely due to their Food Break! Pinterest board, where I quickly ascertained that we share a shameless affinity for chocolate, bacon and all deliciously unhealthy things in between.
This board has absolutely nothing to do with the New Jersey firm's specialization in collections and litigation, but it builds affinity with their company.
If your employees and customers are on Pinterest, consider sharing candid photos from company events on your Pinterest page. People love to share pictures of themselves, so this approach can get you some added visibility. This application of Pinterest is probably the most difficult to attach an ROI to, but it can be a great approach if you need to build a little (or a lotta) love for your brand.
4. Provide recaps of industry events.
B2B companies often invest heavily in industry events, conferences and other in-person or educational events. Maximize the value of these by providing recaps of the event; those who attended will appreciate the refresher, and those who couldn't make it will value a peek at the action. In addition to pinning photos from the event, you can also pin tweets.
This makes Pinterest an ideal place to capture the social media buzz of your event across platforms.
Look no further than LexisNexis Software for a great example of how to present industry events on Pinterest. The company's Pinterest board for LegalTech NY incorporates blog posts, pins and tweets to deliver plenty of critical takeaways for attendees. It also makes the event look enticing and worthwhile, always beneficial if you're looking to attract more attendees to next year's event.
Many companies already produce lots of inbound marketing content around their conferences and events. For example, your company may live tweet or provide daily blog updates. Bring all these together on Pinterest.