Pinterest may be great for buzz and Website traffic, but what does it mean to your business? Here's what every CIO should know about the popular social network.
1. Pinterest is still in its infancy. Pinterest, a social bulletin-board website, joined the social media field in 2010, and it's still catching up. In late 2012, the site added business accounts that let companies create themed boards for their products or content. At the end of 2013, Pinterest released its first API to select businesses such as Target and Zappos.
Gleaning data from the API is critical for gauging Pinterest's business impact. "The first thing the CIO will hear is, 'How can I get data out of Pinterest for stakeholders?'" says Susan Etlinger, an analyst at Altimeter Group. Businesses can request APIs to obtain data such as most-clicked pins or most recent pins.
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2. It needs deeper analytics. Business pages include basic analytics to monitor what's being pinned as well as impressions and clicks. But Pinterest needs to provide more ways to analyze data to determine whether pins are converting into sales and deeper customer engagement. A pin is only tied to a sale if the customer clicks on it and purchases the item from the linked website.
3. You'll get supply-chain insights. Pins stay on Pinterest forever, which can indicate if an item remains popular even when it's sold out. This data can help companies make supply-chain decisions such as whether to restock or increase production, says Etlinger. Users are disappointed if they click a pin and find that the page no longer exists or the item is out of stock, so keep tabs on previously pinned products, says Etlinger, and if they're no longer for sale, use the page to recommend similar items.
4. It's not all about sales. Consumers pin items that they find inspirational or that they'd like to buy someday. "Pinterest was not built as the last place you go before you buy something," says Etlinger. "It's at the beginning of the customer journey." Lowe's, for example, posts Pinterest links to blog posts about home and garden projects in hopes they'll inspire a trip to a Lowe's store. Brands can also include Pinterest links in their marketing emails to generate buzz and drive website traffic.
5. Marketers must think broadly. Retailers aren't the only good candidates for Pinterest business pages. Four Seasons Hotels, which has Pinterest pages for its overall brand and its hotel locations, has seen a 1,000 percent year-over-year increase in average daily visitors to its website from Pinterest. But at the outset, organizations should think about their social media presence broadly and use the specific channels that best fit their business strategy, says Nate Elliott, an analyst at Forrester Research. "If you start by saying, 'What's our Pinterest strategy?' I guarantee it will fail."
Read more about social media in CIO's Social Media Drilldown.