For Millennials, Pinterest isn’t just another social community; it’s quickly become an inspiration hub. It brings the fun of window shopping, watching your favorite HGTV show and flipping through a travel magazine all into one experience. It’s no wonder the average time spent on Pinterest is over an hour per visit.
While Facebook is all about where I am and what I’m doing, Pinterest is where people share who they want to be, what they want to do or where they want to go. Because Pinterest is aspirational and Millennials use it to imagine, it presents brands with unique and interesting ways to use it. Here are just a few:
Simply posting pictures about things from other categories that are relevant to your audience’s life doesn’t inspire. The opportunity is to think about your content through the lenses of “could this give people an interesting idea? Or does it give them a reason to share?” Millennials are looking for inspiration. West Elm and Whole Foods do this right. West Elm gives people a lot of ideas on how to use and apply different design trends. Whole Foods gives people ideas on how to play and have fun with food – not just eat healthier. Your ability to give Millennials things to think about and do will not only inspire them but also make you more interesting in their eyes.
Share your culture, not just your product.
Millennials desire authenticity and realness. It’s why they are increasingly looking to buy local for food, and why sites like Etsy have such a tribal following.
Pinterest allows brands to show who they are, not just what they offer. It’s a chance to give people a look into your culture, and to meet the people who make it all happen. “The Today Show” has a board dedicated to “Anchor Antics” that allows people to see the anchors as just that – people. And, it’s an opportunity to gain access to a part of the brand that most people can’t experience first hand. Likewise, Annie’s Homegrown has a board that’s just about things that make them laugh. It shows personality, and it says they’re human which adds the realness Millennials desire. It’s surprising that a company like Zappos, which views its culture as a secret weapon, hasn’t taken advantage of Pinterest in this way. It would be a great place for people to see it in action.
Flatter your audience. Show that you’re interested in them.
Your success with Millennials in Pinterest also relies on your ability to show you’re interested in what they are doing, not just in what you’re posting. After all, doesn’t flattery get you everywhere?
At the simplest level, re-pin content from people who are following you and tell them why you’re repining it. Does it give you an idea? Did you think it was a cool use for something? Does it inspire a new product idea?
And flatter those you would love to flatter you: your influencers. See what the most influential bloggers in your space are pinning and re-pinning. Don’t just wait for them to find you. Show them you’re interested in what they have to say about other things as well. Show them you’re listening, and they might start following you a little closer.
You can also ask people to build your boards with you. Ask them to pin pictures of themselves using your brand and re-pin those on a special board that acknowledges them. Whether you run it as a contest or just publicize that you want to hear from them, it will let them know you’re listening and that you value them as people and contributors.
Use Pinterest as a living, breathing ethnography.
Sam Gosling’s book, Snoop, demonstrates what the things in people’s lives say about them. In fact, we’ve used that methodology in a lot of research projects to better understand – and empathize – with different audiences. Pinterest can be an ongoing research project that allows you to do that in real time, at scale – constantly.
Brands can follow the people who follow them. See what else they do, and what other brands they’re into? Learn what interests them and what doesn’t. What do they wish they were doing? You’ll understand their lifestyles, not just buying styles. You’ll understand them as people and it just might shed some new light on how your brand could connect with them in new and different ways.
Use it for some down-and-dirty R&D.
Because Pinterest is a community all about what people want, they are constantly pinning things they’re interested in – things they wish they had. Brands can benefit from that sense of imagination.
Take some rough product ideas and see what your followers think of them. Or ask them for their input on what they think you should be creating. ModCloth does this with their “be the buyer” feature. Even the smallest things can give you new product ideas. Maybe your audience is really into dogs. Is there a product extension that could tap into that passion? For a fashion company, maybe that’s dog-wear. For an airline, maybe that’s a new “product” designed to take care of their travelers’ pets or help them fly in style. Given that a large majority of Pinterest users have household incomes of less than $75K, financial services companies could create new types of products that could help their customers attain the things on their wish list.
Brands have the opportunity to demonstrate that they can be listeners almost as much as they are conversationalists. It’s that notion of being both interesting and interested, combined with the fact that people are using Pinterest to imagine - that can lead to interesting and more valuable uses for Pinterest. And that innovation can deepen your connection with Millennials.