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Brands on Pinterest: Who, When and How Brands Are Using the Hottest Social Bookmarking Site

Erin Ledbetter.

Pinterest is one of the fastest growing social networks in the world right now and quickly becoming the most popular social bookmarking site for women.  As you can imagine, brands are starting to take note. But just who’s jumped on the Pinterest bandwagon? And what are they doing? Let’s take a look:


Foodie Brands on Pinterest

Food Network on Pinterest

  • Followers: 3,245
  • Following: 476
  • Last Activity: Pinned Butterfinger Cupcake to Let's Bake! 3 days ago
  • Boards: 29
  • Pins: 378
  • PinIt Button on their site: No
  • Pinning more than just their content: Yes
  • Multiple contributors: No

Organized for the home cook in us all, Food Network’s boards include a wide variety of content from across the web (including some of their own recipes of course!)  Boards like “Let’s Get Healthy”, “Let’s Game Day”, “Let’s Cheers” and “Let’s Get Seasonal: Winter Produce” are chock full of recipes to suit everyone’s taste. So far, they’ve compiled 3,200 account followers and even more following individual boards.

WholeFoods on Pinterest

Using a multi-contributor/shared board method, the Whole Foods brand account along with a few members of their marketing team, have created a sea of boards on topics ranging from “Who Wants Dinner?!” to “Edible Celebrations” and “We’re Used to Reusing!” But while their multi-contributor method has resulted in a pretty active set of boards, it’s coming across a bit schizophrenic.  Who knows, maybe they have data on their shoppers that suggests “Creative Christmas Projects” makes sense for this natural and organic grocery store to share. Even within their boards, you’re just not sure what you’re going to get which would steer me away from following boards like “Edible Celebrations”, which includes this gorgeous table scape, a festive veggie display, carved pumpkins and a few photos of Oktoberfest in Germany.

Chobani on Pinterest

  • Followers: 2,374
  • Following: 670
  • Last Activity: Pinned Never settle! to "Nothing But Good" 7 hours ago
  • Boards: 18
  • Pins: 566
  • PinIn Button on their site: No
  • Pinning more than just their content: Yes
  • Multiple contributors: No

Now this one confuses me!  Some boards make perfect sense for the brand, show the versatility of this delicious greek yogurt. With boards like “We Make a Good Pair”, “A Dollop’ll Do Ya” and even “Nothing But Good” – a nod to their brand promise – I get it.  But then I see boards like “Banana’s for Breakfast” with a few random breakfast recipes and "Let's Travel" with no nod to the brand when it comes to product or personality and I get confused.  I’m not quite sure the purpose of a board like that and worry that brands like Whole Foods and Chobani, while they appear to be a perfect fit for Pinterest, might be focused a bit too much on quantity over quality right now.

They should be asking two questions

  1. Why would my target audience want to follow this board?
  2. What content on this board would they click through or repin?

Top Chef from BravoTV on Pinterest

  • Followers: 112
  • Following: 0
  • Last Activity: Pinned Smoked Brisket with Bourbon 6 days ago
  • Boards: 4
  • Pins: 88
  • PinIt Button on their site: No
  • Pinning more than just their content: No
  • Multiple contributors: No

A newcomer to Pinterest, I think this Bravo’s approach is nearly spot on.  They created useful boards for each of the final four chefs. The boards contain the recipes of the dishes these chefs served throughout the season and they cross promoted this exclusive aggregated content to their other channels (exclusive in that it’s only organized in such a way on Pinterest, far as I can tell.)  This is a good strategy supporting the show’s content, in that viewers really identify with the contestants themselves and would want to find and share the recipes made on the show.  The problem is, while this is a great way to extend the show's value to viewers online, the show is almost over. Without a promise to followers of more content to come, Bravo is leaving me with no reason to follow their account long term.

Clothing Brands on Pinterest

Nordstrom on Pinterest

  • Followers: 9,847
  • Following: 1,230
  • Last Activity: Pinned 1901 brand to Men's Shoes - Oxfords 1 day ago
  • Boards: 26
  • Pins: 409
  • PinIt Button on their site: No
  • Pinning more than just their content: Rarely – only recently started repining some trending pins
  • Multiple contributors: No

Nordstrom has organized their boards in a way that begs the fashion-forward pinner to follow them.  They post regularly, and recently, have adopted a strategy of repining some of the most popular content on Pinterest.  They’ve even amassed one of the top follower counts of any e-commerce brand I’ve seen on the network.

That said, I have to wonder how much referring traffic leading to actual sales Nordstrom is seeing as a result of their activity. Based on our recent audience analysis of Pinterest users, I’d guess a good portion of those 9,400 followers are simply window shopping.

LandsEnd Canvas on Pinterest

  • Followers: 841
  • Following: 72
  • Last Activity: Started following bicycles by melaniexeinalem 6 days ago
  • Boards: 8
  • Pins: 78
  • PinIt Button on their site: Yes (launched Feb. 2nd, 2012)
  • Pinning more than just their content: Yes (Only 1 non-branded pin so far)
  • Multiple contributors: No

Lands’ End’s Canvas brand was one of the first brands to do a branded promotion involving the network.  Their Pin In To Win It holiday contest asked users to repin 10-20 items from the Land’s End Canvas boards and categorize them under Pinterest’s Women’s or Men’s Apparel categories. While I couldn’t find any results published by Lands' End as to whether this contest drove significant traffic or sales on their site nor did this contest result in a significant follower count, they were certainly rewarded with a few pins of their products.  Since then however, the Land’s End Canvas pinterest account has been relatively static. They’ve only pinned one item in the last four weeks and don’t appear to be promoting this account given its modest 800 followers.

Gap on Pinterest

  • Followers: 2,381
  • Following: 316
  • Last Activity: Repinned khaki officer like jacket to Not Your Dad's Khakis today
  • Boards: 11
  • Pins: 219
  • PinIt Button on their site: No
  • Pinning more than just their content: No
  • Multiple contributors: No

The Gap has wide variety of boards, leaving the potential follower wondering if they're having a bit of an identity crisis over there.  Boards like “GapFit” or “Spring Collection” make sense for the brand and for a profile viewer, but then they’ve thrown in boards like “Snowball” and “I Want Candy” leaving me thoroughly confused.  Given the enormous amount of referring traffic Pinterest has been known to drive, Gap has an opportunity here if they can get it right.

Home & Garden Brands on Pinterest

Real Simple on Pinterest

  • Followers: 34,315
  • Following: 21
  • Last Activity: Pinned Slow-Cooker French Dip Sandwiches to Best Slow-cooker Recipes 3 days ago
  • Boards: 49
  • Pins: 1,787 (wonder if they’re annoying their followers with so many pins yet…)
  • PinIt Button on their site: No
  • Pinning more than just their content: No
  • Multiple contributors: Yes

As a content producer themselves targeting the exact audience on Pinterest already, staying on brand and posting pin-worthy content is probably an easy task for Real Simple’s community manager. I suppose it’s their's to mess up given the network was practically made for their content, but either way, their strategy is to be applauded. With boards like “Best Slow-Cooker Recipes”, “New Uses for Old Things” and “Valentine’s Day Ideas”,  the Pinterest community, including Real Simple’s more than 32,000 followers, is clearly seeing value in the content this brand is sharing.  Boards are useful, relevant, on brand and fitting for the community. Bravo! Now, let’s see if they can show some ROI from this engagement. (I bet the huge increase in traffic to their site this content must be driving isn’t hurting their ad revenue.)

Better Homes & Gardens on Pinterest

  • Followers: 14,885
  • Following: 60
  • Last Activity: Pinned Toss pillows to Smart Storage Solutions today
  • Boards: 59
  • Pins: 1,101
  • PinIt Button on their site: Yes
  • Pinning more than just their content: Yes (they’ve given blogger content their own boards)
  • Multiple contributors: Yes

Similar to Real Simple, Better Homes and Gardens hit the social network jackpot with Pinterest. Their 59 boards include “Smart Storage Solutions”, “Hand-Made Christmas Gifts” and “Unconventional art” (with more followers than the brand itself at 22K!)  BHG is even showing love to their blogger friends with boards like “Blogger Twists on BHG Recipes” and “Blogger Home Projects we Love”, telling me that they know driving traffic is one of the fastest ways to a blogger's heart.

Martha Stewart on Pinterest

  • Followers: 18,767
  • Following: 31
  • Last Activity: Started following someone 5 weeks ago
  • Boards: 30
  • Pins: 2
  • PinIt Button on their site: No
  • Pinning more than just their content: Yes
  • Multiple contributors: Yes (in fact, she’s a “contributor” to quite a few boards, but with only 2 pins from the brand she’s clearly not active – see notes about the puppy and brand-jacking below)

With more than 18,000 followers on Pinterest, you’d think Martha Stewart is doing something right. Wrong! The brand seemed to start off well, with good content. Similar to Real Simple and Better Homes and Gardens, Martha’s early boards include “Slow Cooker Recipes”, “Super Bowl Food” and “Stocking Sutffers”. However, recently Martha seems to be suffering from puppy fatigue (see metaphor below) as you can see from the empty boards in the screenshot above and the fact that her most recent activity was a mere follow five weeks ago.

On the other hand, Martha might not be Martha after all – Boards like this “Bucket List” board that she’s a contributor of includes a curious list of other celebrities who may have fallen victim to the same “brand-jacker” as Martha – celebs like Alanis Morissette, whose Pinterest bio curiously reads: “The official Alanis Morissette Twitter”. In fact, Martha’s website links to this search query for her name, not the branded account shown above. (Note to Martha’s web team – in order to control the content you’re linking to and ensure they’re actual pins from MarthaStewart.com, may I suggest you try this link instead?)

Puppy Metaphor: Think of creating a social media account for a brand like a adopting puppy. You can’t just get it, play with it for a little while and then ignore it when it’s not fun anymore. Puppies are long-term investments. They require you to feed them (with content) and play with them (engage) on a daily basis.  The more puppies you have, the more work they’re going to be and you can’t just pay attention to one. So think long and hard about whether you’re truly ready to make that investment of time before adopting a new puppy.

Other Brands on Pinterest

TIME

  • Followers: 2,552
  • Following: 27
  • Last Activity: Pinned Paul McCartney to TIME Music Reviews 2 days ago
  • Boards: 16
  • Pins: 357
  • PinIt Button on their site: No
  • Pinning more than just their content: No
  • Multiple contributors: No

AMC Theaters

  • Followers: 294
  • Following: 519 (The only brand I’ve seen following more than they have followers.)
  • Last Activity: Repinned to The Hunger Games 2 days ago
  • Boards: 17
  • Pins: 1,331
  • PinIt Button on their site: No
  • Pinning more than just their content: No (not even showing a little blogger love on the “Movie News” board)
  • Multiple contributors: Yes

Travel Channel

  • Followers: 5,859
  • Following: 83
  • Last Activity: Pinned Anthony Bourdain's tips to Behind the Scenes today
  • Boards: 22
  • Pins: 456
  • PinIt Button on their site: No
  • Pinning more than just their content: Yes, on select boards
  • Multiple contributors: No

PETA

  • Followers: 324
  • Following: 10
  • Last Activity: Followed someone 2 days ago
  • Boards: 12
  • Pins: 171
  • PinIt Button on their site: No
  • Pinning more than just their content: No
  • Multiple contributors: Yes

Etsy

  • Followers: 53,580 (you go girls!)
  • Following: 499
  • Last Activity: Followed someone today
  • Boards: 25
  • Pins: 827
  • PinIt Button on their site: Yes
  • Pinning more than just their content: Yes
  • Multiple contributors: Yes (on select boards)

GE

  • Followers: 532
  • Following: 257
  • Last Activity: Pinned 2/19 Winner to The #WhatWorks Project today
  • Boards: 6
  • Pins: 249
  • PinIt Button on their site: No
  • Pinning more than just their content: No
  • Multiple contributors: No

The Weather Channel

  • Followers: 563
  • Following: 16
  • Last Activity: Repinned Winter Scenes to Winter today
  • Boards: 17
  • Pins: 522
  • PinIt Button on their site: No
  • Pinning more than just their content: Yes
  • Multiple contributors: Yes

Southwest Airlines

  • Followers: 549
  • Following: 89
  • Last Activity: Pinned SAN decked out for Valentine’s Day to Favorites 6 days ago
  • Boards: 10
  • Pins: 100
  • PinIt Button on their site: No
  • Pinning more than just their content: Yes
  • Multiple contributors: No

AARP

  • Followers: 249
  • Following: 30
  • Last Activity: Repinned Ian McKellen to Movies for Grownups 2 days ago
  • Boards: 18
  • Pins: 228
  • PinIt Button on their site: No
  • Pinning more than just their content: Yes
  • Multiple contributors: No

And the list doesn’t stop here. Check out this list on eModeration of 100+ brands on Pinterest.


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Comments
  • Kjell Kallman

    A (P)intersting post, Erin. However men are beginning to use Pinterest as well. And a rival called "Gentlemint" has recently come on to the scene to address this "lack of guys pinning" issue. (I've requested an invite and have yet to receive one .... gotta get my Klout score up I suppose.)

    I am using Pinterest to get a sense of the landscape and how to use the tool. I'm currently sharing and pinning content about people who blog about cars for a project I'm working on. My goal is to expose auto bloggers' work to everyone on Pinterest who is interested in the automobile. I've only just begun but I have had some pretty good results with both women and men following and repinning. My hope is that people begin to follow and share the content these dedicated writers create about their own unique passion for cars. There are several women who blog about cars posted along with men. I like these blogs because they are written by women, for women - so Pinterest is the logical place to promote their work.

    Since Pinterest allows people to click and go directly to a website or blog, this is the easiest and most effective way for men and women to experience the work. The metrics are great and you get almost instant response to what resonates with the audience.

    Keep on Pinning!

    Kjell 

  • Kjell Kallman

    A (P)intersting post, Erin. However men are beginning to use Pinterest as well. And a rival called "Gentlemint" has recently come on to the scene to address this "lack of guys pinning" issue. (I've requested an invite and have yet to receive one .... gotta get my Klout score up I suppose.)

    I am using Pinterest to get a sense of the landscape and how to use the tool. I'm currently sharing and pinning content about people who blog about cars for a project I'm working on. My goal is to expose auto bloggers' work to everyone on Pinterest who is interested in the automobile. I've only just begun but I have had some pretty good results with both women and men following and repinning. My hope is that people begin to follow and share the content these dedicated writers create about their own unique passion for cars. There are several women who blog about cars posted along with men. I like these blogs because they are written by women, for women - so Pinterest is the logical place to promote their work.

    Since Pinterest allows people to click and go directly to a website or blog, this is the easiest and most effective way for men and women to experience the work. The metrics are great and you get almost instant response to what resonates with the audience.

    Keep on Pinning!

    Kjell 

  • http://twitter.com/peterstringer Peter Stringer

    The Boston Celtics just got on Pinterest a few weeks ago....We've got over 1,000 followers.
    http://www.pinterest.com/bostonceltics17

  • http://twitter.com/peterstringer Peter Stringer

    The Boston Celtics just got on Pinterest a few weeks ago....We've got over 1,000 followers.
    http://www.pinterest.com/bostonceltics17

  • Mariah McMillian

    And now I'm following a few boards from the Celtics. Thanks Peter :)

  • Mariah McMillian

    And now I'm following a few boards from the Celtics. Thanks Peter :)

  • http://twitter.com/interactiveswim Interactive Swim

    We've put together a directory of brands on Pinterest with over 1200+ categorized and listed. We hope you enjoy it! http://bit.ly/brandsonpinterest

  • http://NinjaPinner.com/ Pinterest marketing tools

    Pinterest and other social networking sites are really helpful for any kind of business especially in branding.