Saturday, 23 June 2012

Is Pinterest the place for product?

I am rather knackered, I've been a spinning-top of activity these past few weeks. Work, home, friends and preparing for a trip to France with the family: so all good and all exciting. Still, in the midst of all this crazy crazy I've found the time to get better acquainted with Pinterest.

Pinterest has been in the back of my mind for a while, sat alongside the likes of Google+, FourSquare and Flickr, social networks that some are on and many have no idea about. It wasn't until I was hosting an evening with Navaz Batliwalla, AKA DisneyRollerGirl, for The Fashion Network in Manchester that Pinterest pricked my interest (PUNS!)

Navaz is an avid pinner and trumps the new network as a way for people to step into the bloggersphere without the need to ramble, as I do. Check out Navas' pin boards here

So, for those that aren't familiar with the platform, Pinterest is a relatively new social network based on not words, like Twitter, not friendships, like Facebook but images, a bit like Tumblr. Whilst scanning the web, reading blogs, articles and magazines online you can constantly tap into your Pinterest networks...

Say I'm reading something thrilling about the incoming Dior collection for AW12 on Perhaps I come across a gorgeous image of something I like, by clicking the 'pin it' button I've already installed onto my web browser, I am given a contact sheet of all the images on the webpage I am currently viewing. 

I can then select the image I was lusting over and am given a drop-down menu of all the pin boards I have set up on my Pinterest network. On my personal Pinterest account I have one for my personal style shots called My Style, one for images of interiors I like called Home and one called Manchester Fashion will all images relating to the Northern fashion sector from this very blog. 

However, my new image doesn't fit any of these criteria so I am going to select, create new board, and make a board called AW12 Lust List. I then have that image pinned to my pin board for later reference. Other pinners can scan my boards, like my selections and even re-pin my chosen images to their own boards.

Rather nifty, isn't it?

Now. Whilst I have been getting into Pinterest on a personal level, so too have companies been wading in on the action. But, surely there is room for everyone on Pinterest? Right?

I have been nosey-ing at some luxury fashion sites and their approach to Pinterest and found so many different angles, but none of which have captured the interest of pinners en masse. I feel the fashion business has a lot to learn from Pinterest before it wades in.

For example: have reams of Pinterest pin boards filled with product shots from their website. Fabulous search engine optimisation, but is this really the most effective use of the network? Whilst I firmly believe in a balance between genuine social networking and SEO link-building for any ecommerce business stepping into the social realm, I don't think retailers can afford to be so bold as to use a highly visual network purely as a root to Google ranking or even to market.

Selfridges seem to have lessened on the product shots and instead used the site as a scrapbook of their major PR stunts. This is slightly more interesting as the images are more engaging but, still, who cares about Project Ocean once it's over?

For a retailer to truly engage with pinners, they have to be using their language. pinning images relevant to the conversation: not just images that build on a site's SEO credentials. Injecting product where relevant and not limiting a board's growth potential by making it specific to a season, trend or other fickle and limited topic. 

Is there even a place for product on Pinterest? I'm not so sure, I don't think the average pinner wishes to scan endless product cut-out shots on a network which is about inspiring and exciting images. I believe pinners that are willing to engage with businesses on Pinterest are expecting a more nuanced approach to image selection; not reiterations of the What's New page from the retailer's site.

Having said all this, I'm a new pinner, anyone care to share their opinion?