Friday Oct 26, 2012

Pinterest and the Rising Power of Imagery

eyesIf images keep you glued to a screen, you’re hardly alone. Countless social users are letting their eyes do the walking, waiting for that special photo to grab their attention. And perhaps more than any other social network, Pinterest has been giving those eyes plenty of room to walk.

Pinterest came along in 2010. Its play was that users could simply create topic boards and pin pictures to the appropriate boards for sharing. Yes there are some words, captions mostly, but not many.

The speed of its growth raised eyebrows. Traffic quadrupled in the last quarter of 2011, with 7.51 million unique visitors in December alone. It now gets 1.9 billion monthly page views. And it was sticky. In the US, the average time a user spends strolling through boards and photos on Pinterest is 15 minutes, 50 seconds.

Proving the concept of browsing a catalogue is not dead, it became a top 5 referrer for several apparel retailers like Land’s End, Nordstrom, and Bergdorfs. Now a survey of online shoppers by BizRate Insights says that Pinterest is responsible for more purchases online than Facebook. Over 70% of its users are going there specifically to keep up with trends and get shopping ideas. And when they buy, the average order value is $179.

Pinterest is also scoring better in terms of user engagement. 66% of pinners regularly follow and repin retailers, whereas 17% of Facebook fans turn to that platform for purchase ideas. (Facebook still wins when it comes to reach and driving traffic to 3rd-party sites by the way).

Social posting best practices have consistently shown that posts with photos are rewarded with higher engagement levels. You may be downright Shakespearean in your writing, but what makes images in the digital world so much more powerful than prose?

baby picture1. They transcend language barriers.

2. They’re fun and addictive to look at.

3. They can be consumed in fractions of a second, important considering how fast users move through their social content (admit it, you do too).

4. They’re efficient gateways. A good picture might get them to the headline. A good headline might then get them to the written content.

5. The audience for them surpasses demographic limitations.

6. They can effectively communicate and trigger an emotion.

7. With mobile use soaring, photos are created on those devices and easily consumed and shared on them. Pinterest’s iPad app hit #1 in the Apple store in 1 day. Even as far back as 2009, over 2.5 billion devices with cameras were on the streets generating in just 1 year, 10% of the number of photos taken…ever.

But let’s say you’re not a retailer. What if you’re a B2B whose products or services aren’t visual? Should you worry about your presence on Pinterest?

As with all things, you need a keen awareness of who your audience is, where they reside online, and what they want to do there. If it doesn’t make sense to put a tent stake in Pinterest, fine. But ignore the power of pictures at your own peril. If not visually, how are you going to attention-grab social users scrolling down their News Feeds at top speed? You’re competing with every other cool image out there from countless content sources. Bore us and we’ll fly right past you.

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