Pinterest has a reputation for being a place where arts and crafts, home décor, fashion and food dominate the landscape. Now, the numbers prove
A study posted this week by RJ Metrics found
that more than 60 percent of pinboards on the site deal with those four topics or what it terms "inspiration/education." Pinterest has more pinboards
dealing with the home than anything else, though food is the fastest-growing topic, with posts about edible delights getting the most repins.
The study also found that people like to pin about products. "Products I love" is the third-most-popular title for boards on the site, and posts about
products get more likes than any other category.
But what if your company has products that don't fall into the categories of home, arts/crafts, fashion, or food? Should automakers or software
companies simply ignore Pinterest? Social media and PR experts took a look at the numbers.
The big topics on Pinterest are far from shocking, says Christine Campbell of Resolute Digital.
"The userbase for Pinterest is still primarily women…so those topics all make sense to me as being the most popular," she says. "I have seen some
of my early adopter male friends—mostly in the graphic design and internet spaces—get on board with Pinterest. There's just so much fewer of them on
there than my female friends."
Even as Pinterest's user base broadens and diversifies, the top boards will continue to be dominated, at least for a while, by the favorite hobbies of
early adopters, says Shel Holtz of Holtz Communication + Technology.
However, Nathan Smith, director of Zynali Marketing Solutions, says observers should be careful when looking at
the RJ Metrics data. Pinterest was much smaller last summer, so making comparisons between then and now would be difficult. "In September of 2011,
Pinterest had less than 2 million users. Today, Pinterest is quickly closing in on, and may have even surpassed, 20 million users."
Not for everyone?
According to Mike Volpe, chief marketing officer at HubSpot, "consumer brands with a visual product" are the brands that can work on Pinterest. "For
companies that do not fit that category, you are much better off investing your time in other social media services," he says.
Jonathan Rick, director at Levick Strategic Communications, says the immense growth of Pinterest may change things,
especially after Pinterest stops requiring invitations for membership.
"When this happens, I suspect we'll be surprised by the popularity of certain niche brands that most of us wouldn't consider visually arresting," he
What about brands that appeal primarily to male customers, such as Harley-Davidson, which describes its core customer as a Caucasian man who is 35 or
older? Caroline Gennaro, a junior account executive at Gibbs and Soell Public relations, says a motorcycle brand probably won't get nearly the traction
that a wedding planning company would get on Pinterest.
However, Janey Bishoff, CEO of Bishoff Communications, says a motorcycle brand could do quite well on Pinterest. It just needs the proper focus.
"A motorcycle brand that prides itself in the beauty of its cycles will likely gravitate to Pinterest, and cycle enthusiasts, who are often passionate
about their hogs, will likely eat it up," she says.
Holtz says any brand—even a business-to-business company—can get a business result out of Pinterest as long as it has realistic objectives. Companies
within the top-five categories should definitely be there, he says, but that doesn't mean people with interests in sports or tech won't find anything
"I showed Pinterest to a friend who hadn't heard about it," Holtz says. "He's big into kite-surfing and found hundreds of pins, which led him to start
digging much more deeply into Pinterest. Should you stay away if you sell kite-surfing equipment? Probably not, even if it's not a top category."
Products people love
People want to pin photos of products they use all the time, Rick says.
"Consumers form emotional attachments to products we can't live without, and in publicly pinning these things, we act as brand ambassadors."
Even so, Campbell says brands should be careful about pushing only their products.
"To build an active following, you can't just promote yourself," she says. "It would behoove brands using Pinterest to include a mix of their products
as well as other actual products the brand loves from other brands. This makes the board, and thus the brand, look more legitimate."
Holtz warns that brands had better make photos of their products visually appealing.
"The mistake I think too many companies are making is providing images they use to sell product, not images individuals would want to share as a means
of expressing themselves," he says.
Pinning images of products is cheap and easy, Holtz says, but there may be some added expense in creating images specifically for Pinterest rather than
just repurposing catalog photos.
Matt Wilson is a staff writer for Ragan.com.