Pinterest as a Market Research Tool

Interest Graph

Community managers are trained to listen. We use a wide variety of tools to keep our eyes and ears open for brand mentions, compliments and complaints. These situations vary in complexity, but generally they require a bit of quick thinking and a careful response. But what about the opportunity to sit back and just listen? When you’re managing a community it’s easy to get caught up in the daily transactions: post, respond, repeat. But equally valuable are the fluid, aspirational observations that can influence strategy and product lines rather than one-time transactions.

As an online pinboard, Pinterest has to be the most obvious place to make these observations. Users collect and share pins to publicly organize the web’s content into their own personal interest categories. In digital marketing terms, they’re building the interest graph. In layman’s terms, they’re doing the creative work for us. With the jumpstart of a few beautiful images, the system essentially runs itself. When we step back and let the users do the pinning, organizing and digital daydreaming, we can take a look at what users actually did, not what we assumed they would do.

Once we step back and let the users do their magic, there are a few insights to gather.

1. Look at your brand from a different angle

In a recent post on the Pinterest for Business Blog, Steve Patrizi, the platform’s Head of Marketing, notes how common it is for a single object to be pinned to a wide variety of boards. For example, he says, “one pinner might pin an image of a pair of shoes to a board called ‘Summer Style,’ while another might pin that same image to a board called ‘Sustainably Made Products’ and a third pinner pins it to a board called ‘Perfect for Traveling.'”

As a marketer, it’s easy to get stuck thinking of a product from one angle. But not everyone thinks of a product’s uses or characteristics as you do. If you let the users move things where they see fit, a whole new system of organization will arise.

2. How do others share your content?

When you’re starting from zero, it’s tough to gain a following on Pinterest. Fortunately, there’s a route to users’ attention beyond the follow button: their social connections. By throwing a Pin It button on your website’s product shots or making a few images available on Pinterest, you can get the ball rolling so that your content is discoverable from Person A to B and so on, not just brand to person.

Once others start sharing your content, you can see how they framed that content to make it appealing to their own followers. Where did they pin it? What did they say about it in the comments? Did they include Pinterest’s new product pins feature?

3. What else is your audience interested in?

Pins are by nature an inspirational medium — the Internet’s answer to the mood board. We group a collection of items together to design a new room, to pack for our next vacation, to plan a wedding. When users spend time on Pinterest, they’re in a that special creative place, and they’re telling us precisely where and how they want to use our products. Why waste this valuable information when it could be used for future product or marketing ideas? Next time you’re gathering materials for a brainstorming session, check out how users pin your content. What are they going to do with it? What do they pin alongside it? What is the tone of their comments?

To see exactly where users are pinning your content or products, visit http://pinterest.com/source/yourbrand.com.