Piquing Your Pinterest

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The fact that Pinterest is something of a phenomenon should not be news to anyone with an Internet connection. Experian, a marketing service, recently declared Pinterest the third most popular social network. Our friends at Shopify recently published a great infographic visualization describing how Pinterest drives online sales.

The thing that might come as a surprise is how much Pinterest is affecting ecommerce. According to the infographic on the Shopify website, Pinterest and Twitter now account for equal shares of referral traffic to Shopify webstores. What’s even more impressive is that the number of daily users on the site has increased by more than 145 percent since January 1, 2012.

So what does this mean for you?

Before answering that, it might be useful to understand the nature of the phenomenon. Pinterest is a social pin board that allows users to create “boards” or “collections” of photos and images. Users can group these images together into categories such as “Weddings” “Things that remind me of Bill” or “Yummy desserts.”

The Huffington Post noted that one of the things that sets Pinterest apart from other social networks is that it encourages people to “Look at this” rather than “Look at me.” It looks like we may have reached the limit of our own narcissism.

This overcomes the single biggest challenge that Facebook sellers have been wrestling with: How do you sell a product to people in a space where they generally only like to talk about themselves? A Pinterest users mindset is fundamentally different from someone who is in the process of typing “Facebook.com” into their web browser. Instead of visiting a place where they can see what their friends are doing, they are visiting a site with the sole purpose of finding things (cute pictures, clothing items, jewelry) that they like.

Pinterest is essentially a big craft fair, and scattered between all the pretty pictures of sunsets and inspirational quotes you’ll occasionally find something with a price tag on it. And when Pinners see those price tags? They don’t exactly get sticker shock. In fact, on average, orders generated through Pinterest are about twice as lucrative as those generated through Facebook. Shopify users have seen the number of orders generated through Pinterest more than quadruple in the period between September 2011 and April 2012.

The lesson should be obvious by now: the possibilities with Pinterest seem to be growing every day, so if you don’t have a presence on the site, you’re falling behind.