Interest in Pinterest is growing exponentially among Asian users, but the virtual pinboard site has yet to be included in companies' social media monitoring, say industry observer, who add that the site should be used as part of an organization's online marketing efforts.
According to Kelly Choo, vice president of business development and strategy at online brand monitoring company, Brandtology, customer engagement on virtual pinboard social networks has not really taken off on a commercial scale so companies have not integrated these platforms into their social media monitoring efforts.
That is not to say the potential is lacking.
Over 100 companies already are using the platform to promote their brands even though it is still a "rather nascent platform", Choo said, noting that interest has been so strong that clones have surfaced in China.
"This is perhaps a testament to the potential of photo-sharing for both consumers and businesses," he added.
The fast-growing, by invitation-only social network allows users to "pin" pictures onto virtual pinboards to organize and share "all beautiful things [they] find on the Web", the company explained on its Web site.
When contacted, Pinterest declined to reveal what percentage of its users were from the Asia-Pacific region.
According to Maurene Grey, founder and principal analyst of social media research firm Grey Consulting, the photo-sharing site illustrates how "a picture is worth more than a thousand words" and provides the instant gratification to Internet users who are "drowning in written content".
Good for targeted sharing
Because Pinterest allows companies to share information in a targeted way, Choo added that there is "great potential" for companies to integrate the social network into their other online marketing efforts.
"Just as how video-sharing platform YouTube is now the second-ranked search engine globally, the visual aspect of Pinterest definitely complements the marketing options presented by Facebook and Twitter," he added.
Choo noted that while Pinterest holds "obvious potential" for companies with physical products, even those that sell intangible products and services can benefit from Pinterest.
Using his own company as an example, he said Brandtology could use the platform to post interesting industry-related pictures such as infographics and industry events. "One of the keys here would be to leverage relevant and accurate social media intelligence available, to ensure the content resonates with a brand's consumers," he said.
Adding on, Grey said the retail industry heavily uses Pinterest to show products and build brands. However, she added that "innovative" retailers take it a step further by using the description field to discuss their products, for example, by sharing details about the designer, enclosing customer comments or listing differentiating product attributes.
She also highlighted some brands were using Pinterest in "innovative" ways.
She pointed to the Humane Society of New York which uses the virtual pinboard to feature animals available for adoption, as well as those that have been adopted, and Whole Foods which leverages pinboards to create categories by foods types as well to drive its recycling and green movement.
Any industry segment can effectively leverage Pinterest, Grey said.
She said companies should think of the photo-sharing site as "merely another type of social media through which communities of interests evolve" and use Pinterest as just another type of content management system, similar to other content-curation applications, such as Scoop.it and Storify.
She advised businesses interested in tapping Pinterest to use the social network to tell a story by using each board as a chapter.
"Invite other authors, perhaps customers or partners, to pin to your boards," she said. She added that Pinterest moderators might also find information that can help with research and development or customer service.