Barely over 1 month into 2012 and folks around the web have been dubbing Pinterest as this year’s social media site to watch. This propelled by the sudden growth in users and talk of how businesses have seen considerable referral traffic from the site. Brands like Whole Foods, Land’s End and Etsy have set up profiles and amassed tens of thousands of followers across their pin boards and profiles. Even our very own Jason Falls has been sharing his thoughts on Pinterest’s marketing potential.

A quick overview for those new to the site, Pinterest is essentially a virtual cork board where you post images from all over the web. The images are “pinned” and organized into collections called “boards” which you name based on themes, topics, or just about anything you want.

For instance, I’ve created a a board for my favorite iPhone & iPad apps linking to the apps in the iTunes App store. Also, as someone who likes to frequently cook (and eat) I created a board for dishes I want to cook and inspirational ways to present food. Each pin links to the original web site where it was originally published so I can possibly backtrack and find out how to make that great recipe I found or others who follow me on Pinterest can discover some new iPhone apps I’ve pinned.

Pinterest users can also do much of the standard stuff such as “like”, “repin” or comment on any image they find. Additionally, one of the ways Pinterest is different than other social networks in the way that users can follow individual boards that interest them instead of being forced to follow a user and everything they share. That allows folks who prefer to follow interests instead of a particular person an opportunity to do so.

Whole Foods on Pinterest

That said, I’d like to share a few ways you might use Pinterest from a different angle for some quick and dirty research.

Discover What Are People Pinning from Your Web Site

When clicked, every image on Pinterest displays corresponding information like comments, “likes,” other images in the same board and more. The info I find interesting is the area on each pin that shows what other pins came from a specific web domain. Take a look here for instance. You can see all images pinnned from socialmedaiexplorer.com from all users on Pinterest. You can see right off the bat that people enjoy the infographics here on the site. Most popular after the infographics is an image of Jason’s recently published book. Remember, each of these images could have been pinned from any page on socialmediaexplorer.com. Pinterest conveniently collects them all in one place for you.

Want to try it on your site? Type the following into your browser and replace “yourdomain.com” with your own web site: http://pinterest.com/source/”yourdomain.com”. You’ll likely find out something interesting about what visitors to your web site find visually interesting to them.

Let’s look at another example with the folks at FastMac: http://pinterest.com/source/fastmac.com/. Here we can see, out of all the products that Fastmac sells, 99% of people have pinned images related to their USB wall socket. Not only an image of the product itself, but the actual ad image on the product page.

This by itself is insightful, but let’s take it a step further.

Understanding Customer Perception

It’s been said that your brand is not what you say it is, but what your customers say it is. That said, understanding customer perception is important. Pinterest can give you a little insight into that by simply taking a look at the name of the boards that users have pinned content from your web site. In the case of Fastmac, you can see board names like “Products I love…”, “I Want”, “Geeky”, “Home Decor”, “Brilliant”, “For the Home”, and “My Future Home”.  If only a few images have been pinned from your web site then this might not be enough for you to care about, but with hundreds or even thousands of pins it has more meaning. Additionally, by clicking each board name you will be able to see what other images that user has found worth of shuffling into “I Want” or “Products I love…” and how many other users are following each of these boards. Similar to the common Twitter metric, the number of board followers could be counted towards the “reach” of any content shared in that specific board.

Fastmac.com Pins on Pinterest

Again, let’s dive a little further shall we?

Capturing Descriptions, Comments & Board Names

Being able to take a look at what folks have pinned from your web site is one thing, but might it be helpful to capture it to cull through later? There is a quick way to capture all of the board names, pin descriptions, user comments, likes and repins all into one document. First bring up all images pinned from your web site as described previously. Now scroll to the bottom of the page. When you hit the bottom of the page Pinterest automatically loads up any additional images. Keep scrolling until no more images load. Next, hit “control + a” on your keyboard (“command + a” for Mac users) to “select all” . You should now see everything selected on the page. Open up a blank Word document and hit “control+v” to paste everything into the document. Depending on how many images there are it might take a few seconds for it all to paste. Unfortunately the images are not captured, but all of the other information including links to the boards and user profiles, will be in your document. You can also paste into an Excel spreadsheet. It doesn’t look pretty, but you can use it to review later.

The Wrap

Beyond this there is still more you can do to dig a little deeper to get to know some potential customers and even competitors more. You might take a closer look at the users who seem to be getting the most repins or likes on the images they share. What else are they into? Have they added more social links to their Pinterest profile so you can connect with them on Twitter or elsewhere as well? What might you find out if you looked up what people were sharing from your competitor’s web site?

Adam Helweh on Pinterest

On a side note, I have recently launched a digital marketing podcast called the SoLoMo Show. In our next episode we will be discussing more about Pinterest and its prospects as a marketing channel. Want to be a part of the conversation? Then leave us a voicemail with your thoughts on Pinterest at (415) 633-6123 or tweet us. We might include it in the show. Also, feel free to check out my Pinterest profile here. Lastly, feel free to share your thoughts here in the comments. Were these tips helpful? is Pinterest a contender or just a fad? Share your thoughts.

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About Adam Helweh

Adam Helweh

Adam is CEO of Secret Sushi Creative Inc, a strategic design, digital and social media marketing agency. He specializes in the convergence of design and technology to provide businesses with more intelligent and interactive ways to connect with customers and grow. His clients have included Edelman, Broadcom, Stanford Federal Credit Union, the Thomas Keller Restaurant Group, Bunchball and others. He's also the co-host of the "SoLoMo Show", a weekly digital marketing podcast, and he has shared the stage with professionals from companies including Facebook, Virgin Airlines, Paypal, Dell and 24 Hour Fitness.

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