Posted May 31, 2012 3:06 pm by with 0 comments

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Unless you’ve been without an internet connection for the last few months, you know that Pinterest, the photo pinning site is the current hot trend in social media marketing.

Studies have shown that Pinterest users are on the rise, they’re predominately female, 24 – 44 but you’ll find men and other age groups around the edges.

Since the site revolves around visuals, it began as a place to keep wishes. The clothes you’d like to own, the decor you wish you could afford, the incredible cakes that you wish you could bake. Home, fashion and general inspiration photos ruled the site but slowly other categories started creeping in. Now, you can easily find celebrity photos, travel pics, and advertising (blatant or otherwise.)

With so many marketers on board, it’s time to ask the billion dollar question – are they wasting their time or do Pinterest picture posts actually convert? eMarketer has the answer.

  Note that these numbers aren’t exclusive to Pinterest. The poll asks consumers to consider all image-sharing communities when answering.

The result? A surprising 32% of people said they bought something after seeing a photo on one of these sites.

It’s not a huge number, but it’s higher than I would have thought. I can’t say I haven’t been tempted by photos of quirky kitchen gadgets and clever, recycled art projects but I can’t remember ever clicking through with the intention of buying.

Like 16% of the people in this survey, the main thing stopping me is that I know the click probably won’t lead me where I want to go. These are social “sharing” sites and that means folks post and repost pictures from all over the web. Sourcing them can be tricky.

As interesting as these numbers are, what they don’t measure is brand awareness. That’s where Pinterest excels. Take a look at the GE Lighting Pinterest profile. It’s full of dazzling and inspiring photos of lights creating a mood, light bulbs as an art project and even lights that simply illuminate. It’s not about clicking through to buy the hand-painted bulb, it’s about developing a relationship. It’s about connecting the brand, GE, with the consumer on an emotional level. That’s beautiful branding.

Pinterest is like a field of wild flowers. The creators threw out a seed bomb then stood back and watched as an unknown variety of flowers took hold and spread across the landscape. It’s untamed, it’s colorful and it’s growing as it wants to grow with only a few fences hindering the progression.

One fence is the preference toward vertical photos. You can post horizontal rectangles and squares, but the random grid pattern is better suited to long, narrow photos.

The other deterrent to growth is monetization. It should be easy to insert graphical ads in amongst all the clutter on a page but if the creators get heavy-handed, users are going to head for the hills. Affiliate deals are part of the mix and they could offer promoted placement for a price. There are options, as long as they take it slow.

Lastly, I leave you with this. Pinterest is a photo-sharing site but the one kind of photo people aren’t sharing are personal photos. You’ll see the occasional snapshot of a fancy dessert someone baked or a particularly striking sunset they witnessed, but you won’t find endless rows of family vacation photos.

What that means is that Pinterest has carved out a unique niche. It truly is the digital version of tearing photos out of magazines to build a collection of inspiration and wishes.

How do you feel about Pinterest as a marketing tool?