Since early last year, I’ve been telling dealers they need to establish a presence on Pinterest. Since then, Pinterest has established itself as the third most popular U.S. social networking site, behind Facebook and Twitter.
Launched in March 2010, the photo-based social media site attracted a million visitors in a little more than a year. As of January 2013, according to digital analytics firm comScore, the site had attracted 53.5 million visitors.
Wall Street also is into “pinning.” Last month, Pinterest secured $200 million in funding from investors, raising the San Francisco startup’s valuation to $2.5 billion. To me, the site’s true value lies in how it attracts and maintains users, and the way those users convert to revenue.
A couple of recent independent studies confirm Pinterest’s ability to convert users, as well as the incredibly long time users spend on the site. If you’re still sitting on the sidelines, it is time to take action.
Not Just a Photo Board
One of the biggest risks for dealers joining Pinterest comes from spammers who squat on key brand names. That can include your dealership. Spammers sell you your brand once you decide to join the site. The good news is it only takes about 15 minutes to secure your brand on Pinterest, so register your dealer’s brand name right away.
Once you do, you’ll discover the site’s amazing ability to secure Page One of search engine results pages (SERP). And these search results show up not only for a dealership’s brand name, but also for key search terms.
The fact is that Pinterest is packed full of SEO opportunities. That’s because Pinterest is a site built upon links, and Google indexes the text from your boards and from your homepage. That means you need to be strategic with your homepage and board descriptions to ensure that you’re getting indexed for the same keywords your prospects are using in automotive searches.
Developing a Pinterest Style
Establishing your dealership on Pinterest can help you dial into and share your dealership’s personality, appealing to both current and prospective customers. Fiat dealers, for example, feel their customers like things that are fun, quirky and creative, so their Pinterest pages echo that. Jeep dealers, by contrast, promote a personality of rugged and adventurous customers. Bottom line, the goal is to target your customers while promoting your dealership’s history, community involvement and personality.
As you get started on Pinterest, make sure you avoid “pin dumping.” Each time you pin an image, it pops up on the feed of all of your followers. Pinning a few images or videos once in a while is a nice, digestible amount for your followers to observe. However, if you “pin dump” and post 100 images within an hour, you will dominate your followers’ feeds and very likely annoy them. This can lead to followers choosing to unfollow you, spoiling your efforts to build a strong following. Instead, spread your pins over time, pin several images, and then wait a few hours to pin more.
Pinterest also offers a Group Board function you can experiment with. It allows users to create an area where others can post related images along a common theme. Keep in mind that the board owner must first enable contributors by inviting them to pin along.
What is most amazing about these Group Boards is the network effect they create. For instance, if you invite 100 users, and each of them has 100 followers, you can now potentially expose your Group Boards to 10,000 Pinterest users. That’s because every time one of your Group Board collaborators posts to your board, it exposes the board to all of their followers.
Measuring the success of your Pinterest efforts is easy, too. Simply visit a site called Pinpuff.com to get a free rating on your site. The site offers a free tool designed to measure your popularity on Pinterest, as well as the value of each of your pins. PinPuff lists the boards and pins with the most traction, and provides tips to increase your network. An average PinPuff score is 32, while scores of 50 or higher are considered very good.
Another tool you can take advantage of can be found at PinReach.com. The site can help you gauge activity, impact and success.
Pinterest can also help. In March, the social media site unveiled a new tool called Pinterest Web Analytics. For dealers, it allows them to see how many people are interacting with pins that originate from their websites. It also will tell you how many people have seen those pins, and how many people visit your site from Pinterest. For marketing purposes, the tool will even show you a selection of your most repinned, most clicked on and most recent pins.
For those seeking tools to measure ROI, check out Pinerly.com. There you’ll find a tool that will help you measure the effectiveness of a specific campaign. You can also use website statistics to track your referring clicks. Your CRM can also be used to measure the source of your leads and showroom traffic. In fact, if you purchased your website and CRM from the same provider, it should be able to give you a complete look at the traffic, leads and sales that come from Pinterest activity.
The Internet remains a world in constant change. The key for dealers is to stay in tune with where consumers are spending their time and adjust online strategies accordingly. Of all of the social media sites dealers need to pay attention to, Pinterest is a very easy place to start. But don’t delay. Grab your brand today and start laying out your strategy.