E-commerce merchants know Pinterest is popular. Auctiva EDU has had many articles describing its incredible rise, and how e-merchants can use the site to market and promote. What's surprising is just how popular the site has become.
As of early August 2013, Alexa, the Web-data company that tracks these things, ranked Pinterest No. 43 worldwide and No. 14 in the United States, based on traffic.
Pinterest, in fact, is widely considered the fastest-growing website ever. Wikipedia notes that a July 2013 study by French social media agency Semiocast found the sharing site had 70 million users worldwide, a record it achieved in only three years. In the U.S., it ranks ahead of AOL, MSN, Instagram, The Weather Channel, Apple, Walmart and Microsoft! And Pinterest is fast gaining traction in the rest of the world. So when we learned that top-rated eBay seller and consultant Sandi Garcia was hosting a webinar titled "Pinterest for Social Selling," we had to learn more.
Our interview with Garcia follows.
Schepp: What do you sell on eBay and how long have you been selling there?
Garcia: I own officethreads.com, an eBay Store that sells gently used career clothing for women. I opened the store in the fall of 2008, so that's five years! Wow.
Selling an expensive used dress because someone had pinned it on Pinterest got my attention immediately
Schepp: Before you used Pinterest, what other social networks were you using, and why?
Garcia: Before Pinterest I had a personal Facebook account, but Pinterest was the first social media channel I tried to use for marketing. I say "tried" because at first Pinterest was very weird for me. It took a while for me to get the hang of it. There weren't a lot of marketers in the early days, so I learned as I went through trial and error.
Schepp: What drew you to Pinterest?
Garcia: I never heard of Pinterest until I saw it as a referring traffic source on an eBay traffic report (Omniture). Someone else had pinned an expensive couture gown that had been languishing in my store for over a year. That item sold immediately after showing up on the traffic report—I truly believe it was because someone pinned it. Selling an expensive used dress because someone had pinned it on Pinterest got my attention immediately.
Schepp: What three things should all sellers do when first signing on to Pinterest?
Garcia: First, make sure when you create new boards you edit them right away with a keyword-heavy description. This will make the board easier to find on search engines and through Pinterest's internal search feature. Next, only pin special items with exquisite photographs. Spamming your followers by pinning everything in your store at once and sharing poor-quality images is a sure way to lose followers quickly. And third, create an "About Me" board where followers can learn more about you. On this board, include a link to your Facebook business page if you have one, since Pinterest only allows you to link to a personal Facebook account at this time.
Schepp: What should an eBay seller consider when creating a marketing plan for Pinterest?
Think of your Pinterest board like the window of a famous department store. You highlight a few items and try to lure the 'window shopper' inside
Garcia: Think of your Pinterest board like the window of a famous department store. You highlight a few special and engaging items and try to lure the "window shopper" inside your store. Your product pins should only comprise about 20 percent of your Pinterest boards. The other 80 percent should be related content that enhances the lives of your followers, yet doesn't spam them with items for sale.
Let me give you some examples. If you sell yarn and craft supplies, you can have pin boards that link to free knitting or crochet patterns. If you sell dinnerware, you can have pin boards that link to recipes.
Schepp: How do you measure success on Pinterest?
Garcia: If you sell purely on marketplaces (eBay, Etsy, Amazon, etc.), you cannot verify your website address with Pinterest. This means you cannot have access to the Pinterest Analytics (for business accounts). This means measuring success requires some creativity.
If you have an eBay Store, you get traffic reports included with your store subscription. This will tell you, for the given month, where your traffic is originating. I've seen my social media referrals increase slowly and steadily since I began social media marketing. You can also monitor your number of followers, number of "likes" and number of re-pins. Anytime someone engages with your pins these ways it's a good thing—it means increased visibility. Free third-party tools such as Reachli and Social Beacon (still in beta as we write this) will also let you know how many clicks your pin generated if you pin through their service.
Don't expect to have 10,000 followers overnight. You need to regularly monitor and maintain your accounts and engage with your followers
Schepp: Recently, Pinterest enhanced its site. Please tell us about its new look and features.
Garcia: Fundamentally, the "new look" is an aesthetic update. There are no longer banners with prices across the corner of pins of items you can purchase—the Rich Pin feature which was rolled out with the new look replaces it. Rich Pins pull in what should be real-time availability and pricing data from the source website, and display the logo from the source website so the person viewing the pin knows what site it links to. Rich Pins also add these items to Pinterest's Gift category, where people can go to shop.
Another change is instead of an edit button, there is now a little pencil icon for updating your pin. The activity panel has been minimized and moved. Aside from the new Rich Pins feature, the changes are minor and mostly cosmetic.
Schepp: Is there anything else you'd like to say about using Pinterest for social selling?
Garcia: Don't expect to have 10,000 followers overnight. It takes time to build a loyal following. I've been aggressively using social media marketing for about a year now, and have 1,250 followers across my channels. Slow and steady wins the race, and you need to regularly monitor and maintain your accounts and engage with your followers. But most important, have fun!
Schepp: Thank you, Sandi!
And for the latest news about Pinterest be sure to visit its blog.