My assigned tool (and first choice) is Pinterest (www.pinterest.com). Ben SIlberman, Paul Sciarra and Evan Sharp founded PInterest in 2009 and the closed beta started in March of 2010. A closed beta is an approach many software application companies use to invite a small number of people to test the concept and work out any pre-launch bugs. The open beta, also usually invite only, occurred in around the fall of 2010 (www.pinterest.com). In January of 2012 the site had over 11 million unique users and is the fastest product to break the 10 million-use mark.
Pinterest is a web site that works like an electronic pin board. Imagine a message board in your home where you attaché recipes, quotes, pictures of the kids etc. Now imagine that message board is available for all your friends who don’t live in your house to see. You can share recipes, quotes, favorite products, your kids pictures and just favorite knitting ideas. Some also have used the analogy of Pinterest as a scrapbook. You create pages on your Pinterest site, known as “boards” that you name. For example, a young women getting ready for her wedding might create a board entitled “My Wedding” in which she “bookmarks” pages on the internet of her favorite dresses, flower arrangements etc. This process is called pinning. When you click on one of the items on a board, it takes you directly to the website source where the product resides. The process of attaching something to your self -titled board is called pinning. The process of taking someone else’s “pin” and putting it on your board is “repining”. Marketers can tell their products are doing well if there is repining activity.
It’s easy to see how this might be a very fun way to connect with people, share ideas and create an electronic word of mouth (WOM) buzz. WOM is the most successful sales tool. However, how might this help leaders and how should leaders use Pinterest. I will use a few examples and provide some links to explain. I will first look at how marketing leaders would use Pinterest.
Today, good marketing starts with story telling. PInterest is a great place to tell ones story. Companies such as Proctor and Gamble and General Electric are using Pinterest to help archive stories, pictures, articles about their companies. Companies not as large as these are also using Pinterest for internal marketing of such things as office parties, staff meetings and places to put company pictures and customer satisfaction surveys. Some companies are using the site to help introduce new employees to members of the team, learning the stories that have happened before. So, companies are using this to both market their products, their story and name externally, but helping facilitate internal marketing as well. Company’s like Lowes and Home Depot are using the sites to help with DYI videos and ideas. Other companies such as design studios are developing board where clients and designers can post ideas and projects. These are known as shared boards.
Leaders in General
A leadership blog by Kevin Eickenberry does a nice job of explaining how leaders can use Pinterest. http://blog.kevineikenberry.com/leadership/how-leaders-can-use-pinterest/. To summarize the blog, Eickenberry suggests using Pinterest as a workforce efficiency tool and/or a relationship building opportunity. In the blog he encourages leaders to create a few boards that suggest books to read, places you like to go and visit, hobbies, quotes etc. Eickenberry is encouraging leaders to help employees and customers get to know them on a personal level. The board for leaders should not be public but invite only, allowing for more control. He explains that leaders are not using this yet, but it is his hope this can become a good tool to help create a more human leadership style.
Problems with this Tool
Like any social media tool, you have to manage and monitor. When you pin, you create a link to the page. You have to make sure your links are accurate and have not been high jacked or broken. You do not want people repining items that could lead to bad links or even a competitor’s links.
Shared board specifically, need to be monitored to make sure your brand is not being misrepresented or a competitor has high jacked one of the boards.
To be relevant, social media needs to be updated. My own personal experience is if you do not have the time to keep data updated, creating boards or a Pinterest account would not be a great idea. Information can become obsolete very rapidly.
Below are a links that also provide approaches, ideas and opportunities for PInterest. It is a new leadership tool, and as such, will require some experimentation to understand how it best fits in the toolbox.