Pinterest is the talk of the marketing town. It’s the fastest growing social network, stars a highly engaged high-income audience, and is driving more referral traffic than Google+, LinkedIn, YouTube, and MySpace combined.

As brands jump on the Pinsanity bandwagon, remember the lesson from every social network that preceded it. What’s more important than the platform is what we’re asking our audiences to share. It’s not about the network. It’s about the content. More than ever, brands need a plan for content worth sharing.

I like the WholeFoods approach to Pinterest, profiled in this Mashable article recently.

“To make a lasting connection, the goal is not to promote the shampoos, strawberries and steaks that are sold in the actual stores but to communicate the lifestyle that the Whole Foods team aspires to — an appropriate ambition, given that Pinterest has often been likened to a digital inspiration board. And by creating an aspirational lifestyle, Whole Foods can convert casual pinners into brand enthusiasts and, hopefully, customers … And because the point of Pinterest isn’t to push products, but to help people explore and deepen their interests, consumers don’t feel like they’re being marketed to.”

What I find most interesting about Pinterest is the focus on visual content. As a cartoonist, I’m obviously a believer in the power of visual storytelling (and was excited to discover how many of my cartoons are already being shared on Pinterest.)

Pinterest has helped validate the next stage with Marketoonist. I’ve been growing Marketoonist into a content marketing studio to help brands create visual content worth sharing (like this Kronos cartoon series featured in CMI last week). I’m starting to expand with New Yorker and nationally syndicated cartoonists and look forward to sharing more detail in the coming weeks.

If you’re interested in more on the idea of content worth sharing, I’m speaking Friday 3/9 at 1:00 EST at the MarketingProfs Conference on Content Marketing (a free online event). My topic is “Content Worth Sharing: What Marketers Can Learn From Cartoons”. I hope to see some of you there!

(Marketoonist Monday: I’m giving away a signed print of this week’s cartoon. Just share an insightful comment to this week’s post. I’ll pick one comment by 5:00 PST on Monday. Thanks!)

10 Comments

  1. Michael Gowin says:

    WholeFoods’ approach reminds me of an insight from Simon Sinek’s TED talk: “People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.”

    http://www.ted.com/talks/lang/en/simon_sinek_how_great_leaders_inspire_action.html

  2. Richard Haworth says:

    I think you are spot-on about the need for clear strategy / message / content with any of the Social platforms. There’s a risk for all the bandwagon-jumpers in either (a) wasting time and resource on something that will contribute nothing, and/or (b) diluting their value proposition and spreading things too thinly.
    As a B2B marketer, it has even more resonance than in the consumer marketplace.

  3. C.C. Chapman says:

    Thank you for another graphic that cuts right to the heart of the matter.

    Pinterest is an interesting platform, but as with everything else it is just a tool and you have to figure how or IF it is right for you or not.

    Of course as soon as I saw this I HAD to pin it :)

    Keep up the great work.

  4. David Sprogis says:

    Wow – I thought I was in-the-loop but this was the first I had heard of Pinterest – now I have an account thanks!

  5. Dan Moyle says:

    Content really is king. I found at my company that we pin home design and dream home material (we’re a mortgage company – not exactly exciting visually) and then host one board with our own content. As we pin cool designs and fun house “how to” tips, we gain a bigger audience. That audience has turned into a lead-generating opportunity, too. Even if it’s a fad, it’s a fun fad that we’re enjoying!

    (and getting noticed for: http://learning.hubspot.com/blog/bid/126333/How-Pinterest-Helps-Us-Generate-Leads-Customer-Story )

  6. Karl Sakas says:

    Pinterest seems to be a new way to tell stories — definitely a way to connect with people who prefer images to words. Although Twitter and Facebook and Google+ let you share photos, too, those networks are still more about text than images. Pinterest reminds me of Tumblr but with patterns and themes — not just a single image, but a collection. Definitely reminds me of marketing agencies’ mood boards.

  7. Dana Williams says:

    Not only do Pinterest marketers need a plan, they need to fit into the culture that is Pinterest. It’s important for brands to consider the desires of Pinterest users. As an coach and supporter of businesses using Pinterest to drive business, I’m a huge advocate of growing your business through the linkability of Pinterest WITHIN Pinterest’s vision, terms of service, and mission statement. Businesses must operate within the guidelines set up by Pinterest and in a manner that keeps the site beautiful and not cluttered with advertisements. This takes a lot more skill and plan than a simple broadcasting strategy. I love your idea of using cartoons! Looks like it fits right in.

  8. Vicki says:

    I loved your cartoon because people forget that it is about the content and the connection – the vehicle isn’t as important. Yes, you want to go where the people are, but you don’t have good content or a way to connect than what is the point? Thanks for the insights.

  9. Jeremy Waite says:

    I love Wholefoods attitude to Pinterest. They’re almost leading the charge with brands having a (dare I say it) a Pinterest strategy. Kudos to them for “getting it”. I’ve spent a lot of time debating Pinterest with my friends on twitter because I’m a big fan of the platform.

    Many of my social media friends are purists and don’t like it because “you can’t have meaningful conversations there”. That’s partly true but it doesn’t take away from what Pinterest is all about. FB is like hanging out with your friends in a cafe, but Pinterest is like hanging out wi them in an art gallery. Both very worthwhile pursuits, but totally different objectives. Turns out that many of my friends don’t like curators or art galleries – so they’re not feeling the love for Pinterest, but that’s cool – after I’ve had my hit of digital inspiration, I’ll meet up with them afterwards to chat,just like I would in real life. I love art galleries!

    For brands, the amount of info on the boards means that personal & social profiling will possibly be better (interest wise) than FB. When that happens and the advertising platform raises its head, brands will jump all over it. I already know of a huge brand looking at re-allowing 10% of its budget towards Pnterest. Yes really!

    I have nothing against brands like Wholefoods who clearly know how a brand should use Pinterest. But when they all start coming on board, I hope that they remember it’s like an art gallery.

    “Dear Brand, If you must jump on Pinterest….. Keep quiet. Show us nice things. Remember that we’re here to look (not buy) and hang out with our friends. We’d like your opinion. We’d like to see what you like. But please dont put “buy now” buttons on everythnig. If you respect that, we can stay friends”.

    Brilliant post as always Tom. (Can I have a signed print now for my new office?!) Love ya! :)

  10. Tom Fishburne says:

    Hi all,

    Wonderful insights this week, many thanks! This week’s print goes to Jeremy and not because he asked for it :-) Ireally like the analogy of the art gallery of Pinterest versus the cafe of Facebook. It’s useful to think how your brand operates in those domains, rather than just push the same brand persona on every environment.

    Many thanks,

    -Tom

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