Pinterest will add ‘promoted pins’ by June: Should SMEs jump on board?

Since it launched four years ago, marketers have been astounded by the referral power of Pinterest.

The visual social network relies on users ‘pinning’ images they like to personal Pinterest pages. And as many studies show, Pinterest users click on more e-commerce sites, and once there, they spend more, than those on comparable social networks like Facebook or Twitter.

But until now, Pinterest has done little to directly monetise that traffic.

That’s changing. Yesterday in America, the social network, which reached 70 million world-wide users earlier this month, announced it would start offering promoted pins on the site.

Pinterest declined to comment to the Wall Street Journal on the timing, cost and advertisers it’ll be launching with. But it confirmed it wants to start its promoted pins program this financial year.

For small businesses, social media advertising is one of the more accountable customer acquisition avenues available, says E Team managing director and SmartCompany blogger Craig Reardon.

“The pay-per-click model can be cheap for small business, and at the end of the day, they know if it’s working,” he told SmartCompany this morning.

That’s helped explain the large take-up among small businesses of Facebook advertising. But for most small businesses, Reardon is sceptical of the value for money offered by Pinterest.

“As far as social networking is concerned, it’s a niche player compared to Facebook or even Twitter,” he says. “But it’s clearly growing, and certain businesses would find it a good avenue.”

Consumer goods retailers, particularly those with an online store, could find the network a useful source of traffic.

But Reardon has another concern – with so many social media channels to keep on top of, he says many businesses will simply decide Pinterest isn’t large enough to warrant their time.

While the website has 70 million users world-wide, 40 million of them are American. In July 2013, only 550,000 Pinterest users were based in Australia.

That means the pay-off for devoting the time might just not be there, Reardon says.

“The old Yellow Pages were simple. You didn’t have to constantly manage your advertising there.

“Social media is different. It’s one more thing SMEs have to constantly worry about.”

Naturally, this is all great news for digital agencies, he adds. “The more channels there are, the more sense it makes to get someone else to manage it. But digital agencies are often too expensive for small businesses.”

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