By: Helena Schwenk, Principal Analyst, MWD Advisors
Published: 18th March 2013
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License
Pinboard-style social media website Pinterest set tongues wagging last week with the announcement of its first built-in analytics capability. The new tool enables business users of Pinterest to see what and how many people are pinning from their website, as well as who’s seeing the pins and clicking on their content. The primary use of the tool is to highlight what content works best so these insights can be used to tailor your website and Pinterest boards accordingly.
While we believe the level of analytics sophistication within the tool is rather rudimentary at this stage, it does point to a potentially more important development in Pinterest’s broader strategy. As with many other consumer-focused social media sites, Pinterest is currently free to use, yet the company clearly already has a commercial story to tell to consumer brands (you can see more stories on its website from PetPlan Insurance, Etsy and ELLE Magazine) and this is where analytics can play a part by helping to demonstrate and measure the value of investing in the image-sharing network.
It’s also something that Pinterest’s CEO Ben Silbermann has a keen eye on since he has hired Tim Kendall—who is credited with creating Facebook’s monetisation strategy and helped Tumblr develop its advertising platform—as head of product management and partnerships. Again, a strong analytics platform here will be key to underpinning this e-commerce potential.
But aside from this commercial angle, Pinterest is also an attractive proposition by virtue of its staggering growth. Since its emergence in early 2010, Pinterest has grown to approximately 48.7 million users in February 2013 (according to Reuters and comScore). It’s a long way behind Facebook (which currently claims more than a billion monthly active users), but Pinterest join-ups are on a notably steep trajectory that looks set to continue—and it’s this that’s catching the interest of consumer brands around the world (further comparative stats for December 2012 are available here courtesy of marketingland.com, and the company also has its own Pinterest statistics board where it pins the latest statistics available from a range of third-party sources).
For more general data points, a December 2012 survey from ACTIVE Network reported that Facebook and Pinterest trigger more offline actions (e.g. attending an event, meeting someone in person, or making a purchase) than other social sites. Other previous data points prompted Forbes to last year come up with a back-of-the-envelope market cap of $7.7 billion, although its recent funding round of $200 million last month gives it a more moderate valuation of $2.5 billion. Even then, that’s quite a number for a company that’s been operating for only three years.
While the release of its new analytics tool will provide a good starting point for organisations wanting to understand how consumers are engaging with content and brands, it’s far from being a home run. In fact there are already a number of analytics tools out there that offer a deeper and more advanced level of support. For example tools like pinfluencer (previously Pintics), PinReach, Pinpuff and Repinly have been tracking metrics such as pinning and repinning activity and highlighting popular pins, boards and pinners for some time. But for Pinterest themselves, it’s a start, and we’re sure there’s more to come.
Interestingly, in our assessments of social analytic tools aimed primarily at larger businesses (including IBM Cognos Consumer Insight, Jive Software, Lithium, Salesforce Radian6, SAS, Telligent and Teradata Aprimo), Pinterest was rarely mentioned as a social media channel feed, with the more obvious Facebook and Twitter topping the lists. But that’s changing: all the available data would indicate that Pinterest should certainly be a channel worthy of consideration. For consumer brands though, it’s not just about knowing how social media channels are performing in isolation; companies need the bigger picture of how their brand is performing across the social web, and how to drive optimum value from their social media investments (you can download my Strategic Insight report on this topic free of charge here).
This is a moving target, certainly, and what Pinterest provides in terms of performance data will provide a good start for its business customers. But for more sophisticated analysis (combined with social media analytics data from other customer engagement channels) Pinterest will provide a valuable source of consumer and brand intelligence.
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