Like many, I’ve been watching Pinterest with interest. What’s the value of this space and how might content writers assist clients taking the plunge into yet another social media platform?
Case Studies and the SEO Value of Pinterest
There are reports that Pinterest is giving retailers big traffic boosts. Shareaholic claims that Pinterest brings in more referral traffic than Google Plus, YouTube, and LinkedIn. In another case study, Pinterest’s referring traffic to the Perpetual Kid website increased from 1% to 2.63%.
Within three days of pinning for one of our clients, Pinterest brought in about 1% of what WordPress was driving to the same site. Not only does it introduce products to customers, but Pinterest gives writers opportunities to optimize image captions. With do follow links leading search engines to retailer websites, the platform looks free and easy.
Pinterest Creates Affiliate Links?
But, the recent news is that Pinterest is making money from links to retailers that offer affiliate referral programs. In “Why Pinterest is Playing Dumb About Making Money” Alexis Madrigal suggests that because Pinterest used a service called SkimLinks, it already had the model for making money.
SkimLinks’ software looks at links users post to websites, determines if there is an affiliate program to which they can be linked, and appends a code that ensures Pinterest gets credit for (and data from) the referral…. The only people it could possibly hurt are merchants who are posting things to Pinterest and then having people click through the site, picking up an affiliate code that costs them a small percentage of the sale. For the average user, it’s a non-invasive way to generate revenue for a site they like that doesn’t require putting up with advertising.
Nonetheless, once the story broke that Pinterest was quietly making money off its users (the horror!), the company started to backpedal on its practices. That reached full bloom in a Wall Street Journal article yesterday in which various Pinterest parties (CEO, board member) fell all over themselves to declaim that the company knew anything about making money.
Tech Cruch questions Madrigal’s conclusions about Pinterest’s revenue model:
The truth is that the use of SkimLinks on Pinterest was more a question of the analytics it provided than any serious effort at monetization. Word on the street is that EVERYONE in the Valley passed on Pinterest when it was raising initial capital, something that wouldn’t have happened if it had indeed already discovered a viable business model.
The story of Pinterest right now is exactly what it looks like; It really is “hot startup gets venture funding, uses it to scale” not “startup hides the fact that it’s already profitable.” And with its kind of scale (and coffer) it could be losing a million dollars a month and still be a good bet.
Navigating the growth ahead for the start-up could be dicey. The Wall Street Journal writes that:
However, affiliate marketing isn’t a major part of Pinterest’s business model right now, according to the company and its venture capitalists.
Marketingland’s, Matt McGee puts the rub some are expressing this way,
“One of the primary things that’s upsetting some isn’t the fact that Pinterest is tweaking links to include its own affiliate code (heck, submit a deal or coupon you found to your favorite deals site and they’ll put their own affiliate link in it, too), but that Pinterest has been completely mum on the practice.”
(Update: Pinterest no longer uses Skimlinks.)
Is Pinterest Cost-Effective?
If Internet retailers need to invest in staff to highlight products and interact with customers in the Pinterest space, while paying affiliate referral fees, the tool’s not free. It may still be effective, but to what extent, depends on your business’ budget and margin. If your business is paying for original content and that content might be resold, repackaged, or modified, the tool is again- not free.
How Should My Business Use Pinterest?
What should your retail business be doing with Pinterest? First, track it with Analytics. One of our clients added a pin button to their website. That’s a nice place to start. It allows customers to pin pages and interact with the products. The ZMOT concept scales when customers find your products, write about them, and share them with others. While there might be associated, affiliate referral fees, many retailers are willing to pay these fees for the increase in traffic and revenue.
Going beyond step one completely depends on your business. If your marketing targets females ages 24- 40, diving deeper into Pinterest is probably worth your investment in social media pr writers. However, many of the pinners who’ve spent hours and hours creating content on Pinterest are now asking, “Where is my cut from Pinterest?”