October 14, 2015

Could Pinterest Become the Next Big Thing in Local Marketing?

A screenshot of Pinterest's map for their "place Pins."
Image from Mapping Place Pins.

By Megan G.

Yesterday, Pinterest announced the addition of location data from both Google Maps and Apple Maps to its “place Pins” feature.  According to Marketing Land, Pinterest also pulls data from the Foursquare API.  Back in November 2013, place Pins was created “for the explorer in all of us,” focusing on traveling as opposed to other popular Pinterest fares like delectable recipes and inspiring quotes. 

An example of how Place Pins worked when they first launched in 2013.
Place Pins, from 2013 Pinterest Blog post.  Image from Pinterest.

Two years ago, place Pins offered an adorable digital map, which appears to be crafted from grade school construction paper, paired with gorgeous images and video of Pinners’ favorite locales around the world.  Sounds like a logical addition to Pinterest’s already wonderfully distracting qualities.

Now, Pinterest has dipped its toes further into the marketing pool with the refreshing addition of location data, including phone numbers, addresses, and store hours. 
Hmmm.  Name, address, phone number, store hours, and a link to digital maps… sounds like a fully fleshed out business listing to me.  This could be a ripe opportunity for Pinterest to transform from an outlying, niche platform to one of the major players in both social media and local marketing.

Placing Pins, Creating Listings

Pinterest, albeit fun and whimsical to sift through, usually isn’t classified as a professional marketing platform.  Facebook and Twitter more often come to mind when one thinks of promoting businesses online.  However, this is grievous oversight considering how current consumers’ attentions are grabbed by visuals.  

According to Mark Zuckerberg, “there’s this continued progression of people getting richer and richer ways to share what’s on their mind... We’re going through a period where now it’s mostly visual and photos.” 

Platforms like Pinterest and Instagram have the visual aspect down pat, but they could become even more powerful content marketing tools if they adopted a few tricks from their competitors.  Like, say… creating bona fide business listings with helpful information in addition to their stunning images?  WINNING!  

A graphic of Charlie Sheen, with his slogan, "Winning"
Pinning is winning.  Image from Celebrity Cash.

What This Means for Local Marketing

As pointed out by Catherine Shu on TechCrunch, Pinterest’s addition of location data will keep users on Pinterest longer.  Instead of switching to Google Maps or Yelp, Pinners can find out exactly where they want to eat that night or where to visit on their vacation all on Pinterest.  And, to be honest, Pinterest’s unique layout is often much more enjoyable to peruse than the content of directories.

With  store hours, essential NAP info (name, address, phone number) and images, there’s only one ingredient missing in the business listing pie—reviews!  A customized review system could certainly make Pinterest a force to be reckoned with.  In place of any 5-star system, letter grade, or numerical score, the friendly folks at Pinterest feature users “tips,” instead.

An example of Place Pins on Mobile!
The place Pin interface, featuring “Tips.”  Image from TechCrunch.

Why a traditional review system hasn’t been added is anyone’s guess.  Maybe Pinterest wants to avoid the negativity that often goes along with ‘scoring’ businesses online, or perhaps the number of “rePins” a place receives is enough to indicate its value.  Whatever the reason, there’s no denying these place Pins look a lot like Google My Business listings.

Currently, 7 billion place Pins have been buffered with location data, and Pinterest currently features the top 20 places people have pinned to their boards.  The platform “hopes these [Places] inspire you to plan your own trip on Pinterest,” showing that they (of course) want users to use their site for the whole planning process.

While the Top Pinned Places showcase locations more attuned to worldwide adventures, I would say this opens up an excellent chance for Pinterest to become more involved in local marketing.  In the same way that Google has their globetrotting Trekker Loan Program and Google My Business local listings, Pinterest could offer up Pinning adventures as well as visual celebrations of local businesses and their communities.

[UPDATED]  Looks like Pinterest isn't the only visual platform to step up its local/small business game.  Instagram just announced in a blog post their @instagramforbusiness account, which features fun videos or pictures that businesses, both big and small, create for the social media platform.  The eGumball, Inc. Instagram account will certainly be following it! 

What do you think of Pinterest’s new feature?  Are you an avid Pinner?  Tell Tek Shouts! about your adventures and projects in the comment section.  

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