During a recent management retreat, a colleague introduced the group to the Internet’s fastest growing Social Networking site…Pinterest.com. Pinterest (pronounced pin-terest, not pin-interest) has burst onto the internet with growth rates we haven’t seen since Facebook. Traffic has jumped to almost 11 million visitors in mid-December, nearly 40 times where it was only six months ago. Pinterest is now in the top 7 social networks on the web, that’s pretty darn impressive. A remarkable stat is that 59% of its users are women aged 25-44, which is well above rates on other social networks.
During the brief demonstration I watched, I initially didn’t understand the mission of the site, or rather why it would drive consumer eyeballs. I learned that you needed to “apply for admission” which could take weeks, or you could find another Pinterest user and get them to invite you. I found a co-worker who had already become a member, and with a few clicks I was running full speed on this new social venue. Just like learning about every other social network, you’ll never truly understand it until you immerse yourself (which is what I did). While I was figuring out the value proposition Pinterest offered, I also showed the site to my wife and her sister. They both commented that they heard it was a site to get good ideas from, and wanted me to quickly invite them. They both instantly fell in love with the site, and now spend more time on Pinterest than on Facebook. That instant addiction caused me to embark on a journey to find out more and more about this site, and potentially how it might help my customers (you, the car dealer).
If you visit the site, you will notice that the majority of content relates to food, home decorating, crafts, and child-related ideas. I took a stab at creating a man’s version of the site, including my interests in cool cars, vintage guitars, and outdoor barbecuing. I was pleasantly surprised that when I searched for related “Pins” and “Boards”, I found there were many others with similar interests.
OK, first some background. Pinterest is all about pictures, not so much about words. When you find an interesting picture on the web, you “Pin” the picture and it is attached to your profile. You can also have “Boards”, which are subject-related collections of Pins. I have Boards for “Cool Cars”, “Vintage Guitars”, etc. Every time I find a picture of a cool car, I “Pin” the picture and put in on the “Cool Cars” Board. You can also “Re-Pin” someone else’s Pin, which propagates that content across the web. You can also simply “like” someone else’s Pin, which just shows you liked it, but didn’t feel compelled to Re-Pin it. You get the idea.
Since a major component of a dealer’s social marketing strategy should be to build a social network, and join in on the conversations, I would think a progressive dealer would start a profile for their store, and simply “Pin” new or used car photos for special or unique items. You might also Pin pictures of cool aftermarket or OEM accessories, perhaps alone or on a customer’s vehicle. You should be careful not to be too self-promoting, or you will be unlikely to attract many followers. Instead, only show the very new, or very special models or products, and don’t try to sell, simply try to create interest. Be forewarned, Pinterest has rules where they discourage overt self-promotion, and you wouldn’t want to start your experience getting black-listed.
You could also search the site for related Pins for makes/models that you carry, and Re-Pin those items and maybe add a comment with your thoughts. Again, don’t add a comment like “We’ve got cars just like these for the lowest price in town!”, but maybe an interesting fact about the benefits of this make/model. You also should begin “following” other Pinners with similar interests, or anyone who starts following you (building your network!).
You could create a Board for your local community, Pins of pictures of community involvement, Little League teams you’ve sponsored, ways you are helping your local area, and your passion for your surroundings. You could create a Board with pictures of cool home garages, pictures of interesting driving destinations, pictures of vehicle interior customizations, the list goes on.
The key is to create Boards that reflect the personality and culture of the dealership, and the interests of the dealer owner. As in all social marketing programs, you are trying to personally connect, in many cases one-on-one with other people with similar interests. If they feel a personal connection with you, they may eventually decide to become your customer, since people like doing business with friends!
I’ll admit, it took me a while to get my hands wrapped around this new site, but the growth stats are incredible. Effective Digital Marketing Strategy says to promote your business where people are spending their time online, so Pinterest definitely fits the bill. This site will force you to be a little more creative, and a little more subdued in your approach, but the exposure and payoff in the long run should be worth it. Chances are most dealers will read this and move on, so your opportunity to be an early entrant could give you a nice head start.
Good luck, and please let me know how I can help!