Pinterest continues to be the darling of the social media world, with more than 23 million unique visitors in July. Early skeptics rolled their eyes and cynics asked, “Is this another social media channel we need to learn to navigate and spend money on?” Questions were raised about the true impact of Pinterest on Web traffic and behavior. Well, naysayers, roll those eyeballs back to the front of your head. Reports continue to show that Pinterest affects both traffic and behavior — exponentially upward — proving that Pinterest is a channel that should not be ignored, especially if you are in the business of food.
Food pins trump all other categories at a whopping 57%. A closer look at the numbers reveals that Pinterest users are foodies, and 62.5% of them like eating out. And 53.89% like to enjoy a cocktail. Couple these numbers with the higher household income brackets, and you have an audience that is ripe for restaurant and chef engagement. But, as one commenter asked on a recent restaurant board, “How do you connect the dots from pinning … to butts in seats?” This is a valid question, especially taking into consideration the resources social media can demand. While “smoking gun” data points are elusive, there are strong indicators pointing to Pinterest’s ability to drive purchases.
In one survey, 33% of respondents claim to have purchased food or cooking-related items (the biggest category in the group) after having seen the item on Pinterest. Is it the “window shopping” experience as one clicks through enticing boards at their leisure? Or the soft sell of brand boards themselves? The best share not only food, but also lifestyle, inspiration, culture and personal travel boards. This gives Pinners a well-rounded, emotional brand story (reinforcing the notion that emotion drives consumer behavior). Regardless, food is the most pinned and most purchased category in the land of Pinterest. It’s interesting to see how some food companies, restaurants and chefs have utilized these benefits to work for them. But what I think is even more interesting is who hasn’t.
A quick search on board owners will reveal that national food brands, high-profile chefs and many restaurant properties are missing. While Pinners may be pinning their content from other sources, these entities don’t have their own branded boards. It’s an unfortunate missed opportunity because many of these brands have an arsenal of content ready and waiting to be pinned. Perhaps it’s the fear of losing intellectual property from websites or cookbooks where it generates revenue? This may be short sighted. Pinterest users love to engage and share. The more you share, the more they reciprocate, pinning away your content in front of their followers, thereby gaining you more visibility. Another reason: The affair between Google and Pinterest is especially steamy. Pinning counts as a backlink. And every time a pin gets repinned, it counts exponentially. It’s hard to argue for not sharing your proprietary content, to reap the rewards of all that SEO love.
It’s a sharing world out there. Unleash some of your food content and stories to Pinners, and you will earn many rewards. Pinners are hungry for food. Feed them!
Pinning tips for restaurants and chefs:
Images rule. Pictures of food and recipes are a no brainer (don’t forget to put text descriptors and logos on them). But where are the ingredients from? Are there images of the restaurant space or party venues you can share? Daily specials or promotions? Inspirational food photos, products or places? Other recipes that inspire you? Images of the community you are a part of?
Get personal. Identify the person/personality behind the brand; tell the story through pictures. Get emotional. Get real. A richer story about your food or brand connects with your target more viscerally.
Have fun. Pin things that make you laugh. Or cry. Pin quotes and funny pictures that fit your brand. Pin happy people enjoying your food or products. Pinners love pinning. If you show you do too, you’ll fit right in.
Flora Caputo is a vice president and executive creative director at Jacobs Agency, an award-winning Chicago-based agency that helps companies untangle business problems through marketing communications. She is also a self-proclaimed foodie and writer behind the popular food and lifestyle blog, www.urbandomesticdiva.com.