From Pins to Purchases: How I Actually Used Pinterest

Posted on June 7, 2012


A nice combination of a bank holiday and my pay-day and I find myself completing the four-day weekend with a new pair of white trainer-pumps and some light blue Levis Jeans for summer. What ended with me entering my pin using my index finger actually began with my index finger poised above the left mouse button, logging into Pinterest.

Pinterest has been a recent example of new start-ups where users flock to register then begin to ask ‘What am doing here?’ Marketers and early adopters grappled to have the first, second and third word on exactly what the potential of Pinterest is for clients, brands and retailers – and with all the dust in the air the simplicity of natural user behavior can sometimes be lost.

For my summer outfit I found a use for Pinterest as a curating, collecting service for items had seen whilst browsing e-commerce sites. This is quite obviously intentional when we look at the design of Pinterest – seeking to emulate a physical ‘pin-board’ which luvvies and fashionistas would cultivate in trendy living spaces, possibly next to a black and white image of Audrey Hepburn.

However it wasn’t the design/layout of Pinterest which initially attracted me to regular use of the site. It was the ‘Pin-It’ bookmarklet app/plug-in which I found most the attractive and natural aide to my online shopping/browsing. Soon I had pinned from Tumblr, from E-Commerce sites and fashion blogs the items I simply liked the look of. Pinterest isn’t too inquisitive about exactly where I got these images from, it simply asks that I label them and organise them into my own space.

Social Media Adam Hutcheson Pinterest

The effect was that I was not creating a list of sites I would re-visit at a later date to complete my purchase – but that I was honing my desires and taste through selection and comparison. Soon my board ‘What I want to wear’ became a space where my ideas were funnelled and sculpted into a clear image of exactly the 2 products I really wanted.

So the next time I walked down the high street I had a clear image of what I wanted and was able to be needle-eyed in my approach to shopping. I ended up being very ruthless and particular with what I wanted and subsequently very pleased with my purchases – which is a feeling we don’t always associate with either real world or online shopping.

Theorising about the effect of Pinterest is one thing, but as usual I think it comes down to learning whilst doing. Using Pinterest in this example made me realise that what Pinterest actually does is turn the focus onto the product, rather than the sales arena. Any branding and html is stripped away leaving only an image and a user-defined category for the action of ‘pinning’. It’s hard to see as things stand any SEO or link benefit to Pinterest, or any way brands/retailers can track or monitor people taking an interest in their products. The whole process reminds me of what happens behind the curtain in the fitting rooms.

 This might be tricky to get used to as a lot of e-commerce marketing is focused on things like the sales funnel and building a brand or a reputation and making the customer journey as smooth as possible. In my experience what Pinterest does is make the actual product the centre of the transactions. It encourages users to browse for longer, but knowingly browse and curate – with an active agenda to NOT purchase.

It fits in with an interesting theme I have recently seen emerging on various Social Media channels and forums – don’t advertise, make a better product. This mentality argues that if your product is good enough people will seek it out, buy it and share the process with their peers.  I bought some white trainer/pumps and some light blue levis jeans and I couldn’t tell you where I bought them, who made them or where I originally saw them – what counts to me as a user is that by using Pinterest I was able to guide myself through a decision-making process using the fantastic functionality that Pinterest offers.

Within Social Media amazing products and real world things have a platform to be seen, admired and shared throughout a voluntary network of peers, this means that standards have been raised across the board (or boards) and with our disposable income being tighter then we can remember it’s more important than ever that we love what we buy. Pinterest does a job for users in that it helps us refine and perfect our purchasing decisions. We now won’t settle for anything less than what we really want.

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