It's hard not to venture too far on the Web these days without coming across an article lauding Pinterest for its meteoric rise. The social network, which features a highly visual, virtual pinboard interface, had 11.7 million unique monthly visitors in January 2011, according to comScore. The question communicators have been asking themselves lately is: Should we be on it?
For PR pros who may have finally gotten a grasp on managing Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+ on a daily basis, the thought of taking on another network may seem like a power drain. The platform (which allows users to curate content in the form of posted photos and links to related Web sites on their pinboards, which others can then follow) has hit a sweet spot with retail brands. Even the Army, Navy and National Guard, looking to reach the widest possible audience, have started pinning, according to Politico.
For retail brands—particularly those geared toward women—Pinterest can't be ignored. Outside that realm, it pays to take a wait-and-see approach before investing the necessary resources.
Chris Lagan, chief of social media for the U.S. Coast Guard, says that every social media effort should be fueled by a plan and purpose, rather than just latching onto the newest platform each month. "You don't want to lock yourself into a specific tool at the expense of another just because everyone is jumping onto it, but you do want to capitalize on an opportunity to expand your audience base and engage in an effective way," says Lagan.
Though the USCG has had conversations about using Pinterest, they have yet to identify whether it's a natural fit with their strategic social media plan. "Our focus is one part educating the public on the services we provide them and proving the value of the tax dollars towards our service, and the other part is engaging, listening, learning and responding to the audiences' needs," says Lagan.
Mark your calendar for PR News' March 27 Webinar on leveraging Pinterest to grow your audience (1:30-3 pm ET).
Follow Bill Miltenberg: @bmiltenberg