Pinterest: your account does not enhance your social media strategy - delete it

I’ve lost Pinterest

18th March, 2019 by Dylan Patel

Does your business have a Pinterest account? No, seriously? Really? Why? Delete it, you’ll thank me later. I appreciate that this may be an unpopular opinion, but in the ten years I’ve worked in social media, I haven’t ever recommended Pinterest as a channel that clients should consider as part of their social media marketing mix. I also can’t think of a current or past client here at Richmond & Towers that I’d recommend Pinterest to. That’s not to say it won’t ever happen or that it’s a bad platform, but I don’t think I’ll be doing it any time soon.

That may come as a surprise when you consider the fact that Pinterest now has over 200m active users each month, with 75% coming from outside the US (and 40% of those signing up in the last year alone). Surely a platform that’s grown so quickly deserves your attention? Surely the fact that their key demographic is women aged 25-34 should be enough to make any marketer think twice?

Don’t get me wrong, Pinterest can be great for end users. It’s a wonderful place in which to collect your thoughts visually. Need a recipe stash? Great! Want to save furniture inspo for your new flat? Awesome! Need to bank content ideas for your Facebook page? Go nuts. If, however, you’re using it to try and reach an engaged, relevant audience for your brand in a cost-effective way, then I’m afraid it’s a big fat NOPE, and there are two very simple reasons why:

Pinterest can’t compete on numbers

Pinterest haven’t announced the number of UK-based users on their platform, but we know that globally there are over 200m users. Compare that to Facebook’s 2.32bn (yes, billion) monthly users or even Instagram’s 1bn monthly users. Pinterest isn’t even the third most popular platform in the UK, it’s down there at number five (and will almost certainly swap places with Snapchat at number six at some point this year). When you’re trying to identify a social media channel that your brand should be on, the number of users has to be up there in your considerations.

Having said that, there’s no denying that 200m users is still a significant number, and it wouldn’t be so bad if it wasn’t for my second reason why Pinterest is a no-go for marketers:

Pinterest can’t compete on advertising

From a pure social perspective, nobody can hold a candle to Facebook when it comes to advertising. The sheer power of Facebook’s advertising tools is incomparable, and pair that with the fact that you can advertise on Instagram at the same time through a unified platform and there’s almost no reason to use other social media channels. You want to reach 18-year-old men in Scunthorpe interested in skating to promote your new skate park? Done. How about 60-year-old women in Brighton with a penchant for peplum dresses? No problem. Now try and do the same on Pinterest and compare the ROI. I’ll wait.

The reality is, for the vast majority of FMCG brands that don’t have deep pockets, I truly believe that you’re better off investing more into making Facebook and Instagram a success for your brand than diverting funds to trying to make Pinterest work. The return on investment simply isn’t there, and ultimately that’s what the people that sign the cheques will care about, and rightly so.

I hope I change my mind one day, mainly because I don’t like the idea of a social media landscape in which Facebook has a near monopoly, but until the numbers change and the tools improve, R&T will be spending money with Mark Zuckerberg rather than…erm…who owns Pinterest again?