Social media sites have provided businesses of all sizes an opportunity to humanize their brand and interactive with their customer base. On Facebook, customers can “Like” favorite products or businesses and in return get coupons or special offers. On Twitter, customers using a hashtag often will get a quicker response from a company than calling customer service over the phone.
With the rise of Pinterest as today’s “It” social network, it makes sense that enterprises consider going to site where their customers are hanging out. Pinterest presents a great opportunity for companies to put out the message of the benefits that their products and services may bring. It allows businesses to communicate visually with their prospects and customers. Whether by sharing infographics, screenshots of white papers and eBooks, images from blog posts or pictures of staff members, companies can effectively tell their story and deepen their relationship with their audience.
Visualization is an extremely powerful technique and Pinterest lends itself to a number of possibilities within the enterprise. According to Ja-Nae Duane, director of social media at Overdrive Interactive and an adjunct faculty member at Northeastern University, Pinterest can be a product testing ground for new product development. “As the enterprise begins thinking about a new product, they can put together storyboards, outlining details of the product,” she said. “A clothing business can use boards to display colors, fabrics, as well as various styles of the same garment. Then the brand can measure what people are most receptive to based on the number of likes and repins a pin or board receives.”
Pinterest is the ideal social media space for the growing trend in infographic or datavisualization directories.
Tim Gibbon, director at communications consultancy Elemental, said he plans to utilize the site. “It is is a great resource to have graphs, infographics and images placed and then shared because of its continual rise in popularity,” he said. “Its meteoric development makes it very attractive.”
Gibbon was also quick to point out some best practices for businesses. “Intelligent written blog posts and content that supports the infographic would be more beneficial because the pin leads the reader back to the original source where they can read more,” he said.
Some question Pinterest’s long-term viability. While businesses want their customers to spread the word about favorite products or services by pinning pictures and graphics to their personal boards, how much sharing can individuals do without risking copyright and trademark violations? Where should a business draw the line in what can be shared? And there is also the risk of employees, while promoting their company, illegally “borrows” the intellectual property of someone else.
“From a Copyright Law perspective any image pinned which was not taken, made or created by the person pinning could infringe the creators copyright,” said Joanne Frears, consultant solicitor at full-service law firm Jeffrey Green Russell. “If, however, you take a photograph of an original work, image, installation or design, it is arguable that you have copyright in your photographic interpretation of the work and can pin it freely. Matters are more complicated if you pin images of branded products, where even if you created the image you might infringe trade mark law.”
Frears also said that since most people don’t go through the proper channels to discover who owns the copyright and obtain permissions, the best practice is to always clearly attribute, allowing the creator or brand owner the opportunity to be acknowledged.
There is no reason why Pinterest should not be a great asset to enterprise brands, as long as the content is interesting, relevant and intelligently communicated. The concepts and ideas just need to be compelling and different, adding value to the audience’s lives.
About the Author: Sue Poremba is a freelance writer focusing primarily on security and technology issues and occasionally blogs for Rackspace Hosting.