The two biggest questions about social media I’m hearing over and over again right now:
“Are you on Pinterest?” and “What’s this Pinterest thing?”
First, for those of you asking the latter, here’s my definition:
1. A social networking platform that resembles a virtual bulletin board on which users can organize, sort and catalog items of interest and “pin” websites, images, and articles for sharing with their followers and the network at large. 2. A resource for do-it-yourselfers, decorators, artists, cooks, hobbyists, tastemakers in all fields. 3. The newest in social media obsessing and time-wasting. 4. A highly misunderstood and underestimated tool for REALTORS®.
In December, Pinterest became one of the Web’s Top 10 social networks, according to tracking firm Hitwise. Like any new(-ish) social media tools, everyone (who knows what it is) has an opinion, and those opinions are as varied as Pinterest’s uses. Most of what I’m hearing is that it’s a time-suck and not useful for real estate. There’s even a recent blog post from Kimberly Dotseth entitled, “Why Pinterest is not for real estate.”
Here’s the deal: Pinterest can be for real estate, the same way that Facebook and Twitter can be for real estate. It depends, of course, on how you use it, and even more so, whether you enjoy using it. Some people don’t like Twitter, so they don’t use it. Using a tool badly is worse than not using it at all. Here’s how I think you can use Pinterest, if you’re interested.
So, yes, I am on Pinterest. And yes, I am using it to connect with my clients. To answer your inevitable follow-up questions:
- No, I am not measuring ROI.
- No, I do not think it’s going to transform my business.
- Yes, I’m actually doing it just because I enjoy it.
A few of parallels to real estate:
According to Read|Write|Web, “Pinterest is growing fast, and 80% of the sites users are women ages 25-44. According to the National Association of REALTORS®, the fastest growing segment of homebuyers is women. Do you see a correlation here? A large percentage of my clients are women; we connect on Facebook and, now, on Pinterest. It comes naturally for both of us. It’s not a forced relationship, as it can sometimes be with a Facebook Business Page. I’m not constantly searching for content to post; instead, I’m pinning what interests me and what reminds me of my clients, and when I pin something that catches their eye, I know it, because they tell me so.
Pinterest is being described by many as “useful for artists and designers” but not really anyone else. I beg to differ. Many of my buyers (and sellers) are interested in design and decorating, especially first-time homebuyers, as they prepare to purchase their first home. They’re handy and they don’t have a lot of disposable income, so they are looking for design trends that are affordable and that they can do themselves. They’re finding them on Pinterest. When I find those ideas first, I pin them to my own board and tag my client in the post, so they don’t just see the idea, they can also see that I was thinking about them.
CNN.com recently published an article called, “Interest, Meet Pinterest. Site Helps Users Catalog Their Passions” – this sums it up for me. My business, like that of many REALTORS®, is strongly referral based. Oftentimes, I connect with my clients about something other than real estate before we actually start talking houses. Pinterest is the perfect tool for me to connect with friends, clients, friends of clients before real estate ever comes up. This is how I sold a house to a client I met on Pinterest – we connected over kitchen ideas (she was the friend of a recent past client) and then moved into talking about her home search, and eventually ended up at the closing table.
The trend in social media is (finally) moving toward sharing being less about you and more about your audience. In other words, fewer photos of your kids and your dog, and more of what is universally interesting and compelling; in short, I want you to share something that will also appeal to me. Pinterest allows you to do just that. Share your decorating and design ideas, chances are they will appeal to someone else. If they do, they’ll get repinned and that person may check out your profile. If you’ve done your job right and set up a good profile, with your website and a bit about yourself, they may visit your website. And a beautiful relationship may begin.
If you’re not on board with the purely social aspects of Pinterest as a way of connecting, you might try a hyper-local approach. Matthew Shadbolt of The Corcoran Group does an amazing job of pinning New York City, from the style to the culture to the real estate, without making it salesy.
Does Pinterest have incredible, untapped potential for those who use it correctly? Absolutely. Is it going to save your business, transform it and make you millions of dollars? No. No single tool can do that for you. But as with any tool, I believe it can be useful to you, if you love what you’re doing and you’re doing it well.
I’ll leave you with one final thought about Pinterest, this one from Jeff Turner. This is for those used-car-salesman types, the ones who probably aren’t reading this anyway, but if you are, it’s pretty much the same advice you should follow on ANY social networking site: “Avoid self-promotion.” You know who you are.
If You’ve Never Heard of Pinterest, You’re a Big Dork – on ReadWriteWeb.com
How to use Pinterest’s pin board for the Web – on USAToday.com
Why Pinterest is 2012’s Hottest Website – by Pete Cashmore, on CNN.com
Pinterest Drives More Traffic Than Google+, YouTube and LinkedIn Combined [Study] – on Mashable.com
How Pinterest is Becoming the Next Big Thing in Social Media for Business – on entrepreneur.com