Dealership MarketingIndustry News & Trends

Should Dealers Have Interest in Pinterest?

Pinterest Logo

During a recent management retreat, a colleague introduced the group to the Internet’s fastest growing Social Networking site, Pinterest.com. Pinterest (pronounced pin-terest, not pin-interest) has burst onto the Internet with growth rates we haven’t seen since Facebook. Traffic has jumped to almost 11 million visitors in mid-December, nearly 40 times where it was only six months ago. Pinterest is now in the top 7 social networks on the web, with 59% of its users being women ages 25-44.

During the brief demonstration I watched, I initially didn’t understand the mission of the site, or rather, why it would drive consumer eyeballs. I learned that you needed to “apply for admission” which could take weeks, or you could find another Pinterest user and have them invite you. Just like learning about every other social network, you’ll never truly understand it until you immerse yourself (which is what I did). While I was figuring out the value proposition Pinterest offered, I also showed the site to my wife and her sister. Their instant addiction caused me to embark on a journey to find out more about this site, and potentially how it might help my customers (you, the car dealer).

Screen Shot of Pinterest

If you visit the site, you will notice that the majority of content relates to food, home decorating, crafts, and child-related ideas. I took a stab at creating a man’s version of the site, including my interests in cool cars, vintage guitars, and outdoor barbecuing. I was pleasantly surprised that when I searched for related “Pins” and “Boards”, I found there were many others with similar interests.

Pinterest is all about pictures, not so much about words. When you find an interesting picture on the web, you “Pin” the picture and it is attached to your profile. You can also have “Boards”, which are subject-related collections of Pins. I have Boards for “Cool Cars”, “Vintage Guitars”, etc. Every time I find a picture of a cool car, I “Pin” the picture and put in on the “Cool Cars” Board. You can also “Re-Pin” someone else’s Pin, which propagates that content across the web. You can also simply “like” someone else’s Pin, which just shows you liked it, but didn’t feel compelled to Re-Pin it.

Since a major component of a dealer’s social marketing strategy should be to build a social network, and join in on the conversations, I would think a progressive dealer would start a profile for their store, and simply “Pin” new or used car photos for special or unique items. You might also “Pin” pictures of cool aftermarket or OEM accessories, perhaps alone or as part of a customer’s vehicle. You should be careful not to be too self-promoting, or you will be unlikely to attract many followers. Instead, only show the very new, or very special, models or products, and simply try to create interest. Creativity attracts interest on the site, by adding unique titles and high-quality photographs; you can increase the traffic to your profile. Be forewarned, Pinterest has rules where they discourage overt self-promotion, and you wouldn’t want to start your experience getting blacklisted.

You could also search the site for related “Pins” for makes/models that you carry, and “Re- Pin” those items and maybe add a comment with your thoughts. Again, don’t add a comment that could be in any way considered self-promoting but instead add an interesting fact about the benefits of the car’s make/model. You should also begin “following” other Pinners with similar interests, or anyone who starts following you. Like all social media sights, networking is key. Another idea would be to use your knowledge and statistics about the users on the site, and gear some of your boards to them. For example, since the majority of Pinterest users are women, create Boards that appeal to women and direct them back to your profile to increase views of your Boards.

You could create a Board for your local community with pinned pictures of your community involvement, Little League teams you’ve sponsored, and your passion for your surroundings. You could create a Board with pictures of cool home garages, pictures of interesting driving destinations, or even pictures of vehicle interior customizations. Once again, creativity is key on this site.

The goal is to create Boards that reflect the personality and culture of the dealership, and the interests of the owner. As in all social marketing programs, you are trying to personally connect, in many cases one-on-one with other people with similar interests. If they feel a personal connection with you, they may eventually decide to become your customer, since people like doing business with friends.

I’ll admit, it took me a while to get my hands wrapped around this new site, but the growth stats are incredible. Effective Digital Marketing Strategy says to promote your business where people are spending their time online, so Pinterest definitely fits the bill. This site will force you to be a little more creative, and a little more subdued in your approach, but the exposure and payoff in the long run should be worth it. Chances are most dealers will read this article and move on, so your opportunity to be an early entrant could give you a nice head start.

Good luck, and please let me know how I can help!

George Nenni Principal Consultant Generations Digital
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    jsgrif
  • January 26, 2012
Great article. It's always hard to decide what social media outlet to use if not as many as possible. The amount of interest being shown in Pinterest is staggering in my opinion and I agree it's going to be a great site.
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Why do we as marketers look at every possible web site as a way to SPAM our products, hoping someone buys them? As a member of pinterest, I cannot fathom how you could possibly go about trying to sell your product and have any hopes of reaching a target audience. Everything you do would go against the rules and ideology of the site. I love how so many people are blinded by the number of people on social media and think they have some way of making those poeple into customers. Usually, your efforts will have the exact opposite effect.
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    loritodd
  • January 27, 2012
@georgenenni Thanks, did that. No place to sign in or register. Tried the links on the bottom in multiple browsers but the link is void.
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    georgenenni
  • January 27, 2012
@loritodd In Chrome, at the bottom I see: "Sign in or Post as Guest" Do you see that?
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    loritodd
  • January 27, 2012
@georgenenni Firewall issues, attempting from my mobile. Thanks.
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    loritodd
  • January 27, 2012
I'm not sure you truly get what Pinterest is about. I agree with Clay. As someone who has been doing social media for a very large dealer group for two years, Pinterest is not worth the time (and it take a lot of time to curate decent boards on Pinterest - I know, because I've been using the site since it's launch almost two years ago).
 
Pinterest is about collecting the awesome and beautiful things you find across the internet. As of late, more and more brands are jumping on Pinterest in an effort to push their own agendas and products. Heck, it's even against Pinterest etiquette. Users are smart and they see right through that. Why not spend your time and energy on something that will actually have a positive impact on your social media efforts? That's why Facebook, Twitter and YouTube are great options for dealers to focus on.
 
It'd be one thing for someone like Jalopnik to begin using the site to pin all the crazy cars and car related stuff they find on the web. Jalopnik's audience is international and much more tech-savvy. But an individual dealership? Who are you trying to connect to? Your local community, right? How many of them do you think are Pinterest? And how many of them are on here to look for car stuff?
 
As someone who works in the industry and an avid Pinterest, I'd say that it's not smart for any dealership to do this.
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    emiltsch
  • January 27, 2012
@Clay Toporski I like to think smart adopters aren't necessarily rushing to new platforms simply to "sell their product" - rather it has more to do with understanding community dynamic, how people interact and creating greater awareness.
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    drewplaysdrums
  • January 27, 2012
@loritodd @pinterest You should, and I completely agree with you. I hate how social media gets overrun with business spammers
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    JohnCarcutt
  • January 27, 2012
WOW .. Do you know the demographic of Pinterest users? Mostly Women. Who has the most influence in the car buying process? ... hmmm ... I'm thinking there is a fairly basic Marketing 101 disconnect here.
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    emiltsch
  • January 27, 2012
@loritodd "Not worth the time; takes a lot of time to curate" - it's take but a few seconds to pin something w/the pin it button.



While it may be against their etiquette, it's also part of their master plan to have brands flock to the site to eventually monetize the activity within the site. Eventually you'll probably see branded boards as well.



I don't think anybody is trying to sell a car via Pinterest. (If you are, please stop ASAP) Here's a perfect example of the utility that can come from it - I pinned one of our cars, a slick Mercedes convertible, to my cars board. An existing customer of ours liked the pin, re-pinned it & even commented on it. What's the benefit? She's an active user with a large following on her networks & her activity was shared across her networks - creating yet another passive opportunity for our brand to be shared by someone considered influential among her network.



Another great example of how it's helped create awareness & drive traffic has come from pinning infographics from our blog. I believe every infographic I've posted has been liked & re-pinned. (and each post creates a link back to the blog)



There are ways to leverage every platform, the key is doing it in non-obtrusive ways - learn how to fit into the community and be a smart participant and it can work...in any community. Simple playground rules:)
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@emiltsch @loritodd

I would love if my competitors spent the majority of their day on social media sites trying to join the community. This way, I can worry about actually selling cars.



I am very active in many online social communities. You know how many cars I have sold from it? One.



I would rather spend my time with my church congregation or interacting with families that do the same activities as my daughter.



Why would I spend all this time on social media when I can find a better and more geographically pleasing audience in my own backyard.



The goal is to not push cars down people's throats. Nobody, in real life or online, likes to be marketed to. Rather, be a part of a community and people will come to know what you do. As a part of their community they may find they trust you - and business will come. Sporadically.



My time and money is best spent finding more ways to drive traffic to my site and converting them to leads.



Sure, it may take a minute to pin a car to Pinterest. But, how are you building a community around you to see that pin? Certainly not as a car dealer. And, it is that process that is time consuming and not really worth the ROI unless you already have a vested interest in that community and the car sale is secondary. And, in that case, I would never pin a car for sale anyway. It is a violation of that trust and that community.
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    emiltsch
  • January 27, 2012
@loritodd Plenty to be learned from it; replied to your post as well. Here's my initial post about it: http://t.co/LZuN62NF
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    loritodd
  • January 27, 2012
@emiltsch I think it depends on if you're identifying as yourself (like you do) or as the dealership itself. Honestly, I don't see the...
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    emiltsch
  • January 27, 2012
@loritodd I hope that nobody creates an account for a dealership. Ugh.
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    emiltsch
  • January 27, 2012
@Clay Toporski SM channels shouldn't be acquisition channels anyway; they should be listening channels, customer service channels or ultimately influence channels.
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    georgenenni
  • January 27, 2012
@emiltsch @Clay Toporski Great points. A lot of what I've learned on Pinterest is discussing with my wife, her friends and sisters about their use. They've made recipes, got ideas, bought clothes they've seen, all without feeling they were sold anything. My wife calls it "an idea site", she searches for topics to get ideas. Not too much of a stretch to think that when a need for a new Hybrid comes up, folks need to get ideas, see what their friends are doing. Many great examples of dealers using SM, not selling anything but instead being part of community, joining conversations to help, having fun, making people laugh. Go to Facebook and search for "Suzuki of Wichita", pretty amazing.
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Interestingly, I think everyone here has a valid point... including JohnCarCutt... it's NOT about spamming, but is there a realm in between misuse and genuine strategy to generate more traffic and leads? Knowing the stats of how many friends on your FB friends list who are ready to buy a car TODAY, and also knowing that UGC is exponentially more valuable than your (dealership's) own page's content, could Pinterest be used for business - but in a private manner - to deliver customer experience photos so that they can find themselves and proceed to "pin?" Clay has a very valid point, because we do live in an experiential economy in which archaic sales methods have no place in your marketing strategy. As a marketing manager, I have to evaluate every social platform from the customer's perspective, then choose the best tactics to BRAND THE DEALERSHIP. NO social network is about selling cars - it's about inbound marketing and knowing the demographics of your inbound marketing. If anyone is still trying to use a social platform as a "push" sales method, it's a guaranteed failure. Better to establish yourself (your dealership) as a community presence... when they want a car, they WILL know where to go. That's good marketing, in my humble opinion.
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    TheEricGiddens
  • January 27, 2012
@dealerrefresh - Growth chart for #Pinterest in 2011. Absolutely Skyrocketing! I want to see their strategic plan. http://t.co/TfZ3WXLv
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    frankadgpr
  • January 27, 2012
@malcolli I see what you mean. Okay.
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    Kyle Suss
  • January 31, 2012
@loritodd Came here to say this. I wholeheartedly agree. It's hard enough for dealers to figure out how to use Facebook, we don't need them flooding every single social network with an attempt to sell products.
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    Kyle Suss
  • January 31, 2012
@Clay Toporski I could see various niche businesses doing very well on Pinterest. For example, a manufacturer of unique outdoor patio equipment would likely generate a fair amount of repins if they have an interesting product. To have every single auto dealer on there pinning the same things though, is like you said Clay -- SPAM.
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@Kyle Suss

I agree. I think the geographical implication of a dealership trying to use global social media sites makes a lot of it irrelevant.



In a perfect situation, I think we would see OEM sites creating content that people would want to pin and repin creating a dialogue around a specific product that the customer would then find locally.



Personally, I have considered using pinterest as a way to find new ideas for blog posts or to share photos from a side photography business I have - mostly to try and encourage links to and from my site to interact with a larger community and raise my SERP.



As for the car business - I just don't see it being all that effective at selling cars on a dealer level.
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    georgenenni
  • January 31, 2012
@kathikruse thanks! What is your take on this?
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    georgenenni
  • February 1, 2012
@nownunz Thank you, still trying to find out the right angle for the car biz!
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    nownunz
  • February 1, 2012
@georgenenni Definitely man, it was well written and being out there is important on the platforms people are using. #StayRelevant
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    georgenenni
  • February 14, 2012
Interesting, using Pinterest tracking tools to see what big automotive portals are up to:



http://pinterest.com/source/autotrader.com/



http://pinterest.com/source/cars.com/
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    dealerrefresh
  • February 16, 2012
Great article over on Copyblogger "56 Ways to Market Your Business on Pinterest" http://bit.ly/z3vZxl



#56 Run a Pinterest contest. Invite your readers to pin links and images from your site that inspire, motivate, move or entertain them. Then judge the winners by creativity or ingenuity and offer a juicy prize. Offer to promote the winners’ Pinterest boards on your site as part of the contest.
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    dealerrefresh
  • February 16, 2012
Jason Falls article over on Entrepreneur about Pinterest.



"How Pinterest Is Becoming the Next Big Thing in Social Media for Business" - http://bit.ly/zkll1c



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