If you've never considered advertising on Pinterest--or weren't sure how to do it effectively--now might be the time to try it.
Startups have long been able to increase their reach on the social bookmarking platform by paying for "promoted pins" that appear extra-frequently in users' feeds. In March, Pinterest announced a new program called Propel, aimed at helping small and medium-sized businesses maximize those ads. The pitch: For a fee starting at $100 per day, companies can get personalized feedback on their ads from a Propel account representative and an analytics dashboard, as well as access to Pinterest's internal design agency, the Pin Factory.
That sounds great. But what does it mean in practice? Propel customers say you'll quickly find that advertising on Pinterest works much differently than on other social networks, so you can't try to approach it the same way.
"You're creating these pins that aren't very wordy. The platform is very visual," explains Scott Paladini, founder and CEO of Bear Mattress. "What people use Facebook for is different than what people use Pinterest for."
Paladini says his goal with Propel isn't to get people to buy his product through Pinterest ads, since that's not Pinterest's strength. Instead, it's to get people onto the Bear Mattress website. From there, he can continue to keep viewers engaged by, for example, encouraging them to sign up for email blasts.
Feedback is another area where Pinterest ads diverge from other networks. "Facebook reports within the hour--of your acquisitions, your clickthrough rate, if it's been seen, all of that data--whereas Pinterest takes almost a day," says Lizzy Ellingson, the co-founder of Blueprint Registry and a Propel user. "But Pinterest is a little bit different in that people may have seen the pin a day ago and saved it to their board, and then three weeks later, they might actually click on it."
One of Propel's primary selling points is that each company gets assigned a Pinterest representative, who can impart platform-specific advice. (Propel currently has a team of 20 people, and the company plans to scale up to 60 by the end of 2017.) Here are three nuggets of knowledge shared by startups that have been using Propel since it launched:
1. Use one-tap pins.
Clicking most pins leads users to other Pinterest pages. One-tap pins lead directly to your company's website, which--when used judiciously--can work to your advantage. "I know they've shared that [tip] with quite a few people using this program," says Ellingson. "So that's something that we've tested."
2. Don't group ad campaigns together.
Sarah Goates, social media manager at BioClarity, relates this advice from her account manager: If you group too many ad campaigns together, they'll end up cannibalizing each other. Running each one individually is harder, but may yield stronger returns. "Yeah, it's a little bit more legwork, and it's a little more to look through your dashboard," Goates says. "But that's the best way you can see which pins are performing better than others."
3.Don't be afraid to change your ad campaigns often.
Evergreen ads can be boring. Ads that take advantage of immediate trends are often much more engaging--and it's easy to forget that you can change your ad campaigns at the click of a button. "When asparagus is in season--nobody can predict exactly when that's going to be--we're able to match that with clever ideas on how to use asparagus," says Thaddeus Barsotti, co-owner and co-CEO of Farm Fresh For You. "When the first melons come in, it'll be the same thing."