When Real Simple senior editor Kristin Appenbrink began setting up camp on Pinterest in October 2010, the social site was a good year away from becoming a boomtown for brands.
“There were not any other brands [on there at the time] that I know of,” she said.
But Appenbrink immediately saw the potential of Pinterest—which has become the equivalent of Facebook for women's lifestyle magazines like hers—and has since built her Time Inc. property's follower base to nearly 158,000 on the social site. According to social media firm Zoomsphere, that number is good enough to currently rank Real Simple No. 6 among all brands on Pinterest.
Adweek recently chatted with Appenbrink about how brands can win with pins. Here are some highlights of that conversation.
Adweek: How has your Pinterest activity evolved since you began?
Kristin Appenbrink: When we first started, it was an exploratory space. We didn't have a fully developed strategy. We were doing topical boards with stuff we wanted to promote. One of the first ones we did, which continues to do well, is our Month of Dinners board. Over all, it really was kind of a play space for us. We did a lot of products pinning, but we soon realized that wasn't what our readers were responding to. So we switched over to a more recipe focus…and it’s done terrifically because it is so visual.
Generally, what do you think is the allure of the platform?
Pinterest is about having all kinds of ideas from across the Web curated into one space. People are following their friends, brands they trust and bloggers with similar tastes to them. So if they see the recipes, they want to save them and cook them later, if not that night. Other users post, “I made this last night.” Or, “I plan to make this for lunch. I will let you know how it goes.” It's all actually really actionable. I know there's a lot of talk about how Pinterest is where you pin it and forget it. But we do find our readers are making the recipes that we are pinning.
What other things are you doing?
Every Friday we have what we term Problem Solving Products. We feature products, apps and websites that we feel make life just a little easier. People just absolutely love those. We have an entire Pinterest board dedicated to those products. That's one of the exceptions to what we call the "products do not do well on Pinterest" rule.
How did you get such a big audience?
I think it's just really being present in the space. And just keeping our readers engaged. We've been messaging about Pinterest on RealSimple.com, through our email newsletters and in our print magazine.
What tips do you have for brands just getting started on the site?
When you are on Pinterest, think like a person and not like a brand. Someone doing social for a brand may be tempted to get everything up at once. But Pinterest doesn't work like that. Pinning 20 chicken recipes in 10 minutes is going to be a bad user experience. People will stop following your content. You'll have better success pinning one chicken recipe and then a couple decorating ideas and then maybe a cleaning tip. That [combination] is going to feel more seamless, and it's going to feel like you are just another friend in their feeds.
Do you monetize Pinterest?
We really just look at pageviews. That's been our metric. And the fact we have so many engaged users. So branding and traffic are our key goals.
How often do you pin?
We'll do 10 to 15 a day and a little less on the weekend, depending on how busy I get because you actually cannot [automatically] schedule them right now.
You’re working seven days a week on Pinterest?
Yes, but luckily it's a good kind of work.