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Only 30 Percent of Brands' Pinterest Engagement Come From Own Pins

Based on study by Digitas and Curalate

Marketers may like steering the conversation around their brands, but Facebook and Twitter have upended that strategy. Now it seems Pinterest is putting the brand-driven approach away almost entirely.

Seventy percent of brand engagement on the social scrapbooking platform is driven by users—that is, users pinning brand content outside of brands’ own Pinterest accounts—versus only 30 percent generated by brands pinning something that users repin, comment on or otherwise interact with. So says a study by Digitas and visual analytics startup Curalate that analyzed nearly 10 million pins, repins, comments, likes and keywords across more than 120 automotive, electronics and fashion/retail brands.

Curalate co-founder and CEO Apu Gupta reasoned that Pinterest’s positioning around content discovery explains why brands might have a harder time igniting interest on the platform. “The whole model is centered around the idea of content coming into Pinterest from different places other than a brand,” he said. “It happens to be that content is largely about brands, but the way that content is originating and getting onto Pinterest is not happening by brands themselves. It’s happening by consumers.”

Brands shouldn’t get discouraged by the study, though, because it “says less about how brands in a category are engaging and more about the rabidness the [Pinterest] community has for those categories,” said Jordan Bitterman, svp and North America lead of the agency’s Social-Mobile-Local practice. To support the point, he cited fashion/retail brands that see 82 percent of their engagement come straight from the community. Meanwhile, auto brands saw 75 percent of their engagement from the community, and electronics brands saw a more even-keeled 53 percent engagement from the community. “It’s less about what brands are doing wrong than about how they can join those conversations,” he said.

Brands that want to join those conversations should create images that users will want to share. “A lot of images in auto are professional images that were created and distributed by brands,” Bitterman said. Gupta pointed to fashion brands as doing particularly well on Pinterest because “fashion brands have always understood storytelling in a way other brands haven’t.” That might explain why the fashion/retail brands examined averaged 46 repins for their every pin, whereas user-generated fashion/retail pins usually only notch 6 repins. On the other hand, auto brands typically see only three repins versus 10 repins for users’ auto-related pins, and electronics brands average five repins compared to their users’ 14 repins.

Digitas and Curalate also looked at the best day and time for brands in each vertical to pin—3 p.m. ET on Friday for fashion/retail, noon ET on Friday for auto and 10 p.m. ET on Monday for electronics—but both Bitterman and Gupta said it’s hard to decipher how marketers should view those findings. Bitterman inferred that Friday afternoons make sense for fashion/retail and autos because many people shop or take test drives over the weekend and begin planning those outings on Friday. “Electronics kind of stumps me,” he said before inferring that Pinterest users interested in electronics may be a relatively smaller population whose prime Web browsing time correlates with prime-time TV.

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