What's the next social-media craze?

Tips for Entrepreneurs: Why is it so powerful? Because it uses word-of-mouth, the most powerful force known to marketing.

facebook logo311 (photo credit: REUTERS)
facebook logo311
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Just when you think there’s no new way to advertise yourself, something new comes along that has the potential to change advertising like Facebook changed social media.
That’s why I’ve scrapped the column that was supposed to go in this week. Instead of that column, I’ve decided to give you a heads up on the latest Internet craze on the social-media scene: a simple website called Pinterest.
While the site itself is not that new (it’s over two years old already), recently it’s been growing by leaps and bounds, and it now has more than 200 million users. Why is it so powerful? Because it uses word-of-mouth, the most powerful force known to marketing.
It’s simple and easy to use, and it doesn’t have a lot of settings and controls to learn.
Head over to the site (www.pinterest.com) to look at it yourself, while I head straight to the crux of the deal: how you can make Pinterest profitable for your business, by sharing a story from my own experience.
My brother is in the middle of building a new home.
So, when I saw a nifty power outlet that solved the “bulky electrical octopus” challenge by combining two power outlets with two USB power ports, I clicked the link, knowing it was the perfect gift for my brother. It was something I wouldn’t have known to go looking for, but I found it on Pinterest because other people “liked” it and shared it.
The site the Pinterest post linked to was sold out (surprise).
I have no idea if it sold out because of Pinterest or simply because it was a good product. However, it’s definitely fair to say that as Pinterest grows by leaps and bounds, this will be more and more likely to happen to things that get shared (pinned) and re-shared among users. That’s the word-of-mouth power I mentioned earlier.
Even though I couldn’t buy through that link once I knew about the product, I could, and did, go to Amazon where it was in stock. In less than five minutes I found a new, practical and trendy item that I purchased and gave my brother. That’s the power of visibility and word-of-mouth! But how does Pinterest make money? The invisible “aha!” of the Pinterest business model is that there are no advertisements. Pinterest seems to have its business model based on having invisible referral links to sites that offer them. So, for example, if you purchase a product from Amazon that they linked to, they would collect a commission from Amazon on that purchase.
If you sell a product that is chic or different (be it a unique sort of art, a book or a new electric tchotchke), you can monetize it by using Pinterest with these two strategies: 1) Open an account on Pinterest (technically it is in beta, but invites are easily had; if you e-mail me at ginzberg@gmail.com with the word Pinterest in the subject line, I’ll gladly give you one) and create a pinboard showcasing your products. Don’t pin them all, because then your pinboard will simply be considered a spam catalog of your products.
But the unique novel items that you sell, organized by topic, color, feeling or any other way you choose, will give people following you and your pinboard eye candy. If they want more information, they click in. If they like it and then click re-pin, suddenly you are visible to a whole new circle of people and eyeballs.
2) The other way Pinterest can be fascinating, and one which you need to be lucky enough to be reading this column to really get, is to see Pinterest as the new social-media platform it is. The early adopters on Pinterest who have already carved out a name for themselves are the folks you should be following, on or off Pinterest.
Comment on their pins and re-pin their items if they are eye-catching. They and others will notice and view your boards and share you and your products/name with the world. (Essentially, a whole new spin and approach to Pinterest based on the old public-relations technique of introducing yourself and your products to celebrities; i.e., the Web 3.0 version.) And the final question: How am I planning to make money off Pinterest? Well, besides that it gives me something to write about and more cutting-edge information to present at seminars, I’m also creating a product about Pinterest and how to monetize it. (I’ve just purchased the name www.pinsecrets.com to sell it from.) Just another way to package knowledge and make it profitable. And as for the column that was supposed to be in this place? Watch for it next week.
Issamar Ginzberg is a rabbi, businessman, public speaker and marketer.