How to respond to “Pinteresting” times in Customer Engagement

“May you live in interesting times,” is often referred to as the Chinese curse and it aptly applies to the challenge of creating relevant customer experiences online today.

Let’s take the moving target of social media websites as our example.  The disruptive nature of technology and the proliferation of online offerings have played havoc in deciding on a strategy that will connect you with your customers.  Leaders have to ask such questions as, should I get involved with Google+ as well as Facebook? Do I dedicate resources to Pinterest as well Twitter?  Do I wait out Pinterest and see what the next wave of social media sites will bring?

A new study, Compete’s Online Shopper Intelligence Survey, definitely suggests Pinterest is worthy of consideration – with about 1 in 4 consumers reporting that they are spending less time on other social media sites in order to engage on Pinterest.  For example, respondents suggested they gave up 3% of the time they usually spend on Facebook in order to participate in activities on Pinterest.  Pinterest is also leading to sales according to these respondents – with 37% of men and 17% of women suggesting they purchased a product after discovering it on Pinterest.

Pinterest has grown from 700 thousand to 20 million unique visitor over the last year and has about half as many unique users as Twitter.  These users are not only stealing time away from other social media sites but Pinterest is drawing customers who previously were not involved in the social media phenomena.  According to the recent study, 15% of Pinterest users report that they were not users of other social media sites.

So what does this all mean for you and me?  Well let’s first look at the findings from the Compete report which suggest we should:

  • “Quantify the difference in consumer engagement and purchase behavior before and after being exposed to specific categories, brands and/or products on Pinterest
  • Isolate differences in consumer purchase and engagement behavior across different demographics, including age, income and gender
  • Compare how engagement and purchase behavior of consumers interacting with Pinterest compares with Facebook
  • Quantify the impact that exposure to Pinterest has on brand/product loyalty”

From a more macro perspective, I believe we should view each new social media opportunities like Pinterest through the lens of our core competencies and brand personality.  We should then look at which of these social media tools fits with our personality and the personality of our customers.  Before we finally decide on a social media platform, we need to know that we can execute with excellence in that medium. We have to ask what are we going to give up to explore the new possibility or where are we going to reallocate resources?  Once we decide on a new course of action we have to embrace it fully but not become to attached to any platform because we truly do live “in interesting times.”

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Joseph A. Michelli, Ph.D. is a professional speaker and chief experience officer at The Michelli Experience. A New York Times #1 bestselling author, Dr. Michelli and his team consult with some of the world’s best customer experience companies.

Follow on Twitter: @josephmichelli

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