Here at T+L we believe that a brand’s online presence and activity should always be both useable and useful to its customers. This rule applies to social media as well. While Facebook and Twitter are powerful channels, the needs of your audience may be better served on other platforms.
A great example of this is West Elm who help inspire potential customers on the social scrapbooking site Pinterest. If you are not familiar, Pinterest is a relatively new start-up that allows its primarily female users to build pinboards based on their interests and projects. This group consists of approximately 1.5 million Facebook connected users in addition to a unknown number of individuals signing in via Twitter and unique ID.*
Instead of forcing a message in as an outsider, West Elm created a free account and began to establish themselves as a respected member of the community. Each of their boards feature current home interior trends from their collection as well as pins from design blogs and other users. It doesn’t matter if the featured pieces are not from their store as long as they help to express their theme. This approach is proving to be successful; they have more likes, repins and overall traction than any other user we have seen.
There are 3 things brands can learn from this case study.
1. Receptive Audience
The Pinterest community has tools built specifically for creative exploration. West Elm provides members with valuable help while they are in process of searching for design inspiration. While Facebook or Twitter may have larger audiences, only a small percentage of that audience is going to care that colour blocking is big this year.
West Elm was the first interior design retailer to enter the Pinterest community. They easily could have stuck to posting albums to Facebook that demonstrate their design taste or tweeting about their products. Instead of competing with hundreds of other voices they found a quiet place to have an engaging conversation with their customers.
3. Low Risk
The cost for West Elm to join Pinterest was $0 and their participation didn’t require monumental organizational change. The reputation they are creating for themselves in the design community is going to create more value than their effort.
* Based on number of Facebook likes. Despite extensive digging we were unable to find information on total number of users.