How Hoteliers Can Leverage New Pinterest Features to Enhance Their Online Marketing Strategy.
By Victoria Hsia
Wednesday, 1st May 2013
Since its launch in early 2010, Pinterest has experienced tremendous growth and now with over 30 million unique monthly visitors, the internet's virtual pin board has become the third largest social networking site behind Facebook and Twitter.

Given its high traffic volume and creative potential, many travel and hospitality brands have made the foray into making Pinterest a part of their online marketing strategies. With the launch of new features and tools such as business accounts, Pinterest Web Analytics, and a site redesign, Pinterest has also evolved to become a more efficient and effective marketing tool for hoteliers.

In order to leverage these new developments, hoteliers must understand what the changes are and how they benefit both brands and travel consumers. Only then can they start taking full advantage of Pinterest as a component of the overall digital marketing strategy. Read on to learn about the recent changes and find out how to use this social network to reach more potential guests and generate leads.

1. Pinterest Business Accounts: Late last year, Pinterest started allowing brands to create business accounts or convert existing user accounts. While personal pages and business pages look the same, this new option is an improvement as businesses can now set up their account with their business name instead of a first and last name. All hoteliers should complete this process to access other features and tools developed for businesses.

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2. Pinterest Website Verification: In addition to linking to the hotel website, hoteliers can also verify their website with Pinterest. By doing so, the full website URL will be displayed on the business' profile page and in search results with a check mark next to it.

This feature further creates an official brand presence and encourages users to click and visit the website. You can verify your website by uploading an HTML file created by Pinterest to your web server or adding a meta tag from Pinterest to your website.

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3. Pinterest Buttons and Widgets: To encourage your site visitors to view and engage with your Pinterest profile, implement the Pin It and Follow button to your website. More recently, Pinterest added Profile and Board widgets which you can embed on your site to display 30 of your latest pins or pins from a specific board.

For example, hoteliers can create a pin board highlighting local attractions and embed a Board widget showcasing this pin board on the "Area Attractions" page.

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4. Pinterest Web Analytics: Free and user-friendly, Pinterest's analytics tool allows hoteliers to gain insight into how much engagement they receive on Pinterest, which content users find most interesting, and how many website referrals came from Pinterest.

Metrics provided include pins, repins, impressions, reach, and clicks. Now hoteliers can determine, for instance, if more site visitors are pinning photos of their spa amenities or wedding venues, and provide more rich imagery targeting their customer segment's interests.Pinterest Web Analytics currently only provide information about your content and only for sites that are verified.

Furthermore, the available data only goes back as far as November 2012 when site verification was introduced or from the date you verify your website. Therefore, it is essential to verify your site on Pinterest as soon as possible and encourage users to pin images from your site. Also, in order to access Pinterest Web Analytics, users must switch to the new look.

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5. Pinterest's New Look: While the latest redesign retains the same general layout, pins are now larger and the navigation pane is now located in the upper left-hand corner of the site. The biggest change comes with the new close-up view of individual pins. When users click to view a pin, they will also see pins from the same pin board and pins sourced from the same website.

Below, users will be served pins from other users who also pinned the image. This new feature makes it easier to find new related content. For example, a user looking at a pin of a dish offered at your restaurant can now see at a glance:

  • pins of other dishes featured within the same pin board
  • other hotel images that users pinned from your website
  • images pinned by users who were also interested in the dish
Pinterest's new redesign places content discovery at the forefront of a more streamlined user experience. Not only does this keep users engaged, but it increases the chances that they will see and engage with your content.

How can hoteliers leverage Pinterest's new features and tools?
  • Optimize your profile. Create a Pinterest business account or convert your existing user account if you haven't already done so. Also, set the hotel logo as your profile picture, compose a compelling and keyword-optimized profile description, and link your Pinterest account with your Facebook and Twitter accounts. Remember to complete the website verification process as well. These steps will help you create a more official Pinterest presence while building brand awareness and driving traffic to your owned media.
  • Promote your presence. Add the Pin It button to each of your website's pages and implement the Follow button to encourage site visitors to pin your images and view your Pinterest profile for informative, creative, and inspiring content. Consider adding the Profile or Board widget to give visitors a sneak peek and further incentivize engagement that promotes viral awareness among other potential guests. Furthermore, promote your Pinterest content through other social media and marketing channels when appropriate.
  • Do your research. Use Pinterest Web Analytics for valuable insight such as what type of content is most popular and which days of the week your content receives the most engagement. In addition, utilize the "related pins" portion of the new close-up view to gain a better understanding of your target audience's interests, and adjust your content strategy accordingly.
  • Provide value and drive engagement. With Pinterest, the goal is to curate useful, share-worthy content that contributes to the growth of your online community and ultimately generates business leads. When creating themed pin boards and Pinterest contests, keep in mind what value it will provide for your target audience. For example, if your hotel is a popular venue for summer weddings, create a pin board highlighting wedding décor ideas inspired by summer. Always optimize your pin boards and pins with relevant keywords and a link to a related page on your website. Not only will this deliver SEO benefits, but it will also help your customer segments discover your content on Pinterest and your hotel website.
From the launch of business accounts to analytics and a site redesign, there is no doubt that Pinterest is making strides towards enhancing its value for users and brands alike. As this emerging platform continues to grow and evolve to provide a better user experience and greater marketing potential, hoteliers should leverage new developments while staying aware of new paid media opportunities.

Today, Pinterest is much more than a virtual pin board. It's a creative outlet, a recommendation tool, and a strategic customer segment research and engagement platform that can help set a hotel apart from its competitors when strategically integrated into the online marketing mix.

About the Author and HeBS Digital

Victoria Hsia is Interactive Media Marketing Specialist at HeBS Digital, the hospitality industry's leading full-service digital technology and marketing firm based in New York City (www.HeBSdigital.com).

HeBS Digital has pioneered many of the best practices in hotel digital technology and marketing, and direct online channel best practices and strategies. The firm has won over 250 prestigious industry awards for its digital marketing and website design services, including numerous Adrian Awards, Davey Awards, W3 Awards, WebAwards, Magellan Awards, Summit International Awards, Interactive Media Awards, IAC Awards, etc.

A diverse client portfolio of top-tier major hotel brands, luxury and boutique hotel brands, resorts and casinos, hotel management companies, franchisees and independents, and CVBs are benefiting from HeBS Digital's direct online channel strategy and digital marketing expertise. Contact HeBS Digital's consultants at (212) 752-8186 or success@hebsdigital.com
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