PinterestFacebook commerce? That's so 2011. Now it's Pinterest, the social scrapbooking site, that's striking a chord with shoppers.

Today, Pinterest users who shop online follow about 9.3 retailers on the site, compared to Facebook (FB) users, who on average follow an estimated 6.9; or Twitter users, who follow 8.5, according to the Social and Mobile Commerce survey by Shop.org, the digital division of the National Retail Federation, digital research firm ComScore and consultancy The Partnering Group.

So how has Pinterest, a relative newbie among social networks, sailed past Facebook and Twitter in capturing shopper interest?

Perhaps it's because Pinterest -- which lets users share images by "pinning them" -- is at once a platform for visually communicated ideas, an inspiration board, and a purveyor of eye candy that echoes what's most fun about shopping in the physical world. The site woos shoppers in the same way as tantalizing store displays -- by romanticizing products, which can spark the imagination and prompt a purchase.

"Pinterest emulates window shopping, so it's no surprise that retailers are finding success there," Chad White, research director at Responsys, the marketing service provider, said in a statement.

It's also a more natural venue than Facebook for shoppers to engage with retail brands, Andrew Kardon, president of online shopping and savings site JoeShopping.com, tells DailyFinance.

"Facebook, it seems, does a great job of collecting fans, but not doing much with them," he says. "Facebook users like to share items and comment. They like to either praise or criticize a store, using their Facebook page as a customer service of sorts." But they also like to stay on Facebook, he says.

By contrast, "As a Pinterest user, I can 'collect' photos of products I love from so many different stores and save them in various pin boards. It's a great way to make your own wish list of sorts, and click through later on to purchase."

Visual Story Telling Prompts Purchases

The site seems to be giving new meaning to the art of show and tell.

Pinterest has provided retailers a fresh way to tell "an ongoing visual story through images of their products and their brand spirit, a story that customers can then tell again to their friends and family members," Vicki Cantrell, executive director of Shop.org, said in a press release on the survey.

Pinterest's visual layout is also more appealing and user friendly than Facebook's, experts say.

"Facebook [offers] a short preview of an item, not too exciting. Pinterest has a nice image, you click on it for a little more info and comments if necessary, then just click the link to go to the original source. So straightforward ... I just think Pinterest lends itself to shopping so much more."

Indeed, Pinterest users are "highly inclined" to purchase items they find on the site, said Responsys' White. A survey by PriceGrabber backs that up: The price comparison site found that 21% of Pinterest users polled bought items they found on someone's Pinboard.

But not all retailers understand how to get the most out of the site. Stores that are effective on Pinterest are savvy about interacting with their audience on the site, Kardon says. "The biggest way for a store to 'get it,' is to do something with their account that shows there's a human being behind the user name. It just makes things much more personal, and that has a huge effect on users interacting with them.

"Take the Vitamin Shoppe (VSI). There's a store I'd never expect to even be on Pinterest, let alone have a really fantastic profile. They have boards showing off yoga poses, inspirational quotes and even animals exercising," he says.

Meanwhile, Macy's (M) milks Pinterest's visual flare and penchant to inspire. "They don't just have pin boards showing all their merchandise. Instead they have a board dedicated to summer, pretty faces, and an 'I Do' board that's all about weddings," Kardon says. "Product photos are mixed in with products from other stores, as well as some great general life photos. It really gives the feeling of a family photo album, rather than just a basic product catalog."

The one difficulty with the site? It can be tough to distinguish retailers' official Pinterest pages from users' pages, Kardon says.

To do so, search the merchant's main site and see if they have a Pinterest icon that links to their page. "If so, then it's official," he says.


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13 Comments

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Nikki Smith

But the opinion still varies person to person. isn't Barbara Thau?

June 12 2012 at 10:04 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Kyle

Some similar sites to Pinterest I've found now that the bubbles burst...

Boxnutt (http://boxnutt.com): Reddit meets Pinterest
Pinspire - same as pinterest
Chill (http://chill.com): for videos
Trippy (http://trippy.com): for travelling
Gentlemint (http://gentlemint.com): for guys

June 05 2012 at 5:18 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Denzel White

Hardly anyone even know what Pinterest is! This article is just a lame attempt to promote Pinterest.

June 05 2012 at 8:29 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Richard Johnson

Investors Hangout is an all free stock message board website with over 19000 stock boards fully equipped with a chart and stock quotes for the NYSE, NASDAQ, AMEX, and OTC BB & PINKS.
http://investorshangout.com

June 05 2012 at 2:52 AM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
Nancy

I don't like Pinterest...count me out.

June 05 2012 at 2:16 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
djones

Facebook is going to get you............and not in a good way...........just wait and see.

June 05 2012 at 12:22 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
kafekittie

There is no real comparison here. The two sites are completely different and advertisers are foolish if they think that using these sites is going to consistently give them sales that they can bank on. I use both sites for different reasons. I use facebook to socialize, play games with friends and relax. I do NOT EVER spend a dime on facebook even in the games and whether or not I "like" something has no bearing on whether I would purchase it or from them. As for Pinterest, I use that site to look up things of interest and it leads to some great sites, blogs, photos etc. If I am looking for something or some inspiration, I might go there and type something like "bookcases" into search and get ideas for what might work in my current living space, but I wouldn't necessarily shop at a particular store that was represented there. And I have never made a purchase associated with Pinterest, either. It is more of an online magazine than anything else, in my opinion. But I do like them both and frequent them both often, sometimes daily. The article assumes that people make purchases in a certain way related to what they "like" but that just really isn't the case.

June 04 2012 at 10:14 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
HI, BROOKE

I use Pinterest for fun and crafts. I love the ideas people come up with! I use Facebook for fun, family and product information as well. I love Facebook and go to any manufacturers page when I have a problem with their product. I bought a Sharp Aquos flat screen 42' and had a problem with the HDMI output. I called for days trying to get someone to talk to me about the warranty that was still in affect. I had to post a bad comment (I was so pissed) on their Facebook page to get attention. They (Sharp) called my home number within 30 mins of my post and had the T.V fixed within 3 days. Pinterest can't do that!!

June 04 2012 at 8:57 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
rePin Club

I think it has a lot to do with the way it resembles flipping thru a magazine so its a new idea yet its not. If there are any people here using Pinterest for their business you might like some of the research I've done http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xWnaa65F-8M

June 04 2012 at 8:54 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
msbarnboss

I made my first purchase from a Pintrest board just the other day but it wasn't from a retailer's board. I clicked on someone's pin and I then googled the product and made a purchase.

June 04 2012 at 8:00 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply