Pinterest: Why should advisors give it a chance?
By Vanessa De La Rosa
There really isn’t anything to lose — only a couple of minutes here and there. Let me anticipate some of your questions and provide some thorough answers.
When it comes to advisors and social media, Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn are usually considered the top ways to project your brand’s voice and interact with prospects. Pinterest, on the other hand, is ranked pretty low on the social media totem pole; many advisors conclude the site is too visual and crafty for the insurance and financial services industry. But I’m here to persuade you otherwise.
Have you ever torn a page from a magazine — perhaps a shot of your dream mansion or an exotic vacation spot —and taped it to your wall? Take away the paper and you’ve got Pinterest, a virtual bulletin board where users can discover, collect and organize literally anything online in accordance with their goals and aspirations. After all, isn't it your clients’ goals and aspirations that draw them to you in the first place?
Not many advisors are currently using Pinterest (which means more untouched territory for you!) but more are testing the waters every day. A recent Reuters article highlighted a couple of advisors who are Pinterest pioneers.
Brian Wruk’s advisory firm, Transition Financial Advisors Group, manages $100 million in assets and specializes in advising people who are moving between the United States and Canada, addressing the financial planning involved in the transition. Their Pinterest account is littered with moving tips, landmark sites in America and Canada, articles about transitioning and travel recommendations.
"It's part of an overall integrated package to let people know we're out there," Wruk says. "Pinterest, LinkedIn, Facebook — all of that drives traffic to the website."
Betterment, a Web-based financial advisory firm that manages over $90 million in assets, uses their Pinterest presence to accentuate their progressiveness and stick out from the crowd. Their pinboards feature their staff in funny poses, celebrating birthdays, “geeky” mementos, products they love and assorted entrepreneurial pins, just to name a few. The firm has about 176 followers and, although they haven't lured too many people to their website just yet, company spokesman Joe Ziemer says, "It's a nice way to show some personality." He also notes that eye-catching and quirky photos are a great way to connect clients to advisors on a more personal level.
I know this still leaves room for skepticism, but there really isn’t anything to lose — only a couple of minutes here and there. Let me anticipate some of your questions and provide some thorough answers. Who even uses this site?
About 25 million users, that’s who. And the majority of users are women (82 percent) and millennials. Last time I checked, those were two huge demographics worth tapping into.
• Women lagging in financial knowledge and confidence
• A generation larger than the boomers: Overlook them at your own risk
As of February 2013, Pinterest is the third most popular social network in the U.S. in terms of traffic, retaining and engaging users as much as 2 to 3 times as efficiently as Twitter was when it was the same age. The average American pinner spends about 14 minutes on the site. The Pinterest iPhone app is downloaded 200,000 times per day. This infographic tells you more.
Other interesting facts: 28 percent of Pinterest users have an annual household income of at least $100,000. Also, 25 percent of Fortune Global 100 companies have Pinterest accounts.
But isn't Pinterest there for recipes, crafts and décor?
Yes, those are among the most popular pinning categories. But Pinterest is the lifestyle social network. Users pin visuals, inspiration and tips to plan and organize their ideal life. And just look at the results when each of the following industry-related entries is applied to the Pinterest search feature:
Long-term care insurance
How does it work?
Images enter the Pinterest pool from anywhere on the Web. By simply dragging the “Pin It Button” to your toolbar, you can grab visuals and add them to Pinterest with just one click. For example, you can add charts, infographics, videos, headshots, quotes and logos from your company website to your pinboards. When a viewer clicks on a pin while browsing Pinterest, it will direct them to the website source for that image. That means when someone clicks on the images you added, they will be introduced to you and your website.
However, the majority of content is not pinned in this manner. Most people re-pin other users’ pins. For example, if someone is fond of your infographic about the financial troubles of baby boomers, he or she will re-pin the image to one of their own pinboards. This is another marketing goldmine, as your content is not only saved by them but then promoted to their Pinterest followers, who can also repin to their liking. If their account is linked to Facebook or Twitter, then the spread of the image is multiplied.
Pinterest also provides analytics so you can track your pinning activity: how many people are pinning from your website, seeing your pins, clicking your content and what they're gravitating towards. You can also view which pins are the most popular and what else they’re pinning alongside them. So, not only are you getting your brand out there, you’re also learning more about your clients and prospects. I understand how to re-pin others’ content, but how exactly do I create my own?
If you already have visuals on your website, go ahead and pin them. If you’re interested in creating more pins, Pinstamatic is a great website with built-in tools to make pin creation as easy as pie. You can take a snapshot of your website, add music, create text or quotes in a colorful way, create a list of tips on a sticky-note graphic, and so much more. Give it a try.
What’s the best strategy for an advisor?
• Set up your company’s Pinterest business account. Upload a clean company logo or photo, and craft a short description of your business and its practices. Enter in other company information, like a link to your website, your location and contact information, etc.
• Now for the fun part: Create your pinboards. For example, a financial advisor might create a board for financial advice, and others for inheritance tax, retirement tips, infographics and more. An insurance advisor might create a board for health and wellness tips and infographics about regulation and reform. Make sure to sprinkle in your own original pins from your website. For example, you can create a whole board about company events, functions and charitable activities.
• Note: Make sure to write a description in the text box alongside your pin, both when you’re re-pinning and when you're adding your own pins. This is what makes the image searchable. Include words and concepts that clients and prospects would search and pin to their finances, retirement, wellness and goals pinboards.
• Get specific. What’s your niche? As Amy McIlwain, president of Financial Social Media, explains, “When you are going after the mass affluent, you have to go niche. When you know exactly who you are trying to find, you can find them. There’s a Pinterest board for everything; there are ways to reach out.”
• Get creative. Create a “Bucket List” pinboard and include the types of experiences your clients hope to enjoy enjoy in retirement. If you and your clients are avid golfers, start searching and re-pinning great golf products, favorite courses and humorous cartoons. Create a board for your educational videos. Create a books list pinboard, re-pinning some of your favorite recommendations. Create a board of your favorite quotes and motivational images. The sky is the limit.
• Add the “Pin It” button to your website using this simple guide, so visitors to your website can pin your photos, graphs, videos and other visuals straight to their boards. By doing so, traffic is promoted both ways: Pinners are led to your website, and visitors to your website are led to your Pinterest account.
• Link your Pinterest account to your Facebook and Twitter feeds. This way, your pins are broadcast to a wider spectrum of people, increasing the chances of a “like” or re-pin.
Just jump in
All of this may look daunting until you actually start, but you’ll soon realize how it’s all engineered for simplicity and ease. The relationship between Pinterest and advisors is still in its earliest stages; why wait until everyone else is dominating the game before jumping in?
See also: Is Pinterest the next big social network? Learn how financial advisors can participate