Do advisors really need yet another social media venue for communicating with clients? One could make the argument that advisors have quite enough on their plates using Facebook and Twitter and staying compliant doing so, not to mention actually advising their clients.
So, is there any value to Pinterest, the online pinboard where users can “pin” images they want to remember and share them with followers and friends?
“On the surface, it doesn’t look like that way,” Dan Skiles, executive vice president at Shareholders Service Group, told AdvisorOne on Thursday. “What’s interesting, though, is that it’s a low-commitment sharing board where you can quickly see what other people are sharing.”
He used the example of a hotel. In searching for a particular hotel, you can see what other people have said about it, as well as be introduced to new hotels you may not have heard of.
For the most part, though, Pinterest is still more of an entertainment or social tool than a business tool, Skiles says, at least for now. “It’ll be interesting to see where it goes.”
Some advisors, though, may find a use for the site. Corporate Insight, a business intelligence and research firm, released a white paper on April 26 that examines some of the ways financial services firms can use Pinterest in their marketing strategies. Below are some of the ways advisors could adapt those suggestions:
1) Retirement: Firms have already relied heavily on visual advertisements aimed at pre-retirees. Interactive, image-centric retirement marketing campaigns could transition nicely onto Pinterest, according to the paper. Prudential’s Day One Stories microsite is one example.
2) Savings and Investment Goals: Advisors can engage clients by posting photos of savings and investment goals. The paper refers to Principal’s Dreamcatcher microsite, where investors post photos of their investment goals, as an example.
3) Lifestyle: Advisors can post photos that appeal to clients’ target lifestyles from sponsored events such as concerts, sports games, and other partner venues. Corporate Insight refers to American Express as an example, but also mentions ING Direct for its emphasis through social media on savings tips and user stories, and AARP for using Pinterest to post infographics on financial topics.
4) Contests: Holding contests or sweepstakes is another way to engage clients and prospects, though it may cost a little to offer some kind of incentive, but Corporate Insight notes that overall, contests can be simple and inexpensive. For example, followers may vote on preferred reward items by “liking” or “re-pinning” an image.
5) Charitable Giving: Advisors can use pinboards to show how they give back to their communities. Boards can be used to highlight firms’ various charitable initiatives, and advisors can encourage their clients to post pictures of charities they support.
One use for Pinterest, according to Eric Clarke, president of Orion Advisor Services and 2012 IA 25 honoree, is in gaining referrals and increasing brand awareness. According to Experian Hitwise, Pinterest is the third-most-visited social network in the United States with more than 23 million visits in the week ending April 21, and it had 104 million visits in March. And that’s not including mobile users. In January, Pinterest users spent an average 89 minutes on the site, tying with Tumblr and second only to Facebook, according to ComScore. Global engagement increased 512% between May 2011 and October 2011.
Another way advisors may be able to utilize Pinterest is in their client appreciation efforts, Skiles of SSG said. If advisors follow their clients’ Pinterest boards, they can see what their clients are passionate about. “It’s a good way to connect with what they like.”
Says Skiles (left), “It’s kind of like a brainstorming tool where you can brainstorm with other people you don’t know.”
Skiles suggested advisors who aren’t sure what Pinterest is worth use it personally for a time and decide if they can incorporate it into their marketing strategy.
In whatever manner advisors see themselves using Pinterest, if at all, Corporate Insight offers five recommendations to help advisors utilize the website.
First, it’s important to understand the audience. Estimates of users’ age distribution are fairly consistent, putting most users between 25 and 54. However, the gender distribution is a little more complicated. According to MDGAdvertising, which compiled data from Google’s Doubleclick Ad Planner, 87% of Pinterest users are women. Using data from the 12 weeks ending Jan. 28, though, Experian Hitwise found 60% of Pinterest users are women. A spokesperson for Pinterest said the site does not share user data or demographics. Nevertheless, it’s a fair assumption that the majority of users are female.
Clarke (right) agrees that understanding who is using the site is important for advisors. “It’s critical for advisors who market toward that niche to do something creative,” he told AdvisorOne on Friday. “I haven’t seen a social media platform so skewed in one direction before.”