Despite lacking a marketing strategy, many travel brands are popular on Pinterest, the social scrapbooking site.
Pinterest is in the news because of rumors that it is raising a fresh round of financing at a valuation of up to $2.5 billion, according to the WSJ.
That makes intuitive sense, because the site is about being a place where you can save images of things you want to remember and travel images can be quite inspirational. Consider the Daily Escapes images posted by Travel Channel or travel blogger Johnny Jet’s Dream Trips board.
When users pin (that is, add an image to their page on Pinterest, where their followers can see it), repin, comment on or like images from destinations or travel content, this can drive traffic to a brand’s website.
Some examples from the past several months: UsersÂ Ash Huang Â andÂ Sabrina Majeed created a board of all the sights they wanted to visit in New York City as a trip-planning tool, while Joanne OngÂ and Kara Cooper pinned their way throughÂ 14 European countries.
Here are tips for marketers, first for larger brands and organizations â€”Â and then for smaller ones.
Pinterest for larger brands
The biggest missed opportunity for travel marketers is to make sure that one’s popular pins have working links when people click on the Pinterest pin.
For larger travel brands, especially, the biggest problem is that social and digital marketing staff members often fail to communicate with the e-commerce team.
A conversation needs to be opened to make sure that product pages remain live on their sites even after a vacation offer, content, package, poll, promotion or giveaway has ended.
At the very least, you want to look like a working site, so users have a chance to click around and find the most up-to-date content.
Here are someÂ advanced-level tactics for mid-size to larger brands:
- Be aware of upcoming changes to Pinterest. Says the company: “For example, on each pin, youâ€™ll see pins from the same board, other boards this pin was pinned to, and a whole slew of related pins.”
- Show you have a sense of humor by creating amusing board topics. ScottVest, the makers of travel clothing, recently created a boardÂ ”Things you SHOULDN’T put in your Scottevest.”
- Think “holidays.” America’s largest domestic carrier Southwest created a board of awkward December holiday photos of its staff.
- Re-use existing, archival content. Southwest has had good success with this in re-purposing vintage photos of its aircraft.
- Invite key travel influencers to pin images to your board.Â To add contributors to a group board, go to that board and click the Edit button. On the next page, you can type in the names of other people you would like to add as contributors.Â You must follow at least one board belonging to the “Pinner” you’re inviting.
- For instance, TravelVision, the marketing platform, reached out to travel bloggers via Pinterest Group invites to ask them to pin images to the company’s board, “Favorite Places to Stay – Share Yours
- Provide some sort of reward for incoming Pinterest users (which can be recognized based on the Web address the users is arriving from). It might be a coupon or a free e-postcard or simply a thank you message.
- Start a Pinterest contest to gain new followers. Get the word out via your e-mail newsletter or Twitter and Facebook followings.
- Put aÂ red Pinterest button by the images on your site you want to encourage users to pin to their Pinterest profiles.
Pinterest for smaller brands
For travel agents and small travel companies, the biggest mistake is to fail to promote visual marketing. Here are some quick tips:
- Read a no-B.S. explanation of why Pinterest has the potential to be the most important social strategy component for destination marketers.
- Create “pin boards” to inspire prospects to plan trips. These should represent your area of specialty (cruises, South Africa, etc.). For tourism DMOs, it might beÂ ”Local Events & Attractions.”
- Think holiday-themed content. For example, Savannah, Georgia, has a board for Savannah St. Patrick’s Day for the upcoming March 17 parade.
- Make sure you use secure passwords on your account, and limit access to those passwords. Or else you could end up like theÂ poor folk at UrbanAdventures, who had their companyâ€™s Pinterest profile attacked in November.
- Post graphics that advertise deals and promotions. Post to your Board “Travel Deals to Get Now.”
- Forget Photoshop. It’s complicated and if you don’t already have a skill set in it, use instead a new breed of apps and online services to polish your images.
- Create infographics. Visual.ly, Wordle and PiktochartÂ can help.
- Invite customers to share photos from their trips to post on your pin boards, to gain word-of-mouth referrals post-trip.
- Learn how to use the site and see examples of what’s popular and effective by visiting Pinterest’s official blog.
An irony of the situation is that Pinterest is built from the ground-up to drive transactions and welcome brands. Yet at least when it comes to travel brands, there has been little strategic planning.