5 Tips on Pinterest for Electronics Firms

When you post a comment on the Ranch Restaurant Facebook page, owner Andrew Edwards responds quickly. He owns not only the restaurant (and the saloon next door), but also Extron Electronics, which manufactures computer-video interfaces, switchers, configurable control systems, and more.

The three companies have similar addresses in the same multistory building in Anaheim, Calif. However, they don't seem to have the same strategy when it comes to social media and marketing.

Extron's Facebook page sits empty, and there's no mention of the company on LinkedIn, Google+, or Pinterest. No mentions of the Ranch Restaurant on Pinterest, either, except that Jill Smith, a Wisconsin transplant now living in Mission Viejo, Calif., pinned a picture of the restaurant last year to remind herself of local restaurants she would like to try.

Though Extron seems to be missing from Pinterest, other electronics companies and distributors have found their way on the site, including Digi-Key, Acer, Apple, Sony, and Hewlett-Packard. Lacking a social presence could prove a missed opportunity. Pinterest allows users to pin (share) images and videos of items that interest them on themed Pinboards. People follow one another in a way similar to Twitter.

In a PriceGrabber survey of 4,851 US online consumers conducted March 13-26, 21 percent of respondents with a Pinterest account said they purchased a product after seeing a picture on the site, which Internet Marketing estimates 10.4 million users visited in February 2012.

In January, the average user spent about 97.8 minutes on the site, compared with 36 minutes on Twitter, 17 minutes on LinkedIn, and 6 minutes on Google+, according to Internet Marketing. More than one-fifth of Facebook connected users (about 2 million) are also on Pinterest daily.

How can companies supporting the electronics components industry leverage Pinterest? Here are some ideas:

  1. Create brand associations that might not be apparent.
  2. {complink 2657|Intel Corp.} capitalized on associating its brand with a variety of laptops and desktop computer makers with the Intel Inside campaign.

  3. Build a poll, and share the results.
  4. A business-to-business medical company asked followers to answer five questions. After answering all five questions, the quiz referred people to a doctor.

  5. Build a hobbyist experience.
  6. {complink 12799|Digi-Key Corp.} does this with video on YouTube, but component manufacturers can create a similar experience by weaving in pictures of components that make up the product. Pinning them to Pinboards can help you create storyboards, like the ones the movie industry used in the old days of moviemaking. The consumer can click on the picture and be taken to the manufacturer's Website.

  7. Generate multiple Top 10 featured lists.
  8. The more, the merrier. Like the hobbyist experience, a list of top 10 components in multiple categories will draw attention to a variety of products. It works well for electronic component distributors, because of the wealth of product they carry, but it could also become a strategy for a manufacturer with multiple product lines.

  9. Find evangelists by answering questions for potential customers before they ask them.
  10. Identify and follow those who pin and re-pin similar product images. Not all messages about products and services resonate on social media. Through images pinned to boards, develop answers to questions that customers and prospects might have. Then share the boards on Twitter and Facebook, integrating other social marketing sites in the mix. Trying to convey detailed messages can become tricky for electronics companies, so remember to keep the themes consistent across all sites.

9 comments on “5 Tips on Pinterest for Electronics Firms

  1. Barbara Jorgensen
    April 4, 2012

    This is a great how-to guide and the data is interesting. 90-plus minutes is a lot of time. I've had an invite to Pinterest and haven't used it yet–I have enough trouble keeping my Facebook and LinkedIn pages up to date. But I hear people love Pinterest and once you are on, you are pretty much hooked (or pinned).

  2. Mr.Funkhouser
    April 4, 2012


    Congrats! The first article so compelling that I created an account to comment!

      I was thinking about how to best maximize Pinterest for an Independent Distributor like my company… this has intriguing ideas and suggestions… I'm still not 100% how to design a “campaign” for lack of a better term… BUT,  you've got great ideas for it, so thanks for sharing!

    – Christiaan

  3. alawson
    April 4, 2012

    Hi Laurie, Great article! Glad to see that others are catching on to the power of sharing this site has introduced. When I posted “Pinterest, Not Just for Girls Anymore” I think there was a bit of hesitancy to engage with the site because of its beginnings. This has changed in other industries and I hope that the same change is in motion in this one.

    TTI has been on Pinterest since January and we have been happy with both the questions this addition has generated and the role we could play in educating others about emerging sharing technologies. 

    I think your point about showing brand associations that are not apparent is a key one for us. More often than not, explaining what TTI and this industry does requires a long conversation, so it becomes important for us as a brand to realize the importance of 'second level connection'. By referencing how our work goes into making the products that people know and love, we bring our brand closer to top of mind with audiences that can have a yet unknown effect on future sales and partnerships. Pinterest is a great tool for that.

    Thanks for this post and for helping to further interest in Social in the industry.

  4. Laurie Sullivan
    April 4, 2012

    alawson – thanks for the comment. It took me some time on the site before I realized its possibilities. The photos pinned to boards tell a story that sometimes words cannot convey. Social media, sites like Pinterest, allow brands to act human, which creates a stronger bond between products and consumers or businesses. I'm looking forward to seeing the site's advertising model. Founders will need to monetize the site and it will become interesting to see how they might use the boards others create to generate profit. Maybe a revenue-share model would work. Your thoughts? 

  5. alawson
    April 4, 2012

    @Laurie — Monetization of some kind will be imperative, of course. Neimann-Marcus uses the site as a secondary eCommerce channel. I know others do as well. However, I would venture they aren't paying fees to do so.

    The challenge will be taking a company like that and proving the system out. And the second challenge will be to do it with a company not associated with their original core of fashion, DIY, etc. I personally think they would first try the Twitter model and start allowing for 'promoted pins' — making pins show in your feed automatically based on your follow preferences. If that is viable, then they may look into some form of the pay-per-click model.

    In the end, Pinterest will have to sustain the traffic its generating now in order to make either viable. I hope for both. It is a fun site and image-as-a-link sharing makes for engaging experiences.

  6. SteveCummins
    April 5, 2012

    Well, this one got me thinking! Thanks for the article.

    Until now, I've not taken Pinterest seriously for the electronic compnents world. After all, how many pictures of tiny black plastic devices can you post?! So I've assumed it fits better with B2C – restaurants, home decor, weddings etc.

    But you make some good points, and may be worth another look – particularly with the brands you mention from our industry. I'm guessing the data you quote is for all users? It would be interesting to see numbers only for B2B brands. Maybe GlobalSpec will include Pinterest in their next Social Media surevey to see how well it's used in our market.

    I also appreciate Andy's example from TTI – helps to get the creative juices flowing.

    My main concern (as always) is that this is one more platform that we have to create content for and maintain, along with Twitter, YouTube, Blogs, Facebook….they all have their value and place inthe mix. Presumably the day will come when most companies have dedicated ressource for Social Media / Content Curation, but until then, it's a question of prioritizing the channels that align best with our customers.


  7. Laurie Sullivan
    April 5, 2012

    Looking at the list of investors will provide some insight into the direction of the site and its intended use . Investors include Jack Abraham, the son of comScore co-founder Magid Abraham. Abraham also founded and sold it to eBay for $75 million. Milo was an interesting company because it signed deals with retail stores to index their inventory in search results, something the electronics industry tried to do for years by helping stores tag their merchandise with RFID.  Then there's Michael Birch of Bebo, Scott Belsky of Behance, Shana Fisher of Highline Venture Partners, Ron Conway of SV Angel, Kevin Hartz of EventBrite, Jeremy Stoppelman of Yelp, as well as Hank Vigil, Fritz Lanman, and Brian S. Cohen. A nice crew.

  8. Ariella
    April 6, 2012

    That's a very impressive list, Laurie.

  9. JADEN
    April 7, 2012

    I have heard about Pinterest, but this blog gives me more of its benefits.

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