While Pinterest’s usefulness and staying power are still being debated, one thing has become clear: With its mostly female user base and emphasis on visuals, the online corkboard has become a traffic boon for women’s lifestyle magazines, even if the site doesn’t make it easy for brands to stand out.
“Pinterest is the perfect complement for a visually driven brand,” said Gayle Butler, Better Homes and Gardens’ editor in chief. Editors from other magazines like Real Simple, Martha Stewart Living and Martha Stewart Weddings echoed that sentiment, noting that recipe and “how-to” photos have proved MarthaStewart
A big selling point of Pinterest is that photos, whether posted directly from a website or reposted within Pinterest, lead directly back to the source material. “From an SEO standpoint, it’s a boon,” said Herndon Hasty, associate director for digital marketing firm iProspect. “Especially for magazines, with their focus on site visits, getting and keeping people engaged is a great way to keep up viewership and improve ad rates.”
Real Simple’s site traffic from Pinterest has surpassed referrals from Twitter and Facebook combined, making it the second biggest referral source after Google. Martha Stewart Living and Martha Stewart Weddings have seen similar results (Living is currently the most-pinned media brand), with Pinterest occasionally driving more Web traffic than Facebook or Twitter over the past year. Pinterest was the fourth-biggest traffic source for EatingWell, generating 7 percent of its site visits in January.
Pinterest also can serve as a trend forecaster. Editors can see which posts gain the most traction via “repins” or “likes” and use that to shape magazine content. “Pinterest keeps you really tapped into what people like right now,” said Weddings editor in chief Elizabeth Graves. “Just like us, they’re looking for a fresh spin.”
Although magazines have been quick to embrace the Pinterest phenomenon, the site itself still isn’t an especially hospitable place for brands. Editors criticized Pinterest as making it difficult to find specific accounts to follow and being skimpy on site metrics. But for now, as long as Pinterest users continue to pin and repin photos within the site, magazines can sit back and enjoy the pageviews.