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New Pinterest features seen as option for small firms

A marketer says the social media site is underutilized by many LI businesses.

Heather Hallam, owner of Sea Glass & Sunsets,

Heather Hallam, owner of Sea Glass & Sunsets, uses Pinterest to display the handmade jewelry she creates in her Manorville studio. Photo Credit: Randee Daddona

Pinterest is expanding its reach to offer more advertising and selling opportunities for businesses, and some Long Island firms are taking notice.

Using the site already makes sense for Heather Hallam, owner of Manorville-based Sea Glass & Sunsets, which makes and sells sea glass jewelry.

Compared with other social media platforms Pinterest is very visual, allowing Hallam to “pin” and save images of her hand-made jewelry to virtual boards so people can see a broad selection of her work.

She’s had success using it to drive traffic to her website. “When I add Pinterest to my [social media] shout-outs, I have a lot more views on my own website,” she says.

But so far, she hasn’t spent money to advertise on Pinterest, and she hasn’t used the site to sell her jewelry. That could change as the site adds features to become more “shoppable.” Hallam says she will look into how she can utilize the new features to boost her sales.

Over time Pinterest has been adding advanced shopping features that help to “remove the friction points between discovery and actually making a purchase,” says Andrew Lipsman, principal analyst covering retail and ecommerce at Manhattan-based eMarketer.

Last month, the site announced it was making hundreds of millions of “pins” shoppable with up-to-date pricing, availability and product information, with links that take potential customers directly to the checkout page on the retailer’s site.

These enhanced Product Pins are replacing an older Buyable Pin format the platform previously offered, says Jon Kaplan, global head of partnerships at San Francisco-based Pinterest.

He says the new Product Pins “are more discoverable and in more places than Buyable Pins,” visible across users’ home feeds, in search results and in a new shopping-recommendations section that lets visitors browse similar items across multiple brands.

In Pinterest’s tests, the Product Pins format performed much better than Buyable Pins, Kaplan says. “In the past quarter, since we started testing the new shopping features, traffic to retail sites has increased by 40 percent,” he says.

All these changes can only help fuel the site’s growth.

eMarketer predicts Pinterest’s net U.S. ad revenues will jump nearly 44 percent this year to $553.3 million, and cross the $1 billion mark by 2020.

And that means potential for small businesses.

Jason Sidana, CEO of Hicksville-based Midknight Genius, a digital marketing  and web development agency, feels Pinterest is underutilized by many LI firms.

“Not everyone understands what it can do and how it works,” he says, noting that initially it started with people posting pins on boards and was viewed as more of a content aggregator site.

That has since changed, and small businesses need to become educated on some of the ways they can use it, Sidana says.

Sueanne Shirzay, owner of Long Beach-based Sueanne Shirzay Jewelry, a designer and seller of artisan jewelry, says she will look into the newer shopping features Pinterest is offering.

“I never rule anything out, “ she says. “I try new things all the time.”

But so far she’s found more direct sales coming from her other social media efforts like Instagram.

“Instagram is much more fast-paced,” says Shirzay, noting she feels people use Pinterest to share things more aspirationally.

But she still finds using the site beneficial.

Filippo Barbarotto, owner of Bellmore-based Origin Photos, a photo and videography business, says he’s found Pinterest useful for branding and helping draw visitors to his website.

He notices that people in general don’t go directly to a website so much anymore, but seem to find him through his various social media sites.

That’s why he wouldn’t give up Pinterest.

“Pinterest is still a very efficient platform to use,” says Barbarotto, noting using relevant hashtags has helped with people finding him on Pinterest.

To be sure, the site has been making a push to target more small and mid-sized businesses like Barbarotto’s.

“Last year we put together a dedicated sales team to provide one-to-one support for small- and medium-sized businesses new to advertising on Pinterest,” Kaplan says. Since 2017 the site has seen a 50 percent year-over-year increase in small business advertisers, Pinterest said in an April 2018 blog post.

Over the past few years, the site has introduced features that make it easier to create and manage Pinterest Ads, Kaplan says, noting it recently redesigned its Ads Manager self-serve tool to make it faster and easier to use.

Ad pricing is based on an auction format similar to AdWords, he says. The advertiser pays only what’s needed to beat the next best ad in the auction. The minimum “cost per click” bid is 10 cents.

The more you spend, the more your pin will be seen, Sidana says.

To help businesses track their return on investment, Pinterest has made it easier to track Pin performance, so firms can see how Pinners engage with their content.

“The more evidence businesses see that their ads are working, it just makes it easier for them to invest more in the platform,” Lipsman says.

Fast Fact:

250 million

Number of  monthly users on Pinterest 

1.5 million

Number of businesses using the platform 

Source: Pinterest

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