20 B2B Marketers Losing their Brand on Pinterest

Pinterest LogoPinterest is the marketing flavor du jour. Media and press are touting the ability of Pinterest to drive traffic and the time spent on Pinterest.

Many B2B marketers do not have any presence on Pinterest. In my search for major B2B marketers on Pinterest, I only found a handful using it actively. Here are three of the better B2B marketing examples I found.

  • Hubspot: In classic Hubspot style, Hubspot’s boards are all about content. It isn’t surprising to see Hubspot as an early adopter on Pinterest. However, Eloqua and Marketo, both generally early adopters in content marketing areas, remain notably absent on Pinterest.
  • General Electric: GE makes, among other things, impressive machinery, and GE’s Badass Machines board highlights some impressive creations from GE over the years.
  • Constant Contact: Looking for marketing and social media tips? Constant Contact has done a good job of creating a collection of quick tips in a simple graphical format.

Given the focus on Pinterest from marketing bloggers and press, it isn’t surprising to see Hubspot and Constant Contact, both focused on marketers, active on Pinterest.

Turning to the broader pool of B2B marketers, the situation is significantly different. The most notable element isn’t the silence, it is the personal accounts sitting on what could be brand pages.

Individuals and brands are claiming the same space. In some instances, these may be classic cases of cybersquatting or trademark infringement, such as Microsoft, but the majority are simply individuals moving more quickly than brands and claiming their initials, names or nicknames.

Here are 20 brands with a significant B2B footprint and the profiles you would expect them to own, but don’t, on Pinterest.

Edit: More than a year later, a handful of the brands listed above do have the expected profile on Pinterest but the majority still do not.

The current legal discussion of Pinterest and copyright should give some marketers pause, but for marketers focused on sharing their own material, the risk appears to be minimal.

Is there a place for B2B marketers on Pinterest? I believe there is. Companies like HubSpot, Constant Contact and General Electric illustrate a range of ways B2B marketers can begin experimenting with Pinterest around products, content, events and culture.

Your Turn

Do you believe there is a place for B2B marketers on Pinterest? If you are uncertain, are you willing to sit on the sidelines and let someone else claim your brand name? Share your view in the comments below or with me on Twitter (@wittlake).

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  • http://twitter.com/bradshorr bradshorr

    Eric, Fascinating facts here. My sense is that Pinterest in over its head, now that it’s been “discovered” by Internet marketers. The fact that people can grab big brand user IDs seems like a massive oversight. I just published a post on Crowdshifter about a big oversight I’ve noticed – the fact you can alter the source URL of any image on your board. That can certainly be abused, big time. If Pinterest can get control of its platform, it will be a fantastic resource for B2Bs with visually engaging products/services. If Pinterest doesn’t get control, and fast, I’m afraid it might implode. 

    • http://b2bdigital.net/ Eric Wittlake

      Good point and I will check out your post on Crowdshifter. The legal concerns that were recently raised could also implode Pinterest. That said, givens it growth and relatively unique utility, I think they can get the platform folks they need now if they want to embrace their newfound market position.

      I’ve resisted talking about Pinterest until now because of the hype factor, but its uniqueness and some initial scale definitely make it interesting. Time will tell!

      Thanks for taking the time to comment!

  • http://twitter.com/JeanneBrown JeanneBrown

    Eric, I think you’ve done a lot of research here and that’s great (I guess I’m saying, “thank you.”). The question that’s not asked here, and the one that might be more relevent, is whether these companies’ customers are using Pinterest right now, and if so, are they using it to find information on buying B2B products & services?

    Yes, marketers need to keep their finger on the pulse of all these new tools, but I’m not sure they need to jump in with both feet every time something new comes along. Marketers have limited budgets and time, and they need to figure out where to spend both so they can get the best returns.

    I’d expect HubSpot to be an early adopter–that’s their gig and its in their best interests to do so, since they’re actively selling to other marketers. But IBM? I think they’re doing okay by focusing on their new smarter planet ads.

    • http://b2bdigital.net/ Eric Wittlake

      Jeanne, great question, and normally I would agree 100%. I think sometimes “new” things need to be evaluated based on their potential. The audience isn’t on Pinterest and the audience will not likely be on Pinterest may be very different questions given how new the platform is. And while some of the hype may be a bit overblown when looked at through a B2B lens, I definitely can see use cases here that are not well met on other platforms today.

      IBM? It could go either way, I think it could be a very interesting way to present parts of the Smarter Planet story, which they already are doing on Tumblr as well, for instance. A couple of GE’s boards take an approach that I personally would like to see IBM take with Smarter Planet, it would be easier to quickly consume and communicate some of the ways Smarter Planet is coming to life than they are able to do in some other platforms. 

      Time will tell, and we have probably barely  seen the start of ways we will ultimately be able to use a platform like this. The more I have looked at it, the more I am intrigued by the potential.

      Thanks for adding your perspective and challenging me here, good questions and opportunity for more discussion! Thanks!

      • http://twitter.com/JeanneBrown JeanneBrown

        Thanks, Eric. I am also intrigued because it’s such a visual medium. I think it would be cool to see how B2B companies, or business units of the companies, will use this. I think Pinterest could be an ideal space for a company to pin its Thought Leadership…wouldn’t it be cool to see IBM’s IBV or McKinsey’s Quarterly have a page (if that’s even what it’s called)?

  • http://www.linkedin.com/groups/Conference-Event-Showcasing-via-Online-4248418?trk=myg_ugrp_ovr Rosemary

    Platform issues aside (I definitely agree with Brad), there are ways to use Pinterest creatively, thinking ‘outside the board’ so to speak.  Yesterday, I was onsite at the staging set-up for a conference and decided to create a board and pin picture by picture of the process from load-in the the plenary kick-off this morning.  It was fun and got the attention of some (conference/event) industry influencers on Twitter for my unique use of Pinterest.  Our industry is technological, but the results of what we do are very visual and Pinterest is a great launch board to see what can be done for events & conferences.  
    http://pinterest.com/socialsail/raising-the-staging/

    • http://b2bdigital.net/ Eric Wittlake

      Rosemary, very interesting, thank you for sharing an innovative example!

  • Kevin Normandeau

    Pinterest is very interesting and a major driver of traffic to commercial websites.But there are issues around copyright that business need to be aware of – see Boston Biz Journal story from today.
    http://www.bizjournals.com/boston/blog/startups/2012/02/pinterest-copyright-issues.html

    • http://b2bdigital.net/ Eric Wittlake

      Thanks Kevin. Yes, the copyright issues are definitely one to watch. As individuals, we may all assume our risk is low, but businesses are bigger targets and need to step more carefully.

      Thanks for flagging the Business Journal article!

  • http://twitter.com/TobyDiva Toby Bloomberg

    Eric – thanks for the post. Seems to me that B2B is just beginning to set into the space. What surprised me was that financial services and healthcare, 2 industry slow to adopt social media, are on board. You and your community might be interested in the board I’m creating of brands not expected to be on Pinterest. 
    http://pinterest.com/tobydiva/brands-on-pinterest/

    • http://b2bdigital.net/ Eric Wittlake

      Interesting, thanks for sharing Toby!

  • http://twitter.com/AnjleeB Anjlee Bhatt

    Thanks Eric, very interesting post and gave me quite a few new boards to follow :-)

    • http://b2bdigital.net/ Eric Wittlake

      Thanks Anjlee!

  • http://twitter.com/stephencoles Stephen Coles

    It is important that you read Pinterest’s terms. By sharing content on Pinterest you “grant to Cold Brew Labs a worldwide, irrevocable,
    perpetual, non-exclusive, transferable, royalty-free license, with the
    right to sublicense, to use, copy, adapt, modify, distribute, license,
    sell, transfer, publicly display, publicly perform, transmit, stream,
    broadcast, access, view, and otherwise exploit such Member Content…”

    Sorry, but I’m not willing to grant Cold Brew Labs the right to sell my company’s content, let alone use it in ways other than how I share it on their site.

    • http://b2bdigital.net/ Eric Wittlake

      Stephen, good point. Companies need to be approach carefully. However, I don’t believe that is a reason to not approach at all. Most companies have a wide range of imagery and illustration. Some should be held close and other elements can be released.

      Thanks for adding to the discussion, I appreciate it!

  • http://twitter.com/TerraIncognita Terra Walker Mrkulić

    Whoops, I misread the article.

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  • http://twitter.com/MaureenB2B Maureen Blandford

    When these ‘new’ tactical opps pop up, I care much less about what others are doing, or who’s ‘late’ to the game or ‘if B2B should be there.’

    As always, these conversations should start with Buyer segmentation and their needs and their behaviors, NOT what some early adopters may or may not be doing. 

    As B2B Sales Support folks, our eyes should be on THAT ball. 

    Of course HubSpot is there. With a product that helps companies keep track of all the SM balls in the air, it behooves them to continually be throwing balls and if they can keep their customers scurrying, perhaps their customers won’t notice how truly suck-tastic their content is.

    Constant Contact has SM tips on Pinterest? For whom? All the folks that couldn’t find tips on their website, twitter account, facebook page? Seriously? I guess it’ll also boost their K score.

    If Pinterest becomes a useful tool embraced by B2B execs everywhere, I’ll start paying attn. But these guys aren’t using their LinkedIn pages, twitter or G+ very successfully and I have my hands full there.

    gah

    • http://b2bdigital.net/ Eric Wittlake

      GAH!

      Ok, I got it out. We definitely need to focus on the audience needs. In the case of Pinterest, I think focusing on our audience’s actual use creates a chicken and egg scenario. Of course B2B buyers and influencers aren’t using it for business yet, because business information isn’t there. In this case, the more interesting question is how could the platform be used.

      It is a more visual platform suited for longer-lived curation. B2B marketers use visualizations frequently in communication today to help communicate complex topics. That makes the possibilities interesting. Even if Pinterest isn’t ultimately the platform that wins in this space, it is still a method of communication I believe deserves consideration.

      I always appreciate your perspective and feedback, thanks for making me restate this considering the audience first. :)

    • Marjorie Madfis

      As a marketer at one of the companies on that list of 20,  I can say that we have a very active SM program using Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, etc.  We are looking at Pinterest and its unique format – really great graphics. The other aspect of Pinterest is that with the goal of repinning – we are asking ourselves, why would someone repin our content?  We don’t want to be just a board, but a place for sharing and engaging.  How does our brand play a role on someone elses boards (ie repin our content on their boards). 

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  • noyesjesse

    Hi Eric,
    Thanks for the article but I wanted to point out that Eloqua is indeed on Pinterest. While we haven’t created a brand page, we are sharing content on various boards. Some of this appears on my Good Content Marketing board, along with others’ content that I respect, (http://pinterest.com/jessenoyes/good-content-marketing/ ), there’s a board for Eloqua’s Chart of the Week (http://pinterest.com/jessenoyes/eloqua-chart-of-the-week/) and Joe Chernov’s Infographics board on infographics features many of our own (http://pinterest.com/jchernov/infographics/).

    Right now we’re approaching it as a means of sharing content that comes from multiple sources and engaging with other pinners rather than promoting just our stuff. I agree that B2B marketers should be on Pinterest. Heck, I wrote an article for MarketingProfs last week making that point (http://www.mpdailyfix.com/three-excuses-b2b-marketers-should-stop-making-for-why-they-arent-on-pinterest/). But I don’t think that means they necessarily have to have a branded page.

    Thanks for the article!

    Jesse
    Eloqua

    • http://b2bdigital.net/ Eric Wittlake

      Jesse, thanks for the comment and sharing your approach, and adding your MarketingProfs article. A question for you: why not have an official brand account at this point, even if the activity is limited or it points people over to individual’s accounts? Are the legal issues holding it up?

      You raise a great point that extends well beyond Pinterest: when do “companies” participate directly, with a “brand” presence, when do they participate through the activity of their people, like you and Joe, and at what point do you do both (like Eloqua has done on Twitter)?

      It is something I have touched on before and definitely should revisit. Thank you for taking the time to comment!

      • noyesjesse

        Hi Eric, I think the primary reason is that we want to explore the most effective and least intrusive means for joining the conversation on any platform. A lot of brands suffer from the oh-man-this-social-thing-is-big-we-better-jump-on-it syndrome. (Let’s not forget that there were probably tons of blog posts about how B2B should brand on MySpace.)

        I prefer to take an approach where I learn the in’s and out’s of a social network on a personal level before branding on it. Sometimes the differences are as subtle as going to a bar versus a restaurant: the conversations shift, voices lower or raise. The same goes for social media. That’s not to say Eloqua won’t be on Pinterest, just that we want to understand it and how people consume content on it first.
        Great conversation. Thanks, Eric!

        Jesse

  • http://twitter.com/marksalke marksalke

    Eric,

    Interesting. I checked out the Pinterest Boards for some of these ‘squatters…’
    Perhaps I’m naive, but I can’t tell if their intent is to ‘trade’ on
    these companies’ reputations. For example, ‘Oracle’ has an interesting
    connotation for a Pinterest account… I was expecting something more overt, akin to those situations where someone grabbed a domain name expecting to ‘sell’ it to the rightful owner for a profit; e.g., the ‘warrensapp.com’ case. Do you think that’s what’s happening here?

    • http://b2bdigital.net/ Eric Wittlake

      Mark, I wondered the same thing, but in most cases, I believe they are people who (finally) are able to have an account with their own names. Be it intentional or not, the end result just might be the same, right?

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  • http://twitter.com/ohhitsNOELLE Noelle

    Hey Eric,
    Do you have any advice for brands who are unable to claim their branded URL on Pinterest due to cybersquatting?  Are you aware of any contacts or procedures to rectify this?

    • http://b2bdigital.net/ Eric Wittlake

      Hi Noelle,

      There is a form on Pinterest’s site here that you can try: http://pinterest.com/about/trademark/form/ 

      However, rumors are that it isn’t particularly quick or reliable. From Daily Dot earlier today: http://www.dailydot.com/business/pinterest-trademark-microsoft/

      Best of luck working through this, would love to hear how it goes.

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  • CSC Australia

    Hi there, CSC is pretty active on Pinterest with a few pages as below:

    http://pinterest.com/CSCUS/
    http://pinterest.com/cscaustralia/
    http://pinterest.com/cscbelgium/
    http://pinterest.com/cschealth/

    Please update your post if possible.

    CSC Social Media Team

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