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Pinterest: A Hotel's Quick Guide to the Hot New Photo Sharing Site

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Pinterest is now a top 10 social network (more traffic than Google Plus in November 2011!) that’s getting the attention of everyone from artists to the media to venture capitalists (who invested $27 million in the company). BrandChannel says “Pinterest is at the crossroads of social and style.” ReadWriteWeb attributes their success to the way the tool leverages everything that’s hot in social right now: great user experience, a clean retro visual design, content curation, social collaboration and subscription – and calls everyone who isn’t using it “a big dork.”

Of course, none of us want to own a “dorky” social media presence – so I wanted to put together a little introductory guide to Pinterest for hotels. I’ve had a lot of fun experimenting with this site recently, and since it’s likely to be a key social communications tool in the months ahead, I think you may enjoy exploring it as well.

What is Pinterest?

“Think of it as a virtual pinboard,” says the Pinterest team. Heather Allard explains the opportunity well:

If you had the opportunity to make your business part of someone’s vision board, would you do it? Pinterest is that vision board. Consider it a visual buffet—a look book—of all the things we crave in life….

By curating cool content through images, the tool provides a powerful way to visually communicate lifestyle messages that are so important for many brands in the hospitality business. Plus, it’s a powerful way to feel the pulse of what’s trending – and influence some of those trends.

“Pinterest allows us to see what trends and styles the community likes based on engagement – likes and repins,” Nordstrom’s social media manager Shauna Causey told BrandChannel. Creativity-online.com commented that “Images are a great way to share ideas and trends in the social media landscape.”

How do you share photos?

Pinterest provides their users with a number of tools to make sharing easy, including a “Pin It” button for your browser and a free iPhone app.

I find this to be the easiest way to share things as I’m browsing the web….

Hotel websites can use the Pinterest “Follow” button to encourage subscriptions and the “Pin It” button to encourage pinning and re-pinning from their site. Since this is a photo-sharing network, it’s one more reason to use stunning photography on your website. Photos shared on Pinterest contain a link back to the source site – which can be a good source of inbound traffic.

“…Consider Pinterest a ‘visual testimonial.’ When users pin things from your site, they’re showing the world (and their Pinterest followers) that they believe in your company, your service or your product. The more Pinterest interest you get, the more word of mouth about you will increase.” – Heather Allard

How can hotels use Pinterest?

Think about lifestyle content you can share that would interest your core audience online. Co-founder Evan Sharp gave some examples of how other companies are doing this in his interview with Mashable: “A good example of that is Whole Foods. They’re not just sharing the produce available at Whole Foods, they’re sharing [images of] a healthy lifestyle. West Elm isn’t just sharing the furniture they sell, they’re sharing interior design tips. And the Today Show isn’t just pinning that day’s guests [to promote the episode]. For most consumer brands, the idea behind your brand makes sense on Pinterest.”

Let’s take a look at how some hotels are using Pinterest….

Gansevoort Hotels shares places, spaces and style they love:

SLS Hotel at Beverly Hills shares books worth reading, food worth eating, and more:

And finally, Hotel Indigo does a great job of “guestsourcing” – using photos that guests have tweeted or uploaded as a Pinterest board:

You can see more by visiting Pinterest.com. Joining the network currently requires an invitation from an existing member. If you need one, email me: josiah at reviewpro

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