Understanding Audience: How Better Homes and Gardens Did It

When Pinterest first debuted in 2011, not many companies saw the potential benefits it could deliver. All except for digital editorial manager of Better Homes and Gardens, Kaelin Zawilinski. Both BHG and Pinterest are based in Des Moines, Iowa, and some staff at BHG opened Pinterest accounts very early on in the site’s development. This started it all.

Founders Evan Sharp and Ben Silbermann. Image courtesy of inc.com

Founders Evan Sharp and Ben Silbermann. Image courtesy of inc.com

After realizing how novel Pinterest was, Zawilinski took advantage of it. In Marketing Land’s “5 Questions With” interview, Zawilinski said “BHG.com is filled with highly pinable content so it made sense for our brand to be on this platform. Around this same time, we saw Pinterest jump from our 116th social referrer to the top five, and since September 2011 it has been our No. 1 social referrer.”

Pinterest Board

Example of boards BHG created. Image courtesy of BHG Pinterest.

As with any social media platform, working out the kinks comes with time. Zawilinski even admits that the content that their audience prefers was not what staff originally predicted. By focusing on broader themes (rather than niches) with pins, they have been able to gain a very strong following. Perhaps this is also because of the extreme “pinability” of Better Homes and Gardens’ images. No matter the reason, BHG harnessed the ability to see into the minds of their readers and constituents—a feat of which any company can be jealous.

Pinterest also makes it easy to track what readers are interested in, thus allowing editors to change content to better target readers. The site also lends itself to attract a younger audience, and girls who repin images from BHG may not even realize that they are slowly being introduced to the brand.

Pinterest Stats

Image Courtesy of Marketing Land

Armed with newfound knowledge, Better Homes and Gardens decided to host a “Pin & Win” contest early in 2012. Customers had to sign up for Pinterest if they had not already, and create a board to pin images from BHG.com onto (user generated content). Requirements were set and the contest was advertised across all other social media platforms. According to Bill Mickey of Folio Mag, “by aggressively participating in new digital platforms like Pinterest, the company is reaching out to a potentially new universe of customers.” BHG has over 500,000 Pinterest followers and over 100 categorized boards, a home décor fanatic’s dream.

By being brave and testing a new social media platform early on, as well as utilizing user-generated content to better acquaint themselves with their constituents, Better Homes and Gardens has proven how important it is to be “…agile and flexible and ready for the next platform to emerge…” a proud Zawilinski stated.

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4 thoughts on “Understanding Audience: How Better Homes and Gardens Did It

  1. Pinterest is such a good website that it automatically creates a conversation/ interaction with it’s viewership. For instance, I connect with my followers when we both for one like each other’s pin also re-pin their so-called “wall of style.” I think Better Homes and Gardens did a great job of finding a popular social media website and embracing it. Compared to most social media, Pinterest has been frowned upon but overall some companies don’t realize it’s potential unfortunately. In conclusion, I love your article and I think Pinterest has a great outcome due to it’s target market that I wouldn’t be surprise that other companies would invest immediately.

  2. Better Homes and Gardens really benefitted with the introduction of Pinterest! It’s really interesting how the content that the magazine offers seemed to mesh so well with the concept of the social media platform. Readers really wanted to see what other home and garden owners are building, growing, and working on…and Pinterest gave these readers a way to share ideas in an easy to view way. Its so great for BH&G because they can see exactly what their readers like and what they’re sharing. The pictures I see that they shared are great looking, and I see why the topics of “home” and “recipes” are so often re-pinned. Great info graphic Christina!

  3. Pinterest is a great way to subtlety introduce content to those who might not consider themselves the type of person that would find content produced by BH&G. I’m not sure I wold ever find myself picking up a BH&G magazine simply from passing by it in the grocery store. It’s hard not to judge a magazine by it’s cover, especially when there are so many different magazines out there. BH&G was able to get people hooked to their content when they least expect it. Understanding what Pinterest users are interested in and “pin” the most can help a magazine to create content that people want to read. You’ve clearly demonstrated that Pinterest is a valuable social media tool that has power and influence untapped by many magazines, but helping to catch large amounts of readers by those who have adopted the social media.

  4. Pinterest is a great way to get your brand noticed. I like the way they describe that Pinterest grabs people’s attention based on similar interests. I have a Pinterest account myself and have pinned tons of pictures of homes and even gardens, too. I need to go back and see if any of them are actually from Better Homes and Gardens. Similar to your infographic, my board with the most pins is the “Dream Home” board. I see more and more pins about houses and things like that so I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that BH&G is the leading competitor in Pinterest boards.

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