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.
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.”
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.
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.