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    Quick facts: PinterestShould you put your company on Pinterest, the online “pinning” site, where users share and reshare images?Here are a few data points to consider. For more, visit http://pinterest.com/pinterestbiz/pinterest-statistics/. Big traffic: More than 11 million people visit Pinterest monthly. Information source: Forty-five percent of users say they’ve accessed the site to research products or services. Trusted advice: Forty-seven percent of women say they’ve made a purchase based on Pinterest recommendation. Popular with women: Sixty-eight percent of the site’s users are women. Highly engaging: Users spend an average of 38 minutes daily on the site. Open to marketing: Consumers tend to follow more retailers (an average of 9.3) on Pinterest than on Facebook, where they follow an average of 6.9 retailers.Source: 2012 Social and Mobile Commerce study by comScore, shop.org and The Partnering Group

When prospective clients started showing him pools they’d “pinned” during sales calls, Bill Murphey knew it was time to join Pinterest.

“The women would start to show me photos of the pools they liked,” said Murphey, owner of Bill Murphey & Associates, a pool masonry and hardscape firm based in Tustin, Calif. (See the firm’s Pinterest board.) “It really helped in the design process because they’d already seen things that they’d liked.”

Launched in 2010, Pinterest is basically an online bulletin board that allows users to “pin” images from around the Web on virtual pinboards. It’s grown quickly, reaching more than 11 million monthly visitors earlier this year. As a result, the share-site has attracted the attention of many businesses, including pool firms, that want to build connections and brand awareness with their customers.

Pinterest also has proven to be extremely popular with women, who comprise 68 percent of its users and often are key influencers in home-related decisions such as pools.

“Men don’t buy pools,” said Sandy Vollentine, president of Ocean Quest Pools in Austin, Texas. (See the firm’s Pinterest board.) “Men get told to buy pools.”

It adds up to a promising online opportunity for pool firms.

“Pinterest really is ideal for the pool and spa industry,” said Katrice Svanda, director of operations at Small Screen Producer, a Houston-based firm that handles the Pool Marketing Site. “It taps into people’s desire to enjoy pretty things and make a plan to create them. It’s a nice way to build hopes and dreams and picture your ideal scenario. Think of when most Pinterest users are online. They’re at home, relaxing and thinking, ‘I worked 12 hours today. What am I working toward?’ and looking at a picture of a beautiful house.”

Or a stunning pool. “Pinterest made a lot of sense because our pools are so visual,” said James Atlas, one of the owners of Platinum Poolcare, a pool building firm in Wheeling, Ill. which joined the fast-growing social media site earlier this year. (See the firm’s Pinterest board.) “It’s more like a personal scrapbook [for users], so people use our pictures for their dream home boards and when they’re looking for pool ideas.”

Those pictures of distinctive pools, spas and waterfeatures can travel far and wide as Pinterest users share and reshare compelling images on their own boards.

“I’m always getting notices about pinning or repinning our pictures,” Vollentine said. That’s great for marketing — as long as pool firms make sure to tag those photos with essentials such as the company’s name, location, phone number and Website address.

“You want [your image] to go viral, but people often forget that an image can leave your boards,” Svanda said. “Twenty pins later, do they still know it’s yours?”

For pool service companies, choosing what to post on Pinterest can be a little more difficult. At VivoPools, a La Cañada Flintridge, Calif.-based firm, Caren Chen has been testing out a variety of Pinterest content, from pictures of pools around the world to notable pool signage. (See the firm’s Pinterest board.) “We’re trying to see what resonates,” said Chen, who is business operations manager at Vivo.

For pool firms that only handle service or maintenance, Svanda recommends taking a broad approach and posting images that speak to the whole pool and spa lifestyle experience for a customer. “It’s a challenge because you’re selling one part of a larger purchase, and that is your world,” she said. “But for the end user, it is just one small piece of 1,000 decisions.”

Sharing your company’s work and brand isn’t the only thing Pinterest is good for. At Florida Bonded Pools, Vice President Ashley Cribbs values the “backlinks” from the company’s Pinterest site to its main Website. Those links serve a dual purpose: They drive traffic to Florida Bonded Pools’ Website and boost the Google rankings for the company’s main site, according to Cribbs, who handles search engine optimization at the Jacksonville, Fla., pool builder.