Where 20 million people hung out last month

I should probably first admit that I’ve had a fun time poking holes in social media lately. Frankly, as a marketing strategy, a lot of what I see is hollow and hackneyed.

Sure, some pretty big companies have claimed success with social media – Ford, Starbucks, Nike. But how many big real estate companies have been able to stand up and not only say they’ve had great success but prove its positive impact on their business? Better Homes and Gardens and Corcoran come to mind. But who else?

And just as I’ve been skeptical, burnt out, and in search of social media’s measurable value, along comes a story highlighting some crazy statistics about Pinterest, the retail industry’s social darling.

70 million users and counting

Pinterest’s astounding growth is what usually makes headlines. 70 million users is nothing to sneeze at.

But perhaps the true value – the more interesting side of the story – is what these users do. They spend money. The average Pinterest user spends $140 – $180 when they click through to an e-commerce site, compared with $60 – $80 when coming from Facebook.

Another interesting statistic about Pinterest is its king status as the top social media channel on the iPad, claiming almost 50% of all social activity on the tablet.

And while many people still scoff and insist that Pinterest is a niche social site (because its users are mostly women, you know), you can’t argue with its relevance to marketing. 70 million users, 20 million of whom engaged with the platform in some way last month, is compelling. Hardly niche.

Now that all of these jaw-dropping stats have my attention, what is the implication for real estate?

Brokers and Pinterest

In 2013, listings are everywhere. But local, custom content is not.

In 2013, images rule the web. And nearly every agent in the business carries a camera around in their pocket every minute of every day.

In 2013, real estate brokers everywhere are desperately seeking ways to differentiate.

In 2013, real estate brokers everywhere still struggle with web platforms that don’t allow them to easily create photo-centric content sections of their websites on the fly.

If I were a broker looking for a way to be different, I’d be looking at Pinterest. But not for the reasons you may think.

I wouldn’t sit here trying to figure out my “Pinterest strategy” for social marketing. Forget that. Nobody is going to buy a home they found on Pinterest. That’s because you don’t just grab your iPad one night, lean back into the couch, click through a picture of a house and hit “buy”.

Therefore, Pinterest is not merely a place to curate and rearrange the MLS.

Think aspirational

The statistics show that Pinterest users are mostly women who like to spend money. Your instinct may be to shove listings in their faces with “Buy me!” signs on them. But that’s not how you close a woman. A little romance, anyone?

There’s a large aspirational component in buying a home. And there’s a fun human interest story in the process.

This is real estate marketing on the peripheral. Specific thoughts:

  • Create a board that tells the story of your company. Your values. Your people. Your mojo. (Corcoran does something kind of like this here.)
  • Create a board that tells the story of the local market. Recent sales. New listings. List price to sale ratio. Remodeling trends.
  • Create a board that tells the story of successful home staging. Before and after.
  • Follow local businesses and repin some of their content that is relevant to your community or local homes.

These are only a few off-the-cuff thoughts. The point is, I’m seeing a lot more potential in Pinterest than any other social platform for real estate.

The reason I’ve been so meh on social media for real estate business lately is because much of what’s out there is thoughtless, seems to fulfill no objective other than to “be there”, and follows obvious formulas.

But Pinterest makes me change my tune a bit.

20 million people went to one website last month to hang out, engage and find things to buy. On no other social network is this last part one of the main reasons the bulk of visitors go there every day.

If you’re going to “go social,” start here.