Pinterest is poor at referring local traffic

pinterest_logoWe tend to buy based on the recommendations of close friends — and social media plays a critical role in this process. According to a recent survey by Market Force, 81% of consumers indicated that friends’ social media posts directly influenced their purchase decision. In looking at the various social networks, Pinterest is as popular as Twitter (and lags Facebook) yet it hasn’t around as long (according to Pew Research Center). On the flip side, Pinterest pins generate fewer subsequent page views and shorter timespans (according Copyblogger Media). And based on my analysis below, I’ve found that Pinterest also fails to refer local site traffic — the kind that brings recommendations from friends.

My best proof point is based on data from our client which serves customers in 9 southeastern states. This client gets significant referral traffic from Pinterest, Facebook and Twitter so initially they wanted to increase their social media investment. However, I noticed that Pinterest accounts for only a minor portion of visits (20%) from southeastern states vs. the entire US  (see below; I’ve represented the number of visits to the site with X, Y and Z to protect the confidentiality of our client’s data). In comparison, Facebook generates the most southeast referrals and Twitter is closely behind. Additionally, Pinterest traffic (not surprisingly!) is mostly mobile (iPhones/iPads).


So why is Pinterest poor at referring local traffic? Pinterest filters pins based only on categories (see Pinterest home below). And users cannot filter their pins based on their network. In comparison, both Facebook and Twitter surfaces updates from their network of friends and followers. So while Pinterest users may spend more money, buy more items and conduct more transactions than any other social media buyers (comScore), Marketers who are working with local businesses need to consider that content shared on Pinterest will have a minimal impact. It will be like casting small pebbles onto a big lake where the message never gets amplified enough to have the same impact as one coming from Twitter or Facebook.


The good news is that Pinterest recently announced the acquisition Livestar, a mobile application that recommends nearby boards. This acquisition is a passive acknowledgment of needing to focus on generating quality, local traffic. It is also a worthwhile strategic investment considering that Pinterest users are highly mobile. The acquisition will likely not have any meaningful impact on Pinterest traffic in the near term so for now, marketers should take caution in recommending Pinterest to brands that are interested in gartnering local traffic.

NOTE: Check out this 100 Statistics on Social Media if you’re looking for more reasons to make an investment.

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