What Pinterest's Skyrocketing Social Network Means For Artist Marketing
What Pinterest's Skyrocketing Social Network Means For Artist Marketing

One of Lady Antebellum's Pinterest boards entitled Lady A'ers features links to articles, pictures, merch, contests and much more.

Pinterest could be the next big social media tool for artists, labels and music brands-especially if they're into wedding dresses.

The concept is simple: Pinterest is a virtual pinboard where people share items and images. People frequently post pictures of places they would like to visit-beach scenes and exotic locales are common-and new products they would like to buy. It is used in practical ways when people make note of books they want to read or interior designs they want to consider for their next home makeover. Followers can comment below each pinned item and re-pin an item onto their page.

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Pinterest was conceived in late 2009 by Cold Brew Labs. A working site was running by March 2010, and the official launch came last May. According to comScore, the site rocketed from 1 million unique U.S. visitors in July 2011 to 4.8 million in November 2011 and 11.7 million in January-the fastest independent site to reach 10 million unique visitors in the United States.

Based in Palo Alto, Calif., Pinterest has received funding from a host of investors including noted angel investor Ron Conway, Eventbrite co-founder/CEO Kevin Hartz and Bebo co-founder Michael Burch. A round of $27 million led by Andreessen Horowitz was raised in October, according to media reports.

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Unlike many new Internet services, Pinterest's early adopters tend to represent Middle America. More than half of all users are between the ages of 25 and 44, and 68% earn between $25,000 and $74,999, according to Google's Doubleclick Ad Planner. Three in five possess some degree of college education, while 25% have a bachelor's degree or higher. The site over-indexes in places like Arkansas, Alabama, Iowa and Utah rather than the technology hotspots of San Francisco, New York and Boston.

Also, females make up 80% of Pinterest's users, perhaps unsurprising for a site that suggests a digital form of scrapbooking. Each user profile has "boards" where specific items are pinned. Popular pictures, on boards with names like "Things I Love" or "Wedding Stuff," include desserts, clothes and accessories, home décor and pink items in general. For an early-stage social media site, Pinterest has amazingly little technology and gadgets.

Lady Antebellum and Keith Urban, both managed by Borman Entertainment, are two of the earliest acts to use Pinterest. Borman head of digital business development Cameo Carlson likes Pinterest because it lets an artist show affinity in ways such communication tools as Twitter cannot: "It's a way to take a more intimate look at the bands without being invasive."

Pinterest is indeed soft marketing. Lady Antebellum's page includes a board called "Lyrical Pins" with pictures of the group's lyrics. Each of the three band members also has a board for pinning favorite items. That has allowed Dave Haywood to share his affection for Cinnamon Toast Crunch, Almond Breeze Milk and Gibson Guitars simply by posting images of the products.

Other artists are hard to find. Girlilla Marketing senior account director Ashley Mixson started using Pinterest six months ago after learning about it from a friend. It's a fashion-centric network, she says, where food and events are common topics. "I see a lot of women planning out their weddings on there, whether they're engaged or not."

Girlilla clients aren't yet on Pinterest, although Mixson says she sees potential for artists to share creative ideas and specific interests with their fans. "If a client was really into vinyl," she says, "I could see them posting their favorite vinyl like they would share music on Spotify."

Artists may soon have reason to flock to the site. Just as Tumblr turned blogging into a more visual expression, Pinterest allows self-expression through images-sort of like Twitter with pictures. And with more than 10 million U.S. users and growing, many artists' fans are already there. Carlson says she has recently seen fan activity growing tenfold per month.

As with any new service, artists and managers should think about the return they will get for the time spent learning a new social media site and maintaining a presence, warns Gray Blue, director of music industry relations at fan management and marketing platform FanBridge. He notes that Facebook still dominates social media-163.5 million users in the United States in January, according to comScore-but some artists should be able to use Pinterest to their advantage. "Every fan base is different," he says. "Every artist is different."

Carlson admits Pinterest won't be a good fit for everyone. "The front page is completely full of wedding dresses and probably always will be," he says. "But at least for us, Lady A and Keith fit nicely in that wedding dress demo."