Who needs a website when you have Pinterest?

I was an early adopter of Pinterest. Right now I have 216 followers and I am following 104 people.

At the start, I spent a bit of time creating and populating a few (cursory) boards, but, of late, I have rather neglected/ignored the platform (shame on me I say).

However, I can see that changing, given the amount of material I have produced over the last 2 years (blogs (x4), Twitter (x2), Google+, Facebook, Tumblr, Posterous, Squidoo, Instagram, Soundcloud, Audioboo, Flickr, Box.Net, Slideshare, Scribd and Picasa). If nothing else, I want to develop one footprint of my work (not every piece of it), rather than leaving a broken trail. I should say that I don’t see me using it as a sales platform, but if it helps to convert a fan to an influencer or client then fantastic. Of course, there are some people who see it as a glorified shopping cart but I think that is missing the point.

[Note: I am of the view that for me if I wanted to monetise my work, I would be better off using Squidoo]

For me, I see Pinterest as a one stop shop, and not something that I need to spend hours and hours developing, but rather to incrementally build a profile with passion.

If, like me, you are willing to spend time on Pinterest, where does that leave your website?

What if you decided to replicate some of the pages from your website, particularly those that don’t get much traffic or where the content has been lost over time?

I find web architecture bland. Let’s face it there are only so many ways you can cut the cake, and you do have to think carefully about your target audience and what might appeal to them, and not just the shiny, slick version that you have been offered by the web designer.

If you compare that to Pinterest, my vote would be squarely in the latter’s corner by dint of the fact that it feels new, it has immediate social integration and, from my own experience the user engagement, if you get the right image or look, is good.

My niche is Professional Service Firms (PSF) – in the main law firms. It occurs to me that every firm should invest the time to create a Pinterest page. I am aware from my brief searches that a few have had a go, but much like my own boards, they seem random and half-finished.

All PSF will review their website at some stage (please), and right now a lot are opting to upgrade to WordPress or a similar platform to take back the CMS and allow for social media integration. But what if they paused that process and decided to use the best bits of content of the ‘old’ website and uploaded everything to Pinterest?

Could it work?

Perhaps the obvious place to start is ask a few clients – those that have recently come via the website: Would they still have instructed the firm absent a website but with the same or similar material on Pinterest?

Assuming that the answer was tilted in the yes camp, would that be enough to convince one or two firms to ditch the website? Probably not but at the very least it should galvanise one or two people to think that there might be a few clients who would come to the firm via Pinterest, and not the website. Also, it could help the firm with:

  • Differentiating its service offering.
  • Making better use of their off-line content.
  • Blending the corporate with the personal feel that is often found across the combination of digital platforms e.g. Facebook and Flickr?
  • Providing a showcase for their services.
  • Delivering more immediate user engagement?

Even if the response was equivocal, my guess is that many firms will not think to engage with Pinterest as a result of not understanding, or, more likely, because:

(a) they have insufficient resources to properly populate the platform;

(b) they are risk averse;

(c) they don’t own the platform (but no more so than LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook); and

(d) importantly, will want know that they will see a ROI (over time?).

If you have decided to take a punt or are willing to do so, here a few thoughts to help you along the way:

Downloads: nearly every firm has something in PDF form that acts as a client guide. These could be uploaded to separate boards. In addition, if the download was still valid, it could be recorded as a Soundcloud or Audioboo MP3 and embedded on another board. Likewise any video that was available could be posted.

Pictures: there could be some pictures of the partners. They don’t all have to be staged, and it would be fun to upload some of the early shots of partners just to see how they have changed. Also, if there any that have been posted elsewhere for CSR or PR then they could be used. It just makes the firm look and feel a bit more human.

Links: some firms have favourite links to the BBC website or perhaps The Supreme Court. Each practice area could have its own board with some notes.

CSR: there is a bit of a cross-over with Facebook and Google+ (where I would post all the firm’s CSR material), but each page could be set up and then the attendees could be asked to re-pin to their boards in the same way that pictures are tagged on Facebook.

Events: again a separate board could be created together with any pictures (subject to consent).

Sales: and if the firm had a packaged service, then it should seriously consider uploading screen shots of what is on offer.

This is really just a short-short list. The potential is enormous and needs some serious thought. But don’t default to just the website until you have had a proper look at Pinterest.

Summary

All PSF should consider setting up a Pinterst page. Make sure that everyone understands the IP issues and reads the terms carefully. Don’t treat it like a website. It is bound to be more chaotic and disordered because of the way it is set up. Think about the client journey and understand the levers to convert a prospect to a fee paying client.

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I am available for speaking, consulting and one on one coaching. Please feel free to email me at juliansummerhayes@gmail.com or contact me on 075888 15384.

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