I've noticed an explosion of interest in Pinterest.com. How can I determine if it is a worthy pursuit for the marketing of my business? Does it deserve resources that would otherwise be invested in other social media sites like Facebook and Twitter?
BUYSELF REALTY INC.
The dilemma you face regarding Pinterest.com will continue to haunt businesses of all sizes as social media continues to evolve -- something that likely won't slow down anytime soon.
The foundational question you are asking really settles on whether committing resources to this new channel of communication is like getting on board early at Facebook or getting on early at Friendster. So, what to do?
Always start with your key audiences, and take the lead from them. If you see a few folks in your existing client base begin using a new tool or channel -- that might be a leading indicator -- but resist the temptation to jump in just because there is "buzz."
My students in the master of business communication program conduct research for their employers or nonprofits as a final project for the degree. Many recently have examined how organizations similar to their own have engaged social media into communication strategies.
Consistently, organizations that have already committed significant resources suggest that creating a baseline presence and getting to know the tools and communities as they evolve makes much more sense than throwing significant resources at it to "build" a following or community. However, being engaged puts the firm in a position to respond appropriately and quickly when opportunities arise, or crises are created in these new venues.
So, get to know Pinterest. Establish an account and learn the ropes while you watch for signs that your preferred customers are also there. If it looks like they aren't coming, move on to another party.
Michael C. Porter is an adjunct instructor of marketing at the University of St. Thomas Opus College of Business.