By Mitra Sorrells Posted March 7, 2012, 12:03 PM EST
Pinterest is the latest social media site to explode onto the scene. Since its debut two years ago, it has grown rapidly, drawing 11.7 million unique visitors from the United States in January, according to research firm ComScore. Pinterest allows users to create an online scrapbook of photos and videos collected from other Web sites or uploaded from their computers. The images are called pins and the collections are boards. As with other social sites, users can follow other users and Pinterest images can be repinned and shared. Here are four ways event professionals are using Pinterest in their work:
1. Inspiration. Simply type a word or phrase into Pinterest’s search box to find pins and boards on just about any topic. The term “centerpieces” brings up hundreds of boards, each with multiple images. “It’s a look into other people’s brains, which is interesting,” says Lucy Stratton, business development director at AgencyEA. “I like that sharing aspect of it and staying on trend. So you can follow people if you like their aesthetic. Not just other event planners, that is, but also fashion designers, set designers, because then there could be something you can pull for inspiration.”
2. Organization. Pinterest eliminates the need to save large image files to your hard drive or to cut-and-paste images into a document. Instead, planners can create a board to compile ideas for everything from food to furniture to floral. “The conceptualization process, that’s what Pinterest has really helped me with,” says Cassandra Grabowski, event manager at High Beam, who has been using Pinterest to gather ideas for the dozens of events her company will produce during South by Southwest starting this Friday. Some planners create a unique board for each event; others organize them according to color palette or category (desserts, cocktails, lighting). And Pinterest’s mobile apps allow users to pin on the go. “If I’m waiting for a meeting or conference call and have a few minutes, I might start pinning,” Grabowski says. “I use it in my free time a lot. It’s pretty addicting.”
3. Interaction with vendors and clients. Once a user creates a board, the link can be shared with others, whether they have a Pinterest account or not. “We share internally with our creative department and with our decor vendor to communicate the look and feel we are going for,” Stratton says. “[Pinterest] is a really easy way to show them our inspiration versus having a telephone conversation or trying to forward a ton of images.” Scott Mifsud, vice president of operations at Just Right Destination Management, says he encourages clients to create a board at the start of the planning process. “It’s easier for them to express in pictures than words, the look and feel they are going for. So we have them put together a Pinterest board and share it with us. We can actually see their likes and dislikes,” he says.
4. Marketing. While some planners prefer to keep their Pinterest account for personal use, not to promote it, others are using it as an additional social media tool to generate new business. “We basically turned it into a branded page, a fan page,” says Mifsud of Just Right’s Pinterest account. “We made sure our logo is on there and information about the company and a link back to our Web site. And there’s a Pinterest button on our Web site too.” Alexandra Rembac-Goldberg, principal and creative director of Sterling Engagements, has been using Pinterest for about a month and some of her boards already have hundreds of followers. “I have quite a bit of traffic that Google analytics has told me has come from Pinterest,” she says.
Here's a look at what people have been pinning from BizBash.