Pinterest’s individual users have seized on the online pinboard platform to find and share inspiration, but luxury brands have also grasped its potential and are investing in Pinterest.
Joint interview with Stéphanie Tramicheck, Country Manager of Pinterest France, and Olivier Billon, co-founder of French fashion social media site Ykone and organiser of FLOW, a European Social Media Event for fashion, beauty and luxury goods, which this year took place in Paris on 23 September.
L’Atelier: Social networks and the luxury brands sector – Olivier Billon, what’s working well these days?
Olivier Billon: For luxury brands on the Internet yesterday, tomorrow, today, there are three things that have worked well, do work well and will continue to work well: telling their stories, forging emotional links and keeping the brand in the limelight. Having a story and knowing how to tell it, getting people enthralled by the story, always works well. The web, more than any other medium, lends itself perfectly to this – through video, through Wikipedia, etc. The web is truly a story-telling space. It’s also a space where brands and their communities can interact emotionally or at least with admiration. These days it’s only on the Internet that you can be the fan of a brand, and with just one click become a ‘follower’. If you walk past a Burberry store window and you like what you see, you can’t yet tap on the window and subscribe to receive their latest news. Last but not least, when the brand re-invents itself and does some soul-searching, that works too. For example, Jimmy Choo has created a platform which is called Jimmy Choo 24/7 on which everyone can post photos of themselves wearing Jimmy Choos. So these fans are feeding the myth of the brand and at the same time making it their own. Technology innovations such as video, geolocation and sharing images also work, but only by underpinning these three principles.
L’Atelier: Luxury is a sort of ritual. For example, Hermès – those silk squares which the sales assistant flourishes over the counter are all part of the shopping experience. So how do the social networks, Pinterest specifically, adapt to the world of luxury?
Stéphanie Tramicheck: The advantage of Pinterest, in comparison with other platforms, is longevity. A ‘pin’ on Pinterest is long-lasting, whereas a tweet has a lifetime of only a few minutes and a post on Facebook just a few hours. This is one of the reasons why luxury goods and fashion brands are making substantial investments in Pinterest. They project their DNA –and those rituals which you were talking about – in images. Luxury is based more on the visual than on the written word.
L’Atelier: How is Pinterest used to best effect: staging, selling…? What do brands mainly highlight on your platform?
Stéphanie Tramicheck: Basically a brand has to accept that it isn’t in control of its own presence on Pinterest. What it must do is provide all the tools to enable users to be its brand ambassadors. The brand needs to cultivate the user with inspiring content, but not necessarily on the product itself. This is also an opportunity to demonstrate their knowhow. That’s where the true viral nature of Pinterest lies: producing content for users to share on their own accounts and exchange with each other. The ‘fan’ can share, and show his/her love for the brand. The brand can encourage this phenomenon by creating its own pinboard. That’s where it ought to take the initiative.
Olivier Billon: I think the most valuable aspect of Pinterest is inspiration. When people collect images and look for inspiration, it’s because they want to buy something. When the social web arrived several years ago, we didn’t always appreciate the practical convenience aspect. We saw the potential for communication, but not the potential for discovering products. If a user goes on to Pinterest looking for beautiful designer chairs in white for his/her home, s/he’ll see that millions of people have already created white chair collections. The community creates content together and so the user saves time.
L’Atelier: Olivier, earlier you were talking about innovations. Among these innovations, what works well, or will work best in the coming years? Video?
During the FLOW event we had an excellent session with Raman Kia, Marketing Director at Condé Nast USA. I asked him the same question and he said that no-one had any idea. Today it’s Pinterest, yesterday it was Instagram. We can however predict what won’t change: people’s desire to be entertained by great stories, told well. What we can expect is that tomorrow new technologies and new habits will help brands to amaze people even more and provide even more of this magic. With the Internet today, everyone can see these films and stories, which wasn’t at all easy ten years ago. We can hope that in five years’ time, with the web reaching an increasing number of people and with the arrival of 4G, this content will be even more accessible, everywhere and even faster.