Sports on Pinterest
Sports on Pinterest can be successful. Really! But, one of the biggest questions I come across when it comes to sports and social media has to do with teams, leagues and brands and Pinterest. How can they make Pinterest a viable platform in their overall strategy? How many resources do we have to devote to it? Can we just schedule the same content as our other platforms? How can we find the time to invest in it? Let’s just pin and see if this works.
I may be a fan with a journalist’s perspective, but I know enough to know that Pinterest isn’t your average platform. Similar, however, to other platforms, what worked when Pinterest first started, won’t cut it now. I have a lot of followers, but how do you connect with them in a more meaningful way?
Most sports entities have a built-in advantage – wherever they are, fans naturally follow. But, once a connection is made, then what? With the changes being made to Pinterest and advertising and business, there is a potential to connect even deeper with fans on the platform.
To examine this deeper, I asked two people I know that use and/or monitor Pinterest on a regular basis: Jeff Sieh and Bob McKamey. Jeff is a marketer based in Texas who hosts a popular Google+ show called, “The Manly Show”. It was formerly known as “The Manly Pinterest Show”. Bob the founder of a Chicago-based studio, Uncommon Thinking, that works with major brands, athletes and schools for their branding needs.
After reading some of their answers to my questions below, I have some serious updating to do on my boards.
Q1: Pinterest. A hugely popular social platform. What is your level of involvement on Pinterest?
Jeff – I don’t have a set schedule, but I try to touch Pinterest twice a day. I pin once in the morning and then again in the evening. I believe that any success I have gained in Pinterest is because of this consistency.
Bob – I first became aware of the platform in early 2012, when it started to get a lot of buzz, and decided to do a report on how pro teams (MLB, NBA, NFL, NHL, NASCAR, WNBA) were using it. Since that initial report I’ve followed it pretty closely ever since, and added the following ones:
- 10 Insights from Athletic Depts on Pinterest – November 09, 2014
- Pinterest & Athletic Departments v2 – November 07, 2014
- Creative College Athletics Pinterest Board Cover Images v2 – October 31, 2014
- Pinterest & Sports Teams v3 – November 26, 2013
- Pinterest & Sponsor Integration – October 31, 2013
- Pinterest & Athletic Departments v1 – October 16, 2013
- Creative College Athletics Pinterest Board Cover Images v1 – October 15, 2013
- Pinterest & Sports Teams v3 – December 11, 2012
- The Pinterest Username Dilemma for Sports Teams – December 10, 2012
- Sports Teams Not Turning to Pinterest for Holiday Sales – Dec. 10 & Nov. 30, 2012
- Pinterest & Sports Teams v2 – March 27, 2012
I also manage a popular NASCAR driver’s account, and consult with a few college sports programs on their presence.
Q2: There is a stereotype out there that Pinterest is just for women. What is your response to that line of thinking?
Jeff – I think there still is that stereotype, but I think that is changing. Pinterest is really working hard to capture more male users. In fact, if you look at some of their more recent video promos, you’ll really notice a male element. http://goo.gl/ue3q1x
Also, more men are currently joining Pinterest than ever before. Male sign-ups for Pinterest are now growing faster than women, with men accounting for one-third of all sign ups on the site. What’s really interesting is that more men are using Pinterest in the U.S. than read Sports Illustrated and GQ combined. That is a pretty big number! (TechCrunch, Nov. 2013)
Bob – The stats do in fact show that women are the dominant audience (most reports have it at 70%) so that should be a major part of the focus when developing a strategy for the channel. The recent Pew Internet “Social Media Update 2014” report noted that: the % of online adults who use Pinterest equals 42% for Women, and 13% for Men.
From a sports category perspective even though women are the focus, the men demo shouldn’t be ignored, and I believe recent stats show the % of men users is growing steadily.
It’s important to understand how your fans are getting to your account. I think you’ll find women have an easier time organically finding your presence, whereas a certain amount of platform cross-promoting and more targeted marketing techniques will be needed to help your male fans discover what you have to offer them on Pinterest.
Q3: There are sports teams/leagues/schools/brands that are on Pinterest. Are there any that you know of who use the platform effectively?
Jeff – There are a lot of High School sport boards that many schools use to share photos, etc. A few pro ones that have quite the following:
- Major League Baseball
- NHL – (Over one million followers)
- Sports Illustrated
- Boston Celtics
- Pittsburgh Penguins
Bob – Quite a few teams do have accounts, but using the criteria for an “active” account as having posted a pin within the last 4 weeks, then the story is quite different (as of 1.11.15):
- NBA – 28 teams with accounts, only 7 active (25%).
- NFL – 27 teams with accounts, only 13 active (48%).
- NHL – 29 teams with accounts, only 4 active (13%).
- MLB – 30 teams with accounts, only 11 active (36%).
*From my Athletic Depts report last November, I looked at 78 Depts with accounts and only 29 (37%) were active using the same 4 week posting criteria.
Despite the overall inactivity in the sports team category, here are some that do a good job on Pinterest.
The Warriors are doing the best job of any team when it comes to Pinterest. They have the 3rd most Boards (55), and are the most active with an amazing 10,037 pins. From Board maintenance, to retail promotion, to social integration, to featuring a great variety of interesting content, the Warriors have a well thought-out strategy.
Impressed with overall strategy from the Cards, three recent examples that standout:
- Board dedicated to Oscar Taveras who tragically lost his life recently.
- Great Board idea promoting players and thanking fans.
- Retail targeted Board showcasing daily gift ideas from December 1-20.
Q3a: Any that don’t?
Jeff – There are still quite a few. But I think that will really start to change this year as they see that Pinterest has the consumer that they are trying to reach.
Bob – If we’re talking about Board Maintenance, unfortunately from what I’ve seen I could probably give you examples from every team or close to 95% of them, but four that specifically stand out for the wrong reasons to me include:
NFL — Couple issues with the NFL:
1. It’s hard to tell if the NFL has an official league account or not. I used to cite /NFLOfficial as their account, but don’t believe that to be correct anymore. /NFL doesn’t exist, and since the league does an absolute horrible job of promoting their own social accounts on NFL.com it leads you to believe they are the only major sports league without an account.
2. There is an /OfficialNFLShop account (has only 1,857 followers), but from the first board’s cover image showing guys training, to not including boards for every team, it’s just lacking in overall strategy.
For a league that is spending a lot of time/money trying to market to female fans, why would you not be killing it on a platform that has a 70% female audience and reaches 42% of ALL women online?
College Football Playoff — You have to question why they even activated the account. It’s promoted on their website, but no updates in 16 weeks, no Boards for the four teams, no Partners Board, no Promotions Board, no Game Boards, no retail Boards promoting their own store. Just an overall missed opportunity.
Q4: What are the benefits of a sports entity being on Pinterest? How can they leverage it properly?
Jeff – Traffic hands down. Plus most sports marketing is based in images. If you’re doing any sort of marketing in the sports field, you should already have a library of great images of your sports brand or team. People like looking at sports images. We’ve been trained to like those types of images from various magazines like Sports Illustrated.
Bob – Some of the most obvious benefits include:
- Marketing – Pinterest and Tumblr are the fastest growing social media channels. (Mashable)
- Targeting Female Fans/Customers – 70% channel demo and reach of 42% of all online female users. (Pew Internet)
- Retailing – Number of orders through Pinterest is up 79% from last year, with the average order at close to $60 (Shopify).
- Traffic Driver – Pinterest drives more web traffic than any other social network (Shareaholic).
- Another perhaps not so obvious benefit from Pinterest is using the Secret Boards feature for competitive intelligence. For example, in our business this past year we saw a heightened use of custom graphics throughout social media, so we created six categorized secret boards and have pinned 300+ samples so far that we internally share and review to improve our own offerings.
Q5: Who/what are the best Pinterest accounts that you follow (doesn’t have to be sports-related)?
The great thing about Pinterest is the ability to search any subject you’re interested in. With the recent changes to their search algorithm, it’s easier than ever to find content you’re interested in.
Bob – I’d recommend the following:
- Graphics-Related: Chris Kaiser
- Sports Business-Related: Russell Scibetti
- Pinterest Business-Related: Jeff Sieh
Q6: If a team/league/school/brand or even athlete came to you asking how they can use Pinterest as part of their overall social media strategy, what advice would you give them? Where should they start?
Writer’s note: For Jeff’s answer, I chose this quick video
Bob – Initial starter checklist I would run through with them:
- What are you currently doing on your other social media channels – how do you foresee Pinterest fitting in with your strategy (ie being unique)?
- What are you looking to get out of being on Pinterest – Goals/KPI’s?
- Are you, or is someone that’s part of your team, committed to maintaining the channel?
- Have you done a review of what your competitors are doing on the channel?
- Have you made a draft list of possible Board Topics you want to include?
- Have you done an asset inventory to see whether you have existing content that could be used to populate your Boards?
- In looking through your list of sponsors – are there any that would possibly be a good fit to being involved (Channel sponsorship, Board sponsorship, Board content, marketing/promotions)?
- Do you have a budget for any potential channel advertising (ie Promoted Pins)?
Q7: Top Pinterest tips?
1. Be consistent.
2. Check your links. Make sure that you’re not repining broken links or spam..
3. Pin what you want. Don’t just pin content related to your business. People want to see that you have a life outside of work! (Writer’s suggestion: Jeff’s “Geek” Board)
1. Board Shelf-Life: Try to create Boards that warrant an ongoing shelf-life, ones that lend themselves to built-in content (i.e. frequent pin updates). Example from Danica Patrick’s “Fans” Board below
2. Use Board Descriptions: I’ve noted this in every larger report we’ve done, it’s that important. It’s shocking how many brands, teams, athletic departments, and athletes think that the short Board Title provides enough description/details.
3. Board Organization & Maintenance: Strongly recommend doing a periodic audit of your boards – way too many accounts have outdated boards and pins.
4. Promote & Cross-promote Your Channels: What’s the use in having an account on Pinterest if nobody knows about it? One of the easiest ways is to promote it on your website, and also through your other social media channels. We do studies every year looking at the social media integration on team websites, and far too many don’t promote all of their accounts (especially anything other than Twitter and Facebook).
5. Analytics and Exit Strategy: Pay attention to the analytics offered from Pinterest. Also, if for whatever reason you decide to leave the platform, pull down your outdated boards and just include a Connect Board featuring links to your websites and other social channels. Here’s a great Connect Board example from the Warriors
Q8: Final thoughts on Pinterest in sports?
Jeff – Get on it now. If you don’t, your competitors will. I still believe it’s a ground floor opportunity to get traffic to your site and build brand recognition on Pinterest.
Bob – Pinterest as a business and platform is still evolving, and the true best practices in the sports category are still to be determined in my opinion.
Consider that only 30% of teams in the big four sports leagues that have accounts believe it’s worth it to keep them updated. So either the majority is right and there’s not much benefit to the channel, or there’s a huge opportunity for a team to come in and be a category killer – make your goal to set the standard on how a team should use Pinterest to their benefit.
In closing, it’s important to remember that like any social media channel if you’re not committed, then really you’re just wasting your time – and unfortunately probably the time of your fans/customers too.
My thanks to Bob and Jeff for taking the time to answer my questions. They have provided great insight and thoughts on using Pinterest successfully. Be sure to connect with them below:
- Jeff: Pinterest, YouTube (Manly Pinterest Tips), Twitter
- Bob: Pinterest (UnCommon Thinking), Twitter
FINAL THOUGHTS: Pinterest doesn’t have to be the great unknown for those working in sports social media. Do your research and see if it fits in your strategy. As Pinterest continues to grow and focus on tools for business, it’s proving to be a player in the social media marketing landscape. Connecting with people who understand the platform like Jeff and Bob can go a long way toward success.