This is not another post about how to promote via Pinterest. Nor is it a list, how-to or secret revealing, link-bait article which is deep on hype and light on substance.
I am not going to tell you how Pinterest can save, stimulate or solve your social media marketing strategy.
Nor we will recount the reports of referral traffic, copyright controversies and general love for the new social marketing panacea.
Disappointing, I know.
But I am going to tell you why Pinterest has the potential to be the most important social strategy component for destination marketers.
Aspirations and Inspirations
At its core, Pinterest is a bookmarking site. Albeit a very visually appealing and addictive bookmarking site. But the average user of Pinterest is not simply bookmarking common links, funny videos and reminders.
While previous digital memory-enhancing sites did a nice job of helping us remember, Pinterest is helping us plan.
Interactions on Pinterest are not a reflection of what our lives are like, but rather what we want our lives to be like.
Aspirations and inspirations, if you will.
And this is a critical point of understanding Pinterest. Users are not sharing images of their current life, travels or memories (a la Flickr), but rather hopes, dreams and plans for the future.
Entering the Funnel
For destination marketers there is a key moment of influence during the travel planning process. That singular moment when a destination goes from subconscious awareness to bucket-list focus.
Once that decision has been made, the DMO’s influence and impact is greatly reduced. Sure, they can supplement, assist and inform, but the travel decision - the top of the funnel moment - has been made.
Ideally, due to influence from the destination, but more likely due to a combination of random factors that contribute to the decision.
Watching a movie about Paris, eating at an Italian restaurant or listening to Uncle Alex talk about how wonderful Bilbao is during this time of year.
As much as destination marketers would like to believe that tourism advertising is the deciding factor for selecting a holiday or vacation location, we know this is rarely the case.
But what if that elusive moment was made more apparent by Pinterest?
Plans and Pins
The power of Pinterest is not its obvious, yet unproven ability to drive traffic and (perhaps) sales, but rather the window it opens into the travel aspirations of the consumer.
By telling the world where they want to go, rather than where they have been, travelers on Pinterest are sharing rare insights into their demographic and psychographic preferences.
And if given a choice, the majority of destination marketers would rather influence the traveling consumer prior to the destination selection, instead of after.
Pinterest could provide that opportunity.
This is why Pinterest should pique the interest of destination marketers everywhere. Unlike Facebook and Twitter, the content on Pinterest is not reflective of the current moment, but rather our future.
It is a chance to steer the visitor toward our destination before the decision has been made - an opportunity to influence at the very top of the travel planning funnel. The ideal window for destinations to attract a new set of dreamers.
Will it be easy to accomplish? No, certainly not.
But unlike the current group of social sites, where participation often seems forced rather than authentic, Pinterest presents a unique moment for destination marketers.
The moment when a destination moves from passive to possible... all via a pin.
NB: Google Travel, Facebook, Apple and … Pinterest?