Tracking the "Look" of Energy on Pinterest

Reposted from i.e., the Center for Energy and Environment's Innovation Exchange blog -- http://mncee.org/Innovation-Exchange/ie/

The current wealth of social media activity offers a great insight into how the public conversation is trending on energy topics. As of February 2012, Facebook has over 845 million active members and Twitter hosts over 500 million registered accounts.Pinterest is an interesting addition to the social media playground, because users build their profiles with videos and images, not text. 10.4 million users have joined Pinterest since its launch in 2010.

Pinterest is an excellent way to visually catalog online finds. Most activity relates to home design, fashion, gifts, and craft projects. This link to home design and maintenance creates an opportunity for residential energy. After a preliminary exploration of how Pinterest users approach energy efficiency on the site, we’ve identified some interesting trends.

For starters, the vast majority of Pinterest users are female. Adplanner reports:

The gender breakdown is particularly notable when compared to other social media: Facebook and Twitter are 59 percent and 62 percent female, respectively. 

Experience from our residential program has demonstrated that to achieve home energy savings, we must engage the household decision-maker. Helen Booth-Tobin, CES Program Coordinator, reports that our informational workshops are primarily attended by women or couples. This observation supports a Pew studyon household decision-making that found that 43% of household decisions were made by the woman of the house, 26% are made by the man, and 31% of the decisions are equally divided between the couple. According to the Marketing to Women Conference, “women account for 85% of all consumer purchases.” Clearly, Pinterest has potential to reach a key target audience for implementing home energy retrofits.

Searching Pinterest for “energy” yields several boards, but few have a well-developed collection of pins, and several were created by suppliers or companies. Boards managed by organizations have fewer followers or repins than boards by individual users. Less than 25 percent of the pins and boards we found when searching "energy" relate to energy efficiency or renewable energy; most focus on diet, exercise, and "wellness". The most popular energy-related pins are infographics, solar panels, wind generators, and energy efficient appliances. A search for “energy efficient" or "energy efficiency" turns up home improvement, home decor, and light bulbs. We noticed that other energy and environmental groups feature books to read, home and garden tips, gadgets and technologies, and many infographics. 

On CEE’s Pinterest site we maintain boards in the following categories:

Net Zero Energy Homes    Architecture
Home Energy Remodeling Ideas    Home Decor
Energy Saving Devices    Products
Useful Energy iPhone Apps    Technology
Hybrid and Electric Vehicles    Cars & Motorcycles
Home Maintenance and Operation    Other

Currently, these boards have between 240 and 270 followers. For the Home Maintenance board, we learned that placing the board in the correct category is one key to attracting followers. When we originally categorized this new board as “DIY & Crafts,” it did not attract any followers. We moved the board to “Other” and then finally "Architecture" and now the board has as many followers as our other boards.

Another strategy is to search out popular areas of interest that show numerous pins. Even though we do not do work in energy efficient vehicles, we noticed that there was quite a bit of attention on Pinterest in cars. We thought that creating our hybrid and electric vehicle board might get followers to also view our home energy boards. As it turns out, our automobile board draws a number of likes and repins daily.

To keep our boards lively and spread our content, we allow multiple contributors (like Bernice Radle at Buffalo Energy). These other users may pin onto our boards, and the boards also appear on their profiles, increasing our exposure to their followers. Let us know if you are on Pinterest so we can follow you. If you have other ideas on reaching others or would like to collaborate, drop us a line.

The infographics herehere, and here offer more information about Pinterest from a marketing perspective.

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Tags: Pinterest, media, social

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