Social media site Pinterest, where members can "pin" photos they like to share with others, has become the third most popular, says Experian Marketing Services, behind only behemoths Facebook and Twitter. And of the 104 million visits the site pulled in last month, a chunk of them were driven by beautiful images posted by wedding professionals.
According to an informal survey from Special Events, 95 percent of wedding professionals say they are Pinterest members. Of these, 29 percent say they use Pinterest solely in their professional lives while 71 percent say they use it in both their personal and professional lives.
A 'LIVING LIBRARY'
For Jess Flood, head of Jess Flood Event Design of Valley Ford, Calif., Pinterest is "a design team's dream platform," she says. (Her Pinterest page: Jess Flood Events.) "For us, Pinterest is a great way to create a 'living library' of images that help us collaborate ideas with our clients and hone in on the look and feel for their event."
"I have found that Pinterest has been a fabulous tool for collaborating with my brides," Pitt says. "I ask them to create boards of items that they not only love, but also ones of things they do not like. It really helps me understand their style and vision when planning their wedding design for them. I have my brides allow me to pin to their boards so that we can keep all our ideas in one space."
CREATE A CONVERSATION
Pitt adds, "I also use Pinterest to locate images for my client’s wedding style plan; it has been a great tool for searching for flower styles and design ideas."
In some respects, Pinterest does a better job of fostering a conversation than do other social media, which can sometimes seem more like mere broadcasting.
Nancy Swiezy of Nancy Swiezy Events (Pinterest: Nancy Swiezy) of New York and Newport, R.I., explains, "When a client says, 'I want a modern wedding,' I used to say, 'Like a Mondrian color block or an Andy Warhol painting? Shabby chic or organic?' But now, they just show me!"
Pinterest seems to be taking over the design-planning role long held by bridal magazines. "The question now comes up in our first [client] meeting," says Melissa Churlonis, event manager with Mary Dann Wedding and Party Coordinators of Manhattan Beach, Calif. (Pinterest: Mary Dann). And that question is, "'Are you on Pinterest?'" she says.
WHO PINS WHAT?
Ninety-four percent of respondents say they both pin their own photos and view the photos pinned by others. Eighty-eight percent of respondents pin both their own work and the work of others.
The question of who pins whose images is controversial.
"Pinterest etiquette is a big topic these days," notes Sarah Pease, founder of New York-based Brilliant Event Planning (Pinterest: Brilliant Event Planning). "Is it rude to always pin your own work, or is it a savvy social media strategy?"
PINTEREST PIQUES CLIENT INTEREST
Eighty-two percent of respondents to the Special Events survey say they have had their own images re-pinned by other Pinterest members. And a healthy 53 percent say that their Pinterest activity has brought new attention to their wedding business.
"It is common to have potential clients look at our website and now our Pinterest boards before picking up the phone or sending an email to inquire for our services," notes Flood.
The crowd of followers for Orlando, Fla.-based Weddings Unique "makes us look like designer-planning rock stars!" says founder Heather Snively, MBC (Pinterest: Weddings Unique). Prospective clients tell her they have seen her work on Pinterest, she adds.
Not only does Pitt find potential clients show her Pinterest boards that already have images from her weddings pinned, but "I am also able to track my website analytics and know that much traffic is generated via Pinterest," she says. "They also have a tool where I can check what images from my site and blog have been pinned and re-pinned."
Pease also keeps on eye on web data. "I track my site analytics and can see an increased number of hits, many of which are coming from Pinterest," she says. "I can't say that I've had a client book that found me exclusively on Pinterest, but it's clear that based on my site analytics that more people are seeing my work thanks to Pinterest."
SHOW IT ALL?
While Pinterest looks like a photo paradise, it has its pitfalls, wedding pros say.
"The one thing I would change about Pinterest is its privacy settings," Pitt says. "Many of my clients are apprehensive to pin all of their wedding ideas, as they are visible to just about anyone. My brides like to keep their wedding design and details under wraps until the wedding day. If boards could be kept private or locked for certain viewers, this would allow for more 'secret collaborating.'"
To keep design plans protected, Pitt uses code names for her boards so as not to give away which client she is pinning things for.
Kasey Skobel-Conyers, the founder of Columbus-based Bliss Wedding and Event Design (Pinterest: Bliss Events), doesn't post images of her own events unless she owns full copyrights for them. Pinterest raised eyebrows when reports came out that its boilerplate at one point said that members not only must own images they pin but also were giving Pinterest the right to make money off any images pinned.
"The photographers who shot the weddings retain the rights [to her weddings]," Skobel-Conyers says. "I have had people take photos at our events and add them to Pinterest on their own. So, I may see them but then I might not."
Note: Last month, Pinterest posted new terms of service, saying it "never" intended to sell content uploaded by users. The site also made it easier for image owners to flag content as their own. The topic has been a hot one with event photographers, whose appealing images of decor and food are ripe for being posted without credit. Read more about the ethics of photo use here.
Although the time required to make the most of social media is daunting, the various channels seem to pay off in their own ways.
As Pitt explains, "Facebook has connected me with friends who have been able to refer me brides. Twitter connects me with industry people and ideas all over the world. Pinterest is great at sourcing ideas and collaborating with brides on wedding ideas."