What Is Pinterest Firehose And What It Means For Brands

Pinterest with over 70 million users has always been on the marketers radar and with the recent news of Pinterest opening up a data Firehose under the name of Business Insights API, let’s try and understand its implications and the kind of opportunities that open up for various marketing initiatives on this social platform.

So what exactly is a Firehose?

The term comes from an analogy between a data stream and the flow of water through a hose used in fighting fire. What it means is that user activity stream on Pinterest would be available to marketers through this Firehose. Now, with the right tools, marketers would be able to continuously access a huge stream of data from this Firehose. This data can then be used to make smart marketing decisions by converting it into relevant insights.

So why do people use Pinterest in the first place?

Pinterest is like a social pin up board, provides a very visual and vibrant platform wherein people use visual assets like photos or infographics for sharing their interests or creating future plans. People can pin up photos or like/comment on other users’ pins, or repin others’ photos on their boards, follow others based on their interests. Riding high on the momentum gained in the year 2013, it has become a platform to reckon with alongside social giants like Twitter and Facebook.
Day in and day out people leave behind a trail of their experiences, desires, needs, emotions, events, plans in the form of photos/images. A lady who loves the new apparel collection on an online fashion portal immediately pins it up to remind herself to buy it on her birthday; she likes the recipe posted and pins it up to use it while cooking later. A man pins the products he loves onto his board; it is very likely that this would lead to purchase when the need arise.

What it means for Marketers?

With such plethora of information, it is imperative for businesses to leverage the platform for various facets from marketing initiatives, product innovation, customer service to lead generation etc. Social data is more accurate and updated compared to most other forms of data. With this new Firehose, marketers can deeply understand market trends, customer behavior, check the efficacy of their/competition’s marketing campaigns as and when they happen. It promises to be a powerful tool for measuring their efforts and gauge if they are on the right track. Fail fast is the new mantra. So detecting failures early is very critical to brands to understand if they need to adapt to the customer needs, ensure good ROI and cut down on costs. However, what exactly is the new Business Insights API going to offer is yet to be seen. The areas which are still not clear are:

  • Whether it be a streaming Firehose (real time streaming data) OR a pull based model (REST based API) is yet to be understood.
  • Whether it would offer a full stream like Twitter of all activities within Pinterest OR only a stream of activity on a particular channel is again not clear.

Assuming that the API will give rich details related to engagement (pins, repins, comments, views, etc.) and user details, let us look at various ways in which the new Business Insights API could possibly be used in –

  • Identifying consumer trends in topics of interest Insights drawn by listening to their target audiences may help marketers identify the hottest trends in the markets
  • The insights can then be used to come up with new/improved products to cater to these trends• Identifying influencers and brand advocates
  • Word of mouth is much more trusted than any form of advertisement, and the growth of Social media has also resulted in a lot influencers coming up. The new Business Insights API may help marketers identify and subsequently connecting with such influencers.
  • Identify users who are frequently interacting with the brand or talking about the brand (or its products/services) and engage with them to create brand advocates out of them

Identify effectiveness of your brand channel vs your competition

  • Measure the overall growth of your channel and benchmark it against your competition
  • Identify areas of improvement as a brand by monitoring metrics like number of pins, repins, unique pinners, re-pinners, views, clicks to website from Pinterest and other parameters

The other use cases where the Firehose may also help include Campaign measurement, lead generation, customer service etc.

Does it have any limitations?

The Firehose is still nascent, and Pinterest has given it to only a limited set of 3rd party service providers, so there are a few concerns around it. But as we get to know the API in detail, we will understand more possibilities where the Business Insight API maybe put to use.

What should the Marketer do?

Marketers should understand the importance of platforms like Pinterest, devise strategies around it and invest early. Building relationships take time; but once built it ensures a long term symbiotic relationship between the brand and its customers.
Over to marketers now!!! It would be interesting to see how marketers exploit this new API from Pinterest and come out with better insights to suit their business needs. As featured in the Experts Speak section on Social Samosa