When it comes to social media, the same big-name players tend to come to mind. But other, oft-overlooked platforms, such as Pinterest, can be just as valuable, if not more so. Meeting planners, in particular, stand to benefit from using Pinterest to help with event organization, venue inspiration and even sustainability offerings.
Pinterest, which describes itself as a "visual discovery platform," is nearing its 10-year anniversary. Co-founder and CEO Ben Silbermann quit his job at Google in 2008 to begin working on his own startup, according to Entrepreneur Magazine. After a failed attempt to create a shopping app called Tote, Silbermann successfully launched Pinterest in 2010 with the help of co-founders Evan Sharp and Paul Sciarra.
Today, the platform reports more than 300 million active monthly users and has been growing at a rapid pace over the past few years. According to Hootsuite, there has been a 75 percent increase in the number of "pins" since 2017 and Pinterest users are twice as likely to say their time is well spent, compared with other social media sites.
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Pinterest is primarily used as an inspiration and shopping tool. Users can save visuals they find by pinning them, create vision boards to organize their pins and follow boards from other users. Hootsuite reports that 90 percent of Pinterest's weekly users make purchase decisions from the platform. Social connections are encouraged via likes and comments.
Some planners, such as Andrea Peterson, president of ASAP Meetings & Events, have been tuned into the benefits of using Pinterest from the beginning. In fact, she was a beta user for the platform and has been mining it for ideas since its inception.
Peterson cites the platform as a useful resource for her strategic event-planning business. She also uses Pinterest in an undergraduate event catering-strategy course she teaches at the Metropolitan State University of Denver, and says she hopes to instill an appreciation for Pinterest in the next generation of meeting professionals. In fact, new students in the class are required to join the social media site.
Below are a few ways event coordinators can leverage Pinterest to streamline the planning process and improve their events.
From coordinating menus and decor to managing suppliers and venues, planners have a lot on their plates. Pinterest can help keep everything organized, especially when you're managing multiple events at a time.
Meeting planners can create a different board for each aspect of an event. For example, one board could be dedicated solely to food-and-beverage inspiration, while others could focus on lighting design and event swag.
Another option is to create a unique board for each event. Pinterest rolled out a feature in 2017 that lets users add subsets to their boards. Event coordinators who want to create specific boards for each event can then add specific subsets to give each meeting its own space.
Lauren Grech, CEO of LLG Agency, an event-consulting and wedding-planning company, has been on Pinterest for five years and uses the platform throughout the planning process.
"Each of our LLG Events clients has a private, individual Pinterest board, where we separate the different elements of an event so we can find inspiration for each," says Grech. "Once the client's event is over, we open up the board for everyone to view it, and we showcase how we completed the event from concept to execution based on our client's original inspiration."
Ideas Are Everywhere
Pinterest is a prime platform for planners in need of a little inspiration. Peterson follows her local MPI Rocky Mountain Chapter, as well as the event-software company Social Tables, which offers boards on event-planning hacks, the latest industry news, tips for venues and more. For catering inspiration, Peterson looks to the boards of Catersource and Occasions Catering.
"Pinterest is a refined Google search. So many people have collected these ideas and done the legwork for you," says Peterson. "From a creativity and ideas standpoint, it's a goldmine."
Other boards to consider following include Meetings & Conventions, Successful Meetings, Event Technology, Corporate Event Venues, Healthy Event Food and Event Lighting Design.
Planners can even follow boards outside of the events industry for fresh inspiration. This is a tactic used by Grech, who checks Pinterest every other day.
"I don't follow other events-related Pinterest boards, as I need to make my own trends and concepts," says Grech, who instead follows brands such as Vogue Magazine, Swarovski and the Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts. "When you're in the luxury sphere, clients often want concepts and ideas that haven't been seen or done before. Therefore, it's helpful to source your inspiration outside of the event world completely, in order to get your thinking to be really outside the box."
Creating a Clear Vision for the Client
Lining up expectations with reality can be tricky business for event coordinators, but Pinterest can help bridge the gap. As a visual platform, Pinterest enables planners to show colors and other ideas with clients to make sure they agree on every last detail.
"My clients can use Pinterest to show me visually what they like and dislike, or ideas that they were thinking of and then I can use that to my advantage," says Peterson. "It works the other way, too. I can set up a board for a particular event and tell the client to please take a look and tell me what they think. As a business tool, it's great for vetting everything that you're thinking of for the event."
Sustainability is a hot topic in the meetings industry, with planners constantly on the prowl for more ways to cut their events' carbon footprint. A simple search on Pinterest turns up tons of ideas for eco-friendly events, including ways to eliminate food waste and how to offer more sustainable swag. A few boards to follow include Pinspired - Eco Friendly Events, Sustainable Event Design and Sustainable Event Management Ideas.
"Our industry is generally very wasteful," says Peterson. "On Pinterest, you can find ways to reuse what you already have."
Pinterest might not be the first social media platform planners turn to in times of need, but there are plenty of tips and ideas to be found amongst its nearly 200 billion pins. Experienced users, however, caution meeting planners to peruse the platform with a critical eye. You don’t want to overpromise in your event boards, or select a vendor who can’t fully deliver.
"While you want to showcase the best images and content that will attract new consumers and potential business, only showcase what you're capable of," says Grech. "You'd be surprised by the amount of 'rescue weddings' we've had to do because a vendor could not properly execute what their social media platform promised.”
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