By Lauren Indvik
Pinterest hasn’t just become a significant source of referral traffic for retailers; it’s also becoming a top traffic driver for women’s lifestyle, home decor and cooking magazines, some of which are seeing bigger referral numbers from the image-collecting service than from major portals like Facebook and Yahoo.
Beginning this summer, Pinterest became the top social referrer for marthastewartweddings.com and marthastewart.com, sending more traffic to both properties than Facebook and Twitter combined. Pinterest is on track to become the second highest traffic driver (after Google) to Cooking Light‘s website, up 6,000% from just six months ago. The social bookmarking site already drives 10 times the amount of traffic to Cooking Light compared to Facebook.
Elsewhere, Pinterest is the fourth largest source of traffic for Country Living, up 150% from August to the end of January, and accounts for 3% of all referrals. It was the ninth largest traffic source for both Elle Decor and House Beautiful last month, both of which have seen triple-digit percentage increases in referrals over the last six months, and was among the top 10 referral sites for Self magazine.
In most cases, the traffic began organically. Style, home decor, weddings and food are among the most popular pinning categories among the site’s more than 10 million registered users, the majority of whom are women. Pinterest users turned to the websites of lifestyle magazines early on for material, and many publishers moved quickly to harness Pinterest’s potential as a traffic driver by creating their own branded accounts.
Instead of assigning the account to a community or social media manager, Country Living has divvied up its boards among editors. The crafts editor, for instance, posts to the crafts board; the photo editor posts to a board of inspiring images; and three market editors manage the shopping, style, and Etsy boards. An editors’ faves board contains repins from staffers’ personal boards. Much of the content is derived from Country Living‘s own evergreen and season-specific material, but content is also pinned and repinned from favorite bloggers, designers, stylemakers and photographers, Allison Mezzafonte, director of Hearst Digital Media’s Shelter Network, tells us.
“Creating Pinterest pages [for our magazines] allows us to share what we see around the web, and not just our own content. [Our audience] wants to know what we see, what we like, and what’s inspiring us beyond the beautiful images seen in the pages of our magazines,” Mezzafonte explains.
To build awareness of Country Living‘s Pinterest presence, the magazine also cross-posts some of its pins to Facebook and Twitter. Mezzafonte also monitors Country Living’s source page to track, Like and comment on what is being pinned from the site. “I think it makes [users] happy to know that we’re paying attention to what they’re pinning and what they like,” Mezzafonte says. “It’s also a very visual way for me, as the web editor, to see what people are looking at on our site… [To see] the images, projects and recipes that resonate most with our readers.”
It’s not just legacy print publications that are reaping the Pinterest boom, however. Pinterest recently passed Yahoo to become the number-four referral source to MyRecipes.com, accounting for roughly 6% of traffic in January. Referrals are up 246% from October, and up a whopping 2500% from July. A spokesperson for the MyRecipes.com noted that the site has its own frequently updated brand pages, but that the majority of the traffic is coming from users who pin recipes directly from the sites, and from the viral activity that happens organically on Pinterest.
In some cases, publishers are also adding pin buttons to their sites, reminding readers to save their content to Pinterest. Martha Stewart Weddings recently added a pin button to its social toolbar, in between the Facebook Like and Google +1 buttons.
While publishers and retailers are both reaping the rewards of traffic increases, it’s still not clear whether they’ll be able to monetize that traffic further. Can magazines turn Pinterest referrals into subscribers? Can retailers turn Pinterest users into customers? The platform certainly has the potential to do both, meaning that the network could become even more central to their marketing efforts than it is at present.
Lauren Indvik is the associate editor of marketing and media for Mashable, where she covers digital marketing news, the fashion industry and the evolving media landscape from Mashable’s New York headquarters. Lauren joined Mashable in March 2010 as assistant editor.