Yammer Goes to Microsoft, Email Functionality for Pinterest
It became official on Monday; Microsoft Corp. will buy Yammer for $1.2 billion in cash. The move is seen by many as one more validation point that social networking and corporate business really do go together. It’s just a matter of how to make it
profitable. If the latest case is Yammer, then on deck is Pinterest.
Yammer, which offers private “Facebook-style” networks among employees and clients, was founded in 2008. The company has 5 million users, most of which access the product for free. As is typical with the free product structure, a more robust version with advanced features and security options is available for a fee. It’s in the advanced product features that Microsoft believes it can sell to corporate IT departments looking for ways to manage the user-adopted product.
The enterprise social networking market, while still very new, is seen by many as an important place to become a player. Microsoft is now in the game. Why the need to be there? With Facebook freshly planted on Wall Street and LinkedIn and Twitter used heavily in business, corporate adoption of social networking is in full swing. Employees are looking for ways to translate the benefits found in their personal use of social media technology into their business processes.
Richard Edwards, principal analyst at Ovum comments on the big interest in enterprise social networking: “Many employees at the junior (and now senior) end of the workforce live aspects of their personal lives through Facebook and Twitter, so the idea of introducing similar kinds of tools into the workplace seems to make sense from a communication and collaboration point of view. It’s not just Microsoft eyeing-up the opportunities afforded by the Facebook-led social paradigm shift. Established enterprise IT vendors, such as IBM, Oracle, Salesforce.com, and SAP, are all busy bringing social capabilities to the workplace via a variety of ways and means.”
Pinterest is another social media up and comer that has launched from the personal/consumer side and is attracting the attention of businesses. Pinterest is a content sharing service where users can create and share a virtual pinboard. At two-years old and popularity growing rapidly, Pinterest recently realized the need to protect itself from unauthorized uses of third-party images in connection to its site. Last month, Pinterest started an automatic credit program to attribute where content was gathered and to provide direct links to sources. As the site continues to escalate in “pinners”, crediting original content creators will only become more crucial for Pinterest management.
(Unfortunately, another sure sign of mass appeal, acceptance, and potential for any medium is being experienced by Pinterest: spam. This is a sure sign that the site is doing something right to attract members, because spammers always know where to find potential targets. But more on that another day.)
Similar to Facebook “Like Us” campaigns of the past, we will see more and more “Pin Us” campaigns. Late last year, Experian Marketing Services’ CheetahMail developed a new Pinterest feature that allows brands to incorporate “Pin It” functionality within their promotional emails, so that consumers can link products they like to specific pinboards. Email recipients are able to easily share the products featured within the body of the email with friends and followers simply by clicking on the “Pin It” icon.
According to Experian CheetahMail, brands currently sending ‘Pin Us’ campaigns are generating 11 percent higher open rates and 25 percent higher click rates when compared to other mailings from the same brands among Experian CheetahMail clients.
Primarily a business to consumer medium, it is not a stretch to expect Pinterest to go the way of iPhone, Facebook, Twitter and many others into the business to business realm. Not that long ago, marketers were trying to figure out how to make Facebook work for them as a channel. Currently, Pinterest is having the same effect. Early adopters that rely on visual images, like Etsy, Michaels, Martha Stewart, Ballard Designs and Whole Foods are experimenting with the medium.
A specific example is Ballard Designs, which launched a Customer Spring Favorites promotional email to consumers that included six individual products with “Pin It” icons. An Experian CheetahMail client, Ballard Designs saw a 2.8 percent increase in click-to-open rates and more than 15 percent increase in Pinterest followers within the first week of deployment along with a 33 percent increase in pinboard activity. The full Ballard Designs case study can be viewed here [PDF].
As online marketers continue to experiment with Pinterest, it may only be a matter of time before the current demographic (which has been characterized as “young, upper-middle class, and female”) begins to broaden and along with it, the target markets.
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