A Pinterest Purpose Guide to Recruiting & Employer Brand: Part 1

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There’s been a lot of opining lately from the blogsphere about why fellow HR/Recruiting pros should play with Pinterest.  It appears as though Pinterest has become the new(ish) Social Media Business Darling – and perhaps with good reason:  as a platform its membership tripled over a three month period earlier this year and currently Pinterest proudly proclaims a population of 20MM members. Pardon the pun, but if you subscribe to the logic that you should go to where the people are when it comes to business marketing/recruiting, then that’s a pretty pinteresting statistic.

Yes, Pinterest’s popularity is without refute – but just because it’s cool, doesn’t mean we need to rush to implement it into our recruiting strategy or  digital strategy… does it?  The answer is “It Depends… What’s your proposed purpose for Pinterest with your people?”

Pinterest’s Higher Calling:  Driving Traffic or Sales?

To-date reasons “thought leaders” and social marketers have thrown out as a reason to partake have been things like “it’s popular,” “its visually pleasing” (no big surprise since it has a fantastic, simple UX/UI), “its viral.”  And it is all of those things… and more.  In October 2012’s edition of Fast Company, writer Max Chafkin explains that Pinterest’s free service represents “maybe the greatest selling engine ever devised.

And with that one simple sentence fragment, HR arrives at Pinterest’s Purpose.

It’s not to “attract,” or “recruit,” “communicate messaging,” nor “reinforce culture” – although it may ultimately do all of those things.  Pinterest’s higher calling is to act as a sales/mar-com engine.  It’s purpose for many serves as a a referral and traffic driving service.

But wait a minute,” I can practically hear HR pros & business executives reading this from all over the world grumbling, “Human Resources does NOT sell.”  But, the reality is that they do…. practically daily, with both internal and external stakeholders.  Marketing isn’t something that’s just relegated to that department, any more than communication is to PR, or the responsibility for fostering culture is contained within the walls of HR.   Our workforce has evolved to a point where many of our business functions are connected:  most especially our marketing and our people.

Recruiting  & Employer Branding on Pinterest

Our employees are really internal consumers & whether we like it or not, they all are “brand ambassadors” to external consumers/stakeholders.  And much of a high level recruiting strategy focuses around workforce marketing which is the next generation of employer brand.  Aligning the messaging between a company and its people is of critical import to brand amplification… and Pinterest and similar “pin-style” content boards, when properly positioned can be a huge help with that evolved initiative.

Positioning Pinterest

While our workforce marketing may be connected, there are still some things that are not.  HR should certainly work in tandem with marketing to ensure a cohesive experience between the consumer product/service board & the employer board(s).. but make no mistake – they should not be the same.  There are three basic elemental reasons for this:

  • Audience/Relationship
  • Strategy
  • Community

Audience/Relationship – a big part of what makes Pinterest the toast of the digital marketing world is it is highly viral nature.  What causes it to “go viral” is the similar between “like-minded” individuals – the relationship the Company has with the end-users are the same; so it stands to reason similar content would be of interest.

As Max Chafkin so poignantly penned in his article, “To create a pinboard is to say to the world, ‘Here are the beautiful things that make me who I am… or who I want to be.’”  Of course, there are different facets of “who I want to be”  and that should be planned for accordingly. I don’t present myself as “Mom” to my co-workers, nor “Digital Strategist” to my children – the audience is different, the needs are different, so too must be my presentation/content shares in order to build successful conversations & relationships.

Action Step:  At a minimum, create different pinboards for consumer product/services, career opportunities, and “life at your company” to play to the different audiences that you want to target.  Invite current employees to share and/or comment onto career opportunities/life at your company boards, but keep in mind that the content that’s going to keep their continued interest will have a slightly different slant – positioning culture events, learning & advancement opportunities, relevant news/blog articles, and company photos will likely have more play with this group.

Recruiting on Pinterest and building an employer brand is not a quick fix.  Recruiting on any platform including Pinterest takes time, strategy, and effort.

In the next installment, we’ll look at pinning down the proper strategy & the ultimate community that can come as a result of alignment in your workforce marketing with Pinterest.  Stay tuned!

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  1. Thanks for explaining the mystery behind Pinterest and how it can be utilized for employees and employers. It seems to be a good conversation starter and helps to explain who you are in a quick, visual way.

    • Thanks Julie; it is a good conversation starter & it definitely can be informative, to be sure… but the biggest play is the purpose behind it’s creation: It’s a Sales Vehicle. When we use it purely for communicating information, we’re missing part of the psychology that makes it a success – but it’s what a lot of us (including myself, from time to time) tend to gravitate towards because it’s easy and it’s the part we most closely relate to. HR = Share Info. PR = Share Info. Recruiting = Share Info/Get out there & Start Convos

      Marketing shares info, too; but with the intent of conversion into [fill in the result here, based on department & objective]. HR Marketing tends to focus on culture communication, employment branding/recruitment marketing. Traditional marketing, on the product/service side, focuses on eliciting specific response & action from the target consumer – and that’s positioning that seems to be lost in many of the HR/Recruiting-based Pinterest boards I see. It’s purely an information play, lacking sales response strategy… so, we’re going to cover that in part 2! 🙂

      Crystal Miller |
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