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Pinterest Case Study: Walmart Goes Green for the Pin!

Penned by Paul Wilson

Last month Walmart launched its first ever Pinterest contest. When they initiated their contest they reached out to us to help promote it on our Pinterest Contest board. Walmart agreed to let us interview them about the contest, and they were quite forthcoming with hard statistics and best practices.

Walmart Goes Green – The Contest Theme

For the contest Walmart wanted to highlight their commitment to being green. They named the contest, “Walmart Green ‘Pin to Win’” and to enter, people curated a board with at least 10 Walmart products that inspire eco-friendly living. There were 5 winners who each received a $500 Walmart gift card.

The contest was part of an ongoing effort to provide an atmosphere of sharing and learning around sustainability. In July Walmart launched a new blog called The Green Room (walmartgreenroom.com), which was used as the backdrop for their Pinterest contest.

On its own The Green Room is a marketing success. In just a few short months the site has received 164,254 unique visitors and 268,807 page views. Almost two-thirds (63%) of this traffic comes from referrals, with Facebook comprising 35% of it. However, once the Pinterest contest kicked off the site’s traffic increased by 25% from the previous week. People coming from Pinterest also stayed around longer on the site. The average visit time jumped up by 170% to 4 minutes and 38 seconds.

Contest Cost & Results

Walmart’s contest generated 100 comments, 413 entries, 700 likes, 1,547 original contest repins, and 1,657 new followers (a 549% increase in followers). With a $500 contest prize their acquisition cost for entries was $1.21, new followers $0.32, and total engagement at $0.01. There are no doubts other significant costs went into this contest, but purely looking at the motivation the contest prize generated this isn’t bad.

Obviously, these numbers are not a fair representation of most Pinterest contests. Large brands like Walmart have a distinct advantage due to their size and established following. It is much easier for this type of company to hit a critical density that can lead to true virality around a social media campaign.

Still, even Walmart had to work hard to see results. According to Leigh McAlister, Walmart’s Media Coordinator, the contest presented challenges, especially since this was their first big pitch and push on Pinterest.

Corporate Walmart only started using Pinterest in April of this year. They had  a mere 300 followers to work with when McAlister and her team began marketing the contest.

How Walmart Promoted their Pinterest Contest

Like anyone running a Pinterest contest, Walmart promoted it in various ways. Once they identified a theme, it’s easier to get support from other communities, in this case with green living advocates.

According to McAlister, “We reached out to bloggers, academia influencers, and advertised on all our digital platforms including Facebook and Twitter. We also felt it was important to have a media partner, so we partnered with Mother Nature Network. MNN is huge on issues of sustainability and has a monthly readership of about 2 million people. Ultimately, with MNN’s support and highlighting the contest on all our digital networks we felt the contest was a success. We truly only expected around 50 entries. So, we are thrilled with the engagement we had.” We did notice they received coverage on Brand Channel as well.

The so-called “Walmart Moms,” was the target demographic for the contest. During the 2008 Obama and McCain presidential elections the Walmart Moms were defined as an influential voting segment and were hotly pursued by both candidates.

Time Magazine summed up what this demographic entailed. “Wal-Mart Moms tend to be younger than women overall (71 percent are between 18-44 years old) and white (67 percent); their household income on average falls heavily into two categories — those who make under $50,000 (46 percent) and those who make between $50,000 and $100,000 (43 percent). Three quarters of them offer support for environmental groups and nearly half (46 percent) describe themselves as moderates.”

Yet, Pinterest is still relatively new and marketing tools that can identify whether a demographic was adequately targeted does not exist. When asked on how Walmart was able to show that the Walmart Moms were reached Brooke Buchanan, Director of Sustainability Communications, stated, “We reviewed every entry—all 1,600 plus. The profile descriptions and pin notes helped us gain insight into those who participated.”

Buchanan further stated, “Walmart has a significant commitment to sustainability. We started our outreach in 2005, but consumers are often unaware of our desires to help people be better stewards of the environment. Our contest opened a dialogue on Pinterest that we hope to continue.”

Our Key Takeaways

From what we’re seeing most Pin to Win contests seem to receive low engagement. Walmart’s contest is on the high end of participation and ROI for Pinterest, which is to be expected with a global brand.

We liked how Walmart just didn’t promote their brand, but focused on telling a story around their commitment to being a green company. We are seeing more and more big brands do green initiatives and campaigns (such as what we posted earlier this month with eBay Green).

We also liked that they reached out to the MNN community. It might have been helpful to find influencers on Pinterest who already pin about a green lifestyle and engage with them.

Last of all, we noticed that even though walmart.com has Pinterest Pin it buttons on all their products, on walmartgreenroom.com there isn’t Pinterest Pin it buttons on any of their content. Their Pinterest sharing buttons should be prominent to encourage pinning and to build followers for the next contest.

Thanks to Walmart for sharing their first steps onto Pinterest with us!

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