Hey! Don’t Sleep on Pinterest

by | Oct 25, 2021 | Airlines, News

First, I am not a social media influencer or guru or anything close to that. I’m more of a lurker. I observe, read, and follow what those who know best suggest. I also love to dive into what airlines and airports do with their social media channels because I’m usually pleasantly surprised.

Here’s a tip I picked up casually when reading a LinkedIn post by the data experts at Black Swan: Don’t sleep on Pinterest!

This social media channel has many advantages for air travel brands (and travel brands in general). It’s aspirational, like Instagram, and it’s also where people go to get inspiration when planning something big. Pinterest is also very good at compiling selections of content that are precision-targeted for the user’s interest.

How accurate are their algorithms? Well, if you think all the trend-setters are over on Insta, think again. As James Myers wrote on the Black Swan blog, Pinterest contracted the company to look into the anatomy of a Pinterest trend to discover how effective they were at identifying trending topics and connecting brands with the right audience for their message. Black Swan was tasked with two primary objectives: to explore the unique nature of Pinterest trends in-market, and to understand better how consumer trends play out and travel on Pinterest compared to the rest of the internet.”

Black Swan used its proprietary data science metric TPV (Trend Prediction Value) to measure Pinterest’s ability to predict future trends.

“Black Swan’s [TPV] predicts which consumer trends will sustain in the future versus fade away with an 89% accuracy – it enables companies to make more accurate decisions about their innovation and marketing strategy,” Myers writes. “Once the matching process was complete, we applied our TPV trend scoring algorithm to the Pinterest data. This gave us a future growth forecast and identified ‘maturity phases’ for every matched Pinterest search query. By analysing these scores versus the same trends in Black Swan’s social datasets, we were able to compare and contrast.”

What they learned was trends on Pinterest take off faster than elsewhere on the internet.

  • Pinterest trends increased about 56% in their first six months – while trends analysed from elsewhere only grew about 38% in that same time.

Pinterest trends also resonate with a longer lifespan.

  • Trends sustain monthly growth more than 20% longer than trends on the rest of the internet. This means brands and creators who feature these trends benefit from content with a longer lifespan.

Pinterest also wrote a post about what they learned from this study, in which they reveal that 80% of the trends in the social media platform’s annual Pinterest Predicts report continued to climb throughout the year.

“We approached Black Swan Data because of their reputation as a global leader in providing next-generation data insights and trend prediction solutions, and they have’t let us down,” says Jenna Landi, Insights, at Pinterest. “Their technology has enabled us to understand how emerging trends manifest, travel and play out on Pinterest compared to other platforms. The impact of their work has gone beyond expectations and will influence our commercial strategy and how we talk to advertising customers in the future.”

Black Swan’s Myers writes: “What excites me about this study, as someone who previously spent c. ten years in advertising, is how the analysis starts to remove subjectivity from the decision-making process. By using data science to spot the patterns and quantify how consumer topics play out across different media platforms, markets and categories, we can help brands take advantage of powerful trends and headwinds.”

Well, reading this got me excited too. I only fiddle around on Pinterest, myself, but I’m not a travel brand. I’m a consumer. I find I’m not consuming as much airline and airport content on Pinterest as I’d like. The possibilities for airlines and airports to connect in more meaningful ways with their target audience is compelling. Right now, a little extra travel inspiration and trip planning guides might help airlines and airports bring people back.

So who isnt sleeping on Pinterest?

Well, through a quick search for airlines, I found that Southwest and KLM are wide awake. These airlines are rocking their boards with attractive pins offering travel inspiration, travel tips, company insights, and even critical COVID-19 travel information. It’s primarily re-purposed content from their blogs and in-flight magazines, which is what Pinterest is about. You don’t have to spend a lot of time scratching your head over what you’ll create for your board; just take what you’ve done and Pin it. Both these airlines make attractive cards for their content. But do your thing.

Southwest Pinterest

KLM Pinterest


Airports seem to be dozing on the platform, but consumers aren’t. A search for airport brings up keywords including “travel outfit”, “travel aesthetic”, and “fashion”, which would just be prime spots for airport retailers to slip into casually. Just a suggestion.

The next level is targeted advertising on the platform. While I searched for airline and airport pins, I didn’t see airline or airport ads, but I did enjoy ads from top cosmetics brands, fashion brands, luxury home goods, and gourmet food brands.

How many potential flyers are out there? According to Statista, as of the second quarter of 2021, Pinterest had 454 million monthly active users (MAU) worldwide, broken down into 91 million MAU in the United States and 363 million internationally.

Activity on Pinterest is also off the charts. Southwest gets over 10 million monthly views on their pins. By comparison, last month, according to Umetric, Southwest got 89,859 likes on their Instagram posts. They have 28.4k followers on Pinterest (compared to 779k on Instagram). Unlike other platforms, Pinterest isn’t about garnering followers. It’s not a place to chat or even to interact. It’s much more about those eyes. It’s about inspiration—getting people to see your content and put a pin in it. Those pins cascade so people who follow people who pin you will also get a glimpse of what you’re offering.

I’ll admit, I’ve practically been in a coma for years on my Flight Chic Pinterest account, and I still get 2.4k monthly views on my (very few) airline and airport related pins. That completely random view of Black Swan’s post on LinkedIn was a wake-up call for me.

Even if you’ve been dozing on it a bit, Black Swan’s data dive suggests it’s time to get Pinterested. Get on would-be travellers boards, then welcome them onboard.