A boutique agency moves its website to Pinterest

Agencies should be innovative in using social media for new business.

Cyclonix, Inc., a design boutique agency, has moved their website to Pinterest. The site is a work in progress, but give them credit for exploring and experimenting while most agencies are still sitting for the bench waiting on others to do the innovating.

Cyclonix turned to Pinterest because of the site’s visual nature. “With its intuitive design and graphic appeal, Pinterest emerged as an ideal platform for our relaunch,” says Peter Gallagher, chief creative officer. Site users are invited to explore recent projects, follow company news and “repin” content they deem inspiring.”

I had the pleasure to conduct an interview with Emily Papp, visual strategist for Cyclonix, who came up with this idea. She was hired only 3 months ago as the person primarily responsible for refreshing the Cyclonix brand and finding new ways to elevate its presence on and offline. The agency has grown from an ‘exhibit house’ into a boutique design firm, with a current staff of twenty-one, over a short six-year period.

Emily was exploring a number of social media platforms to better showcase her agency rather than an extensive revision of their existing website. While still a college student, she had become very knowledgeable of BooneOakley’s use of YouTube as the agency’s website. This small agency, based in Charlotte, NC, has received over 2 million views of their unique video website.

Not really finding what she was looking for from platforms, Emily soon discovered Holler, a digital agency in Sydney Australia. Holler was perhaps the first agency to use Pinterest as its website. She knew being among the first to use Pinterest in this way could be disruptive enough to create a lot of attention and excitement.

Only two days after the launch of their new site, it is already receiving some great buzz and doing exactly what Peter and Emily intended for it to do.

Emily would be the first to admit there are some risks and drawbacks for using Pinterest. She states,

“One of the biggest challenges we’re aiming to address is how to best convey our creative process as it relates to strategic development, project management and graphic design.

By moving our site to Pinterest, we’re faced with the challenge of visually communicating our strategic process – how we think, what tools we use, how we bring ideas from concept to execution (2D, 3D, graphic, tactile or otherwise).”

Here are some of the additional drawbacks they’ve experienced:

  • Not being fully customizable
  • Being co-branded with Pinterest
  • Limits to linking to outside sources
  • Occasional issues with Pinterest’s servers
  • Not knowing how Pinterest will evolve down the road
  • The mobile platform is lacking both visually and functionally
  • Not having traditional SEO opportunities

These issues didn’t deter their decision to jump on the Pinterest bandwagon. The agency is already planning additions to their site with a team board that provides photos and insights on their staff. They also plan to showcase more on their workboard and visually tell the story behind their creative campaigns.

“Building our website on Pinterest has helped streamline our web presence and ensure that future updates are simple and cost-effective,” says Marty McGreevy, president. With Pinterest, Cyclonix can share content quickly and easily— its site can evolve as the company evolves.”

Here are some other advantages for using Pinterest:

  • Pinterest presents unique opportunities for content-sharing that a static website fails to provide
  • Creatively combat some of the challenges that Pinterest presents
  • Allows more creativity to have potential clients to visit the site more often and stay onsite longer
  • A better way to feature client testimonials and recommendations
  • Visually tell your client’s story and help promote their business
  • Easily update the agency’s portfolio of work
  • The ability to easily create a group board for collaboration
  • Present a memorable visual history of the agency
  • Share resources with your audience
  • Boards for conferences and other events of interest to your audience
  • Promote white paper sand other collateral materials
  • Post videos projects
  • Create a behind the scenes board for the agency and agency projects
  • Share presentations by creating a Slideshare Pinterest board

Check out Cyclonix’s Pinterest page. Also follow them on Twitter and Facebook to keep abreast of their progress.

What’s your opinion? Was this a good or a bad move for Cyclonix?

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About Michael Gass

Consultant | Trainer | Author | Speaker

Since 2007, he has been pioneering the use of social media, inbound and content marketing strategies specifically for agency new business.

He is the founder of Fuel Lines Business Development, LLC, a firm which provides business development training and consulting services to advertising, digital, media and PR agencies.

Comments

  1. Very cool… I love the innovative thinking with the agency.

  2. I like the idea of having a practical/informative presence on Pinterest, but I’m not totally on board with the idea of totally ditching a traditional website.

    It seems a bit unprofessional, like using Tumblr to run a website. Also, you not only lose the ability to design your own website, you also lose CONTROL of your website to another entity (Pinterest). What if Pinterest suddenly decides to change up the interface? What if Pinterest goes down?

    It’s an interesting idea, but a bit impractical in my opinion.

  3. Nice to see an agency taking risks with its own marcoms. Good way to convey to prospects that they’ll do the same with with them. But I agree with what others have said, plus the lack of SEO control is definitely a major negative.

  4. Nice idea. One the other benefits of using existing platforms as your “home on the web” is you can leverage their development work across platforms (forget about worrying about mobile).

    But moves like that always make alarm bells ring in my ears:

    Somebody said: “If you don’t pay for the product, you are the product”. This is very true. With your own website you have full control.

    And what happens if Pinterest as a company suddenly goes belly up? Or if it is bought by a less favourable digital giant who may either change the terms of the deal, or discontinue Pinterest in favour of integrating the technology in their own platform? The current Facebook/Instagram uncertainty springs to mind.

    you are effectively putting your professional profile/life in the hands of a company who, as a company, have their own interest in mind. Just look at the recent back and forth with Pinterest’s less than user-favourable terms and conditions. (Reference. http://ow.ly/9tO8v)

    Shame having printed stationary with a domain name which could suddenly be gone from one day to the next, not to mention SEO as Stef said.

  5. Reminiscent of the bold move Modernista! pulled in 2008 when its site became an overlay of YouTube, Facebook, Flickr and Wikipedia. They won a Webby for it in 2009, but closed down completely in 2011. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Modernista!

    One assumes that Cyclonix has a Plan B in case the agency needs to redirect its domain name away from Pinterest at some point in the future.

    Although they can optimize the individual pins on Pinterest for SEO, they are definitely losing any future inbound link juice to their main domain by having all of their content live on pinterest.com.

    Would love to see a follow-up case study in 3 to 6 months.

  6. It’s called “digital sharecropping” and it’s foolish.
    Own your content. Use tools to benefit your business- but, always control and own your content.
    This is an epic mistake- for many reasons- nevermind the fact that it’s not ADA accessible or valid for Google.
    I love how an agency is willing to trust their brand to someone who has been there 3 months. If I was a client, I wouldn’t want the newbie taking over my account.
    But- if it works for them- great.

  7. Why am I yawning? Maybe its because this seems so obvious and ‘so what?’ Do prospects really care? OK< maybe Suzie who pins cat pictures. This industry HAS to be deeper than lauding the use of Pinterest.

  8. I appreciate the feedback on our new website. There would be no point to experiments like this if we couldn’t engage in an insightful dialogue about process + results. A few thoughts from the “newbie” who spearheaded our move to Pinterest:

    Yes, we’re turning our backs on some traditional SEO methods. Yes, we’re forgoing complete customization. Yes, we’re moving a lot of our metaphorical eggs into Pinterest’s basket. But we’re not turning a blind eye.

    Though curating content on a third-party platform is both risky and experimental, these are all issues we were aware of when we made the decision to move our website to Pinterest. Our old website needed a dramatic facelift, and we opted for an unusual solution that is both cost-effective and easily maintained. We understand the challenges we’re faced with, but we’ve decided that the potential opportunities we’ve gained outweigh the potential risks.

    We can’t predict how Pinterest might evolve over time, but we’re excited to be along for the ride.

  9. Michael Gass says:

    While I wouldn’t have supported dropping the agency’s website for Pinterest, I think that this platform offers a lot of benefits for agencies. I don’t think we’ve seen a lot of creative uses as of it by those who are suppose to be “cutting edge and outside the box” thinkers. Cyclonix is achieving its objectives and for that I applaud them I also appreciate that they are willing to experiment and test its limitations and discover new ways to utilize it.

  10. I’m always amazed at how marketers and agency people see their self importance online and in real life. As someone who works in advertising I think we need to remind ourselve that we are not, REPEAT NOT, working for cure for cancer. We are salespeople! If the shift to Pinterest works – terrific, if not tough shit. That’s life, so let’s get real and give things a go and stop acting like a typical marketing director who’s scared shitless of what may or may not happen to his or her brand today or in the future. Have a Pinteresting day everyone, cheers Charles.

  11. Good to see other agencies moving onto Social Media alone. We did the same a year ago, killing off our old website and using a Facebook page as our new ‘website’. It makes perfect sense, especially if you’re an agency working in the social space.

  12. Thanks for sharing Mark.

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