A few years ago I was sitting with an old friend, chatting away an afternoon when she asked if I would mind if she worked on her “Inspiration Board” while we chatted. For the next hour or so, we talked and sipped tea while she cut through fashion magazines the size of phonebooks searching for inspiring images. Each photo got tacked on an unfortunate looking corkboard, crisscrossed with ribbons and the words “Inspiration board” neatly written across the top.

Fast forward to 2011, where a friend was telling me about this site called Pinterest that sounded strangely like the corkboard debauchery a few years back.Turns out, Pinterest is an online stream-of-consciousness visual repository for the images that define your style, the objects that you covet, the art you love, and the wedding you wish you had. What's more, it’s a social media platform for sharing these inspirations with love interests, friends, family (and other people you resent.) 

With an elegant design, elements of scrapbooking, social shopping, recipe sharing and infinite collaboration, it is simple to see why Pinterest has taken off with its 10 million users, 97 percent of whom are women. Add to that some shocking numbers about Pinterest driving more referral traffic than YouTube, Google+ and LinkedIn combined, and you start to see a full-on Internet sensation taking shape.

The numbers are impressive, but can marketers turn Pinterest’s inspirational platform into a long-play branding vehicle? More importantly, with the incredible amount of time and effort it takes to maintain an effective online presence, does it make sense to add Pinterest to your venue’s mix of social media platforms?

If I tell you “yes,” it’s not because I think the rise and fall of great venues will not come at the hands of the digital pinboard. Pinterest is not the next Facebook and you don't need to buy “Pinterest for Dummies” or hire a Pinterest guru for a hundred bucks an hour.

There is a difference, of course, between what you need to do and what you should be doing. You NEED a social media presence. You SHOULD be developing that social media presence through the content created at your venue. It’s the same content you’ve been pushing out on social media sites, but now with new tools for editing, tracking reposts and filtering images. Those display tools should be complementary to your brand, shareable, attractive and contextualized within the confines of your company culture. To that end, Pinterest is a beautiful tool with a highly organized visual presentation, perfect for content and connotative branding.

My business partner, Nic Adler of The Roxy Theater in Los Angeles, is a savvy social media user and a self-avowed Pinterest fiend. He’s identified three primary uses for Pinterest within the context of a venue's social media presence which he’s implemented at his 500-cap club in West Hollywood — and the number one venue on VT’s Social Media Power 100.

Screen shot of the Pinterest page for The Roxy

First, he sees Pinterest as a display tool. Smart phone cameras are capturing increasingly sharper images, and apps like Instagram give photos a distinctly artistic feel. Any Venue can call on its loyal fan base to submit their favorite images from an event, upload an archive, and curate it all within an easily shareable space.

Is the newly reunited New Edition playing at your venue? Chances are that a New Edition Pinterest Board may just launch you to some extra ticket sales. Posting a show flier within a board or show info and purchase links within the photo, may make the endeavor worthwhile.

There’s also an opportunity for connotative branding. If your amphitheater is in Atlanta, you may be able to pique the interest of his local audience with a Georgia Pinterest board. Have legends performed at your space in the past? Their images are fair game and an easy way to get people reminiscing about the best show they went to last week (without remembering the $80 they spent at the bar).

Finally, Pinterest is an internal repository for content to be used in future marketing campaigns. By activating your entire staff on specific Pinterest boards you can collect images and push them to your more diverse, active and relevant platforms while at the same time investing in a new platform that may yield bigger results in the future.

In the meantime, encourage your social media managers to experiment with Pinterest and create a few visual pinboards for your venue. Whether it’s live rock star shots or Instagram-ified backstage swag, your bad-ass images will stand out in Pinterest’s sea of cutesy photos. And maybe you’ll get a few ideas from the site’s 10 million female users. Could a ladies’ night be in your venue’s future?

Alf Lamont is the director of Comedy at Adler Integrated and previously served as the director of Marketing for the Comedy Store in West Hollywood, Calif. He currently lives in Los Angeles.

Click here to see Alf Lamont’s Vintage Pinboard on Pinterest

And click here to see Venues Today Managing Editor Dave Brook's retro-style Pinboard of images from our March issue.