By Jonathan Allard
Unless you’ve been living in a cave for the past few months, you have probably heard of this social media platform called Pinterest. If you’re a female you have known about this image-capturing site for months, and have probably used some recipe ideas from it. If you’re a guy, you may be confused as to the purpose of this site which you may be hearing about for the first time. Do not worry though, we have put together the top strategies for marketing on Pinterest whether you work for a large company or own your own business.
TechCrunch reports that it got exclusive stats from ComScore showing that Pinterest had 11.7 million unique monthly visitors in January 2012. That’s up from 7.5 million in December…and a scant 418,000 last May. These stats represent the fastest sustainable growth ever for a standalone site.
What is Pinterest?
Pinterest is a platform for user sourced, visual content, grouped into topics. From a broader perspective, it’s a social network that allows users to visually share new interests by ‘pinning’ images or videos to their own or others’ ‘pinboards’ (a collection of ‘pins’ that have a common theme). Pinterest in the visual version of Twitter, as you can hashtag all your photos and create external links within your boards. It is a great way to drive traffic to your site and other social media platforms, through media integration.
Here’s how it works:
1) When someone likes an image on a website they can pin it back to a board they’ve created on the Pinterest site. These boards can be named anything, but fall under categories designated by the Pinterest team, like weddings/events, home décor, travel, etc.
2) Individuals can see pins by people whose boards they are following, or by searching through the most popular pins (most repinned), by category, by search term, or by price. If a user has typed in the price of the object in the comment area it will also appear on the top left corner of the image (this only happens when the dollar sign is typed into the comment area. No other money symbol – like € or £ – makes the price appear on the pin).
3) Every image has a comment area, link, and options to like or repin. Viewers can visit the site that housed the original image by clicking on the image or on the URL in the top right corner of the image.
Maybe this cartoon explains it best, it’s addictive! (source)
So how do I use Pinterest to help grow my business?
1. Use your business email (and Twitter) on account set-up: Once you receive an invitation to sign up for Pinterest (it’s still invite only!) use the same email address you use for your business Twitter profile, then sign-up with Twitter so you can easily share your new pins through your Twitter account. Pinterest doesn’t offer a connection to Facebook business pages, so Twitter it is. Of course, choose your company name as your username then add a company description, logo, and a website link.
2. Be worth following with great visual content: To get started, spend time looking around, this way you’ll get some great ideas and a feel for how the network works.
See this post here on some of the most successful brands who are using Pinterest effectively so far. Get your great, non-promotional content uploaded – see point 2! This way, new followers will have a reason to follow your pins; just as you would populate a brand new blog before you start promoting it. What images, graphics, info graphics do you have or could you easily get together?
3. Promote your brand externally:
- Add the Pinterest follow button to your website and write a blog post to promote it.
- Promote your presence on Pinterest through your other social networks by encouraging your followers/fans on Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, and Twitter to follow your pins!
- Consider a Pinterest contest (see below).
- Start following users you think would want to follow you back.
4. Don’t upset fellow pinners! The site naturally discourages blatant self-promotion. If there is a photo or project you’re proud of, great, just don’t use Pinterest purely as a tool for self-promotion. Think up creative ways to promote your brand on the network – showcase the lifestyle that your brand promotes. If you are in the Swimming Pool Waterfall business, do not just pin photos of how great your waterfalls are, pin photos of the work being done, waterfalls that you find interesting, even things unrelated to swimming pool waterfalls. This will engage a lot more traffic to your site, and create consumer awareness.
5. Become an expert on a topic: Become the go-to Pinterest account for pins about a certain subject or topic relating to your industry. You’ll see this by looking around the network. Some people are really owning certain spaces and you’d have to say there’s an early, possible gold-rush potential within Pinterest at the moment to do just that. I like this graphic designer and their logo love board, it is just simple but a great board. How about a pinboard that showcases life around and in your organisation, whether day-to-day stuff or events, even parties. It’s subtle, basic stuff but every little bit helps.
6. Create a fan Pinboard: You can allow other users to contribute their own pins to your hosted pinboards, so involve fans and customers in your marketing as you would in any other social channel. Dedicate a pinboard to your top fans or customers – ask the customer to pin images that showcase your brand within their lifestyle. Does your product allow the user to look good, be better at something, feel better – get images the illustrate that, think of it as a pictorial testimonial.
7. Learn about your buyer personas: View pinboards of your customers, learn more about who they are and what they’re interested in. Use Pinterest as a tool for understanding the interests and needs of your ideal customers. Then… show your expertise within those areas, be valuable and interesting. Very simple, and very time consuming to do it properly. Yet that’s surely the opportunity.
8. Remember videos: Pins can be videos as well as images – worth remembering! Existing footage you can use, interviews, fun stuff, even videos that you find interesting on the web. Pinterest is all about the visual, so if you can spark an interest through all types of media, you are bound to build your brand.
9. Integrate with other channels: Do you attend or run offline events that your fan base would find interesting to see behind the scenes? How about features around the best photos and video footage – this is good for those not attending and it helps you generate interest and promote the next event you run or will be present at. Consider online integration too – you can use hashtags in Pinterest, if you use them then create a pinboard around it, tag it with a hashtag you’re using on Twitter and Google+ and help integrate Pinterest within the campaign. You can use your Pinterest account to promote a relevant section of your site this way – driving multiple links (traffic) back to your domain around a particular topic, theme or campaign.
10. Measure traffic back to your website: Make sure this is all generating results and proving it’s worth your time and effort. Whenever possible, include links back to your website and landing pages in your pins. Keep track of referral traffic and leads generated from Pinterest to see what resonates and what doesn’t.
Here are a few external references to setting up your Pinterest account:
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