If you’ve spent any time online recently – whether glancing at your Facebook wall, scanning a Twitter stream or reading articles on Mashable or even USA Today – chances are good you’ve seen mentions (and mentions and mentions) of Pinterest, the socialized virtual pinboard that has enticed and enraptured millions. About 5 Million users in November 2011 alone according to comScore.com.
Pinterest is an online pinboard that functions as a social bookmarking site. You can “pin” images and videos to “boards” and share them with followers and the online public at-large. The site also offers sharing tools to “repin” another users’ pins to your boards as well as post pin links to Facebook and Twitter. All of these pins link back to the source where you found the online image or product so visitors can learn more about the idea. What does this mean for your business? Massive referral and interlinked web traffic, my social friends. According to Shareaholic, Pinterest drives more online referral traffic than Google Plus, LinkedIn and YouTube combined.
When you first visit Pinterest, you will be greeted with a colorful smorgasbord of images – party planning ideas, festive holiday decorating inspiration, inspirational quotes, hair-coiffing tips, and handy DIYs and how-to’s. But do not write Pinterest off as some ladies-only destination where women discuss recipes, crafts, and fashion.
At its core, Pinterest is about collecting resources and displaying them visually. It is the visual aspect that also makes it a valuable marketing tool for a business. How many times have you been sold on something because of an ad or packaging? Part of what people find so addictive about Pinterest is that it is a constantly-renewing source of eye candy. People immediately relate to images – they instantly agree or disagree or envision themselves doing or making that thing or wish they could possess it. Pinterest allows people to express and display what they want for themselves, often the Better Person they want to be or what they value in sharing online. Create a clever or compelling image and post it to Pinterest and that image can gain instant attention through repins, Likes, and tweets. And considering the site’s exponential growth, that translates a ton of online attention for brands!
However, before putting on your marketer’s cap, keep in mind a primary rule of social engagement: create and post content that is useful for your audience. Think about what information your ideal customer or client might look to you for and provide it via various pin boards. That does not mean that every interaction from your business or brand should be a sales pitch. In fact, Pinterest explicitly advises that you should “try not to use Pinterest purely as a tool for self-promotion.” Online users do not appreciate shameless self-promotion and doing so is the quickest way to have your brand branded as “salesy, smarmy or just plain bad.” Instead, businesses should use Pinterest to “showcase the lifestyle their brand promotes,” as HubSpot suggests in their “How to Use Pinterest for Business” guide.
Pinterest is another way to position you personally or as a brand as an expert resource with access to all the latest trends, techniques and tips. Link up to interesting things your business provides or finds online and your audience will know to come to you when they need inspiration or have questions.
Here are several tips on how to harness Pinterest Power as you develop your brand’s own marketing channel:
- Read the Pin Etiquette guide. It covers important rules like crediting your sources and avoiding self-promotion.
- Complete the Bio section of your profile. This is your first chance to establish your brand and what people can expect from following you. Describe your business, interests and where people can find you online (link to Facebook, Twitter, etc.)
- Create boards of interest to your audience. If you sell house paint, you might create boards to collect ideas for interior decorating, removing crayon or scuffmarks and color theory. If you are in the entertainment business, like AMC Theatres, you could create boards about annual industry events, celebrity fashion and community favorites. Inspirational or humorous quote boards are also very popular – pin sayings that might enlighten or entertain your audience.
- Pin your own content. In addition to useful information from outside resources, be sure to include some of your own content. If you have a helpful blog post, E-book or white paper, pin it to a board in a related category. If your business is mentioned in the press, pin that too, like I have on my Will Gladhart Consulting board.
- Remember it’s visual. If you plan to create some link-worthy content, also plan to create a compelling image for it. You can’t pin something that has no image.
- Follow other users in your niche. Other “pinners” are great resources for inspiring pins, so follow their boards and you will have a constant stream of “repinnable” content. Plus, what they pin gives you insight into their interests and what they find “pin-worthy”.
- Link your Pinterest account to your other social profiles like Twitter and Facebook. This just helps extend your communication and brand reach. When you link other Social accounts, you can choose to automatically broadcast your pins to your Twitter stream and Facebook wall.
- Add a “Pin It” button to your blog/website/catalog. Similar to other social media sharing buttons in the footer of blog posts, a “Pin It” button makes pinning visual content a no-brainer for your site visitors. If you have a product catalog online, encourage visitors to pin products to create a virtual Wish List for birthdays and holidays.
- Watch your stats. Review your referral traffic statistics regularly and make note of what kind of pins seem to entice the most visitors to your site. Then post more of that!
If you are interested in learning more about How to Use Pinterest for Business, there is a new E-book in the WGC website Resources Section. Kudos to the HubSpot team for their helpful guide. This 44-page ebook guides you through an overview of Pinterest, setting up an account and how to use it for marketing. Beyond that, WGC is glad to help you outline a personalized Pinterest strategy that will maximize your marketing reach. Enjoy the pinning, branding and continued online social sharing.
Will Gladhart Consulting, LLC