We all know the virtues of Facebook and Twitter, and most companies are aware of the value of these social media channels. Over the last few years Pinterest has gained popularity, not just as a way to show personal interests and “likes” online, but to generate interest for companies big and small. For businesses, Pinterest can showcase the features and benefits of their products, plus photos and ideas from end users to a wider yet more targeted audience.
While Facebook focuses on forming social connections, Pinterest focuses on gaining followers, organizing ideas and topics, and getting pictures repinned on other users’ boards. A customer cannot purchase products from Pinterest, but they can follow links back to the original source and find your site – where they can be converted to customers.
According to Hubspot.com, unique visitors to Pinterest.com increased by 155% from December 2011 to January 2012 – that’s in just one month! Pinterest continues to get new accounts daily, and has moved from a site that you needed to be invited to join to a typical site that requires only an email address to create an account.
Pinterest is overwhelmingly successful and has helped thousands of businesses generate leads and traffic to their site, but the site discourages blatant advertising or self-promotion. Pinterest sees itself (as does its users) as a hub to promote connections based on similar interests, lifestyle and taste. For a business, this can visually showcase the benefits your products and the lifestyle associated with them. For example – if you make hand-crafted fishing flys, then your boards could include your favorite fishing spots, tackle suppliers (and in turn, they’ll pin YOU), and outriggers – generating you business by association. Creating a board that shows you fishing with a specific fly in a specific spot, and then showing the fish you caught is effective, too. You just can’t advertise your price and where to purchase the fly.
So, how does it work?
After you’ve set up an account, there are six things you need to know – not surprisingly they all have the word Pin in them:
- A Pin – an image added to Pinterest, either uploaded from a user’s phone or computer, or pinned to their board using the Pin It button.
- Pinboard – A set of theme based pins.
- Pinning – The act of visually sharing content.
- Repin – Reposting another members pin.
- Pin It button – A button that can be placed on websites to facilitate Pinterest Shares. Pins added using a Pin It button link back to the site they came from.
- Pinner – the person shares the content.
How will Pinterest help YOU generate interest?
When you set up your product boards, you’ll want to sift through other’s boards and repin their products to your board. You may quickly find that those boards are also shared via Facebook and Twitter – or by email or embedding them in their blog. Remember…Pinterest is all about the visual connection. Make sure your photos look professional and are eye-catching, don’t forget to add your product videos and be sure to include links to your site in your photo descriptions.
It’s important that you spend the time building relationships, quality boards that reflect your business, and quality repins. You also want to create a user-generated pinboard that allows other users to pin to your board. This will help you capture the attention of more followers – followers that may find their way BACK to your site. Keep your boards clean and free of clutter and be sure that each pinned photo includes a link back to your site. Keep your repins topical and relevant to your products. If you sell dog kennels, then pinning information about belt sanders may NOT generate any interest from potential clients, but info about the latest trends in animal boarding or dog training could capture the attention of thousands of Pinterest users.
Most companies want to appeal to a broad, international base, but it is also helpful to connect your online presence to your physical presence. For example, if you are based in Chicago, repin boards that will create a connection with your local customers, a shot of a local landmark or a news story regarding something of local note. This can result in not only more repins of your boards, but more unique visits to your website as people search for your business.
As you generate interest on Pinterest, you may want to start mentioning posts on Facebook, and make sure your Pinterest activity is in your feed. Create a daily pin to promote your brand and a weekly pin showcasing a new or tried and true product, and make sure you have a Pin-It button on your website.
Like a lot of other online sources, Pinterest is trackable, as long as you have tracking software on your site that tracks how people got to your website. This enables you to spot trends in their behavior and nurture leads more successfully. If you are taking the time to set up boards, building a Pin It button on your site and creating connections with other users, then you need to have tracking software to help assess the ROI on your efforts. In turn, this will help you effectively target and create boards that are generating interest and visits to your site.
Pinterest can be an asset to your marketing efforts and it’s free – except for a little sweat equity. By following a few simple rules – and adhering to the Pinterest guidelines – you can see the interest in your product grow exponentially. Be ready to ride the wave. With a little effort, you can increase visits to your site and sales, and that will make you happy!