You’ve obviously heard about it by now — the social media site that’s taking the Internet by storm. Now the question is, what do you do about it? Is there a way to use the Pinterest craze to the advantage of your business?
What is Pinterest?
First, for those who aren’t familiar with it, here are the basics:
Pinterest is a lifestyle brand that allows you to create a visual online pinboard, organized around topics of your choice, by category. Seventy percent of the site’s visitors are women age 25-44, and they spend an average of 15 minutes looking around. If that does not make a small business mind sit up and take notice, nothing will.
If your small business primarily sells products or services to men, it’s doubtful that Pinterest would be a worthwhile addition to your social media efforts. On the other hand, if women compromise a sizable portion of your business, it’s time to start pinning. And the more visual your line of products or services is, the better. Photographers, wedding-related businesses, arts-and-crafts retailers (like Etsy.com), and bakeries are particularly strong candidates for Pinterest.
So how can a small business owner, entrepreneur or expert make the most of this new marketing tool? Here are ten ways you can use Pinterest to promote with pictures — all in a non-hype, customer-friendly, low-key, value-added way:
#1. When setting up your Pinterest account, add descriptive, keyword-rich text to your “About” description. This will help your Pinterest account show up in search engine results. Include your location as well.
#2. Promote user-generated content with a guest pinner board. Allow visitors to add videos and photos that fit in with your niche. You may also want to consider running a contest for the most interesting, unique, useful, etc. pins on a topic. Offer a juicy prize and drive traffic with the competition.
#3. Don’t just pin pictures, pin videos. Think segments from speaking engagements, news clips, interviews and YouTube videos that are highly relevant to your Pinterest boards.
#4. Use strong visual images with all your blog posts. The more captivating your images, the more likely they will be repinned. Adding an image to every blog post you put up gives you the opportunity to pin it and drive traffic back to your site.
#5. Be creative. Curate the quirky, odd, funny pictures that have some relevance to your brand, products, or services, and that appeal to women.
#6. Put your presentation materials on Pinterest. Are you giving a speech, leading a webinar, conducting a class? If so, why not create a Pinterest board for that specific presentation that you can share with the attendees as supplemental material after the session is over — or that they can direct others to who didn’t have the opportunity to attend.
#7. Introduce the members of your team. Although Pinterest is primarily an online platform for showcasing your interests, hobbies and lifestyle finds, it can also serve as a way to let customers in on the inner workings of your company by featuring members of your staff. In addition, look for ways to pin photos of your company’s behind-the-scenes scenarios such as conferences, speaking engagements, company events and actual production of your product as appropriate.
#8. Create customer boards. Much in the same way that introducing your customers to your staff creates a more intimate business relationship, highlighting your clients to the world has similar benefits. Use Pinterest to tell your clients’ stories and highlight hot case studies. Just be sure to check first before making their mugs public.
#9. Create a coupon graphic. In order to give potential clients a promotional discount on Pinterest, create a coupon graphic that can be pinned to an appropriate board. Use the description section to further detail the goods and services being offered at a discounted rate.
#10. Create an FAQ for working with you. Think of this as the owner’s manual for your business. How can clients work most effectively with you? What are the most frequently asked questions people have about your business, product or expertise? Perhaps a glossary of frequently used terms in your business would be useful. Once up, you can use this board as a place to send potential new clients for suggestions on how they might best take advantage of what you offer.
#11. Unlike Facebook or Google+, there’s currently no distinction between people and brands on Pinterest. You’ll get more traction if you approach the site more as a person, less as a brand.
#12. Follow other Pinterest users in your local area and/or field of expertise. Comment on and share their pins; they’ll often return the favor. Endorse the pins others share by clicking the “♥ Like” button.
Don’t forget to add a Pinterest icon to your website. This allows visitors to showcase and share things that they find on your website on their Pinterest boards, driving traffic to your Web page and promoting your products/services.