Look out, Twitter! Pinterest is right behind you and gaining quickly. According to Pew Research's December 2012 survey, Pinterest had reached 15% of all adult Internet users and Twitter was sitting at 16%. These two social media sites are neck in neck, so to really put your business on the map, you should promote on both Twitter and Pinterest.
Gregory Ferenstien wrote on Tech Crunch about the importance of this social media marketing platform:
Its focus on striking visuals and imagery makes it the perfect platform for retailers and lifestyle brands that want to share their most eye-catching content with an engaged and active community.
A Few Facts about Pinterest
You may not have heard of Pinterest, or maybe you thought it was just for moms wanting to “pin” crafts and recipes. Here are a few facts that you might find surprising gleaned from Pew Research reports:
Pinterest has over 12 million users and growing.
More than 28% of those users have a household income over $100K.
It is the third most popular social networking site in the United States.
Bizrate reported that 69% of the people who visit Pinterest find something to purchase. This is higher even than Facebook's stats, which sit at 40%.
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What the Heck is a “Pin”?
The basics of using Pinterest are pretty simple. You'll likely want a personal account to pin items you personally want to read later and a business account to put your best foot forward to your customers.
Login to your account and then hover over your username in the upper right corner. Click on “Your Boards”. This is where you can organize your boards, make them public or private, etc. Think of the boards in terms of categories. For example, if you run a web design business, you might create “boards” called: “Contests”, “New Services”, “Tips for Small Businesses”. You can add and delete boards at any time, so keep it simple at first.
Now, go to the search box in the upper left corner of the screen and type any topic, such as “Food” to find articles that you can pin to your page if you desire. Pin things on your wall from others that relate to your business but do not compete as people will find their way to your wall through various “pins”.
To upload a pin you've created to promote your business (more on this in a minute), hover over your username in the upper right corner and click on “Your Pins”. Near the top of your pins, you will see a gray box with a plus sign that says “Add a Pin”. Click on this and upload the item you wish to make available for pins and navigate to it on your computer or website.
Creating a “Pinable” Post
Just putting your business on Pinterest and making items available isn't nearly enough. You need to create a post that readers will want to use, refer to later, pin to their wall and share with others. There is a certain pin-etiquette that pinners use and understanding that can help you create a good marketing post for this site.
Do not blatantly self-promote. Posting a logo of your business is not something that will inspire others to repin.
Offer something of value. For example, write a unique article that teaches, offers a craft related to your business or some other unique perspective. It is fine to include a reference and link at the bottom of this article, but do not overdo it. One mention is plenty.
Go against standard marketing letters. Today's consumer is savvy. She recognizes a sales letter that is trying to get her buy a product. She won't bother to repin this and will move on. Old-fashioned marketing tactics will not work. Instead, think of how you can offer value to your readers.
Examples of Good Pinnable Posts
Quotes and More Quotes
Even the AARP has a board on Pinterest. They offer life quotes, which people can share on Facebook and other social media sites. At the bottom of each image with the quote on it, there is a small blurb about AARP. The blurb does not overpower the image and quote and is more of a credit to the creator of the meme.
If you plan to follow the AARP's lead, either create fresh quotes of your own or use quotes from famous people. Always credit a quote to the original source. Same thing with the images. You don't want to violate copyright laws. Use sources like iStockPhoto, Dreamstime or your own original images for the background of your meme.
Do It Yourself Projects
You can offer pins of DIY projects without losing your customer base. Let's say you own a small organic grocery delivery service. Offer pins about how to prepare a food that is on special in your stores that week, recipes and info on the health benefits of that food. No matter what kind of industry your business falls under, there is some DIY theme you can promote without selling your own services and products short.
Take it to Contest
In an article on Mashable writer Lauren Indvik points out that a contest that Land's End held called “Pin It to Win It”. Lands' End asked their customers to pin six different items to their boards. At the end of the contest, one of those items would be chosen and those who pinned it would be entered into a contest drawing to win that item. This is the perfect promotion for a business that offers products and can get the buzz going as the feeds of those customers comes up on other people's home pages on Pinterest. Now that is viral marketing!
Gain a Following
The final step in making effective use of this site to drum up more interest has to do with gaining followers.
Your first course of action after you sign up on Pinterest should be to follow the boards of some of your family, friends and best customers. Remember that your best customers aren't necessarily your biggest accounts, but those customers who often refer new customers to you and sing your praises. Following other people also can give you ideas of which pins are most popular and may spark an idea for your own promotions. Take the time to engage your customers. Pinterest is one of the quickest ways to show them you care by repinning something from one of them. It only takes seconds of your time.
Link to Other Social Media
You're a busy business owner. Save time and never forget to cross-promote by linking Twitter and Facebook into your Pinterest feed. Doing so is simple. Login to Pinterest. Hover over your username and choose “Settings”. Scroll down to the “Social Networks” category. You can set it to automatically post your activity to Facebook and Twitter, but you will have to link up those accounts first. Do this by simply turning on that ability to login with Facebook and Twitter and then choosing yes to post to timeline and Twitter feed.
Even the most loyal followers will grow bored if you don't post fresh content often. While you may have a limited amount of time, a good rule of thumb is at least once a week at first. Some companies post daily content. Remember that it doesn't have to be a massive amount of information or a full article every time. Share a cute picture, a quick tip, a meme or an article written by a favored customer.
Promote on Your Website
Add a link to your website that has your Pinterest page, so your visitors can see what is going on over there and follow you if they are a Pinterest user. If you create posts for Facebook or Twitter, you may want to mention from time to time that you are also on Pinterest and just put up a new meme or article, so check it out.
Offer Customers an Incentive
Want to get the buzz going quickly? Offer your current customers an incentive if they share a post. For example, you could offer a 20% off coupon on the next order to any customer who repins your pin. Customers are usually happy to repin for you anyway and this gives them a nice thank you for their efforts. You may also want to offer new customers a similar deal once they order from you or sign up for your newsletter.
These basics will get you started with Pinterest and give you the potential to reach thousands upon thousands of new customers. Once you are comfortable with the basics, branch out and promote on sites like PinFaves.com, which is a voting platform for the best pins out there.
This can gain you additional exposure and help you reach an audience you might not otherwise be able to reach.
About Lori Soard
Lori Soard has been working as a freelance writer and editor since 1996. She has a bachelor's in English Education and a PhD in Journalism. Her articles have appeared in newspapers, magazines, online and she's had several books published. Since 1997, she has worked as a web designer and promoter for authors and small businesses. She even worked for a short time ranking websites for a popular search engine and studying in-depth SEO tactics for a number of clients. She enjoys hearing from her readers.