Pinterest 101: Why Pinterest? Why Now?

Pinterest logoA popular pin on Pinterest can bring literally thousands of visitors to your site. This Top of the List GEM will offer you a brief overview of what it is, how it’s different from other social media for small business sites, and the first 5 things you can do to use Pinterest to your business advantage – as well as what NOT to do to save valuable time and dollars.

If your business has dabbled in social media, you probably know the usual suspects: Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. You may have also heard of other social networks, all claiming to be the “next big thing” in social media. Given the costs of maintaining a professional presence on social networks, knowing what makes sense from a cost/benefit perspective is challenging – especially if your expertise is in window shades or waste management, rather than technology and social media.

One platform that appears to have staying power is Pinterest. This Top of the List GEM will offer you a brief overview of what it is, how it’s different from other social media sites, and the first 5 things you can do to use Pinterest to your business advantage – as well as what NOT to do to save valuable time and dollars.

Pinterest 101

Ever run across something on the web you wanted to remember – a gift idea, a recipe, or a product you liked? Keeping track of these incidental finds by emailing the links to yourself or bookmarking the websites can be cumbersome – and odds are, they’ll wind up forgotten.

Now imagine running across the same item you want to remember, clicking one button, and instantly saving the item in a place you can always find it. That’s the concept behind Pinterest – you can post, or “pin” any image to a board. Pinterest users (called “pinners”) create multiple thematic boards to organize pins based on categories personally meaningful to them. For example, you might have boards for “books to read,” “products I love,” or “home projects.”

Pinterest gifts board

The boards you create on Pinterest can be viewed by other pinners, and you can view others’ boards and “repin” items you like to boards of your own. This concept is key for businesses, because a popular pin can bring literally thousands of visitors to your site.

What Pinterest Isn’t

Although Pinterest is a social network, it isn’t a replica of Facebook or other social media sites that focus on individual people. Instead, it’s based on images of specific things that people find interesting. Rather than building social connections, your aim is to build your collections, find inspiration from other pinners, and share images of interest – and the pages they link to – with others.

Pinterest also isn’t an advertising site like Craigslist. In fact, blatant ads can be called out by Pinterest on their un-pins page and removed from the site altogether.

Pinterest for Business: Top 5 Strategies

Since posting ads is a Pinterest no-no, it’s important to think creatively about ways to use Pinterest to drive traffic to your site. Here are Top Of The List’s top 5 strategies to employ when getting started:

  1. Think Like Your Customers: what’s interesting in your field that would also interest your customers? If you’re hard-pressed to think of relevant pinnable images, consider interesting news, tips, and products from other websites alongside images that link to your own page.
  2. Look for Pinspiration: still stumped? The best way to learn how to pin effectively is to consult Pinterest itself. Check out Pinterest’s examples of Pinterest for Business and Pinterest Marketing for tips.
  3. Follow Heavy Hitters: Following fellow pinners – especially those who have lots of followers themselves – increases the odds that they’ll follow you back and repin your content, driving traffic to your site.
  4. Engage Your Audience: Consider planning regular, themed pins, challenging your customers to pin items on a preselected theme, or holding Pinterest contests. Keeping your content fresh and pinning on a regular basis is essential to attracting followers and steady traffic to your site.
  5. Link Up: Make sure to link your Pinterest account to your Facebook and Twitter profiles to maximize followers and traffic. Any blog posts from your business should also feature a Pinterest button so that readers can easily repin the content (and make sure that each blog post has at least one image to pin)!

Pinterest Don’ts

Get started on the right foot by avoiding these Pinterest gaffes:

  1. Don’t copy your website: Pinterest should be used for original content that supplements your website, not a replica of your site content itself. If your pinboards match the information on your website, potential customers will get bored.
  2. Don’t use Pinterest as a classified ad: Your pins should be focused on your customers’ lifestyles, not your products. How likely would you be to view and repin a blatant advertisement?
  3. Don’t forget to credit your sources: If you’re repining something, it’s proper Pinterest etiquette to note the original pinner in your description.

Happy Pinning!

This is Part I of a two-part series on marketing with Pinterest. You can read Part II here.


About the Author

Nicole Vesota

Nicole Vesota

Vice President & Project Manager

Nicole has been working in online marketing since 2007 when she joined Top Of The List. She loves creative endeavors and spending time with her daughter.

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