10 Guidelines for Using Pinterest for Your Business
By now, you may have heard something about Pinterest becoming a rapidly growing social media site. With Pinterest’s web traffic growing by 65% from 2012 to 2013 and its international traffic soaring over 125% from 2013 to 2014, it comes as no surprise that it has become a leader in social media. What you may not have heard is how businesses have utilized Pinterest to better market their brand and gain new clientele and customers. It may sound odd to you initially since Facebook and LinkedIn have dominated market branding and B2B/B2C marketing in recent years. But Pinterest is eclipsing them as the leader in the rapidly growing business-marketing sphere of social media. The big question, then is, why? Why and how is Pinterest so rapidly eclipsing the other social media-marketing giants?
What is Pinterest?
Maybe you’re already sold on the idea of using Pinterest, but before you can create your plethora of pinboards, it’s important to understand what Pinterest is, how to use it, and use it to your advantage. The popularity that swarms Pinterest is due to the heavy visually-driven layout of the site. Users share photos with each other by “pinning” visuals to their pinboards. Users can also customize their pinboards to fit a certain theme they want, e.g. a board for interior design, dessert recipes, or places to visit. These visuals can be photos or videos and they are often linked to an external site that leads users to the source of the visual.
The creativity of Pinterest allows a wide range of businesses to flourish and end up with a substantially larger – and more lucrative – customer base. Now that you have a basic understanding of how the site works, let’s develop a strategy that will help you expand your business. We’ve compiled the 10 concepts that are key to using Pinterest to the full advantage of your business, enabling you to both display your brand optimally and to successfully attract new customers.
1. Propose, Plan, and Prepare With every popular social media site, it’s easy to dive in and get started without a master plan. Before jumping in too deep, I suggest the following:
- Set up your account the right way. What will you be using your Pinterest account for? Pinterest has a feature specifically for setting up business accounts. Keep your bio short (under 160 words) and include key words about your business. It wouldn’t hurt to set up links to your business website and your other social media profiles.
- Incorporate Pinterest buttons into your website or blog.
- If you have a photo content, embed a “Pin it” button near the photo so that customers are able to share on Pinterest.
- Pinterest “Follow Me” buttons can also be embedded on your home page and in email footers.
- On another note, embedding a “Pin it” button on your own browser makes it easy to pin from any website – the more pins you have on your boards, the better!
- Mix with other social media outlets. Adding a link to your Pinterest from other social media sites will tell your customers that you’re serious about your Pinterest profile. Combining multiple social media sites with each other is always a good marketing move.
- Pay attention to your customers. In addition to keeping your boards up to date, also watch what your customers are pinning. Research what they like and create pinboards that cater to their wants, concerns, and inspirations.
- Create your primary Pinboards. Your first pinboards should reflect your business’s values, beliefs, mission, services, and products. From there, you can branch out into sub-category pinboards. Don’t forget to think of original, catchy names for your boards!
2. Always check your sources. Think of your Pinterest account as somewhat of a research paper. You want to make sure all of your content comes from reliable sources.
- Pin responsibly. Original ownership is so important to remember, especially on the Internet. Always check to see that the link attached to your content goes back to a legitimate source. If you cannot find the original source of the content, don’t re-pin it. You don’t want to be promoting work that’s been passed off as someone else’s.
- Protect your content. Add a link in the description of your content—or even better—add a watermark to make sure that your content will always have an original source on it, even if the link attached to your pin gets changed.
3. Be strategic. Your board is set up, now you can start the fun part!
- Focus on multiple boards. Make sure you’re pinning on the variety of boards you have initially set up. Keep in mind that pinning to multiple boards may mean that you have to upload original content and search for specific content using the search engine.
- Don’t skimp on the information.
- The more details, the better. Pinterest will automatically create a price banner for you if you type in the price of your product. Plus, research shows that adding a price to a pin results in 10% more referrals to your website.
- By incorporating information about your website into your pin description, you’re creating brand awareness that is being seen with each re-pin. Just make sure your pins are up-to-date and that they work.
- Spread out your pins.
- One of the worst things you can do is pin all of your content at one time. Pins usually get recycled over a period of time, which means that if you release all your content at once, your followers will be recycling and viewing a lot of the same content. Try to schedule your pins out evenly so your users have variety in their feed.
- Timing is important when pinning. Take note of when your followers are pinning and plan to pin during those times. You can find out popular times to pin on Pinterest’s site.
4. Network and be social. Pinterest is a social media site, after all. The whole point of having a Pinterest account is to socialize with your customers and other businesses on Pinterest.
- Use the different features.
- Commenting on different pins and/or boards lets users know that you’re taking notice of what they’re pinning.
- Liking your users’ pins and/or boards not only lets them know you’re active, but that you appreciate the content they’re pinning and that you’d like to see more of it.
- Using handles calls out certain users to engage in conversation with you and build relationships.
- #Hashtagging highlights certain words or phrases that help your pin show up when other users try to filter their finds through the search engine.
- Thank your users. If someone re-pins something of yours, you can go to the board of your re-pinned content and leave them a thank-you comment. Be careful: Sometimes Pinterest may temporarily suspend your account if you comment too much for suspicion of spam. To avoid this, watch how much you comment.
5. Generate visual content. Since Pinterest is visually driven, it’s important that you not only generate your own content, but that you make it stand out.
- Experiment with different types of images.
- Photos. The photos that you pin can differ in look and layout. Typically, photos with a longer layout (run vertically) attract the eye more. However, square-shaped photos—think Instagram—are also popular. Don’t exclude text. If used creatively and neatly, images with text are very re-pinnable. Try not to overload your photos with too much. Keep the intent of your image clean, simple, and crisp.
- Videos. Videos are a great way to connect your customers to other social media platforms. Plus, videos that feature the people behind the scenes as well as the products you sell make your brand more accessible and human. Who wouldn’t want to see your smiling face?!
- Infographs. Infographs are a great way to catch the eye. Infographs are longer, text-rich visuals that usually have a condensed version of a greater amount of information. They are used most often to present statistics and other concrete facts. Not only can you re-pin infographs, you can create one for your own business.
6. Generate your own content and promote other content. Your account is used to share your own content, as well as to circulate content from other users.
- Don’t solely self-promote. It’s important to pin content that reflects your business, products, services, and your mission statement. But it’s equally as important to showcase the content of other users and businesses. This helps you network and build relationships, which can lead to potential collaborations.
- Be a top dog. Knowing the ins-and-outs of Pinterest can make you a Pinterest guru. Making sure to vary your content with infographs, tutorials, informational videos, and other ideas from your business and others will help you quickly climb the ladder to being a profile to follow.
- Find relevant content to re-pin. Luckily there are several feeds that allow you to search for new content to re-pin by using keywords. In addition to circulating new content, you can also keep up with your customers by finding out what they like.
- Pay attention to the top Pinterest accounts. Make sure you watch what popular Pinners are pinning and how they’re becoming leaders on Pinterest. Typically what makes them so popular is that they’re following the 50/50 rule: 50% own content and 50% other pinners’ content. They focus on the “vibe” of their brand instead of purely promotional pins.
7. Get creative with promos. Like any social media platform, Pinterest is a great way to promote and market your brand. All it takes is a little creativity and engagement on your part.
- Host a competition on Pinterest. Create a competition pin and use other social media platforms to draw attention. You can decide what you want the requirements to be, e.g. entries only count with re-pinning and liking, or they only count with commenting and liking. Hashtags can come in handy here. Using hashtags in your pin can serve as keywords and they prove useful when filtering through the search engine.
- Get out of the box. One way to gain clicks and pins is to create group boards. By using group boards, users can collectively pin and share ideas for what they’d like to see from your business. Using group boards as part of a promotion allows users to submit their own original entries. This can also lead to re-pins and circulation about your promotion/competition.
8. Remember SEO and referral traffic. SEO is important when pinning your content, but most traffic to your page comes from other Pinterest users.
- Set yourself up for success. This is done by setting your pins up for success. Choose important hashtags and key words when writing descriptions for your pins. But be careful not to use too much: too many hashtags can overcrowd a pin and be distracting for the user.
- Don’t just attract—have users act. It’s just as important to think about how you want your users to stay just as much as getting them to visit your page. Think about which content you will use to get them to visit your other external sites and which content you think they will want to re-pin and circulate to their followers.
- Get to know the search engine. The search engine is split up into three categories: pins, boards, and people. These categories each have keywords that help narrow users’ searches. To maximize your presence on Pinterest, narrow your descriptions and board names to fit into certain categories.
- Don’t forget your own website or blog. Ultimately, you want traffic to be directed to your website, so pin content from there when and where you can.
9. Get familiar with Pinterest tools. There are so many external tools that can help you use Pinterest to your full advantage.
- Pinterest mobile app. With the mobile app, you’re able to keep using Pinterest from your phone. Just like the desktop site, you can schedule your original content, network with other users, and find other content to re-pin.
- Pinerly. Pinerly is a management tool that’s ideal for brands and businesses. Through analytics, it graphically measures clicks, likes, and re-pins via campaigns. Based on your individual statistics, it suggests ideal times to pin. The site hasn’t fully gone live, but you can add your name to an email waiting list.
- Pinstamatic. Pinstamatic helps you create original content including quotes, photos, videos, audio clips, and even Twitter profiles. It’s definitely worth checking out if you’re looking for original content to pin to your profile!
10. Compare and assess. In order to know how to improve your success, you must check your results.
- Don’t neglect your “Recent Activity.” Tracking your recent activity helps you see who is re-pinning what, which users followed you, and who liked your pins.
- Track the successful boards, pins, and businesses. Figure out what works for them and see if you can incorporate their Pinterest tactics into your own process.
- Google yourself! Find references from other sites and see which specific words people are using when looking you up on Google. You would be surprised at how often Pinterest shows up as a high-rated referral source to external sites.
I understand that this can all seem a little overwhelming when you’re just getting started. Click here for more tips on Pinterest marketing and to see how we can help you get an edge up on the competition.