My, those folks over at Pinterest have been busy! In the space of a few short weeks, users have been surprised by 3 new rollouts – verification of Pinterest accounts, the introduction of secret boards and now, the ability to create business pages.
So what does this new update mean for business owners? After all, it was not too long ago that Pinterest was warning us about self-promotion and commercial usage was downright prohibited.
Nevertheless, thousands of businesses have flocked to Pinterest since its inception in 2009 to create accounts and drive brand awareness in the hope of boosting sales.
Perhaps Pinterest has finally acknowledged that it’s time to woo the business community right before the crucial holiday season? Or maybe it’s testing the water for its monetization plans?
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Pinterest Is Booming
Whatever the reason may be, there’s little doubt that Pinterest is booming. Research firm comScore reports that the site grew to 26.7 million unique visitors last month, up from 3.3 million in October 2011. This rapid growth has drawn businesses, especially retailers, to expand their presence on the site.
In a move that signals it is finally opening its doors to businesses, Pinterest has officially changed its terms of service and is inviting users to switch their existing accounts to business accounts.
So how do you know if you need a business account? If you are using it for work or promoting any type of commercial activity in any industry, including blogging, non-profits and public figures, then it’s better to upgrade to stay on the right side of Pinterest’s TOS.
Here are the 3 main benefits of having a business account:
#1 Account verification
Verifying your account allows businesses to officially link their websites to their Pinterest profiles and places the full URL with a red check mark in front of it in the About section. This helps businesses be found more easily in search results and is a seamless process at sign-up instead of waiting around for an invitation.
Individual accounts can also be verified once you receive an invite, learn more on how to do that here.
#2 Add special buttons and widgets
Companies can also add buttons to their own websites to make it easier for visitors to “pin” items on Pinterest (using a “pin it” button) or follow their feeds on Pinterest (with the “Follow” button).
You could get these buttons before but they were hidden in the Pinterest “goodies” section. Now businesses are being invited to integrate them along with special “profile” or “board” widgets into their websites to increase engagement from pinners and drive traffic back their sites.
#3 Access new upcoming features
Similar to Facebook insights, brands and merchants will soon be able to gain access to reports that can help them analyze and understand their audience better. Businesses will also get updates on future products and services to improve their usage of Pinterest.
So what’s the deal with Pinterest’s new business accounts?
Well, first of all they are free of charge and work differently to brand pages in the strictest sense such as Facebook fan pages that were introduced in 2007.
They don’t currently look any different from a standard Pinterest page. There’s no enhanced functionality. In fact, apart from the fact that account verification is a seamless part of the sign-up process, the key difference seems to be that businesses can simply enter their full name when registering instead of having to work around the current first-name-last-name format.
Whether you’re using the site for business or pleasure, there’s no denying that Pinterest is a huge opportunity for brands to not only make money, but also build awareness for their products and services. And perhaps that is the most compelling reason of all to get an official business account.
There is a strong connection between browsing pins on Pinterest and actual purchasing, something that many retailers realized very early on when they started paying attention to the masses of referral traffic Pinterest was sending their way.
Pinterest itself is very committed to not just telling businesses about their new feature but helping them get the most out of the site.
It has set up a special page for users to convert their account to a business page, highlighted some case studies and provided best practices and guides on how to use its new features.
But if you’re new to Pinterest and about to set up a new account for business, then you need to head on over here.
Once you’ve converted or created your business account, then you just need to agree to Pinterest’s TOS and hit the big red Convert Account button.
While business accounts are largely symbolic in terms of how brands can use them, it’s possible that they could pave the way for Pinterest to introduce a “pay-to-pin” model in future or even advertising. So expect further changes.
According to Product Manager Cat Lee, Pinterest is looking to further incentivize companies to make the switch.”We hope to add more tools and features that are geared toward this audience,” she said.
What do you think about these developments? Is Pinterest becoming more business-friendly or business-savvy? Please comment below.
Image by clasesdeperiodismo