Pinterest: Open for Business

Online bulletin board site Pinterest is a social media rocket ship. It now has over 10 million users and generated more referral traffic in January to company websites and blogs than YouTube, Google+ and LinkedIn combined according to Shareaholic.

So is this social hotspot for Mid-Western crafters just a fad or does the image-focused site have real potential for business? The answer: Pinterest is open for business.

What are Businesses Doing on Pinterest?

The Power of Pinterest

Small and large businesses alike are finding value in cultivating a community of followers on the site. As the “Power of Pinterest” Infographic from Internet Marketing shows, companies such as magazine publisher Better Homes & Gardens and grocer Whole Foods have already acquired over 25,000 and 19,000 followers respectively via Pinterest. They effectively use the visually oriented site to share recipes, entertainment, decorating, and lifestyle information that help them promote their brands and products.

In his recent post on Pinterest, blogger Jason Falls reports that the retail deal site uses the site to better understand its members and the retail landscape. Ideeli has seen “a 446% increase in web traffic from Pinterest [in the last six months]and sales resulting from those visits have increased five-fold.”

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Below are four steps to making Pinterest work for your business.

1. Strategize

If you’re in a B2B company, you may be wondering if Pinterest can be appropriate and effective for your business. It certainly can, although a presence on Pinterest may require taking a different approach than the company uses on other social media platforms. As recommended previously on Socialrati, it’s always a good idea to set a strategy before going public on a new social site to ensure you are investing efforts which will drive business results. In a recent Ad Age article, Chas Edwards also recommends developing an image strategy. He suggests trying to answer these three questions:

  1. How can images increase engagement among my existing audience?
  2. How can I convert that engagement into sharing?
  3. How does the strategy help me make more money?

2. Get The Picture

Pinterest may not be for everyone but it’s worth testing since it has proven to be an effective referral channel. If you have physical products, you can start building an image inventory simply by taking and gathering photos of your products from employees and customers. B2B companies, because they often work in services, may shy away from Pinterest thinking their products or services are not sufficiently visual. A little creativity, however, can solve this problem.

You probably already have a collection of untapped visuals at your disposal. For example, you may have many of these items which Hubspot recommends can be made into suitable Pinterest images:

  • Product images
  • Ebook covers
  • Data charts
  • Photos of your employees
  • Pictures of customers (at events, using your products or services)
  • Event images
  • Infographics

Locate or create these images and start pinning. Make sure to include a description and the url for a landing page for each image so you can also capture traffic to your site. Soon you will have followers liking, commenting or repinning your images. If the content is interesting enough, it could go viral. Check out the Socialrati Pinterest Infographics pinboard for examples.

Don’t forget to promote your Pinterst content through other channels. Add a Pin It button to your website so visitors can pin images from your blog or other parts of your site to their boards. Connect your company Twitter account to Pinterest to tweet your new pins.

3. Get Pinning & Repinning

Like all social platforms, Pinterest isn’t designed for broadcasting information. It is designed to foster discussion and interaction. Research to date suggests that ‘pushing’ products is not effective but creating excitement and brand attachment through strong and interesting visuals pays dividends beyond the Pinterest site. Show your intent to build community by following other Pinterest members and/or their pinboards, liking and repinning the content of others. Look for others sharing the same topics and then follow and promote their content. They will ultimately return the favor and help you reach a wider audience. You can also humanize your business or your brand by including topics that are important to you and not all about the business. Maybe you’re a foodie or have a favorite cause or travel destination.

4. Track and Learn

With a presence established, monitor the images that generate the most interest and traffic. By doing this, you’ll learn how to generate interest and create pull for your business through Pinterest.

What creative ways have you seen Pinterest driving business results?

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