Businesses are increasingly intensifying their Facebook and Twitter advertising campaigns, realizing the benefits of reaching out to potential customers on the world’s most popular social media sites. But is it possible that marketers may be missing an important opportunity?

Pinterest, the image-based social network that allows users to pin visual items to boards, is growing rapidly, with a recent valuation of $11 billion. If you aren’t already, it might be time to start using Pinterest to grow your audience.

The Power of Images

Pinterest meets the needs of a visually-driven social media user base, allowing members to share pictures of items and ideas they like. Those things could be delicious recipes, fun hairstyles, tips and tricks to make their job easier, or the perfect outfit. Other members can interact with users based on those posts, commenting or liking them in a manner similar to the way they interact on Instagram.

By pinning items to their boards on Pinterest, members can keep track of things they like, while also gathering feedback from others. One member may be able to help another member find an item she’s admiring, leading her directly to the store where she can purchase that item of clothing. Members may also connect over content they’ve found to be especially helpful or insightful. Those who comment and like items have the option to pin the pictures to their own boards, as well.

The Business Connection

With such a large membership, Pinterest could be a fountain of opportunity for brands looking for a unique way to market products and content. Pinterest’s demographics skew female and much younger than people tend to think, with 18- to 29-year-olds edging out 30- to 49-year-olds in adoption. Suburban residents are also more likely to use Pinterest than those living in a big city, according to research.

Businesses that target those groups of customers are finding huge value in Pinterest, but new users to the site may not know how to most effectively reach Pinterest’s 70 million users. True success on the site requires pinning items that resonate with users in a way that makes them want to not only comment, but share with others.

Images, Videos & More

As I mentioned in How to Use Pinterest in Your Online Marketing Initiative, making the most of the Pinterest platform requires being selective in the posts you pin to your board. Instead of unloading your entire product line or library of ebooks on the site, you have to choose one or two of the best items as a teaser, sending users to your site to learn more. Pinterest doesn’t limit users to just images; short videos can be another great way to promote your products and marketing content.

Instead of only turning to Pinterest when you have a product or new blog post to promote, give your followers other fun items of interest. Link to interesting articles and pin photos that your consumers will find interesting. Most importantly, be sure to bring your brand’s unique personality to life with every pin. Your boards should be a reflection of your company, reinforcing the image you’ve worked so hard to cultivate.

Partner Up

Influencers have the ability to help brands reach large numbers of people. On Pinterest, those influencers are called Super Pinners, which designates them as having a high level of activity on the site. These top pinners not only have numerous followers, but they also interact with other users and forge relationships on the site that ensure that when they post something, people pay attention.

As demonstrated by a Target campaign on Pinterest, finding influencers can help a campaign go much further than it would have if the brand pinned an item on its own board. Target partnered with some of the top pinners on the site to launch a new party-planning collection to great results. Those pinners were invited to create their own collections on their boards. Some of these pinners have millions of followers, compared to Target’s 185,000, giving them the ability to reach new customers that might not have otherwise seen the new products.

Connect Accounts

As you deploy your Pinterest campaign, don’t forget about your other social media sites. Your Pinterest account should prominently feature a link to your website, as well as an invitation to find you on Twitter, Facebook and any other active sites for your business. You should also use every opportunity to invite people to check out your Pinterest boards

In addition to putting icons and links on your various pages, write an update or tweet inviting your followers to check out a new board. Instead of mentioning the product, mention the board. Consider creating boards celebrating big events or special holidays to bring extra interest to your Pinterest account.

Pinterest images frequently show up in user image searches, so make sure your descriptions include terms consumers are most likely to enter into Google. When you name the file you’re uploading, be sure the name is likely to be searched, too. The more descriptive, the better. If you’ve simply described your image by a one-word term, you’ll be less likely to show up in searches than if you include the brand name and other descriptors like the color or size.

Also, pay attention to your board names. There’s an art to creating memorable board names just as there’s an art to naming your business or your products. Take time to come up with names that will make users want to tell others about your board. To avoid putting out the same board with the same name thousands of other users have created, do a search for your topic and find a way to set yourself apart from everyone else.

Have Fun

A business that just thinks of Pinterest as another way to obtain new customers likely won’t do well on the site. Pinterest’s members are passionate about their boards and they want to find other members who have the same passion.

Chances are, you’re passionate about the products your business sells, so find a way to bring that passion out on your own boards. Find other members who share your interests and share their pins on your boards to both give your followers something interesting to read and catch the interest of other members on the site who don’t yet follow you.

If your target audience matches the demographics of Pinterest’s user base, the social media platform can be a gold mine for distributing your marketing content to grow your audience. Creating and pinning beautiful, compelling imagery is the first step, but successful influencer marketing can really take your Pinterest activity to the next level, as can cross-platform promotion of your pins and boards. Lastly, give pins the same SEO treatment as you do your other web imagery for increased authority in the SERPs.

Soon you’ll have built an audience that shares your interests and may even inspire you as you choose new product lines and develop new content campaigns.

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