Pinterest - a Sleeping Giant in Internet MarketingPinterest is one of the fastest growing social media networks – taking only 3 years to reach 25 million users – and yet it is still underutilized by content marketers. Despite being dependant on your target demographic, Pinterest can be an enormous source of traffic, and is compatible to more industries than you might think.

As a content marketer for my company, I’ve spent a lot of time analyzing how I could best make use of the Pinterest platform to reach out to new audiences within my niche. As a result, I’ve discovered a few ways you can fit Pinterest to your demographic while also developing a significant following.

Pinterest may still be an undervalued community, but the quality and volume of traffic to expect because of it can no longer be ignored. Here’s how Pinterest is changing online marketing and how you can use it to your advantage.

What is Pinterest?

Pinterest is a digital bulletin board that gives users the freedom to collect and share images and links that they find particularly interesting, appealing or inspiring. As soon as a user shares a link, its corresponding image becomes a “Pin” that can be organized further by specific “Boards” that you can create to cover any topic.

Other Pinterest users can then like or “repin” your images or links directly onto their own boards. You gain a Pinterest following by having users subscribe to your Pins and constantly share your content. Getting started on Pinterest is very simple and straightforward process specifically for businesses. Once you’ve started pinning, you can drive visitors back to your site by linking to your product landing pages or home page.

Demographics and Behavior

A recent study by Fast Company concluded that the majority of Pinterest users were women between the ages of 25-34. The site receives close to 2 billion pages views every month, with the average Pinterest visit lasting around 15 minutes. That’s longer than the time spent on Facebook and Twitter combined!

Pinterest users care more about the actual design and aesthetics of an image than they do about any other aspect. In 2012, the most popular topics pinned about were visual arts and design, crafts, hobbies and leisure, interior decorating, fiber and textile arts, and baked goods.

In terms of business, over eighty percent of the top Pinterest categories are directly related to commerce. The study also calculated the average order value from users that followed through on a purchase from a product seen on a social media network. Fast Company found that while Facebook and Twitter had the combined order value of $149.00, Pinterest users spend an astonishing $179.36 on average.

The facts are clear. Pinterest can potentially do more for your business that any other social media network today. So why do marketers continue to undervalue it?

Why Pinterest is Still Undervalued

Many marketers are still in doubt about Pinterest because they believe it is not an all inclusive social media platform. They think that it’s really only for established brands, artists, designers, photographers, and businesses that really have something worthwhile to display visually. If what you have to share isn’t shiny, edible, or gift wrapped, it won’t sell on Pinterest.

Although Pinterest values high quality visuals above anything else, this is simply a new medium to adapt your business to, and not a distinguishing factor that would automatically exclude you. Wholesalers, retailers, and even bloggers have found unprecedented success with Pinterest. The site simply offers a medium that allows you to present your business to an audience in an entirely fresh and interesting way.

Think about Twitter. This social media site is limited to 140 text characters and that’s pretty much it. Yet photographers, artists, and designers that depend primarily on their visuals have found tons success with the medium by finding new and clever ways to present their products and services to their audience.

Our own company sells custom usb drives to businesses for marketing and promotional purposes. I don’t know that last time you’ve ever saw a flash drive, but they’re not always the most aesthetically beautiful product in the world. In fact, they’re normally rather plain and dull.

USB Drives on Pinterest

But that’s because they’re simply a canvas. Our customers come in and order them customized with whatever cool designs and graphics they like. So instead of featuring our plain thumb drives on Pinterest, we began sharing our client’s finished products with elaborate craftsmanship and beautiful artwork on them. We saw our repins and referral traffic more than double after that.

In other words, you don’t have give up on Pinterest simply because your business doesn’t “fit in” with the visual market. It’s all a matter of finding interesting ways to appeal to your target audience from an entirely new perspective.

Developing a Pinterest Following

So what are some ways that you can appeal to the Pinterest audience? How do you adapt to a visual medium without having anything “shiny” to back it up? Well it’s all about visualizing your services, products, and brand while applying a few of these tips and tricks.

If you do have any quality visual content, start with that first. Hire a photographer to take professional pictures of your products either by themselves or in the environment in which they are used. Don’t worry about whether or not your products will be considered “cool” on Pinterest, just focus on getting your foot in the door by laying a basic visual foundation.

If you’re company deals primarily in services instead of products, try using infographics instead. Infographics help pinners gain a concise visual representation of what you have to offer them. You can showcase how you services have helped customers in the past, publish statistics relevant to your industry, or simply talk about how your business works. Infographics are basically text with style. Pinterest users love them, and they’re easy to produce. Here is a list of 10 tools for creating infographics from SEOmoz.

An even simpler solution is to repin content on Pinterest. As in any content curation strategy, the goal here is to gather media that would be considered interesting and appealing to your target market. It doesn’t always have to be about your products and services. If you specialize in woodwork, you could repin various stylish patios and interior designs that incorporate different types of wood in an interesting way. Try also following your audience and repinning their interesting content. This will establish a genuine relationship with your customers that will encourage communication and trust.

Whether using Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest, social media continues to empower consumers with more say in how they interact with companies and brands. The goal of every business should then be to broaden their outreach to incorporate all of these networks to provide the best, most personalized customer experience. As Pinterest continues to grow in popularity, it is important for marketers to consider how it will influence our target market and impact our businesses.