It’s easy to get swept up in all the excitement around a new social media platform and you may be feeling left out if you’re not yet on Pinterest. Don’t panic though, just because it has over 12m users, this does not make it a must for every business. As with everything, it depends what you’re trying to achieve.
For those not in the know, Pinterest is a social website that allows users to share images of things they like on different pinboards and within different categories. Think of an online scrapbook or mood board that everyone can access. It’s power lies in that images can quickly go viral and drive increasingly high numbers of people to external websites, potentially bringing lots of new customers and sales. Nevertheless, like any marketing tool, it requires a lot of looking after.
Perfect for businesses that are very visual and therefore ideal for those in industries such as fashion, retail, interior design, cooking and gifts, it’s no surprise that since launch the core demographic has been mainly female, although this is gradually changing as companies and business men start to see the value of sharing charts, infographics and other types of analysis too.
If you’re not sure whether to get involved, here are a few tips to ascertain whether the social media tool could be for you and a guide to getting started:
1) Get invited and take a look. At the moment, access to the site is by invite only so you need to request an invite from the site or a friend – it’s very easily done and the registration process is straight forward.
2) Work out what you have to offer. Browse the site and see whether your business has something visually impactful to share. Have a look at how others are using it – for example if you’re a cake business, could you pin recipes? Do you sell wedding dresses or something for special occasions? If you have something unusual or unique it could definitely be worth pinning images – Pinterest is a discovery tool so anything different can quickly gather mass appeal.
3) Decide whether you have the resource to make the effort worthwhile. It’s important to remember that a half-hearted or poor quality attempt could actually harm rather than enhance your brand. Also make sure you’re not just thinking of replicating what you have elsewhere - generating new content is important if your audience is to have a reason to follow you on Pinterest as well as on Facebook, for example.
4) If you do decide Pinterest is for you, make it easy for people to repin your images by adding a ‘Pin It’ button to your product pages. If you want lots of followers, don’t forget to add the Pinterest ‘follow’ button on your website alongside the buttons for Facebook and Twitter too.
5) Never just sell, sell, sell by purely creating product boards because people soon tire of this. Instead design lifestyle and aspirational pinboards in which your products feature to show customers you understand what they want and how great your goods look in the real world. Make sure you categorise what you’re pinning so people can easily find your contribution under key search terms.
6) Finally, include plenty of information in the description under your image, including your business URL. This helps with the purchase decision (if there is one to be made) and aids SEO but once again don’t be heavy handed – anything overtly commercial will turn users off straight away.
Whether you use it for business or pleasure, Pinterest can be good fun and it will be interesting to see whether it lives up to its early promise. If you take away one thing however, remember it is not a one-way medium but a tool for engagement. Those already enjoying the greatest success follow customers and prospects, repinning their brand appropriate images too – they take seriously their position within the Pinterest community.