Pinterest is currently one of the hottest trends in social media. The image-based venue provides users with a space to create pin boards and pins to display images falling into a variety of categories, including “Favorite Places & Spaces” and “What’s New?” Pinterest quickly metamorphosed from a casual, fun social media site to a business-building opportunity as small-business owners and entrepreneurs caught wind of it.
Once the full business potential is Pinterest is understood, its membership can quickly multiply. To get the most out of Pinterest for your business, there are a few things to keep in mind.
- Balance Out Your Pins. Pinterest started out primarily as a place to connect with other members on a purely fun and social basis by way of sharing images. The initial surge of activity by small businesses posting a barrage of business-only images was viewed by some as an intrusion. Since then, some etiquette has been established. To avoid offending potential followers it’s wise to vary your pins between business-focused, fun and a little bit of personal. This will help you build a better, more personable connection with other members.
Whole Foods is an example of a company doing things right. Instead of pinning their own products, they’ve decided to pin photos that represent their “lifestyle.” For example, they have a pinboard called “Edible Celebrations,” where they feature photos of ethnic food and food festivals and celebrations from around the world. The fact that they happen to sell many of the ingredients featured is a connection to their store, rather than a direct ad.
- Follow and Be Followed. On Facebook you “friend” people; on Pinterest and Twitter you “follow” them. Other members can choose to follow you if they enjoy your pins or are connected to you through another venue, such as Facebook. As you become more active with Pinterest you’ll gain a larger following, but make sure this is reciprocated by following others, too. Peruse categories related to your business and select members to follow who seem to share similar interests to those of your business. Rather than making your Pinterest presence all about you, you’ll enjoy greater success by being cognizant of making it a relationship that’s reciprocal.
- Keep Your Website Up-to-Date. In the beginning of 2012, one Pinterest member with only 25 followers pinned an image of a green skirt she saw on Lulu’s fashion website and fell in love with. The emerald green, twist-front mini skirt with ruched fabric received 41 “likes” and was repinned 51 times. Over the course of the week, Lulu received a 29 percent increase in traffic to their website. When images are pinned from your business website they are linked back to the site. Keep your products and services pages up-to-date so you stand a greater chance of converting followers driven to your site into customers.
- Connect Pinterest to Your Other Venues. Pinterest buttons can be added to your website and on your blog to encourage people to follow you and pin from your site. In addition to using these pins, connect your Pinterest page with your business’ Facebook page to increase your exposure. Smart use of your social media sites together can successfully help you draw customers using different venues.
Similar to any other social media venue, it’s important to balance your business-building efforts with etiquette and personality. Above all, have fun pinning, repinning and perusing the boards. By connecting with and engaging your followers, you can build business by way of exposure, by driving traffic to your site and through Pinterest member repinning efforts. If you are truly business-savvy you’ll combine your Pinterest use with other business-building efforts for simple, effective and measurable results.
Is there such thing as too much when it comes to having an online presence? That depends on how you handle things. It’s perfectly fine to have a Facebook account, plus a Twitter account, plus a Pinterest account if you know what to do which each one. Pinterest is good for brand-building, while Twitter is good for last-minute changes and offers, and Facebook is good for sharing information about your business. Each one of these social media systems has its own function and, when used well, can certainly help your business grow. As we have often said, “the customer may not always be right but they will always be the customer.” That is, we realize no business can do it all. Some businesses find billboards along highways or sports stadiums the best way. We find that simple things can be the most effective and provide the most value or “bang for the buck.” The simple way to find out is ask your customers by a paper, email, postcard or professional online survey (such as surveymonkey) which way they want to hear from you. Analyze the results and build media that is affordable in terms of time and money for you. This keeps you focused on your business not just social media. Like with adding content on your website, blogging and other marketing efforts, you can expand your social media as your budget and time permits.