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January 09, 2012

Interest in Pinterest-How brands can benefit from Pinterest

For the past few months I have been a passive user on Pinterest, enjoying all the amazing visuals this network has to offer, but the recent hype that Pinterest has garnered made me want to register and sample it out.

At first glance you will find Pinterest very aesthetic and by the time you have scrolled down the page, you realise its power of addiction. Although Pinterest has been online since 2010, it is only recently that the social network has found itself landing in the top 10 social sites, as measured by Hitwise. The trend is further confirmed by the numbers, showing there has been a 40% rise in the number of visits in December '11 alone!

Extremely simple to use, Pinterest works on a format where in users can pin images from the web and stick them on boards, based on image categories. Pinterest represents the 2012 way of sharing information. Social media has been through a series of evolutionary phases starting with large form information shared across blogs, from there on moving onto short form micro-blogging and now this brilliant new way of sharing information via ‘push button curation’ as termed by Elad Gil. 

On one hand Pinterest can be classed as a lovely invention even though networks operating with a similar format have been around ( As opposed to sharing of textual information, Pinterest functions on the fact that human beings are extremely visual, there by explaining its recently catapulted state as a network holding great potential. We love images, its as plain and simple as that. Moving forward from this point, you will notice that a lot of small businesses are already working their way through promoting products on Pinterest.

In this post, I will outline the best practice for using Pinterest for business. Currently there aren’t many businesses who have established themselves on this network but with the rise in funding and popularity, that is sure to change.

Understand the concept
You can’t understand how this social site operates unless you try it out.

My first suggestion is to create a personal account on Pinterest and give it a try. 
  • 1.     Request an invite to register.

  • 2.     Integrate Facebook and Twitter to follow people who are already registered.

  • 3.     Install the Pin It button as a browser bookmark. This button is essential to pin images from other websites.

  • 4.     Create boards according to different themes that you believe will attract potential customers. Now this is the tricky bit as not every business can be considered glamorous. You could be a B2B firm that is not necessarily glam. In a situation like that you have to think outside the box. As an alternative you can start by pinning images within themes your potential customers could be interested in, may be some DIY products, celebrities, scenery, movie posters, music albums, funny images etc. The introduction of a platform like Pinterest does emphasize the importance of having attractive visuals on your website regardless of the services you offer. 

  • 5.      Re-pin, Like and Follow. As you would with Facebook and Twitter, you can like pins and follow other users. You can also comment on their pins. The re-pin feature allows you to re-pin an image to your own board.

  • 6.      Descriptions are important on Pinterest. Add keywords that flow naturally and make these unique. Even if you re-pin an image, you are given the option of writing your own description. I suggest taking full advantage of this box as growth in Pinterest visits means better integration within Google SERPs, hopefully in the near future.

  • 7.     Grab some goodies from Pinterest that you can integrate with your own website. These buttons will allow people to follow you on Pinterest or Pin your products easily.

Secondly, Pinterest is a hub for creativity. If you are going to hard sell, you should look elsewhere. It will be fairly easy for users to see through direct shameless promotion. You should definitely get attention by following influencing people within categories of interest to you. It is a slow process but getting followers is a positive step forward in establishing business credibility.

Lastly, Pinterest is not a substitute for other promotional options. It is only an addition to your current social media plan.

Images! Images!

Pinterest is built on visuals alone. Ensure the images you pin are of high quality and extremely aesthetic. These images can’t be boring images from company conferences/training and development workshops! They HAVE to be creative and beautiful. If not these two things, then your images have to be images of products people are interested in buying/gifting!

Understand the uniqueness of the platform and user profiles

Pinterest is unique because it is a quick service, probably something one is likely to use within their free time like when they are standing in a queue or waiting for the bus. It has no emotional involvement as opposed to Facebook where sharing with friends is the motive. On Pinterest, people want to share information with absolutely random strangers. Furthermore, you will notice that new images are uploaded every moment, which means your image can disappear fairly quickly. Whether your image gets re-pins or not will decide its popularity!

User profiles should be given high consideration. For now, Hitwise explains that the most amount of users on Pinterest are women from US, who are between the age of 22-44. The pattern also shows that these aren’t necessarily people who are also highly active on social networks like Facebook or Twitter. Made up of baby boomers or boomerang kids, the average user can be considered very technologically savvy.

What beneficial value will Pinterest add to your online marketing?

SEO value:
The links you add on Pinterest are do-follow links (for now), which means they will add to your SEO value. This means that search engines will get the message to count this link as a backlink, there by increasing your position within search.

Another advantage of having presence on Pinterest in terms of SERPs is that, if you have used appropriate titles and categories for your boards, your profile will show up in search. 

Travel Channel's Pinterest presence is a good example to follow. 

Social media expansion:
Not only will you be the business that is trendy, Pinterest will help you build content. Attractive images are an essential aspect of your social media profile, integration with Facebook means that your fans can view your Pinterest activity on the Facebook ticker.

Integration of Pinterest on your website also means that people can quickly pin images from your website and share them across Pinterest. Check out the e-commerce website who have added a Pin It button to their listing.

Whats not cool

Don't create a Pinterest profile for the sake of creating one! Spamming will do you no good. Some business sectors will find other social networks like Linkedin or Twitter more beneficial. Pinterest is strictly for businesses that have some kind of visual creativity to offer. I personally feel, small businesses can profit the most by reaching their local market through Pinterest.

Check out the Pin-Etiquettes