In the world of Social Media, Pinterest has been creating buzz for over a year. (If you haven’t heard of Pinterest, you may want to check and see if the entrance to your cave has been blocked.) For those of you familiar with Pinterest but not sure exactly how the new business pages work, you should start by reading the Pinterest for Business page.
Pinterest has been called many things: A virtual pinboard,Tumbler meets Flickr, and a gigantic image candy store. It’s a great way to lose a few hours of your day if you aren’t careful, because if you’re a visual person, it’s easy to get sucked in. If you’ve heard your friends talking about it, chance are, it’s because they love it. And if you have a small business, you should be asking yourself, “should my business start Pinning?”
Pinterest definitely isn’t for everyone. In the same way that different social media platforms work well for certain kinds of business, you should make sure your business is Pinterest-appropriate before you invest your time. Here’s a checklist to help you decide:
1. Does my business have a visual story to tell?
Pinterest = visual. If your business is selling a product or service* that is visually appealing, Pinterest will be simple for you to use. There are literally hundreds of brands on Pinterest, and a wealth of creative ways to Pin your business.
For example, when you think of Dunkin Donuts, you probably think of, well, donuts. But the Dunkin Donuts Pinterest page takes their branding to a whole new level.
Their posts come from fans and employees. They include interesting DD-related images, and they are used to build brand-awareness instead of for sales. There are a few exceptions – DD uses images of mugs, hats, and other items for sale on their website and in stores – but it’s only a small percentage of their pins.
Once you get started, your Pins should be organized by themes in your Pin Boards, and these will vary based on your business. However you decide to organize, make sure it’s simple and easy to follow. Here’s a great example of how Sony organizes their boards.
Remember, Pinterest is not a visual Craigslist or catalog. You are telling the story of your brand through images. Sales may come from that, but it shouldn’t be your primary focus.
2. Do I have the time and resources to spend on a new social media platform?
Pinterest is about more than merely “Pinning.” Your time should be divided between Pinning, following/Repining, and engaging if you want to get the most out of your page.
- Pin original content from your website. If you’ve already got quality images on your site, this one is easy. Get a picture of your product, the title of the image, and name of the company with your logo – making it easier for potential customers to find their way back to the original site (just in case the link gets lost).
- Follow and Repin content from others. You share content on Facebook and retweet posts on Twitter – in the same way, you can “Repin” items from other Pinterest users. Repinning can help link your boards to others and increase the number of people who see your pins (and consequently, the number of people introduced to your brand).
- Engage with followers, Repinners and other users. Just as with any other social media outlet, you have to be social to be successful. If someone Repins something from your website, comment on it. Comment on other users’ pins. Don’t forget the key to social media: being social!
Honestly, Pinterest can take up a lot of time. One minute you’re searching for “pin-spiration” for a blog post, and 2 hours later you’re trying to decide if you have enough sewing skills to tackle that DIY scarf/picnic blanket/e-reader case. If you are disciplined and log on with purpose, Pinterest can be an effective marketing and engagement tool. If not, you’ll get frustrated and see it as a waste of time.
3. Are my customers using Pinterest?
This one seems obvious, but it’s easily forgotten. Whenever you start weighing the pros/cons ofany new social media platform, you should always consider – are my customers here? Pinterest is no different.
According to Mashable, Pinterest users are quite different from the other popular social media sites.
Quite simply, most Pinterest users are female mothers between the ages of 25 and 34. They spend more time on Pinterest than they do on Facebook or Twitter, and Repinning takes up over 80% of their time while logged on. If your customers fall into these majorities, you should strongly consider signing up. If not, your time will be better spent on other marketing and social media initiatives.
As with most other popular social media sites, Pinterest is simple to use. But remember – you get out of it what you put into it. For a small business with a great visual story, the time and resources, and the right customer base, Pinterest can be an extremely effective tool to drive traffic back to your site and build your business.
Are you using Pinterest to market your business? If so, tell us about it in the comment section below!
Over and out!
*If you offer a service, I’m not saying Pinterest isn’t for you. It’s just that it may be a bit more difficult to navigate as a beginner, since you’ll be pinning trends, news, and other related items. But that’s a topic for another time.