Recently, I was having a conversation with friends regarding my latest obsession – Pinterest. It’s the latest rage in Social Media, and the fastest growing social platform on the web (over 10.4 million registered users as of February 2012 according to TechCrunch). It’s also the number one site for referral traffic – more than LinkedIn, Google+ and YouTube combined! We were talking about how to use Pinterest for business purposes when another friend asked, “What’s Pinterest?”
Wow! What’s Pinterest? Since I was spending more hours on Pinterest than I cared to admit, it hadn’t occurred to me that there were people who weren’t aware of the “pinning” phenomenon. Pinterest is a virtual pinboard where you organize and share pictures and information about things that you find interesting. As a user, think of it like looking through magazines and rather than tearing out articles or pictures and stuffing them in a folder, you pin it to your “board” (through a button you’ve downloaded from Pinterest) where you can go back and view or share it with others. Since Pinterest’s goal is “to connect everyone in the world through the ‘things’ they find interesting,” from a business perspective, think of it as a marketing goldmine.
Today, Pinterest requires an invitation which you can request directly through the site, although it may take days or weeks to receive the invite; or ask someone who’s already on Pinterest for an invite and you gain access immediately. With Pinterest, you get an inside look at what other people are looking at and what’s important to people. See someone who likes the same things you do? You can “follow” people based on common interests. Like an outfit that someone else pinned? Click on the picture and follow the link to the original source where you can start shopping. With the constant pinning and re-pinning, it’s a marketer’s paradise!
So how can retailers use Pinterest to increase business? Let me count the ways!
1. Keep it Visual
Pinterest is best suited for businesses that can provide a strong photographic appeal – retailers that show the latest trends hot off the runway, restaurants that create a story with heaping plates of pasta or breath-taking scenes of Florence – are perfect for Pinterest. Make sure to use high quality, interesting images since Pinterest is all about the visual lure. Even if your business doesn’t lend itself to enticing photography, information and statistics can be used to create eye-catching infographics.
2. Go Viral
A user is browsing your site, sees a smashing outfit or image they love and pins it to their Pinterest board. Better yet, you’ve included a “Pin This” button on your site, one of the handy “goodies” that Pinterest provides. Your image immediately shows up on that user’s board – and becomes viewable to people who are following that user. Someone “likes” your pin, makes a comment, or re-pins it to their board and so on and so on. Keep in mind that because Pinterest is linked to social media sites like Facebook and Twitter; pinned items show up on those sites as well. Just like that, you’ve gone viral.
3. Make Shopping Easy
Images should link to the original website, so when a user clicks on your image, they can follow the link to your online store to purchase your products directly. Even if they don’t purchase today, people often use it as a “wish list” and are likely to come back another time. Underneath the image, the original pin website – your site – is posted for all to see! How great is that?
4. Create a Following
Create enticing boards for your business – while avoiding self-promotion – which showcase your products and tell your unique point of view, as well as lifestyle and values that affect your brand. Select pictures that show people your style, what inspires you or handy tips (how to clean fabrics or holiday gift ideas). Write a description that is witty and fun rather than something canned. The more interesting, visually appealing or informative your boards are, the more traffic (likes or re-pins) you get. Add a link to your website in your Pinterest profile so people who want to know more about your business check out your site. Be sure to include a link from your website to your Pinterest Boards (using more goodies like “Follow me on Pinterest” or a clickable Pinterest logo with “See our Boards”) so your clients can get to know your business better. Remember to include a Pinterest button on every email blast that you send.
5. Invite Your Friends
Now that you’ve created these beautiful boards that portray your brand with inspirations, quotes, or images that best reflect your style, invite all of your Facebook friends and everyone in your address book to Pinterest where they can follow you and share your pins with other friends and fans. Make sure to encourage your followers on Facebook and Twitter to view your Pinterest boards and start pinning away!
6. Join the Community
In addition to generating as much buzz as you can about your boards, be sure to comment on, like or re-pin items from other boards. It’s a great way to develop a bigger following and the more you interact with the community, the more you’ll develop credibility among the people you’re trying to attract.
7. Reward Pinterest Users & Convert Sales
While self-promotion is a big no-no in social media, there’s nothing wrong with providing exciting incentives for the Pinterest community. Fashion a board with time-sensitive special deals only for Pinterest users. Hold contests for the person who gets the highest number of re-pins on your products. Get creative and turn the referrals into sales.
8. Marketing Research
Want to know more about your target market or the latest trends? See what people are talking about and gauge what’s hot in the market by checking out what people are pinning. Thinking about introducing a new line and not sure what the reaction will be? Throw it out there on Pinterest and watch what happens. What better place to see what kind of “following” you’ll find!
Like with any social media site, Pinterest requires time and effort. Continually adding fresh and exciting content to stay at the top of mind within the community is crucial. Searching the board or pins to see developing trends will provide invaluable information to your business. But be careful, it’s easy to get distracted and lost as you dive deeper and deeper into the boards and images. It can be addictive, but if you do it right, it’s well worth it.