Pinterest for business: How to make it work

Social media’s new kid on the block, Pinterest, is taking the social networking world by storm.

Sitting in the third spot on the list of most popular social networks in the U.S. with over 12 million users, it’s no wonder that both consumers and brands alike are rushing to use this new platform as a powerful way to engage with one another.

Yet despite its rapid growth in popularity, Pinterest still confounds a majority of the public. Many social media gurus remain skeptical about the true value Pinterest adds to a brand’s online message, and still more dismiss the platform entirely as just another short-lived experiment.

For those skeptics, answering a few questions like: “What is Pinterest?” “Why should I use it for my business?” and “How will it benefit our brand?” might just provide the shift in perspective needed to turn nonbelievers into avid users.

So, what is Pinterest?

Pinterest acts as a virtual bulletin board that allows you to visually share products, ideas, projects and any other content that is visually appealing. Users can pin and repin onto virtual pinboards they create. A “pin” is an image or video added to a pinboard. A “pinboard” is a set of pins based on a particular theme. “Repinning” is the act of reposting someone else’s pin onto one of your boards to share with your network. Similar to Facebook, you can comment on and “like” any pin you find interesting. Users are allowed to create as many thematic boards as they like with the ability to add an unlimited amount of pins to each board.

Truth be told, Pinterest is not a complicated platform. Simplicity and engagement are the main focus here, and that design has paid handsomely in both generating significant web traffic and brand advocacy for businesses. Instead of individually bookmarking websites and filtering through pages full of information, pins allow users to create visual cues to the content that lies behind the bookmark.

By linking images to websites and allowing users to easily navigate to the page where content was originally found, consumers can collect and organize pins they find personally appealing for simplified browsing later, and can quickly share these with their social network. In turn, Pinboards displaying unique, regularly updated content become hotspots of interaction.

So powerful is this form of sharing that shoppers referred by Pinterest are 10 percent more likely to make a purchase than those who are referred from other social networks and will spend 70 percent more than visitors referred from non-social channels like search engines. The platform leverages viral marketing in such a clean, coordinated way that your customers will actually deliver your brand’s promise for you with just the click of a mouse; and you can relish in the traffic driven back to your website.

Understanding how to use Pinterest effectively largely depends on how well your products fit the lifestyles of your target market, and how creative you are willing to be in order to connect with your customers. If you are a small B2B company with a non-visual product, successfully implementing a marketing plan on Pinterest may prove challenging, but not impossible.

Because advertising is, at its very root, an act of storytelling, even brands who offer products or services that are either intangible or not easily photographed can still participate in the visual conversation taking place on Pinterest by pinning the sort of information that appeals to your demographics’ interests.

Since this is a completely new platform, the rules for how, what and when to share to get the best results are still unwritten. When it comes to creating high-traffic pinboards however, creativity continues to be a key driver for success.

Pinterest’s recent success can be attributed to the significant increase in sales many brands have experienced simply by generating buzz about products and building awareness about their brand.

If you are still asking yourself if you should implement Pinterest into your social media plan, the answer is absolutely yes.

Getting the most out of social media requires getting in front of your customer base, humanizing your brand and showcasing your business’ personality, and Pinterest can be the perfect tool for the job.

Use the platform to start relationships and create conversations with your customers. Most importantly, build a community of advocates who will share your brand’s promise for you.

Maintaining strong relationships between your consumers and your brand will be vital in reaping the benefits of effectively using Pinterest for your business.

Caroline Veldman is the owner of Social Media Pilots in Fort Collins. She can be reached at caroline@socialmediapilots.com.

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