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Heard all the buzz about Pinterest, but can’t figure out how to get started with it? In the second of a three-part article series, Nancy Georges looks at getting your business or brand acquainted with the newest online craze.

In the last month Pinterest has been heralded as the fastest growing social media site with more referrals than Google +, You Tube & LinkedIn combined. In July 2011 Pinterest was 0.17 percent of the referral traffic, in February 2012 it is 3 percent of the referral traffic – not far behind Twitter which is 3.1 percent. This is all great for users but it is even better news for businesses.

There are nearly 10 million users and the number is greatly increasing daily. I read a statistic that said that there are over 1.5 million unique visitors daily who spend on average 15 minutes on the site. Gauging my own and my friends’ activity I would have thought more! The thing with Pinterest is that you can lose track of time as you move through design, people, places and things…..

Using Pinterest for business and by business was quite minimal initially. Sharing our products online seems to be more common now and is probably the natural progression of a community site like this. However we have to do this in a very subtle strategic way.

This month there has been a flurry of interest in Pinterest as a retail and marketing tool, especially in light of its importance to website referral. The key for businesses using social media and building their online presence is to build their authority and connect with their customers. Pinterest makes this easy to do and share.

Pinterest easily integrates with Twitter and Facebook. For me integration is the key to any marketing activity. There is still the volume of members over at Twitter and Facebook, so they cannot be abandoned or forgotten (yet?) I think tools like this make ‘Social’ easier to integrate but also much more important to businesses than perhaps they are treating it now.

It is important to state that Pinterest is not suitable for every business. Remember there is already a community of creative people on Pinterest who are doing what comes naturally, you cannot ‘force’ or entice them to look at your products or services if there is not a good fit.

Some Tips for using Pinterest for business:

1. Define Your Objective For Using Pinterest

You can curate the web as you see it with Pinterest.  As with any use of marketing tools, be very clear about what you want to achieve with Pinterest to:

  • Show your creativity
  • Simply collect great pics
  • Connect with suppliers and customers
  • Share the way customers use your products
  • Share great innovations, ideas, products and events
  • Collect trends
  • Sell your services or products

2. Create Great Content For Your Site

One of the great things about Pinterest is that the original source of the image is preserved and therefore directs traffic to the original source. It’s the online Pied Piper!

This places a greater importance on exceptional, inspiration, unique and creative visual communication than ever before.

People pin pictures not text. On your site, add an image to every blog post, page and activity online.

3. Show Your Flair & Be Authentic

When pinning away, make sure your boards are interesting, whatever that means for you and your business. When somebody looks at your wall of boards or a particular board they need to be inspired and feel a common bond with you (based on common interests) – you want them to explore and repin.

If you are simply copying someone else, it will show and people will not connect (follow) you or stop following you. Authenticity is so important. Make sure you give credit where credit is due. I have many people following me who have not pinned or who are great in real life but not interesting on Pinterest (yet, this may change), so I don’t follow them.

If you are not naturally creative, spend time observing others similar to you and start slowly. Stick to a few boards and concentrate on that.

4. Make Your Board Names Interesting & Attention-Grabbing

Once you are more comfortable with using Pinterest, go though your  default boards and update their names. Be interesting and fun so that they are appealing and invite investigation. It is an extension of your creativity and flair.

5. Add The Pinterest Buttons To Your Site

Everything you need is in the Goodies section.

The Follow Me On Pinterest button is even customised for your page and will bring people straight to your boards. There are also ‘Pin It’ buttons so people can pin your content from your site.

Remember – MAKE IT EASY to connect and share from your site. Those who know me, know that I am constantly reminding businesses to bring all of their activity to their site and not do it all on their social media pages.

6. No Obvious Selling

Overtly selling will result in the ‘community’ turning off you and your boards. The community would not include you and this is the true power of social. As a customer, I expect to see interesting, creative pics on Pinterest showing more than just products with a link to the store – online and offline.

Interestingly, looking at Nordstrom’s boards a few weeks ago, it looked like their website, I don’t find it interesting or creative and unfollowed – very disappointing as I love the store. Last week I was using it as an example with a client and they have pinned NYC Fashion Week pics and some in-store shots. Far more interesting and appropriate.

7. Sell Within Pinterest’s Framework

By adding a price to the description, a price sash appears across the top left hand of the image.

The picture also gets added to the ‘Gift’ section of the site – which is perfect if you are selling products.

REMEMBER: competition in this section is rife so stand out.

8. Pin From Here, Pin From There, Pin From Everywhere

Don’t constantly Pin from the same source, mix it up – continually scout for new sources and inspiration that are connected to your business. Build the boards, connect with the relevant people, and share your products.

Pin pictures from:

  • Repin from Pinterest – use the search box to find relevant pics
  • Websites – yours and others
  • Pictures from client and supplier sites
  • Take pictures with your phone / tablet when you are out and about

Pin your content far less than any of the other sources.  Your activity should be in this order:

  1. Curator
  2. Connector
  3. Commenter
  4. Sales Person

Heard all the buzz about Pinterest, but can’t figure out how to get started with it? In the second of a three-part article series, Nancy Georges looks at getting your business or brand acquainted with the newest online craze.

9. Be Strategic

  • When you pin an image from your site, add a concise description and your business name. If it is good enough to be repinned, this description will go with it. Use keywords in your descriptions the same way you do on your site – this is how people will search.
  • Leverage key sales times and seasonality, if it is relevant for your business, by creating boards and using key words in descriptions. People search these all year round, ensure you are on their screen.
  • When a user clicks on a Pin they are directed to a larger image. They click again and go to the original source, which would be your site. Make sure your site is up to date and user friendly!
  • I know people who are new to online and social media want to watermark their images but I rarely see these done well, so if you are going to do it, be tasteful and small.
  • Show the business through pictures. We have been doing this for business on Facebook for a while. Popular posts are the behind the scenes / preview / sneak-peak shots so create a board around that story. Be careful singling out staff members – ensure they abide by the company’s social media policy and have an appropriate online footprint.
  • I have used a board to sell a client on a concept – they are great visual tools and easy to navigate – and yes my clients are on Pinterest now too! Incorporate it in your sales process. If appropriate create a board just for them.
  • There is a section for videos on Pinterest and there are not as many pins there – so this is a great opportunity to promote your business & show your Pinning skills
  • Connect and auto-post on other sites appropriately, don’t ‘spam’ your friends
  • Analyse activity on your boards and be there when your community is there for better engagement.

10. Connect With Influencers and Good Users on Pinterest

Repin, Like and Comment on their pictures. They will be influential in getting your pins out there. Start a conversation and build a relationship with them.

You can also tag people with your comments by placing ‘@’ before their name, like Facebook and Twitter.

Conversation means engaging and responding – you will need to do a lot of engaging to start.

11. Follow Those Who Follow You

Assess them of course, but as a rule, it is good ‘Pinterest Etiquette’. Check that they are interesting, have good boards and check their followers.

Great guide from Pinterest on ‘Etiquette’ if you ever want to check it when you are using it.

12. Share The Fun

One board can have multiple contributors. It’s a good way to share the job within the business. I contribute to my client boards, we are often on the different times, which means better coverage and more interesting and diverse content.

The Pinner appears on the board – so ensure you are using a profile you are happy to have public.

Ensure there is a social media policy in place and that all contributors have read and signed it. This SMP should cover all online activities.

13. Be Mobile

Download the App and use it to upload pictures and keep communication going through the day. This will help with your activity being spread out.

14. Be Ready

Pinterest has an international audience. If you have a great product and someone contacts you or orders it online be ready to ship it. International Shipping is not straightforward so do your homework. Customers don’t like to wait.  Don’t miss any opportunity that comes your way.

15. Be Aware

There is so much information on Pinterest, about people, places and trends. Observe them and use them – to create new boards to create new connections and integrate this with your marketing activity.

A great example of this is a trend I have been observing; The return of the library at home with floor to ceiling bookcases. There are so many gorgeous pics of these rooms. I have been pinning them to my Home Décor Board but am thinking seriously about creating a board just for them. I tweeted it out and mentioned it on my Facebook page and was surprised by the number of responses. Even more interesting as I have a client who will be using this information and trend in new products this year.

There is a lot to take in and learn with new sites. Once you have mastered the site, you can do so many effective marketing campaigns that integrate multiple channels. More on that next time.

Get into it and enjoy. I have yet to meet anyone who has not enjoyed being on Pinterest – it is just a bonus that we can use it for business. Take advantage of the relative newness of this site and use it today!

Happy pinning and enjoy the new tools. Visit My Pinterest here.

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Nancy Georges

Nancy Georges

Nancy is The Retail Miss Fix It, using over 20 years experience in sales, marketing, retail, manufacturing, wholesale & importing to support her consulting clients as well as seminar attendees. Nancy is a speaker and trainer in addition to her consulting work, and is the author of '7 Powerful Ways To Boost Retail Profits, In Any Economic Climate'.

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