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How and Why to Use Pinterest for Business

These days we get a new “it” thing every few months. Right now a newish service called Pinterest qualifies as next year’s Google+ or Twitter.

Pinterest for BusinessEssentially, Pinterest is a social bookmarking site that focuses on images. So, it’s a bit of a mashup of sorts between Delicious and Flickr.

When you “pin” something you share an image and link to the original content you found online. You can surf the web and pin just about anything you find. You can also create related collections of things called “Pinboards” – a bit like tagging. Visitors to the site, and of course, followers of your pinning activity, can discover new things grouped into a variety of categories.

Brides to be have embraced the site, graphic designers, hand made artists, fashion designers and really anyone with goods and services that show well visually have found new sources of traffic via the site. (Word is Pinterest has become the #1 source of traffic to Etsy.)

There’s something very compelling about the visual aspect of the presentation that has turned Pinterest surfing into somewhat of an addiction for brides, designers, foodies, students, fashionistas and those in search of the latest trends.

Personally, I think Pinterest has taken off due in large part to the fact that we’ve all become so overwhelmed with information that anything that is easy to scan with little to no mental engagement is what gets our attention. Stunning images certainly fit that requirement.

Smart marketers are starting to wake up to the buzz and branding power of the growing Pinterest community.

As I write this, the site has lurched from out of nowhere really into one of the top several hundred most visited destinations online and tracking services suggest that it could outpace Flickr and Google+ in some important metrics.

Pinterest has enabled self-expression in a way that few other social networks have captured and in return has become one of the biggest sources of traffic to businesses that deal in visually oriented goods.

It’s time for businesses to take note and start paying attention to Pinterest.

Why

Engaged users

Unlike many social sites, where the game is to get followers, Pinterest users seem very content to simply find stuff and share it with small groups. Pinterst users are keenly interested in what’s hot and what’s cool – a behavior that translates well into the kind of influencer marketers desire to attract.

Real time trending

Pinterest has turned into a bit of a style beacon and is a great way to keep tabs on what’s about to get hot. Anyone designing anything would be wise to dig in and search Pinterest for related elements and cues.

Visual link building

Links build through images are some of the best links you can acquire when it comes to actual engagement. Pinterest images automatically link back to the page of the originating site so they create visual links.

Branding style

Pinterest is a great way to say your brand has style, class, hipness, hotness or whatever the personality trait that suits. Having your products raved about and pinned by the community says a lot about your brand at the moment.

Local SEO

Local links, the kind that say Fargo SD bridal store, are pure gold for local businesses and smart marketers are embedding these kinds of local links in their descriptions and comments.

How

Create

First you have to get an invite – I have a few – and then you should search around and see if any of your products have already been pinned. I was quite pleased to see some folks already talking about my books.

Then you should start pinning some things you like. Be strategic about creating boards that make some sense to your business. For example, if you are a local business create a board of “Kansas City stuff I love.”

One word of warning: as in most all social sites, don’t simply pin your products and start trolling around for ways to self promote. This is about building some cred first through pinning, commenting and sharing.

Search

Use the search function to get over the “this is just for chicks” thinking. Yes, there are lots of women pinning cool home furnishings and the latest shoes, but just like Twitter in the early days, Pinterest gets a lot more interesting when you start to focus on the stuff that matters to you and your professional interests.

Create you own categories and search and create your own boards.

Pin

Pinterest will pay off for most only after you invest some time in pinning. I would suggest that you add the Pinterest bookmarklet to your browser so that you can easily just click Pin It to add something you’ve found.

You’ll start to develop followers based on your body of pinning work – those that see you discover stuff they are interested in as well. Very product heavy businesses should consider adding the Pin this button to their product pages making it easier for surfers to share – much like the Facebook Like button.

Invite

Once you become a member, make sure you invite as many people in your address book or from Facebook as you can. This is how you start developing a following the quickest.

Focus on inviting your customers too as many of them love your products already and might be a great way to introduce your products to other Pinterest users.

Engage

Search and find products you love and make comments. Pin items and comment back when others make comments. Follow people that are active in areas that interest you and make comments on their pins.

If you find things you like that are linked to a blog post, but not the original company, add a comment that points to the original – Pinterest users love this kind of behavior.

Remember, you can point to your products and even add links in your comments when and only when it makes sense. Now, that doesn’t mean you can’t encourage your many raving fans to pin your products!

Pinterest won’t be for everyone, but the current crush of people using the site makes it hard to ignore and for some brands an absolute must if they want to be seen as making “to die for” kind of stuff.

Oh, and one last thing, Pinterest is a great way to find your Christmas gifts if you want to be a trendy kind of giver.

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