Pinterest may have started as a puzzle for businesses, but it has emerged unequivocally as a powerful and cost-effective social media marketing tool for growing brands, connecting with customers, and gaining valuable consumer insights. It should be considered an indispensable part of marketing strategies for small businesses and large brands.
As with any social media tool, you should begin by gaining a solid understanding of its potential. Once you have a better idea of what the tool does, you can create a strategy for integrating it into your social media marketing plan. I’ll get you started with the basics and some best practices to help you strategize and get pinning in no time.
Who uses Pinterest?The tricky thing about Pinterest is that so many people use it. Crafters, bakers, DIY-ers, fashionistas, photographers, shoppers, and travellers are flooding to Pinterest for inspiration and insight. And about 80 percent of Pinterest users are women. They use Pinterest to plan trips and projects, shop, find recipes, and learn “how-to” tricks. Dive deeper into who’s on Pinterest and what they’re doing there by looking at these 100 amazing Pinterest statistics.
The smartest businesses use Pinterest as a spyglass of sorts. Your customers are putting their passions on public display here, so take the opportunity to “spy” on your customers’ wants, needs, and dreams. What are they pinning most frequently? What insight can you gain from how they organize their pins? Can you improve your product based on what pins are most popular?
How does it work?One of the beautiful things about Pinterest is its simplicity. A pin can be several things—a photo, recipe, quote, or how-to guide. Pinners can re-pin or “like” your pins, click on them to follow a link, or share it on social media. Pinterest allows users to curate only the content they want to see. Pinners collect and organize pins onto boards they create that anyone can follow.
Here's how to set up your Pinterest business account (it's free!):
- Create an account. Complete this form, agree to the terms, and click on Create Account.
- Add an image. Click on the red pin icon to the left of your company name to upload a high-quality photo or logo for your profile image. Pinterest recommends that you upload square images measuring 600x600 pixels.
Customize your profile. Click on the Get Started button on the left side of the menu bar. From here, you can perform several actions to customize your account and start
drawing customers to your Pinterest page:
- Add a Pin It button to your website. Installing a Pin It button on your website allows visitors to pin your images easily. If you have a Jimdo account, you can add the Pin It button any time you post a photo to your website.
- Add a Follow Me button to your website. Putting a Follow Me button on your website helps your fans find you on Pinterest.
- Verify your domain. This is necessary to access the free analytics tool, which allows you to see which of your pins lead to the most click-throughs to your site and track trends over time.
What should you do with Pinterest?
Now that you know the basics, start using Pinterest in the following ways to grow your business.
Drive traffic.Push pinners to your website by pinning photos of your products or services with a link to your website or online store with more details.
Photos don’t have to be studio-quality, but make them as attractive as possible. Check out these tips on photographing your product to maximize visual pop. If you have a company such as an accounting firm that doesn’t lend itself to lots of good photos, pin memorable quotes or advice from your blog.
Businesses can apply for Rich Pins, which are templates that showcase products, recipes, articles, movies, or places.
Rich Pins are handy because they give users the ability to act on them directly, plus they list the current price and whether the item is in stock. Pinterest will even alert pinners when there’s a price drop.
Best practice: Pin content that resonates with your audience. Don’t just show them your products—inspire them. Pinterest is a virtual playland for dreamers as well as doers, so feed a pinner's desire to look beyond the everyday.
Build your brand.Use your content to build your brand authority. Let’s look at Community Coffee as a good example.
Community Coffee has a “Buy It” board where you can browse pins of their products and special promotions, but the company also created boards where it gives tips for brewing the best cup and recipes using coffee.
Your pins don’t always have to be original content—just make sure you share striking photos, reliable resources, and tips that work. If your content is consistently good, pinners will see your brand as a trusted authority over time and recommend it to others.
Expand your reach.Create boards on topics that are indirectly related to your business and reflect your company’s values. This helps you reach new users with similar interests while also giving your audience a reason to linger on your boards.
Consider Shinola, a store in Detroit, Michigan that sells locally crafted products. Shinola has boards with pins of their watches, bikes, and leather goods. The company also has a board where it shows its city love with historical photos and facts about Detroit.
This board helps the company reach potential customers searching for Detroit pins who aren’t yet aware of the Shinola brand. It also showcases the company’s respect for Detroit’s rich industrial heritage, which Shinola reflects in the products it makes. And it gives depth to their brand: you can visualize the world of Shinola a little better.
Keep it secret.Invitation-only secret boards are one of the niftiest tricks on Pinterest that businesses can leverage to add value for customers. For example, reward loyal customers or pinners who re-pin your content by granting them access to a secret board with extra tips, exclusive content, or news about secret sales.
Consider inviting a cross-section of customers to secret boards to preview new product concepts. Use their feedback to perfect your product and your official launch plan.
Businesses can use secret boards internally as well for brainstorming events and new products, sharing inspiration with teammates, or curating information on competitors.
Follow these steps to create a secret board:
- Go to your company’s profile and scroll down below your public boards. Click on Create a secret board.
- Give the board a name and a description. When asked if you want to keep the board secret, select Yes. Click Create Board.
- Grant access to others by clicking on the new board. Click Edit Board at the top, then type in the names or emails of people you want to invite. Then hit Save Changes.
Best practice: Don’t publish boards with only two or three pins on them—they look a bit naked. Instead, keep a board secret until you’ve collected six or more good pins. Then make it public. Just keep in mind that you can convert a secret board to a public one, but you can’t make a public board secret.
Pinterest is so much more than a maze of pretty pictures. It’s second only to Facebook for traffic referrals, so putting your business on Pinterest makes plenty of sense. And with an informed approach, high-quality pins, and continued analysis of your impact, you can make Pinterest an effective part of your social media marketing plan.
Ready to pin?
Let us know some of your favorite brands on Pinterest in the comments below.
Allison is an American blogger with a Pinterest obsession currently living in Japan. She has a monster appetite for travel, music, Detroit coney dogs, and random acts of derring-do. Oh, and pasta. She can eat her weight in pasta.