I had originally written this post a few weeks ago, before the Pinterest feeding frenzy started. I debated internally about publishing it because I really like Pinterest and it seems like marketers tend to ruin everything they touch by turning it from something fun into a force fed marketing channel. In the end I decided that it was important for our clients to understand this new social media site and understand how it can apply to their business.
Pinterest is a sharing site. Similar to sites like StumbleUpon or Reddit where you can bookmark and share your favorite things on the web, it allows you to primarily share, or pin, photos and videos. Using the Pinterest Bookmarklet or iPhone App, people can easily post their favorite sites and pictures as they find them. Once something is pinned it can be liked or repinned by your followers and their followers and their followers. As you can see, the right image or video can very quickly be seen by a large number of people.
One of the biggest differences between Pinterest and other sharing sites is the large number of people that will follow you if they like your pins. This creates a potentially huge audience for things that you find interesting.
getting your site ready
To get the most out of Pinterest you need to make sure that your site is prepared to be easy to use and pin.
- Install a Pinterest button on your site. There are already Pin button plugins for most of the major CMS platforms. Get one you like and install it.
- Every blog post or article or page needs to have a great, not average, not generic, but GREAT picture or video on it. Pinterest is a visual sharing site, if you don’t have great visuals to pin, they won’t be.
- Provide great content. This has been important for a long time and you should already be doing this anyway, but with Panda targeting weak content, and sites like Pinterest targeting great content, it’s more important than every to have great content.
- Some “marketers” are suggesting plastering marketing info on your images. Do NOT do this. After some very limited testing branded images get shared significantly less than non-branded identical images.
Now that your site is ready to promote Pinterest, it’s time to set up your Pinterest profile.
setting up your pinterest profile
Right now Pinterest is invite only, if you aren’t already there, or don’t know someone who is, leave a comment here and we’ll send you an invite based on the email address you leave. Pinterest also requires you to use Facebook or Twitter to log in. I prefer Facebook for this, but either works.
- First you will need to set your Pinterest URL. If you are doing this for your business we recommend using your business name.
- Next you will want to set up your boards. These are the different categories that you will be using to share things from your business and others. If you are a brick and mortar business include boards for your state, or city or local college, include boards for your various business categories as well. If you are a jeweler you might include one for gemstones, one for rings, one for necklaces, possibly even a fashion and wedding boards.
- Be sure to include things that interest you as well. Pinterest isn’t just a broadcast medium, it’s about sharing things that you enjoy and like. Being “real’ will also encourage more people to follow you because you are a person and not just another business trying to make a buck.
Pinning is where you will either win or lose opportunity on Pinterest. The audience is significantly female and if they are like my wife, they hate to have product shoved at them every time they do something, so don’t do that. Be a person. Interact like a person. Don’t be a greedy marketer or business person and try to use Pinterest as a one way broadcast platform. It will not work. This doesn’t mean that you can’t promote yourself and your products, it does mean that this shouldn’t be your only reason to participate.
So what should you pin? Anything that you like. But when pinning your own content consider if it is content that others will want to repin, or if it’s just something you want to sell. If it isn’t something worthy of being repinned, it won’t be and you will end up simply filling your boards with things no one cares about. This will cost you followers in the long run.
However, there is one thing that Pinterest is really great for. Re-introducing old content or products. This is a new medium and many of the people here will either have never seen it before, or have forgotten it. This is an opportunity to introduce your pin to an entirely new audience. Our friend Mike Wilton (@MWilton13) wrote a great piece about resurrecting old content at Search News Central and is worth a read.
To give you some inspiration, here are a few of my favorite Pins for inspiration:
- Christina Gleason: Be a curator. Mixed in with her personal pins is a great board for Creative Commons photos that you can use.
- Whole Foods: Promote a lifestyle. They created a fabulous business Pinterest presence and should be held up as a model for doing it right with 11k followers.
- West Elm: Promote a style. This furniture store doesn’t just post products for sale, they promote styles and their followers seem to approve.
- Etsy: Go wild. The big dog right now on Pinterest seems built to take advantage of everything it has to offer.
the take away
Pinterest has great potential to be a huge traffic source for the right website. We already have clients seeing 400 to 500 visits per day naturally with little tweaking from us. But like any social media interaction you need to temper your desire for new customers with being a real person. People online are bombarded every day with massive amounts of advertising and have gotten quite savy at spotting a shill verses a real person. So be real, have fun, and enjoy pinning.