Pinterest for Business: Darling of the Internet or Huge Time-Suck?

Pinterest for Business

I wanted to share a few thoughts today about Pinterest. In the unlikely event that you don’t already know about the service; Pinterest is a content sharing service that allows members to “pin” images, videos and other objects to their pinboard…and it really is all the rage. If for some reason you are not already up to speed about the service, have a look at http://about.pinterest.com/basics before we continue. I’ll be discussing some of the pros and cons today as well as sharing some insight and best-practices for businesses who wish to partake.

I have two main motivations for writing this today:  The first is that I am hearing more and more about the service from within several different industries and there is a genuine interest in learning more about the service.  The second is that I am constantly asked whether or not it adds any real value as an online marketing tactic.

Is Pinterest Too Big To Ignore?

According to a November 5th article published on http://businessinsider.com  – “Pinterest Is Now The Fastest Growing Content-Sharing Platform”. This statement was based on a report released from ShareThis, a well-respected online content distribution service. According to the report, content sharing on Pinterest jumped 19.2% just in the last quarter. For comparison, Facebook content sharing only showed a 14.7% increase in the same timeframe. The statistics are impressive, but what does this mean to you and me, the small business owners?

Just like Facebook, Twitter, and other channels, you will get out of Pinterest what you put into it. Merely setting up a Pinterest account and having one won’t deliver tangible results. Pinterest is very participatory and social in that your level of engagement will dictate your level of success with the service.

 

Pinterest quote

 

You can set up a personal or a business profile on Pinterest. You can also convert a personal profile to a business at any time. I’d suggest that you set up a personal account first. Create your profile, create a few boards, and learn how to pin and re-pin other’s pins. Leave comments on pins and find yourself some “pin friends”. You will soon find out why the service is so fun…and potentially addictive.

Experiment with different searches to see what you find and how the search mechanism works. Find other boards, pins, and pinners from within your own industry. Pay special attention to those you may want to follow and/or emulate.

Note: One of the most deceiving aspects of Pinterest is that it can in fact drive tons of new traffic to your website. More often than not though, this traffic is useless and can actually harm your online presence. The only pins from your own boards (and as they are shared, re-pinned, etc.) that will actually link to your site are the ones that you pin from your own site. Re-pinning other’s pins and pinning from the Internet won’t provide traffic at all.

Once you feel comfortable enough with the mechanics of Pinterest, it’s time to take things a little more seriously. Pinterest can be a huge traffic driver to your website, which can grow your business’s reach and exposure. Pinterest can drive sales and help you to connect with potential customers…but only if you do it right.

Doing It Right

The problem that I see most people having with Pinterest is that they get sucked into all of the activity and get lost for hours at a time without having much to show for it. If your desire is to meet business objectives with your time spent on Pinterest then you will need to have a well thought out and calculated strategy.

In terms of traffic to your website, relevant traffic is the only kind worth having. It’s not easy to mine relevant traffic from Pinterest. What you pin on your boards goes out to the world at large, and whatever traffic this may yield will also be from the world at large. These visitors often land on your site and leave within 10 seconds…never having looked any deeper. This increases your bounce rate and the search engines will actually devalue your entire site because of it. It is a little trickier to get relevant traffic from actual people from within your specific hyper-local area. Pinterest doesn’t really lend itself to targeting a specific demographic or geographic location. I do have a few suggestions though:

  • Profile – Make sure to include keywords and phrases in your main bio that will attract the right kind of visitors to your boards. On each board you are allowed a description, do the same here. On every pin you can add a description, be as descriptive and specific on all of these as you can be, and with the searcher in mind – what will they be typing in as a search that you would want them to find your boards/pins for?
  • Strategy – I mentioned having a “well thought out and calculated strategy” above. This is not a Pinterest specific strategy per se, but an overall content strategy. Since the pins that you pin directly from your own website will lead to the desired increase in traffic to your site…you need to be creating compelling visual content on your website. This can be accomplished by including great images in blog posts, publishing white papers or “how-to” articles, posting image-rich coupons, etc. Produce relevant and image rich content and share on Pinterest often!
  • Make Pinning Easy – Having a “Pin this” button on your website encourages visitors to easily pin images from your site to their own Pinterest boards with one click. There are several different ways that anyone can pin from your site but this is by far the easiest.  In the helpful links below, I’ve included a link that will lead you to the “Pin This” button information on the Pinterest website.
  • Keep It Local – As I said earlier, it is very hard to put a hyper-local fence around Pinterest content…what you pin travels far and wide. There are a few things you can do to improve your chances of catching more local visitors to your pins and website. First, when you begin, search Pinterest for Boards, Pins, and Pinners from your local area…just type in your town and see what pops up. Follow these and engage with them. Leave comments, re-pin their pins, like their pins. You will find that many will reciprocate, increasing your chances for local traffic. Also, share your new Pinterest acct. with your local social media and newsletter followers, ask them to engage. You’ll be surprised at how many people are already prolific pinners!

In the interest of time I’ll stop here for now. I’ve included a few very good resource links below if you’d like to investigate further. I wish you all the best on Pinterest. I sincerely hope that you can make use of it as a tool to help grow your business. Happy pinning!

Pinterest is pretty simple, but it takes a little doing to get it right if you intend to use it as a marketing channel for your business. It’s not right for every business, so be careful how much time you invest before deciding if it’s worth your time and energy. Pinterest is fun and it is addictive…so don’t get caught up in this if it’s not a viable tool for you. You’ll need to get pretty efficient at Pinterest to maximize your benefit while minimizing the potential time-suck.

Helpful resources on the web for further reading and research:

http://www.marismith.com/10-pinterest-tips-and-tools-to-grow-your-business/

http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/229795

http://www.business2community.com/pinterest/10-amazing-pinterest-board-examples-critiqued-with-best-practices-0594065

http://business.pinterest.com/widget-builder/#do_pin_it_button