Pinning Down Pinterest

Social networking is redefining how people communicate, interact, network and share information. In a world where “liking” and tweeting have become second-nature, users now have a new outlet for expressing themselves: the pinboard.

What is Pinterest?
Pinterest, launched in March 2010, puts a unique spin on social networking by transforming users into image curators who can “pin” selected photos to a virtual scrapbook of sorts. Every image added to Pinterest is known as a “pin” and can be placed on a “pinboard.” Pinboards enable users to group their images by a specific theme such as arts, sports, technology and more. The possibilities are endless, really, as every user can create unique pinboards. What is more, users can then follow other “pinners” or pinboards and discover pins that they find interesting.

For example, let’s say a local baker pins an image of a decadent wedding cake she recently prepared. A bride-to-be searching for her own wedding cake stumbles upon the baker’s pinned image. Intrigued by the pin, she then can “re-pin” the image to her own pinboard, “like” it, or comment on it. When the bride-to-be takes one of these actions, the baker’s pin continues to travel through the Pinterest universe, thereby drawing traffic back to the baker while providing useful and engaging content for the end-user. (Alternatively, you can read about Pinterest from a man’s perspective.)

The exciting user experience is one of the main reasons Pinterest is quickly gaining traction. In fact, as reported by TechCrunch, the site recently reached 11.7 million unique monthly U.S. visitors, making it the fastest standalone site in history to cross the 10-million mark. Growth like this is making brands and businesses of all sizes take notice and begin to think about how they can leverage this popular tool.

Basic Definitions
Of course, with any new social network, you need to get the down-low on its lingo and respective definitions. Highlighted below are few of the ones you need to know relating to Pinterest:

  • Pinboards: Users pin content such as images and videos that are then curated and shared on “pinboards.” These boards enable users to group and share images by categories and themes.
  • Follow: Just like Twitter, users can follow their friends and favorite contributors.
  • Followers: People that are following your pins and your board.
  • Likes: Similar to Facebook, users can “like” other contributors’ content and share it with their own network.
  • Comments: Similar to Facebook, users can comment on their own boards as well as others’.
  • Live Feed: Once a user is logged in, they are directed to a live feed of images and video content that are being pinned by their friends and followers. You can follow a feed by theme, people they’re following, or by the overall user base.

5 Strategies For Success

So now that we know what Pinterest is and the basic lingo associated with it, we need to know how to develop a brand’s Pinterest strategy. Highlighted below are 5 strategies to incorporate today to become über-successful on Pinterest and drive sales, awareness and engagement:

1.) Pin Visually Compelling Content: From the moment one visits, it becomes overtly clear that interesting visuals are a must-have. A brand will not likely attract a following unless it is prepared to pin visually compelling content. Even if a brand’s products are not eye-catching on their own, they should look for creative ways to use images that will attract attention.

Oreck, the maker of industrial cleaning products, for example, created a pinboard called “Furry Friends” that features images of just that—furry friends. The collage of dogs, cats and other furry creatures creatively piques a person’s interest while subtly alluding to the power of their products. While vacuum cleaners are not altogether exciting on their own, mix them with a cat in a top hat, and you may raise some eyebrows!

2.) Make Your Website Pinterest-Friendly: Today, a brand’s website is often an important extension of its social network and vice versa. Just as most businesses offer visitors to their site the opportunity to connect on Facebook, Twitter and Google+, brands should consider offering the same options for Pinterest.

By adding a “Pin It” button to your website, you can make it extremely easy for visitors to pin visual content from your website to Pinterest. This social sharing feature will help expose your brand to an even wider audience, thereby increasing awareness. Additionally, as the Pinterest platform is visually driven, make sure your website includes a series of compelling images and videos that users would want to pin. If you maintain a blog on your site, for example, make sure you include images in each post that are pin-worthy.

3.) Leverage Your Existing Social Networks: Social networks by definition are meant to be social, so brands should utilize their existing channels to cross-promote. Once you are feeling comfortable with your Pinterest page and have created a few pinboards, ask your existing social networks to engage with you on Pinterest as well. Like with Twitter and Google+, Pinterest supports hashtags, so think about creating unique hashtags to use in your pins’ descriptions. Doing this will make your content more search-friendly.

While brands cannot yet tie their Pinterest accounts to their Facebook business pages, they can tie it to their businesses’ Twitter accounts. When initially creating a Pinterest account for your business, be sure to sign in with your Twitter username and password and not your Facebook account.

4.) Don’t Over-Sell: While Pinterest offers an invaluable channel to promote one’s product, its users are interested in finding content that is in tune with their lifestyles and interests. Therefore, don’t make every pin solely about your brand, product or service. Find creative ways to work your brand into the conversation without overdoing it.

For instance, let’s say you own a clothing store and want to promote a new line of jeans. Instead of pinning image after image of your jeans, create a pinboard illustrating all the different places people where your jeans – clubs, restaurants, theatres, museums, etc. While it is still important to show pictures of your product, it is just as vital to show the lifestyle associated with those who use your products.

5.) Engage and Interact: Pinterest can be a great tool for driving traffic to a website. In fact, some research even suggests that Pinterest is more effective at driving traffic than Facebook. In order to get the most out of Pinterest, though, brands need to be interactive. Follow users you think fit your target audience. Then “like,” comment or repin their content. Once they see you engaging with them, they will be more likely to follow you back and begin sharing your content. Ultimately, this will help you increase your brand recognition, which in turn will enable you to generate more leads and sales.

Even though Pinterest is relatively new, it is quickly changing how brands interact and engage with their audience. If you’re looking for ways to increase awareness, engagement and sales, you should seriously consider how Pinterest can fit into your overall social media marketing strategy.

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