So you are an entrepreneur and you’ve heard time and again you should use Pinterest for business to boost your venture. Why should you do that? Simply put, it is because Pinterest can deliver results if you know what you are doing. This is why businesses should leverage the use of Pinterest to drive traffic to their websites and in turn generate more to sales. Pinterest has been showing some really great numbers since its launch but the social network does not get that much attention from regular business owners.
Why is this the case? It may be because Facebook is always in the limelight – hogging all the attention and becoming almost always the first thing people think about when you say “social network”.
This, coupled with the not so good performance Facebook has in driving sales, makes people dismiss Facebook, and more so lesser known social networks, for business use. But given that the tools provided by social networks are used right, they can be very effective tools to drive people to your site and generate more sales.
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If you’ve never heard of Pinterest much less Pinterest for business, you might want to go out a bit more. Kidding aside, here is a brief explanation of what the site is and how it works. First off, Pinterest is a social media site. It now offers Pinterest for business accounts.
The whole concept of Pinterest centers on what is called a “pin” which is a photo added to a user’s Pinterest feed. That feed is organized by the use of “pinboards”. A user may organize a set of pins with a common theme on a “pinboard”. So you say you are “pinning” something on Pinterest when you add a photo to your feed or to a specific “pinboard”. You, then, are called a “pinner”.
Like other social media sites operate, Pinterest lets you follow people on the site so you get updates on their latest pins. When you decide to add someone else’s pin to your own account, you are doing a “repin”. If you like something but do not want to add it to one of your “pinboards”, you click “like”. Unfortunately, like Facebook, the site doesn’t feature an “unlike” button. People can also “pin” from websites that integrate Pinterest.
Apart from clicking “like” or “repin” on a photo, users can also comment. Users can also share “pins” on other social networking accounts like Facebook and Twitter. Pinterest also enables users to embed “pins” on websites.
As Pinterest revolves around “pins” which are photos and sometimes videos, the site highlights its users’ lifestyles, preferences, and aspirations. The following feature of the site makes it easier for people who share the same lifestyles, preferences and aspirations to connect with each other and keep track of things they may be interested in.
This is evident in how Pinterest welcomes a new user. When a user signs up, which can be done through linking a Facebook or Twitter account, he or she is prompted to create their first board. Pinterest asks “What would you like to do?” and gives the user options like “Find Products and Gifts”, “Discover Recipes”, “Plan a Trip/Wedding/For A New Baby”, “Get Fit”, “Find Funny Stuff”, “Find Fashion Inspiration” and the like.
This makes Pinterest for business better at content discovery when you put yourself in the shoes of a business as it recommends accounts to follow right off the bat. This is unlike Facebook where you only get to see things liked, shared, commented on or recommended by your friends – that is, if you’re not actively searching for accounts or pages made by businesses on Facebook.
This needs a lot more explaining but we’ll continue that later. For now, let us answer why your business should brainstorm about making a Pinterest account.
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So you may be asking why you should use Pinterest for business. It is because based on its performance, it can become a powerful tool for your business. It may be even better than Facebook. Here is why.
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In February 2012, ComScore released data that Pinterest has over 10 million monthly unique visitors. This makes it the third most popular social network behind Facebook and Twitter. By July, ComScore puts that unique visitor number to 23 million with 1.7 billion page views. Experian Hitwise has an even bigger number. The company said that in September last year, there were 139 million visits to Pinterest from the US, a 15-fold increase from the 9.2 million visits the site registered for the same month in 2011.
In December, QuickSprout released a set of data that shows Pinterest traffic growth has slowed down a bit. According to their infographic, Pinterest has 10.4 million users and 12 million unique visitors every month. Compare this to 1 billion users and 167 million unique visitors for Facebook each month and you may start thinking, how can Pinterest be better?
One statistic Pinterest has been particularly singled out for is the average time spent by its users on the site. According to data from QuickSprout, the average time spent by users on Pinterest is 77 minutes. Compare that to 12.1 minutes for Facebook and 36 minutes for Twitter. Data from ComScore agree that users spend a lot of time on Pinterest. Other sets of data put that average time spent to be lower but still more than Facebook and other social media sites. If Facebook and Twitter are doing a great job at fixating their users, the way Pinterest works seems to be doing a better job.
Pinterest, in September, was also reported to have passed Yahoo in organic traffic which means it is the fourth biggest driver of internet traffic in the world. That is according to data from Shareaholic which is a bit limited but nonetheless notable.
So, Pinterest has a respectable user base and these people spend more time on the site than what users of other social media sites like Facebook and Twitter spend on those sites. It is also a big traffic driver. What other statistics?
This infographic from early last year delves deeper into some trends that show Pinterest can be a great tool for business owners. According to the infographic, total same-store referral traffic from Pinterest to five specialty apparel retailers increased by a whopping 289 percent for the second half of 2011. Pinterest drives more referral traffic than Google+, according to data from Experian Hitwise. In fact, Pinterest also drives more referral traffic than Google+, YouTube, and LinkedIn combined starting February last year.
What about actual sales and how the Pinterest for business performance compares to its peers? One interesting study shows that for Boticca.com, Pinterest users shell out more money than Facebook users. How much more? Over twice more at $180 for Pinterest users compared to $85 for Facebook users. According to the accessories and jewelry retailer, Pinterest was also its biggest sales channel with 10 percent of its sales generated through the site compared to 7 percent for Facebook.
For revenue generated by social media sites, Convertro CEO Jeffrey Swelling says that Pinterest generated 17.4 percent of social media revenue for e-commerce sites in the first quarter of 2012. That is massive growth from 1.2 percent share in Q2 2011. According to Swelling, Pinterest gives more revenue per click than Facebook or Twitter.
This is interesting as that QuickSprout data we noted a while earlier says that Pinterest shoppers go to 4 pages per visit and made 0.9 percent in purchases. Facebook shoppers, the data reveals, go to 7 pages per visit and 2.6 percent made purchases. Twitter shoppers go to 3 pages per visit and 1.1 percent makes purchases. It makes sense that for Pinterest to have a good share of social media revenue for e-commerce sites, they spend more. Businesses who use Pinterest may also have higher profit margins.
As for income, look at this data:
|Less than $25KFacebook – 10 percentTwitter – 15 percentPinterest – 8 percent||$25K – $49KFacebook – 32 percentTwitter – 42 percentPinterest – 40 percent||$50K – $75KFacebook – 12 percentTwitter – 10 percentPinterest – 10 percent|
|$75K – $99KFacebook – 10 percentTwitter – 10 percentPinterest – 12 percent||$100K – $149KFacebook – 5 percentTwitter – 5 percentPinterest – 6 percent||$150K+Facebook – 5 percentTwitter – 5 percentPinterest – 5 percent|
Because of these, more and more companies are using Pinterest and are glad they did. Take for example Sony which saw Pinterest driving over twice as more traffic to its site than Twitter.
Apart from generating the added traffic to your site, Pinterest for business can also improve a site because it builds links to your site.
This is not building a more SEO friendly site. Why? Because those links created by “pins” via the Pin It button integrated to your site are “no-follow” links. However, having your content pinned to Pinterest opens up a whole new way for potential customers to discover your content and ultimately your products.
This means that even though Pinterest will not directly get you ranked higher in search engines because of links created through you and other people pinning your content, this makes another web of links that is bound to catch more leads than if you did not have it.
Furthermore, now that Pinterest connects easily with Facebook and Twitter, users can share pins with more ease. This means more people that may see your posts and the more people a business reaches is generally better. Apart from sharing through other social media sites, Pinterest lets users share content through email making it easier for people who already love a company’s product or service to recommend it to the people they know.
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As with any other endeavor, you must plan your Pinterest account and the “pinboards” you will be creating before you even make your account. Planning ensures that your goals are clear and you have a specific course of action to achieve these goals. As mentioned in the title of this article, your goals include driving people to your site and then ultimately giving them reasons to buy your product or service. However, that involves more than just promoting your products through Pinterest. In the subsequent tips, you’ll understand what you will need to include in your plan. For now, set up your account which will be a blank canvas that is full of potential.
After setting up your account, you must create “pinboards” first before even thinking of promoting your account to possible followers. We are thinking about the long-term here and part of that is giving people a reason to follow you. The reason people will follow you on Pinterest is not just because you have the best product out there or are the best at a service you offer. The reason they will follow you on this site is because you have “pinboards” on specific topics which are among if not the best. Your goal should be to have the sought-after “pinboard” in your industry. With the goal of having the best “pinboards” on the topics that concern your market and your overall plan in mind, start making “pinboards” for your account.
Once you set up your account on Pinterest and have started “pinboards”, another thing to do is to make sure that your account is discoverable. Since you are a business, you do not want to hide your Pinterest account from search engines so toggle “Visibility” on in the settings. This ensures that your account will be indexed in search and can easily be found by fans. Furthermore, makes sure the account is linked to your other social media accounts like Facebook, Twitter, Google+, YouTube and LinkedIn. Make sure that you also announce on those sites that you are now on Pinterest. Use the email that you use for these accounts for your Pinterest setup. Do not forget to include links to your website or to your RSS feed, if you have one, in your Pinterest profile. Verify your website by uploading the HTML verification file to your server and then verifying this on Pinterest to make sure your full URL will be visible on your Pinterest account. Your logo should also be prominent on the profile. Make sure though that you are not over-branding.
So you have finished setting up your Pinterest account. Make the most out of it and integrate what Pinterest calls its “goodies” to your site. These are the “Follow Button” and the “Pin It” button. This makes sure people who like your work on your site have an easier time sharing your content and following you on Pinterest. Additionally, for business users, Pinterest gives the ability to embed a “Profile Widget”, which shows up to 30 of an account’s latest pins, or a “Board Widget”, which shows up to 30 latest pins from a specific “pinboard”. You can take advantage of the “Board Widget” embed feature, for example, if you’re posting a blog on your website that is related to a specific Pinterest “pinboard”.
After you’ve set up you account along with the beginnings of “pinboards” that integrate well with your overall plan, it is time to start promoting your Pinterest to your target audience. Remember, however, that you should not go overboard with promoting your products through your account. In an earlier version of its policy, Pinterest said: “Pinterest is designed to curate and share things you love. If there is a photo or project you’re proud of, pin away! However, try not to use Pinterest purely as a tool for self-promotion.” They’ve ditched this language but all the same, it would not do you good if you only use Pinterest as a self-promotion tool, even if that is exactly what you want from the social media site. Why? Ask yourself this: If you’re a Pinterest user and this account is just feeding you with outright messages like “Hey, look at our product. It is so cool! Now go buy it at our nearest store. Print a copy of this message and get 20% off!”, would you want to keep following this account? I know I would not, which brings us to our next tip.
Pinterest is crazy good for promoting a lifestyle. Why? Because Pinterest is so visual, that is why. Remember that the site centers on “pins” and “pins” are primarily photos. You can also embed videos you have, say for example, from YouTube. Since these are visual media, they do a better job at conveying a specific lifestyle’s “feel”. Imagine doing this through text only and you’ll quickly get the point. So when we say “self-promote sparingly”, we mean “blatantly self-promote in a covert way”. In other words, be cleverly subtle about it. The way you do that is by promoting a lifestyle. Let us get more into these in the subsequent tips. As a business owner, I hope we do not have to remind you that you should know your product or service and the market you’re targeting. That is a whole different (and long) article so let us not get into that. The point we’re making here is that if you know your market, you know the lifestyle your market has or aspires to have. This is the primary concern of the plan you’ll make even before setting up your account. Your content will revolve around a lifestyle that integrates your products and services.
So you want to clearly self-promote in a covert way. How does one do that again? That is easy if you’re promoting a lifestyle on Pinterest. This is why we recommend you do not outright try to sell your products or services on Pinterest to people. By creating a Pinterest account that centers on a lifestyle rather than your product or service, your whole Pinterest campaign becomes larger than just the product or service you offer. Create “pinboards” that revolve around the lifestyle of your target audience. Post interesting pictures of possible scenarios for your target market and cleverly plug a product you’d think will help in a specific situation. Nonetheless, remember to not promote a product with each and every pin you have. Somehow, that just turns people off. We wonder why. Anyway, show your followers and potential customers what they can get out of a certain product or service you are offering by integrating it to the lifestyle they have or may be aspiring for.
As you are promoting a lifestyle that makes use of your products or services, you should make a number of “pinboards” for your account. Pick a number you think is just right. Make just one and this “pinboard” will not be as focused as it should be. Make too many and you run the risk of stretching yourself too thin, especially if you do not have that many resources to manage the account (e.g. you’re a small business owner who takes care of everything with the help of just a couple people.). Once you’ve settled on how many “pinboards” you are going to create, make sure that their topics will tie in with the lifestyle you are promoting. These topics should be of interest to your target market which means it should be humorous or helpful or fascinating to them. It is in the name of the site which could be argued to be a shortened version of “pin your interest”. Be sure to tie keywords for these “pinboards” to keywords your website and other social media accounts use to ensure that your web presence whether it be on Pinterest or through your other social media accounts and websites work to rank you better for your market. These “pinboards” should be resources that your followers can get something from. People will not be following you just for kicks, they will be following you because they get some value out of the whole thing. Make sure that your “pinboards” give people that value.
Simply put, feature your best visual foot forward. Because Pinterest centers on “pins” which we’ve said earlier to primarily be photos, your “pinboards” should emphasize a collection of your visual content that you can be proud of. Remember visual content is great at drawing out emotion from those who see it so make sure that the emotion they get ties in with the lifestyle you are promoting and the marketing efforts you’re doing for your business. Another category of visuals you can incorporate to your “pinboards” is charts and infographics. You can even dedicate a “pinboard” to this topic. Also remember to make use of great visuals for your posts on your website asking yourself each time you post content: “Will this be great for Pinterest?” If you answer yes, that “pin” you’ll do for your post should drive traffic back to your site. Furthermore, look back at the posts you already have on your site. If those feature visuals which are “pinnable” content, pin them to an appropriate “pinboard”. You may also want to feature book or ebook covers you have. Another great visual trove for a specific “pinboard” is that collection of photos you have of (hopefully happy or famous) clients. Just do not go pin-crazy and “pin” everything you have. Ask yourself: Is this content “pinnable”? Will this likely get “repins”?
How do you make your visual content work for you? By ensuring they are clearly connected to your business. For your original content you are going to “pin”, make sure they have value (i.e. your followers or potential followers find them interesting, helpful, funny, etc.) and then watermark them with either your logo, your name, or a specific or general URL back to your site. For the description, make sure you include a URL back to your site if you do not have a specific URL to a post say on your blog that the “pin” comes from. If you are “repinning” from other sources, make sure these sources are reputable and then “repin” writing your own description. Be sure that you keep your descriptions short and sweet and that you use keywords for your business every once in a while.
If you have a “pinboard” that showcases your clients, you can go a step further and ask your fans on Pinterest to “pin” photos of them using your products. Ask them to tag you then pick people every now and then and “repin” them to one of your “pinboards”. Believe it or not, asking people to do stuff works. This can be a great way to source “pins” and from the very people who love your products or services. Furthermore, it showcases how your customers use your products. It also shows potential customers that you engage with your current customers and can be an organization they can talk to. Remember to thank your fans who do take their time to make “pins” for you. The same goes with “repins”. Just like on Twitter and its retweet feature, a call-to-action asking for a “repin” is better than not asking people to “repin”. Asking them to “repin” reminds them that they can do so. More likely than not and more so if you have interesting content, people will “repin” your “pins”. Just do not go overboard with those “repin” requests.
Pinterest is visually striking in part because the site is simple. Aim for this look as it has been proven to be attractive and therefore effective at gaining attention. Why do you think Pinterest took off like a rocket racing to the moon in the first place? Make sure your Pinterest “pinboards” do not look cluttered and messy. Be stylish, whatever your style may be. Ask your other people like your employees or friends or family to look over your Pinterest account and tell you if they think it is stylish. If you do not want to do that, you may look for expert opinions. If you have friends who are experts at design and can give you insight for free, that is all the better. Furthermore, simplicity is also the goal for your descriptions. Pinterest users are averse to very long descriptions. Pinterest has a 500-character limit for descriptions but if you go over 300 characters, Pinterest users will likely tl;dr you.
Another thing to remember when making your Pinterest for business account is to let people see your company persona. You can ask yourself these questions. How is it like inside Company Z? How is it like working at Company Z? (This could even attract great employees so you’re hitting a lot of birds with just a few stones.) How does Company Z make their products/do their work? What cool activities does Company Z and those who work at Company Z participate in? Remember that there is a certain attention draw generated by “behind-the-scenes” type of content. People are just interested in them. This may be because it humanizes a company or organization consequently allowing people relate to your company, brand, products and services. As a business, you’d want people to relate to you.
As we’ve said in number 8, be sure to tie keywords you use for your “pins” and “pinboards” to keywords your website and other social media accounts use. This makes your whole web presence – from your website to your other social media accounts – a cohesive whole in terms of keyword use. For example, a company that offers services for dog owners and has a site that is optimized for keywords such as dog grooming, dog walking, dog accessories, and the like should use these keywords for specific boards they have on Pinterest. Your Pinterest account should reflect your site and your site, if you know what you are doing on the internet, should be optimized for the keywords that matter to your business the most. Moreover, potential followers (potential clients) will also have an easier time finding what they want if your Pinterest account is organized.
We’ve told you to never ever just use your Pinterest account to self-promote. Part of doing this is by engaging with the Pinterest community. Furthermore, we do not mean engage with just your followers, we mean engage with other people in your line of business. This can be tricky because you obviously do not want to build up other businesses in your area doing the same thing as you. The trick here though is to be careful in selecting the things you post. Select “pins” that do not promote a competing product or service to “repin” then write your own description for the “repin”. Just do not forget to create your own content too. Follow other personal or Pinterest for business accounts in your industry and while you’re at it, learn from them. Also part of engaging with the community is by using hashtags, like you do on Twitter. This makes it easier for people to find your “pins” if they are looking for a specific category on Pinterest. Do not go overboard with the hashtags though and remember to keep them general unless you are doing a promotion that uses a very specific hashtag. Another thing you can use is mentions denoted by “@” plus the username of an account. Do not forget to say thank you for things like “repins” and mentions.
Another great way to engage with people on Pinterest is to run a contest. Just make sure that the contest centers on the use of Pinterest and your content or content that relates to your account. This is a way to drive more exposure for your account and is a great way to build a following especially if you are just starting out with your Pinterest for business account or if your business is not really that well-known yet. For your contest, make sure you give a call-to-action. Make sure all your other web properties promote this contest so it will be seen by more than just people on Pinterest. Take advantage of the many ways Pinterest lets people interact with your content. That is by “pinning”, “repinning”, “liking” or commenting, if you needed to be reminded. You can also get people to create a board for the contest. Just remember to be clear with those instructions and think of your overall image.
While it is true that you can reach a lot of people using the internet, sometimes it is just not enough. Looking at it in another light, even if you are successful in reaching a massive audience using Pinterest for business, why not go a step further and reach audience outside of the interwebs? A great way to do this is to tie marketing efforts in the real physical world to drive people to your Pinterest for business profile. If you have a brick-and-mortar store, you can put up posters for promotions with a QR code people can scan that leads them to a Pinterest “pinboard” that hosts a contest or community engagement campaign. If you do not have a store, maybe put up posters in your local area that features a link to your Pinterest site for more information. Not only will you get cool points for doing this, you also drive people in the real world – who otherwise will be oblivious to your Pinterest presence – to discover that you have an interesting Pinterest site.
One of the most important things to do once your Pinterest account is up and running is finding great content to post. However, since you cannot be a content production house 24/7 just so there is something to post on your Pinterest account, a good portion of the things you post on your Pinterest for business account will be sourced from others. You may be off work when you find these great “pinnable” content so you need to make it easier for you to share from whatever device you are on. That is why we recommend you use the Pinterest apps (iOS and Android links below). Furthermore, make it easier to share straight from your browser by making use of the Pinterest-made “Pin It” button that integrates with your browser (video instruction below).
In order to gain more insight into how Pinterest affects traffic to your site, use Google Analytics to track traffic you receive from the social media site. Compare this to other social networks you use like Twitter, Facebook and Google+. Notice how things you do with your Pinterest account affect how traffic flows to your site. If you’re doing something right, identify it then keep doing it. If not, change it up a bit. Here is where the things you learn from all that following other successful Pinterest users come in. Adapt their strategy and make it your own. Also notice that if you click on Pinterest, in Google Analytics, it takes you to a set of URLs and the traffic they drove to your site. If you have a few particular pages on your site that drive traffic, learn from them and replicate their success.
While we are talking about gaining insight from what people share from your account, let us talk about how you can track who is “pinning” things from your website. You can do this by visiting http://pinterest.com/source/mysite.com (replace “mysite.com” with your website’s domain). Once on that page, you’ll see who are “pinning” content from your site and what they “pinned”. Learn from this. Look at what people are sharing. Look at the accounts of the people who shared content from your site and learn about the lifestyle they have. This provides you with valuable insight into what these people – who were interested enough to “pin” your content – like, value, aspire for and share. Accordingly, plan your Pinterest for business content to target these things to ensure that these people will likely share content from your site in the future. You may even reach out to these people and encourage them to follow your account or a specific “pinboard” you have by telling them why following you or one of your “pinboards” will be useful for them.
If it has not been made really, really obvious yet, the key to having a great presence on Pinterest – or for that matter, any other social media site – is to put in the time. People will notice if you are just making a Pinterest account for the sake of being able to say that you have one. A great Pinterest account is planned. A great Pinterest account is an account that is useful and interesting to its followers. A great Pinterest account gives people a reason to follow it. A great Pinterest account engages with and adds value to the whole Pinterest community. A business obviously cannot make an account like that if it just sets up the account then just barely manages it. Pinterest for business can be a great tool to reach out and build a community that interacts and generates leads for you but you need to work for it. It is not magic.
With that last tip being said, learn to strike a balance working on your Pinterest for business account and your whole portfolio of web properties. You cannot devote all your time to Pinterest especially if you are a small business without the resources to hire a social media manager whose sole job is to manage your social media presence. However, even if you are just starting out, you can create a great Pinterest for business presence. Just learn to manage your time well to make your web presence across all these social sites and your own website become a coherent whole that you can learn from and that attracts people to do business with you.