Like most adolescent girls, I spent many hours in my room pinning pics to my wall of my favorite clothes, sayings, and even pre-teen heartthrobs (John Stamos was my fav!). Images inspired me, and with the popularity of vision boards among adults today, it’s clearly an activity that we’ll never outgrow.
It’s also no wonder that Pinterest—the virtual scrapbooking site—has fast become one of the hottest social media platforms around, especially among women. TechCrunch reports that the site hit 10 million monthly unique views earlier this year—that’s faster than any other standalone site EVER! And it’s not surpassed LinkedIn as the #3 most popular social network.
Millions of retailers now use Pinterest to promote their goods. And for small business owners like you and me, it can prove to be a valuable, fun way to build brand awareness for your business via visually driven content.
If you haven’t set up an account yet, here’s a quick list of terms you’ll want to know before you get started:
“Pins” are individual images considered worthy of sharing with others.
“Boards” are collections of pins organized around a common theme such as recipes, colors, or travel destinations.
Users can follow other users’ boards and like or “Repin” the images they share.
So, how do use Pinterest to promote your business? Below 5 tips to get started:
Pin Tip #1: Create pin-worthy content. For brand-centered businesses, Pinterest is a highly effective tool to share your personality and unique view of the world, all while building a relationship with your existing and potential customers. Eye-catching images of food, DIY projects, fashion faves, travel destinations, and beautifully designed quotes or infographics all work well on Pinterest. Just be careful: If you want to pin an image from other sources, be sure to ask permission, or make sure the image is royalty free.
You want to mix personal content while marketing your business, so try to incorporate your Pinterest content into your blog or website.
For example, if you’re a personal chef, you could photograph your most skillfully plated dishes and post the photos on Pinterest and your own blog. If you sell jewelry, make your product shots as attractive as possible so people will want to buy (and re-pin) them. If you’re a motivational speaker, you could post your favorite quotes from other people AND your own personal quotes. What you want is for people to find something on your board they truly resonate with and repin to their board. That’s how you increase exposure to your board, and ultimately your brand.
One extra tip for posting quotes: Quotes and infographics are often long and skinny, which isn’t the ideal format for Pinterest. Consider breaking up infographics into multiple parts or making quotes more square for easier pinning. You could also enlist a graphic designer to create .jpg images of your favorite inspirational quotes.
Pin Tip #2: Optimize your website for pinning. Encourage your website visitors to pin YOUR content by adding a “pin it” icon to every page of your website. This will let anyone on your site repin any image on your site they might like. Before you do this, you will want to out your website on Pinterest and make sure that the images on your site are “pinnable”. If they’re not, it’s time for a little chat with your web designer.
You may also want to consider adding a watermark with your website URL to each of your own images, so that pinners know where it originally came from.
Once you’re active on Pinterest, you can then post a “follow on Pinterest” button on your blog, email signature, and anywhere else online to build up your Pinterest following.
Pin Tip #3: Start pinning. In addition to giving your website visitors something pretty to pin, visit other sites and pin and repin their images as you browse online. You don’t want to limit yourself to just pinning your own images, as it will seem too self-promotional and could turn off other users. Plus, the more you can show your audience what a great source you are in your niche, the more you’ll establish yourself as a go-to expert.
Here’s an example: if you’re a makeup artist, you could create boards devoted to products you love, photos of your work culled from around the web, images of celebrities dolled up for the red carpet, or even gory examples of special effects makeup for Halloween.
Being creative and genuine will help build your Pinterest following, which ultimately boosts your business’s potential reach. So don’t be afraid to share your own achievements, along with the inspiration that others gave you that helped fuel your own success.
Pin Tip #4: Host a contest on Pinterest. Several businesses large and small have hosted “pin-to-win” contests on Pinterest, which can create a tremendous amount of viral excitement around your Pinterest presence. When you get comfortable with Pinterest, you might want to give this strategy a shot. To read more tips about hosting a successful pin-to-win contest, go here.
Once you’ve built a rapport with other Pinterest users (especially power users), you can enlist their help in getting the word out about your contest. After all, everyone loves free stuff, so the cooler the prizes you offer, the more excited people will be to share with their followers.
Pin Tip #5: Keep at it. All social media sites require maintenance, and Pinterest is no exception. If you decide to start a Pinterest board, it’s important that you stay in the game, rather than setting and forgetting your Pinterest account. Dormant Pinterest boards won’t attract new followers.
You don’t need to invest hours of upkeep each week, but your Pinterest boards do need a little TLC from time to time. You could use those few minutes in between appointments to browse Pinterest and add new pins (especially if you have a smartphone or iPad), or you could enlist a social media-savvy intern or employee to keep your Pinterest account updated.
“Entrepreneur mentor Ali Brown teaches women around the world how to start and grow profitable businesses that make a positive impact. Get her FREE CD “Top 10 Secrets for Entrepreneurial Women” at alibrown.com