‘It’s not only about cupcakes’: What is Pinterest and why does it matter?
A few weeks ago I attended the Social Media Marketing 2012 Conference in London, organised by Our Social Times. The conference included some very interesting talks from top brands and agencies. One of the talks that really grabbed my attention was Michael Litman’s presentation on Pinterest. As lately we often get asked about Pinterest and how this can be integrated into your overall online marketing strategy, I would like to share some thoughts on why it matters as well as best practices for businesses.
Pinterest is one of the fastest growing social sharing platforms and now has more than 20 million users since it was established in March 2010. The site allows user to organize and share images (or videos, Infographics, etc.) of things that they love, by ‘pinning’ them on their bulletin boards. People can then ‘like’ or ‘repin’ your content, they can also follow your pins, or even follow a specific board. And it seems to work, people love pictures and are excited to share them.
In contradiction to what is often thought, it’s not only people who are baking cakes sharing their content on Pinterest. Businesses have recently discovered the platform as a hugely useful social media marketing tool. It’s well known for driving traffic, especially for retail, and rumour has it that Pinterest is currently driving more traffic to websites and blogs than YouTube, Google+ and LinkedIn combined.
Like all other social media outlets, Pinterest is not for everyone. The first thing to ask yourself is if Pinterest will work for your specific target market. Find out if your target audience is definitely present on the platform, and if they are also actively looking for visuals related to your products or services. The platform seems to be especially valuable if your website is a destination for people who are buying, doing or seeing something, nicely explained in this Infographic on Mashable.
So why does Pinterest matter?
- Pinterest is very effective at driving traffic. By creating a website link every time a picture is posted from your website, it creates a series of backlinks to your site which help to promote your brand. These are no-follow links so they aren’t directly valuable for your SEO strategy. They can however provide great marketing value, as they allow more people to encounter your content and visit your pages.
- There is however an SEO benefit in using Pinterest and each pin comes with an accessible embed code for users who would like to add the image to their own website, blog or social profile. This code can be easily copied and pasted in the HTML of your site. Make sure you include your website in your profile information, as this will help your SEO efforts, as well as getting traffic referrals.
- Using Pinterest can help boost your brand awareness and strengthen your brand engagement. You can use Pinterest to showcase your brand’s personality and strengthen relationships and brand affinity among your fans and followers.
- Amplify your existing content. Any new content that gets placed can then be promoted through Pinterest. You are able to reach new audiences who may not have already been following your other social media sites.
- A potentially valuable sales tool. When you pin a picture from your website to one of your boards, it allows you to add a hyperlinks to the page where consumers can buy your product or service. This allows quick and easy sales.
There are a number of ways to utilise Pinterest to direct traffic to your site and increase your brand visibility, but as with all social platforms it’s important to remember that consumers don’t like to be directly sold to in social spaces and instead any activity should be directed at engaging with your audience and offering valuable and unique content.
When using Pinterest to spice up your content marketing and increase brand awareness, keep the following best practices in mind:
- Focus on quality not quantity. Feature your strongest visual content and be creative. Share beautiful imagery. Online visual content has great potential to elicit emotions in people. Produce visually compelling content that people want to pin and share.
- When creating a board for your pins, always make sure to add a description. The same rule counts for pins. Use the pin and board description areas to include keywords that people might be looking for. This helps your pins be more findable to new people.
- Use the “About Me” section to mention your company name and provide links to your website, Facebook page and Twitter account. This is your chance to tell people more about who you are and what you want to focus on with your boards.
- Don’t just post about your own products and services, but give your readers exactly what they are looking for. Create boards that help you tell a story to the audience you want to reach. Don’t bombard your followers with self-promotion. Grab other users’ attention by creating boards related to the lifestyle around the product, rather than just the product itself.
- Repin and participate in the community and don’t only post and create boards about your products. Interact with other users by liking and leaving comments on their pins. People want to share the things they love, make sure you pick up on this.
- Build proactive relationships with other influential pinners, who could help you increase your content reach, help you build links and social sharing via their own web presence and audience.
- Get fans involved to help spread the word about your products and services and allow other contributors to pin content to your pinboards. You can decide yourself who is allowed to contribute, so select some of your most active fans and ask them to pin pictures.
- Use various themes in creating boards so you can share and engage with as many different people as possible. Come up with themes that resonate and are open to interpretation. You will see that people will start engaging more and maybe they will even – if you allow them to – add their own images to your boards.
- Create catalogs of your products. You can also add a price to these pictures. In order to add a price to a pin, type the currency symbol followed by the number amount in the description and just pin the picture. Adding the price increases the possibility of you attracting people to your website who are really interested in buying the pinned product.
- Connect Pinterest to your Twitter account. More eyes from other social channels means that more people can get access to your pictures.
- Tell people you are on Pinterest and promote your Pinterest through other channels. Add a Pinterest follow and pin-it button to great images on your site.
Are you using Pinterest to market your brand? Has Pinterest helped your online marketing efforts? Let us know in the comments below.