Pinterest for Business

Dear Doctor Digital, I keep hearing that I should use Pinterest for my business! Can you fill me in on the basics?

Doctor Digital Says

I’m always shocked at the invisibility of Pinterest as a powerful force for many small businesses. It’s a little more subtle than say Facebook or Instagram, but with its super power of linking an image directly to your website or blog, it is a direct portal to shareable transactions. Here are the Pinterest stats for a start: 150 million users monthly (and growing) and 75 billion pins. What was originally a very female-centic audience is now evening out – 60% of new sign ups are women and 40% are men. It’s edged Twitter out for month on month growth figures in the US but the main reason it's so popular with businesses is also what makes Pinterest unique among social networks: 93% of Pinners use Pinterest to plan or make a purchase.

While you can social network and connect with like minded Pinners by following their boards, it’s fairer to say that it is a place for social referrals and is a shoppers paradise. And one more point of difference which speaks to the behavioral aspects of Pinterest – it’s really personal. Where on Facebook or Instagram you are parading your thoughts in front of the whole gamut of your friends and frenemies, on Pinterest you are having a private and delicious moment of meditatively pinning things of interest to you and your future life. Sure, your boards might be public, but it is largely a personal tool, which is what makes it so powerful.

Perhaps a little recap if you aren’t a user. Pinterest is like a massive pin board with endless pieces of visual content ready to be pinned. You set up ‘boards’ and you ‘pin’ images you like to them to create collections. These images can be of something, or they can be instructional with words and an image, or a meme or video. The categories you pin in can be as broad or as niche as you like. It can be a long term collection, or it can be for a specific project where you are collecting inspiration like a bathroom renovation or a themed party (you know, like a wedding). Your boards can be private, or they can be public. You can also collaborate on boards with people. I’ll talk a little about the power of that for your business shortly.

One of the reason that Pinterest was not necessarily a clear fit for some businesses is that for the longest time there was no advertising, and then only advertising in the US and at great cost. That has changed now and Australian businesses can pay for promoted pins and promoted videos that sit in a Pinterest feed and show up based on a users previous pinning behavior. If for example I like to pin images of yoga wear, Pinterest would show me pins in my feed that reflected what I’d pinned before and if I was in your demographic algorithm, up your product would come up and b e ready to surprise and delight me. Pins from boards of users that you follow also come up, which makes influencers active and valuable in this social channel.

Pinterest is a visual community, so anyone who has wares or services for sale can link their images directly to Pinterest for others to admire and pin. This is an online retail, services and bloggers paradise, and many bloggers have dramatically built their following and monetized their site by having beautiful images on Pinterest that when you click on them take you through to their blogs and (hopefully) keep you there until you sign on, fall in love with their work and make a purchase. Pinterest is big for fashion, accessories, styling generally, massive for food, fitness and health, gardening, architecture, crafting and artwork of all kinds and all of the sub categories in between. In fact just about anything you can think of, you will find it on Pinterest.

It’s a hands-on, how-to kind of place, and if people are looking for tips, often their next step is to take action to grab the tools they need, and hey presto, there you and your business are, waiting to make a sale. You can also collaborate with other businesses – as a wedding planner, you could have a specific board for your client, and on it bring together all of the service providers and their goods for their wedding so they could see and choose what they wanted and get comments from their friends. This sets up a powerful conversation where many parties can have their brands and products cross exposed. When users click through to where images are based on your site, you can grab their information with a popup, and offer them some great value like an essential wedding guide or the top ten wedding destinations for spring weddings.

Pinterest is aspirational, it allows you to collect your future purchases and the brands that you want in your life. Because of that, and the way people pass images along to their followers, Pinterest has an enormous half life, unlike Twitter and Instagram which are too in the moment to keep your product front of mind for long.  Users will keep coming back to look at what they’ve saved, and keep the dream alive until they are ready to click and purchase. If you are dying with social channel fatigue and aren’t sure if you have the strength to manage another channel it is worth giving Pinterest a go. Create some boards, click around and gather some content and make some links to your site, and follow it all up with a look at the analytics. You might be very surprised at how applicable it is to your business and simultaneously create some strategic and profitable networks.  

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