Are you selling products online? Then you should check out Pinterest…. It gives you an opportunity to showcase all of your products, with photos, and Pinterest is fast becoming a buzzword in the social media world. It is driving more traffic to corporate websites than Youtube, Google+ and Linkedin together, so ignore it at your peril.

Why should businesses be interested? Pinterest offers a great chance to link your product photos back to your website, offering another traffic driver to your site. However, it is also social media and – the clue is in the name – the ability to comment on photos and share offers an additional opportunity to engage with users.

By pinning other people’s images on your boards, as well as your own, you can open up the doors for pins (rather like Facebook posts) to be repinned, shared or sent to other users, and also to go viral if an image is particularly good. The images you pin do not necessarily need to be directly related to your brand or products, as you can create multiple boards for different topics. In fact, Pinterest, unlike many other social media sites, puts subjects and topics before people in its search capabilities so you could create an artistic images board, photos of landscapes, funny shop names or anything that will encourage users to find you when searching on a specific topic.

As with all things social media, this is not a static site and requires engagement to reap maximum benefit. This means finding and following users or subjects that are of interest and interacting with those people. Pinterest is very much not about ‘sell, sell, sell’ and anyone pursuing a purely promotional strategy on Pinterest will quickly lose ground. Social media users want engagement, they want conversations, they want dialogue not monologue, they want to be treated as people rather than as a potential customer.

This change in tack for marketing and PR teams has exercised many, who have been slow to realise what social media is and what it most definitely is not. There are few social media tools that work purely as a broadcast channel; yet many companies are still only using their Twitter, Facebook etc accounts simply to put out marketing messages. This works until one person complains on your wall, posts on Twitter that you don’t respond and then others will come out of the woodwork quickly to add their negative comments, whether or not they have any experience of the company, products, brand etc.

Agile responses are required and many social media crises can be avoided by monitoring your socmed accounts and responding promptly to any input, positive or negative. Pinterest gives a gentler arena, particularly whilst it remains new and novel, and is an ideal opportunity for you to use any images you have (don’t forget to also put them on your Flickr account and on your Facebook page) whilst also giving your company the chance to develop a personality through the boards you set up. Allowing your staff to contribute funny pics, or examples of great design, or quirky photos, will help you to attract more followers who will then share your pins on their boards and lead more traffic back to you.

As ever, content is king so choose your images and boards carefully to give the appropriate image of your company. You can optimise your descriptions of your photos with keywords so pick from your keyword list wisely and this should also help the Google and other image search results. Don’t forget to include your brand or product names in the description, and actively follow people so that you can easily engage with a wider audience.

Happy Pinning!

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About the author:

A practising internet marketing consultant since 1996, Lindsey Annison helps companies improve their website marketing, online PR and information architecture. Lindsey is also a qualified adult education lecturer and author. As co-founder of the Access to Broadband Campaign, she has been instrumental in the provision of high-speed internet access to rural areas in the UK. Lindsey is also a past winner of Silicon.com's Outstanding Contribution to UK Technology