The Internet is currently buzzing with the appearance of the cutest new girl on the block, Pinterest. Pinterest has actually been around for a couple of years, but has gained major recognition only in the past few months. However, its recent rise in popularity has been so meteoric that by January 2012 the website had nearly 12 million users, and 11 millions visits a week. Should Mark Zuckerberg be worried?
If you are not entirely sure what Pinterest really is, well, get yourself an invitation and start exploring – you will definitely enjoy the ride! But to describe it shortly, the concept of Pinterest is centered around pinning images you like on a virtual pinboard. A user can have several different boards dedicated to different themes, and other users can follow this user or just one or several of his boards. The social aspect of Pinterest comes from commenting on images, getting comments from other users of your images, and “re-pinning” – when a user an image they liked on another user’s board to their board.
So far so good – but why should local businesses consider using Pinterest? The power of Pinterest doesn’t lie in marketing your products or services directly; in fact, Pinterest does not encourage in-your-face advertising at all. Rather, it focuses on sharing experiences, common interests and causes. This may sound like a slow, winding process to get people to hear about your business but if you use Pinterest effectively it is not. The images you pin can link back to your website or online store. So simply by pinning great images, and investing the time and effort to create a solid basis of followers and users who like your posts enough to ‘re-pin’ them, you can start generating quite a bit of traffic to your website.
Pinterest is great for local businesses because of its social character. It can really help you in creating a vibrant community for your business within the town or neighborhood you’re based in. To learn how you can use it effectively to boost your local business, we suggest you read the following 10 tips.
#1 Create a winning, informative profile design
Pinterest has recently updated the design of the users’ profile pages, providing a large space at the top of the page for a large profile picture. Use it cleverly by putting a picture of your logo or an attractive image of one of your products. Next to the picture you have some space for a short description – this is where you can mention your location, recount a short history of the business and invite prospective customers to visit you. Also, you can put links to your other sites in this space as well.
A clever use of space by the famous New York chain of gourmet grocery stores, Dean & DeLuca; notice the links to Facebook and Twitter.
#2 Select your images carefully
Don’t clutter your Pinterest boards with images that are blurry, dark, redundant or boring. That’s a sure way to gain no followers at all. Be creative! Consider quality over quantity – post the best images you have got. Pinterest is all about ‘eye-catchiness’ – so make sure to reflect that quality in your boards and you will get more re-pins.
Mouth-watering, isn’t it? Wouldn’t you re-pin this?
#3 Spread the word
Your clients and fans may not be aware of Pinterest’s existence – yet. Why don’t be the one to show them the light? You can link to Pinterest from other social networks like Facebook and Twitter, so that whoever follows you there will be able to follow you on Pinterest as well.
#4 Link to your other sites
Synergy is a powerful concept. Today, with all social networks and major websites linking to each other, anyone who wants to gain Internet visibility can use this to their advantage by making themselves noticeable on several different networks. Pinterest is in this game as well, and enables you to link from it directly to your website, Facebook and Twitter.
#5 Invest in your Pinterest relationships
Your success on Pinterest will not happen immediately. You will have to take the time and energy to create good relationships with your followers (by regularly pinning images they would want to share), as well as build strategic relationships with influential Pinterest users. These can be other businesses similar to your own, or businesses in your town or neighborhood. The good vibe you will create by following them, commenting on their images and re-pinning them, will go a long way when start doing the same for you.
#6 Do you want to be followed? Become a follower
In a way, Pinterest bears some similarities to Twitter. For example, by following major users on Pinterest, not only will you creating a presence on Pinterest , but also generate interest about your Pinterest profile, which may get other users to follow you.
#7 Promote other users by re-pinning their images
This may sound counter-intuitive; after all, aren’t you supposed to be promoting your business? Yes, but this just another wise method to create interest in your profile. Here’s how: by promoting other local businesses’ pins about their products and services, especially those in your community, you are making your Pinterest profile much more interesting to your followers. They can now rely on your profile to hear about other local businesses. This means they’ll visit your profile more. Also, supporting your community works in your interest, too – the community’s gain is your gain.
#8 Don’t just focus on your business – think outside the box
A Pinterest profile that focuses on your products or your services alone may soon become boring to your followers. Your main goal is to always keep them engaged and get them to comment on your images, and re-pin them, as much as possible. So create some boards that are not related to your businesses. For example, if you’re a designer, create a board dedicated to great works of art you find around the web. If you have a restaurant, create a board dedicated for beautiful images of food and/or a board for recipes you love. In short, make your profile an experience in itself for all those who share your passion by expanding its scope.
Here are some additional boards an interior designer shares with her followers:
#9 Think locally – show your connection to the community
To start building a local fan base in your community, first you have to show that you are an active part of this community. Has your business participated in a local volunteering activity? Are you collaborating with other local businesses? Post images that reflect these things. Also, you can show your connection to your town by posting pictures of it, for example a scenic picture of your local park, a picture of the best place to get coffee in your town, etc. This will make your local followers feel more connected to you on a personal level.
#10 Promote your business – subtly
Well, after this long talk about being a part of the community, it is now time for some self promotion. Yes, you can do this on Pinterest, but the key word is subtlety. This can be done by not posting images that feature your products and nothing else, but rather, images that show how they can be used or where they are being used. For example, an image of your product that been posted by another business that is using it, or a picture showing someone casually using your product as a part of their daily life.
If you are still somewhat confused, and would like a thorough explanation on using Pinterest and all its features, perhaps this Youtube tutorial will help: