Social Media

How to use Pinterest to gain more customers online

In a sea of other social networking options, there are a number of reasons why you may want to pay attention to Pinterest—the networking site that allows users to create online image collages, then share those collages (called “pinboards”) with other Pinterest users—and possibly move it up on your list of marketing priorities.

Check out these stats:

  • Pinterest currently has more than 70 million unique visitors (as of 2014), and thousands of new users are signing up and using the site every day.
  • Pinterest is driving more traffic to websites and blogs than Twitter, YouTube, Google+ and LinkedIn combined, according to content-sharing site Shareaholic.

You may have heard that Pinterest is only good for marketing physical products (like jewelry or clothes) and that the social media tool can only be used to market to women. Those rumors are untrue: Pinterest is great for marketing just about any product or service, no matter who your target audience is.

You should use Pinterest if:

  • You have an interesting story to tell with images and videos. I could argue that most companies do, or that they could create an interesting story to tell. Even General Electric—not a company that would typically spring to mind as being able to do anything interesting with a Pinterest profile—has created cool pinboards like “Brilliance in Motion” that tell their story in visually interesting ways. What kind of visual story can you tell about your business that will help customers get to know you and humanize your brand?
  • You want to establish yourself as an expert on your topic. Pinterest is a fantastic platform for content curation, and smart companies are using it for that purpose. If you regularly share content via tweets or Facebook updates, you can extend that sharing to your Pinterest platform by using pins and boards as a social bookmarking tool.
  • When you want to interface with your clients and work collaboratively with them in a visual way. If you’re a service provider and you regularly have opportunities to collaborate and brainstorm with your clients, Pinterest will be a fantastic tool for you.

It only takes a few moments to create your Pinterest business account. Once your account’s set up, you can create online collages (“boards”) for different topics you’re interested in, then add images and videos to your boards by “pinning” them. The interface is fast, slick and fun.

A lot of the content on Pinterest (up to 85 percent, according to recent figures) is “repinned” from other users—so you can make yourself stand out by regularly introducing cool new content from outside websites and blogs. And always keep your target audience in mind when you’re pinning—you want to regularly pin content that your prospects and customers will find useful, interesting or entertaining.

Once you’ve gotten the basics of Pinterest down, how do you use pinning to really connect with your target market? Here are five suggestions for using Pinterest to build genuine, lasting relationships with your prospects:

1. Engage with other Pinterest users. Tag other Pinterest users in any pin by using “@username” in your descriptions. You can use this feature to engage with customers, strategic partners or industry vendors. There aren’t a ton of comments on Pinterest (and even fewer comments that tag individual users), so if you engage in this way, it can help you build your following and stand out from the crowd.

Another suggestion is to regularly “like” other people’s pins when you want to recognize great content. This is an easy way to interact with other users in an approachable, personal way.

2. Become an information curator for your niche. Your job on Pinterest is to gather and display awesome content in your niche—and that makes you a curator. In the real world, professional curators gather, organize, and display items for museums and galleries. Your job as an online curator is to do the same thing for your virtual audience.

Being a Pinterest curator means you pick the best images, then organize them in an interesting way that benefits your core audience. In other words, you cherry-pick all the best images related to your topic and pin them to your boards.

If you do a good job, you’ll build your authority, and people will eventually look to you as the go-to source for cool images and content on your topic. When that happens, you can bet they’ll come back to you again and again, giving you lots of chances to tell them about your blog or website. This helps you become a trusted expert that they’ll be happy to buy from, too.

3. Feature user-generated content. You can start generating goodwill with your community by featuring user-generated content on your pinboards. Set up a “Guest Pinner” program for your Pinterest account, and allow your best customers students to pin on certain boards.

Give your guest pinners some general content guidelines (make sure they’re clear on who your target audience is and the kinds of things your followers like), then add them as collaborators on the board and set them loose to pin images and videos. You’ll be amazed what great content your guest pinners create, and they will also be delighted to get more attention for their own Pinterest accounts!

4. Create boards for conferences you attend. Pinning can be used to network before, during and after live events and conferences. Before the event, you can write and pin blog posts about what sessions you’ll be attending and the people you’re hoping to connect with (make sure to link to their pinboards or blogs, too).

During the conference, you can share photos and videos of sessions, presenters and other attendees. After the event is over, do some post-conference pins to share your follow-up actions and talk about what you’re hoping to accomplish with the knowledge you gained and the people you connected with.