By Monez Mener
If you are going to embrace social media for promoting your business, consider including Pinterest as part of your marketing strategy.
Assess the Pinterest Option
Here are questions to ask yourself to help determine whether marketing with Pinterest might be of value to your business:
• Is your business B2B or B2C?
• Will you use Pinterest to get more traffic?
• Is your target customer mostly men or women?
• How do you think you will benefit from using Pinterest?
• Is your business, product or service-based?
• Are your products or services mostly related to fashion, weddings, cooking or crafts?
• Do your products have strong visual appeal? (Do you have the time to improve the content and visual quality of your web and other social media sites, especially any photos?)
• Are you already using social media for business?
• Why are you interested in using Pinterest
• Will you pin items that aren't totally about your business (news, trends, others' ideas, etc.)?
If you have clear answers to all of these questions, you might find value in developing a Pinterest-based social media presence. However, if you are overwhelmed, annoyed, or burnt out on "yet another social media site", you might set Pinterest aside for a while.
What do you know about Pinterest?
Pinterest serves a slightly different function in social media. It is not the place where you converse to the same degree as with Facebook or Twitter and it is not another blog site. Pinterest is a social/visual "virtual pinboard" that allows users to post (pin) images or videos from the web to their own (and others' boards) and browse Pinterest.
Once a Pinterest account is created, virtual boards created within the account can be categorized and the user can add descriptions as reminders of why a picture or video was saved. Many (but not all) images/pins link the Pinterest user back to the website source for easy access at a later time. The account owner-user can invite others to pin content of related interest to the board, or can restrict it to personal use, only.
One media writer describes Pinterest as a "database of intentions". An individual often uses his or her Pinterest board to collect ideas, specifically visual images, of something desired. For instance, you may want to see pictures of wedding gowns (a popular subject on Pinterest). Pictures of interest can be "pinned" to the board.
Many website images now include a Pin It widget on their pages enabling the visitor to pin content from that web page. And users can upload pins of their own content - the amazing dessert, an image of a newly-completed oil painting, or images of a new line of winter fashion accessories.
How Does Marketing Come Into This?
As a business promoter, your goal is to increase viewer traffic to your social media site. Once there, it is up to your web content to influence visitors to make purchases. Pinterest is now seen as an extension of an individual's or a company's website and it is credited with increasing page views by as much as 29 percent.
The increasingly popular Etsy online marketplace is considered to be one of the best performing brands on Pinterest, increasing Etsy's revenue by 9.4 percent in 2013. Why the interest? It's the pictures!
People love pictures in advertising for Do-It-Yourself (DIY) projects, and posted with crafts, how-to's and recipes. Viewers want pictures in all platforms. Brands need to incorporate pictures into Pinterest and all social media sites used for marketing.
Where to Start
• Knowledge - Start by building your knowledge base about the types of interests and prospective clients might use Pinterest.
• Pinterest has more than 70 million users. That's a large potential customer/consumer base.
• Women users repin (pinning images found on the web and in Pinterest searches) to their own boards more often than men but have fewer followers.
• The top three most popular Pinterest categories are DIY and crafts, hair and beauty, and design.
• The most popular categories on Pinterest are babies, beauty, crafts, fashion, fitness, food, home decor, kids, pets, and travel. Seasonal subjects are very popular, too - holidays, seasonal changes, current events.
• Category usage differs vastly from men to women: women focus on fewer categories whereas men spread out their pins. Also, women's top five categories account for more than 56 percent of all their Pinterest activity; men's top five categories are under 40 percent.
• Men users favor photography, art, design, and home decor categories.
• Time of day for pinning can be important. In the United States, the best time of day to pin is between 2 PM and 4 PM (Eastern time); the best time at night is between 8 PM and 1 AM (Eastern time).
Do extensive online research. Look at some of the popular retail sites and notice their use of PinIt widgets. Search the Internet for subjects from one of the more popular categories. Your search will probably bring up Pinterest links. Click and view the subject on the Pinterest site and study the content, layout, and appearance.
Create a Pinterest account and get verified through the site's business section. You can set up your Pinterest boards privately, adjusting them until you believe you have them ready for show. Then, change the viewing status and start monitoring your PinIt results.
You will have access to some interesting business development tools, including analytics. Use the analytics tool to see pin activity data on your website and Pinterest boards. The analytics can help you better understand what pinners like ("Most Repinned and Most Clicked). Customize and fine-tune your pins for more conversions.
Your clients are exploring your site for items to pin and repin to other Pinterest boards. You should be focused on creating content that reflects your customer's passions. Pinterest users typically share content that has educational value and practicality to them. How can you align your content to the customers' interests?
Preparing Your Pinterest Content
• Website evaluation - Is your website Pin-friendly, up-to-date, and current content rich, especially with quality pictures? Get your website in good order.
• Content organization - Organize all your Pinterest boards by themes to make it easier for other users to find and browse specific content.
• Brand the photos - Brand (add your logo) to a corner of each picture you pin to your board. Researchers have noted that large watermarks over images are Pinner turnoffs.
• Shopper-friendly content - More than most social media sites, Pinterest is about shopping. Each board should
Shopper-friendly content - More than most social media sites, Pinterest is about shopping. Each board should be designed and content-filled with "shopper friendly" in mind. Describe the product or service and use only clear, quality images.
• Join the community - while you spend time each day updating and checking your social media, engage with the people of the communities: post and answer questions, and comment on others' content.
• Repin - When it comes directly to Pinterest, invite others to repin content to your board. Repinning to your account brings your account to the attention of the person from whom you repined (that person receives a notification and/or email). The person from whom you repined may also return the repin favor.
• No broken backlinks - make sure your links in Pinterest correctly backlink to your web, Facebook or Twitter sites. Fix any broken backlinks!
Let's get clear on pictures. There are some key points to know about posting pictures and videos on Pinterest:
• Brand images (on Pinterest) are more likely to receive a repin if the image does not contain a face - 23 percent more likely. BTW, one study showed that Pinterest has 4.25 times more images without faces.
• Color - images with lots of color are preferred. Red, orange and brown images are twice as likely to be repined; blue images are less likely. Images with medium lightness will be repinned 20 times more often than mostly black images, eight times more likely than white images.
• Background and texture - influence repinning choices. Pinsters favour images with less than 30 percent background; the drop-off rate was two-to-four times for images that contain 40 percent or more background content. Smooth textures are preferred to rough textures - garnering up to 17 times more repins.
• Image size - taller images and vertical images are more repinable according to studies. Smaller images and infographics receive more click-throughs because they are harder to read from the Pinterest site. An infographic headline is key to getting more click throughs.
• Traffic response - you can control traffic response by including a specific call to action on your pin's landing page
Maintaining Your Presence
A large business with its own marketing group or consultants can spend a considerable amount of time studying the analytics on ROI, placing the most professionally done photographs and text and updating content nearly every day.
The smaller business person should plan to spend at least two hours daily, monitoring feedback, replying to comments (when appropriate), and refreshing content. This is a fairly small investment of time and effort for potentially good results.
Over time, the comments and number of visitors will begin to show what areas of your content are effective - like what products are being ignored and which are being purchased. Conversely, they may reveal lack of interest and a limited number of purchases.
If your traffic remains sluggish, evaluate every aspect - text, layout, images, links - everything. You may want or need to consult with an online marketing specialist or web/media designer for assistance in refreshing your content.
It's easy to overwhelm viewers with information and oversaturation is as ineffective in marketing as is too little valuable content. Again, feedback will let you know what's working and what isn't.
One more thing about those numbers - marketers can buy "likes" and "tweets" to inflate the numbers of legitimate viewer likes and tweets. Those high numbers you envy may not necessarily be an accurate representation of who is really following a brand. More importantly, they don't accurately represent the purchases related to that brand.