by Wendy Kenney

With close to 12 million active visitors in the US per month Pinterest just happens to be the newest “big thing” in the social media world.

In case you haven’t heard of it, Pinterest is like a virtual version of the bulletin board that you keep in your office.  Users have their own “boards” where they can post images of things that they find interesting, inspiring, or memorable online.  Users can follow other uses, “like” each other’s pins, and comment on each other’s boards.  They can also “repin” images to their own boards.  It’s social, fun, and visually stimulating in a way that other social media sites aren’t, which may be why so many people find it addicting.

Pinterest is now second to Facebook as far as how much time each visitor spends on the site per visit.  This is tremendous growth especially considering that the site is still accessible to users by invitation only!  Judging by the adoption rate and the time spent on site per user, Pinterest may very well be the social networking site that small business owners want to pay attention to.

There are two benefits that Pinterest can provide for small business owners.  One is visibility and the other is referral traffic to your website.  Think of Pinterest like a sign on the road that says “turn this way.”  If your image is engaging enough you may just distract Pinterest users enough from what they were doing to turn from what they were looking at to go to your site and find out more.

So is Pinterest right for your business?  It depends.  Here are 5 tips on using Pinterest to market your business.

1. Make sure it’s right for you.

Seventy percent of Pinterest users are females under the ages of 45.  (Although men are starting to adopt it as well.) If this is not your demographic, then Pinterest isn’t likely going to be a good fit for you (at least right now).  There are, however, some specific types of businesses that I think may benefit from exposure via Pinterest.

  • Clothing retailers
  • Cosmetologists, makeup artists, fashion designers
  • Personal shoppers
  • Grocery stores, food stores, anything food-related
  • Restaurants and Caterers
  • Personal Trainers
  • Fitness gurus
  • Florists
  • Photographers
  • Chefs
  • Toy Companies
  • Stationary Stores
  • Interior Decorators
  • Home Improvement Stores
  • Unique Gift Shops
  • Handmade Items
  • Graphic Designers
  • Other businesses with a visual product or service

2. Follow the rules.

If you decide that Pinterest is a good fit for your business, make sure you follow the rules.

  • Avoid too much self-promotion.  While it’s okay to share things from your website, if that’s all you do, you may find you have little interest.
  • Share things you love, not just the things you sell. (But make sure they are related to what you sell)
  • Take this opportunity to share a different side of yourself or your business with current and potential customers.
  • Use Pinterest to build relationships and rapport that can lead to sales in other arenas.

3. Share things that are visually appealing, new, and fun!

  • Keep your target demographic of women under age 45 in mind all the time.
  • The best way to know what to share is to see what people are “liking” and repining.
  • Since the whole point of Pinterest is for members to discover new things, look for ways to share new and interesting things that will attract and inspire your ideal clients.
  • Make “share something new” your Pinterest motto.

4. Credit your sources.

  • A crucial part of the Pinterest environment is giving credit where credit is due.
  • Crediting sources and linking back to the content creator helps preserve copyright while allowing people to share the things they love.
  • Take the time to locate the original source in order to ensure credit is given appropriately.

5. Host a Pinterest contest.

Challenge followers to create the best board featuring ways to use your products or offer a prize for the most repins of a specific subject matter or for a topic relating to your business.  Be creative and make sure your contest appeals to the people you want to participate.

The most important thing to remember when looking to Pinterest as a way to market your business and build your brand is to use the visual atmosphere of the pinboards to your advantage.  Inspire customers and prospects to interact with you and with each other in new and interesting ways and you may bring in new customers without a single sales pitch.



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