Pretty pictures help, but if you want to make the most of Pinterest, you need a more thoughtful strategy.

 Minda Zetlin | Inc

You have a Pinterest account for your business. That’s a good first step, but are you using it to full advantage? The right Pinterest strategy can help you gather followers faster and better reach your marketing goals, according to Beth Hayden, a social media consultant and author of Pinfluence: The Complete Guide to Marketing Your Business with Pinterest.

How can you make sure you’re getting the most benefit from your Pinterest boards? Hayden recommends these steps:

1. Fill out your profile thoughtfully.

“Make sure your profile is complete with the paragraph about you filled out and containing a link your website, Facebook page, or whatever social media site you prefer, along with a photo or logo,” she says. “It sounds very basic, but a surprising number of people skip this step.”

As for the image, she recommends a company logo if several people on your team will be pinning on behalf of your company. But if only you (or any one member of your team) will be the only one using Pinterest, it makes more sense to have a picture of that person. “People want to see the face of the brand, especially with a small business,” she says.

2. Think curation, not self-promotion.

Pick out websites, resources and ideas that your audience will find useful, Hayden advises. “Don’t just pin yourself and your own blog posts. Think of it as putting together the best resources for your audience. That’s the way to build your following.”

Of course, it’s fine to also pin new content such as a blog post or information about an upcoming event, she says. But it’s important to balance it with a lot of non-promotional pins as well. And don’t just pin pretty pictures, she advises. “Think of it as a bookmarking site.”

3. Be as specific and unique as possible.

Most businesses on Pinterest have boards that are way too general, Hayden says. They’ll try to appeal to a wide audience and wind up with something completely generic. “You’ll have more luck and generate more buzz if instead of a recipe board you have a marshmallow recipe board,” she says.

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