Pinterest for small businesses
Making Pinterest work for your business
We signed up for Pinterest about two years ago and we have a business account which you can see here. We were probably late to the party but, to be honest, it seemed like not many people in the UK were using it either in a personal or business capacity. Like all things social media, people in the US were a few paces ahead and, at that time, Pinterest seemed to be populated by people mad about needlework, baby clothes, recipes and crafting. It has a massive following with women - 71% of users are female, although the site's male base doubled in 2014, according to the company.
What is Pinterest?
You can think of Pinterest as a virtual cork board - it's a place where you can 'pin' visual content and store Pins on Pinterest's 'Boards'. You can create Boards by theme and organise your content on them. For example, you could make a Board called 'Cocktails I love' and pin all your favourite cocktail recipes there. The Pin is an image and usually links to other content (so your cocktail picture might link to another page with the recipe on).
Is Pinterest right for you?
Pinterest says that the site is not a place that should be used to directly promote your brand - however, it's OK to use it in ways that might help to market your work peripherally. Pinterest is great for people who are already active online and who love engaging with others online. If you like blogging as a way of promoting your business, Pinterest can be a place to look for inspiration, and in many ways serves as a kind of pop-cultural zeitgeist - the here and now.
Using Pinterest creatively for your business
Because Pinterest is such a visual medium, it's an incredible place to brainstorm, work through ideas or develop content.
Pinterest is a good way of finding out what people like right now, and what they don't. It plugs straight into contemporary culture, regardless of the topic. So you can use it as a way of finding out what your clients are looking for and what they appreciate.
Exposure has become a dirty word for creative professionals - there is always someone asking for your work in return for 'exposure' rather than something more tangible. Pinterest is a useful way of exposing your brand to a wide audience - an audience with shared values and interests. You can post content that links directly to your own website. Your work might be discovered by someone who didn't realise they wanted the thing you offer!
Branding for your business
You can pin content that chimes with the values of your own brand - people who are interested in those Pins are likely to be interested in your offering, too.
How to use Pinterest to help build your brand
Take a look at our Pinterest account. We've laid it out in a way so that you can see the things we're interested in - the boards are clearly labelled and arranged by theme. We've made boards that contain content that we think our potential clients share our interest in. We work with families, but also other professional people and companies. Very often we will work with parents who have younger children - because they are parents, they may also have an interest in recipes for food kids love, or things to do at the weekend with kids. So we have made boards to cater for those interests.
On the other hand, many of our studio photography clients come to us because we produce fine art photography. These people might be interested in our boards containing work by well-known photographers like Annie Leibovitz, Mark Seliger and Sue Bryce. We're also asked often about what clients should wear at their photoshoots - they can have a look at our boards here and here to get some inspiration for that. People who enjoy fine art photography might also have an interest in design in a more general sense, so we have boards for interior inspiration and midcentury interiors, for example, which might appeal to them.
Making Pinterest work for your brand is about finding and pinning content which you feels aligns with your brand values, and which is going to be useful to your potential clients. It's about finding things that you have in common with those with whom you want to be around and work with. In that sense it's just the same as socialising in the physical world - you're generating interest in areas of common value.
Personal or business account?
I'd definitely recommend going with a Pinterest business account, and there are lots more features. There is no extra charge for having a business account.
Analytics allows you to see what content is being pinned from your website, how well Pins from your Pinterest account are doing, and which Pins are getting the most clicks and impressions. Pinterest Analytics also lets you know which Pins drive user engagement across a range of social media platforms. Most interestingly (perhaps), business users also have access to the demographics of the people pinning their content, which could give insight into how to use content to drive business your way.
Pinning content to your boards is a way of getting noticed online - Google takes note of what you pin. You can also add a Pin It button to your website, which allows users to easily pin your content to their Pinterest boards.
What content should businesses pin?
I think the first rule of thumb should be to think of what other Pinterest users are going to want to see. Think of the needs of your clients rather than trying to sell or market to them. Pinning content that is peripheral to your business offering is the key thing here - think about the things your clients are interested in that aren't all about you! For example, a gym might want to pin content that has to do with other areas of living a healthy life, such as diet.
Local businesses can add their location to their Pins.
Curate your boards, making sure that your content is visually appealing in a way that will draw in other users and, hopefully, your clients.
Pin content that really represents your brand or is aspirational for your brand.
Pin often, ensuring that the stuff you pin leads back to valuable or interesting content for your followers.