By Daniel Kehrer
Pinterest has started to catch the eye of many small business owners. And the reason is simple: It’s a great way to drive traffic to your website and create leads for your business.
In fact, in some cases, it’s more effective than Facebook. And growth on this social sharing site, which is free to use, has been phenomenal. Pinterest has skyrocketed to become the third biggest social site, ahead of Google+ and LinkedIn.
Pinterest is a highly visual site, based in large part on sharing images, along with other content. The platform lets users visually share things they’ve found online by “pinning” an image, article, video or other item to their own “pinboard.” Users often create collections of “pins” around a theme of some kind. They can either pin things they’ve found on the web, or upload their own images. You’ll also see the Pinterest button showing up on websites as a way for visitors to quickly “pin” an item, which might also be a simple URL.
Some small businesses that rely heavily on website traffic to increase sales are reporting a surge of traffic now coming from Pinterest. Susan Lyne, CEO of the popular shopping site called Gilt.com, which offers designer goods at a discount, says her site has gotten a big boost from Pinterest. In part that’s because Gilt has lots of high quality images of the items it sells, which is the kind of thing people like to pin on Pinterest.
Here are ten tips and tactics for small business success on Pinterest:
- Although it’s already become the fastest growing social network of all time, Pinterest is still technically in “beta” so when you go to sign up you must request an invitation to join. But don’t worry, it’s all but automatic that you’re in.
- Pinterest doesn’t yet provide a connection to Facebook business pages, so if your business is on Twitter, be sure to use the same email address you use for your business Twitter account to sign up for Pinterest. You’ll be able to sign in with your same Twitter login.
- Write a detailed “About” description of your business, using appropriate key words and geographic locations so you’ll show up in search. Also make sure the button marked “Hide your Pinterest profile from search engines” is OFF.
- Link your Pinterest account to other social media – especially your Facebook page and Twitter account – and link it to your business website. But keep in mind that Pinterest was designed for individuals, not businesses, so there’s really no such thing yet as a Pinterest “business page.” Just think in terms of using the site as a person, rather than a business.
- Your main activity on Pinterest will be to set up various “pinboards.” You’ll gain traction for your business by organizing and naming them according to the types of products and services you sell. You should create these first, before you start trying to build your Pinterest following. As with Facebook “Likes” and Twitter followers, you’ll want to build a loyal follower base on Pinterest by catering to topics that people are passionate about.
- Once you are on Pinterest, add the Pinterest follow button to your business website, blog, social media pages and even your printed materials. This is a good way to jumpstart your Pinterest presence.
- Focus first on visual content. Remember, Pinterest is a heavily visual medium, so you’ll want to use your best stuff here. If you have great product shots, that’s one option. Some businesses are pinning photos of their employees and location.
- So far, Pinterest users have been more heavily female (about 80%), so keep that in mind as well. If your customer base is mainly men, Pinterest might not be right for you just yet.
- If you have a blog and are using strong photos there, make a habit of putting them on your pinboard as well. You can also pin charts, graphs and other graphics.
- Follow the same social media “rules” you’d follow elsewhere. For example, concentrate on making yourself a valuable resource to others rather than trying to overtly sell.
Is your business on Pinterest? Has it helped generate more traffic or interested in your product or services? We'd love to hear about in the comments section below!