Small businesses are sometimes cautious about joining too many social networks – either because of limited resources (time), or because of limited knowledge of how to effectively use them – and instead they tend to use the biggies: Facebook and Twitter. Pinterest is overlooked because the concept is very different, or business owners feel their business isn’t visual enough. And this is a mistake.
There are many ways to make content visual, but Pinterest is about the content of others in addition to your own. Not forgetting that the half-life of a pin far exceeds that of a tweet or Facebook post.
There are also plenty of resources available to help get you started on Pinterest, and below we explore 11 ways in which you can use Pinterest to grow your audience – both on Pinterest and in sales.
Have a Completed Profile
As with any social network, it is important to spend time completing your profile. Focus on the following:
- Make sure you are using Pinterest for Business. This either involves logging out of your personal account and then creating a new account for your business, or converting your existing Pinterest account to a business account.
- Check that your privacy settings are correct, and that you haven’t accidentally hidden your profile from search engines.
- Use your business logo as your profile image and your business name as your profile name.
- Include 4-5 keywords in your bio, which should concisely tell people about your business.
- Add your business website URL, and follow the steps here to verify it.
- Link your Pinterest account to your businesses other social profiles on Twitter, Facebook and Google+.
Follow the 40-40-20 Principle
As with any content, what you share on social networks such as Pinterest should be more about helping and informing, than aggressively selling and marketing. One approach is to use a variation of the 40-40-20 principle and have:
- 40 percent of your boards and pins containing motivational, aspirational and fun content,
- 40 percent containing helpful, instructional and educational content, and
- 20 percent containing content about your products and services.
Pay Attention to Your Boards
Although Pinterest does not limit you in terms of how many boards you can create, you should still follow a strategy that allows your boards to:
- Tell the story of your business – Telling your story can be done with boards that focus on the history of the business, introduce the staff, demonstrate how your business follows its own values, illustrate the business involvement in the community, and even give a glance at what happens behind the scenes
- Help grow your business – Boards that help your business grow are those that focus on the products you sell, or services you offer, and can include rich pins that link directly to products in your online store, or highlight special offers.
- Help your audience – Boards that help your audience are those that while not directly promoting your business, still align with your business. These can be boards that share helpful tips, for example, a hair salon might share home haircare tips.
Once you have established your strategy, you can go about creating your boards and adding pins to them. The board names should be short, and possibly include a keyword, while the board description should give a clear idea of what type of information is shared on the board. Again include a few important keywords in the description.
Berry Insurance in Franklin, Massachusetts have a great mix of boards that do exactly what we outlined above, focusing heavily on helping their audience, selling their product and telling their story, with even a bit of community promotion thrown in.
Maintain a Healthy Pin to Re-pin Ratio
A common mistake on Pinterest is to either exclusively re-pin the content of others or to only pin your own content. Some users recommend a ratio of 5:1, meaning for every 5 items you re-pin from other users, you add one piece of your own original content. This is a good target to aim for, though in the beginning you could also get away with a ratio of 3:1.
Always Use Great Visuals
Images have become an important part of status updates on almost all social networks, but with Pinterest visuals have always been the key element. Keep the following in mind when preparing images:
- Tall images are re-pinned most often – when possible aim for 1200px X 800px, which is a 3:2 aspect ratio.
- Images featuring warm colors such as red, orange and brown are re-pinned more frequently than images with predominantly cold colors such as blue.
- Images with multiple dominant colors are three times more popular than monochromatic images, or images with only a single dominant color.
- Use images that include a human face sparingly.
The above points are based on oft-cited observations made by Curalate and Dan Zarrella, but it is possible that you may observe different behaviour among your users. Use these points as a guide, but tweak your approach based on your analysis of your accounts performance.
Apply to Use Rich Pins on Your Site
Rich pins are not enabled by default, and they do require some technical modifications to be made to the code on your website – but don’t let that be a deterrant – rich pins add extra detail to any content shared from your website via Pinterest, and aside from enhancing how your content appears on Pinterest they can also help drive traffic and sales. Several types of rich pins are available, so it is important to decide exactly which type is most applicable to your business before you begin the whole process of modifying your site code, and applying to Pinterest:
- App Pins (new) – App Pins feature, an Install button that takes iOS users to the App Store to download your app
- Place Pins – Place Pins lets you add a location to Pins that come from your website. When people Pin something from your site to a place board, it’ll show the location.
- Article Pins – Article Pins let you show the headline or title, the description and the author of your article or blog post.
- Product Pins – Product Pins let you show the price, stock status and product description on Pins from your website.
- Recipe Pins – Recipe Pins let you add a title, serving size, cook time and a list of ingredients to recipes from your site. We can also tell if something is paleo, vegetarian, vegan or gluten free.
- Movie Pins – Movie Pins let you add extra information about the movie that’s on your website, including user rating, director, actors and actresses in the movie, release date and movie rating (G, PG, R, etc.).
Leif in Brooklyn, New York have enabled rich pins on their online store, so any items that users pin to their own boards always show the latest availability information and pricing for each item.
Use Pinterest for Coupons, Special Offers & Contests
A popular way to get users to visit your Pinterest page more often, and to share your content, is through the use of coupons and special offers that only appear on Pinterest, and through the use of Pinterest exclusive contests. Pinterest does have rules regarding this, so read through these before launching any contests.
Add the Pin It Widget to Your Sites Images
Pinterest offers a variety of widgets and tools that you can add to your business website to encourage visitors to share your content on Pinterest. The most recommended (and one you have probably encountered many times already) is the Pin It image hover: this reveals a Pin It button whenever a visitor hovers over an image on your website, allowing them to easily add the relevant content with that image already selected.
Engage With Others on Pinterest
It is important that you not only dedicate time each day to updating your Pinterest boards, but also to engaging with other Pinterest users. This means not only commenting on any content you re-pin, but also responding to any comments on your own pins, and occasionally thanking people who have re-pinned any of your content. Leading on from this, try following any boards you find yourself re-pinning content from – this serves not only as an endorsement, but can also help you grow the number of followers you have.
Use Group Boards to Grow
Group boards are a powerful way in which to reach new users, and to grow your own followers and number of re-pins. Try to join a few group boards that appeal to your audience demographic, and that match your own businesses appeal and/or vision. Guard against being spammy in what you share to group boards or you may be blocked. Use Board Deck to make it easier to find relevant group boards for you to join and participate in.
In a similar vein, businesses should consider creating a board on which customers can pin images, videos and stories of them using products they purchased from the business. A great example of this can be found on the Pinterest page for Nashville Wraps, who love sharing the ways in which their customers use their products.
Always Optimise for SEO
Ideally you should have an SEO strategy for your business website, and it is important that you follow this same strategy with your social network presence. Try to find ways of including keywords relevant to your business in your profile, board descriptions and in any content you pin – but always naturally. Take the time to craft the description you add to any pin, include appropriate hashtags if possible, and always add it to the most relevant board. It may be a process of discovery in the beginning, but don’t worry – any mistakes you make can be corrected later.
Are you a local business using Pinterest? What has your experience been like, and what tips have you picked up along the way? Share with us in the comments below.