"The universe is made of stories, not of atoms."
Guest Post: The Power of a Pin: Why Pinterest Is a Game Changer by Penny C. Sansevieri
About ten months ago, I listened to Gary Vaynerchuck talk about this new site called Pinterest. He was really excited about it, though at first I didn't get it. "Get on Pinterest now!" Gary encouraged. I didn't listen, thinking, "Oh, dear, not another social network!" But Pinterest has proven to be anything but another social network. First off, its growth has been extraordinary. According to several reports, including a blog post shared on Mashable, from September 2011 to December 2011, unique visitors on Pinterest increased by 429 percent. That kind of growth has never been seen in a social network and while it's still early for Pinterest, we're seeing a lot of staying power, especially with established brands like Macy's, Land's End and magazines such as Real Simple -- which got more traffic from Pinterest in October 2011 than from Facebook.
For those of you who haven't been on Pinterest, the concept is almost deceptively simple. You sign up for an account (there's a waiting period right now as Pinterest tries to manage traffic and new accounts; once you sign up it should take about a week before you can get in). The site is a collection of boards, sort of like virtual bulletin boards that you name and add to your page. You can have as many boards as you want and name them whatever you want (though make sure to read through the Pinterest terms of service so you know you're not violating any of their regulations). The boards can describe your brand, book, message, or business. We'll look at some board ideas in a minute but for now, think bulletin board.
So, that said, how can you make the most of Pinterest? Like any social network, I recommend that you poke around, follow a few people in your industry and see what they are posting about. There are a lot of creative boards and a lot of companies using Pinterest as a unique brand extension. Check out Chobani's Pinterest page; they have all sorts of boards that tie into their brand including Chobani Champions, recipes, spoons, and sans yogurt which is a board about all things non-yogurt related.
Picking your Boards
First off, it's important to come up with creative and interesting board names. Keep in mind that these board names get shared whenever someone repins you so make them catchy!
When you first start on Pinterest, you are a completely blank slate. It's up to you to fill your new Pinterest page with exciting boards. But where to start? Well, your business, product, message, or book will often determine the boards you put up. You should consider your audience first and what they would like to see. Here are a few ideas:
If you do a lot of speaking or other offline events, create a board that captures the excitement of these by posting pictures and videos. This is especially great if you have a conference or other big event you're planning. You could put the board up early with "teaser" content to encourage sign-ups, too!
Create a customer or reader board that has pictures and/or videos of happy customers. I often talk about capturing endorsements or reviews on video when you see someone at an event, these can be posted to this board.
How-to boards are great as well. You can create a board (or several) around how-to's related to your product or service.
Company boards are great too, you can create one that showcases your company, sharing your core values, and also highlights your team.
Thank you boards are great, too. Consider creating a thank you board for clients.
If you're promoting a new book, product, or campaign you can also create a board to support that. The board can have tutorials on it, or videos of the new product. It can be a combination of how-to and showcasing what you're offering.
Tutorials are big for our company, so we plan to offer tutorial boards to help walk our clients through how to use social media, how to continue reaping the benefits from our campaigns once they are done, etc.
Trends and seasonal stuff make great boards, too. So don't hesitate to create a holiday or trend board if you think your audience will be interested.
You can also let your customers work on a board with you. Create a user-generated content board and invite customers or readers to pin away!
If the idea of Pinterest is still intimidating, consider the following marketing ideas for your boards:
Videos: Pinterest loves videos. What videos can you pin to a board?
Keywords are big on Pinterest, so be sure to think carefully about what you name your picture and what words you use in the description. You can even use hashtags on Pinterest and if you're trying to get the attention of another Pinner, use the @ followed by their Pin-name to tag them. You can also use a dollar sign to add a "ribbon" to your pin that will immediately show pricing. This is great if you're selling a product.
When you add your pin, don't forget to tweet it and add it to Facebook; you can do this as soon as the pin is loaded.
When you blog, be sure to add great pictures to your blog so that when you pin your blog post to your board, you can capture a great image. Images on Pinterest are obviously important!
Click the "popular" link on Pinterest to see what's hot and what's trending. You might be able to make this part of your content strategy.
Be sure to promote your Pinterest account on Facebook, Twitter, on your website, and in your email signature line, of course.
A Few Final Points
Be sure to add a catchy description to your profile and when you're setting up your Pinterest account, link it to your Facebook and Twitter accounts. This will help you gain followers, and add the icons to your profile page so you can direct people there, too.
Make sure to engage on Pinterest. Repin pins you love, comment on pins and since you can see pins on the site from folks you aren't even connected with, be sure to broaden your reach when networking. You never know where the next follower will come from.
Pinterest is a fun, if not highly addictive way, to start marketing. Still not sure what to do on Pinterest? Then get started by following others in your industry and get a sense of what they're doing. While the future of Pinterest is still uncertain, one thing we know is for sure. The site has grown at rates that no one expected and continues to do so. It's been the quickest site to monetize (to give you perspective, it took Twitter five years to monetize) and has already become a staple for many businesses.