Pinterest Goes to Work: Using Pinterest for Business

Lauren Owens - August 28, 2012

There’s been a lot of talk in the last year or so about Pinterest, the hottest social media site going. And though marketers have been quick to catch on, many are still not using Pinterest effectively. This post will discuss how businesses can use Pinterest to drive traffic and inspire brand loyalty.

Just in case you’ve never dipped your toe in the pool that is Pinterest, here is a primer: Pinterest is a social media site wherein users create pinboards around certain topics or themes. Like Twitter and Facebook, users can follow brands or “pinners” that they like. They can also “like” individual pins and follow individual pinboards.

Probably the best thing about Pinterest, for businesses, is that pins can be “repinned,” or repurposed, for other pinboards – creating an opportunity for an image to be widely shared across the site.

While an audience might come to Twitter for information, they’re coming to Pinterest for inspiration. Your task as a marketer is to inspire the image-hungry Pinterest audience to “like” and share your images. You can do this by creating clean, aesthetically pleasing, pins and pinboards.

But be careful: Pinterest is about fun, not shopping. By joining in on the fun, you can encourage interest in your brand, drive traffic to your site, generate leads, and inspire brand loyalty.

The first instinct companies have regarding Pinterest is to create 100% product-centric pinboards. This will likely backfire. If your pinboards look too much like your website, users have little reason to follow; if they want to see your images, they can just go to your website.

Your task instead is to be creative and to diversify.

Look, for example, at the pinboards created by the clothing company Madewell.

While some of Madewell’s pinboards are product-heavy, others celebrate things they love, like fun prints (on the pinboard Print, Pattern, Repeat) cool designs (on the pinboard Visual Happiness) and even books (on the pinboard What We’re Reading). Here, Madewell isn’t just creating sales tools, they’re creating inspiring pinboards that identify their brand with specific ideas.

You can do the same for your brand by being creative, and considering the many visual spinoffs or offshoots from your central product. Consider, for example, the colors, seasons, locations, events, people, and ideas you want associated with your brand.

Like all social media platforms, Pinterest is not a one-way conversation. To use Pinterest effectively, businesses should allocate the resources to use Pinterest as an open channel of communication – repinning others’ images and following other brands and users when appropriate. The idea here is to align your brand with brands and users that are similar in mood and aesthetics – creating connections in users’ minds between your brand and brands they know and love.

Why else would Madewell tell the world they’re reading Jane Austen?

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