5 Tips for How to Use Pinterest for Your Business Marketing

According to Compete, Pinterest traffic has experienced meteoric growth since we last wrote about it in August. At the end of August, they had 1,241, 295 unique visitors. As of January 2012, they had 11,140,641. And most of this growth is recent, so who knows how big the site will become.

It would be safe to say that, as a business marketer, if you haven’t paid any attention to the site, now would be the time. Here are the basics: The site is a “virtual pinboard” that allows users to “Pin” photos to their “Boards” that are organized by categories the user creates. The photos are directly linked to the sites where they originate, so it is, at its most basic, a photo bookmarking site. Users can then browse other people’s boards, “RePin” things they like, and make comments.

So how can you leverage this site for your business?

The site discourages use for “self-promotion”, but this doesn’t mean brands have been unsuccessful using it. It just means the site needs to be used creatively and interactively—in the same way it is used by consumers. Mashable recently asked Pinterest who they believed to be the top brands using their site. Answers ranged from magazines like Real Simple and Better Homes and Gardens to furniture retailer West Elm to Whole Foods.

But what we were most interested in was how they defined their top brands. Their criteria are included in our top 3 tips below. The other 2 tips are just our recommendations for how you might get started with your business on Pinterest.

1. Pin from various sources rather than one specific site. If you get involved on Pinterest, users will be more likely to follow you and repin if you use the site for its purpose—to pin the things you are passionate about. We recommend focusing on your brand rather than your products only. So if you are a hospital, create boards that deal with healthy lifestyles and pin from sources all over the internet—healthy recipes, motivational quotes for exercise or dieting—this establishes your brand as a health thought leader and as something a user would want to follow.

2. Repin from within the site to engage with others. Just like with Facebook or Twitter, you are going to get the most mileage from the site if you use the social media in a social way. Repin theirs, and they may take interest and repin yours.

3. Create at least a few boards and cover a broad range of interests. If you simply go on the site and create a board named after your company, you have wasted your time. Consider all of the things your brand stands for and what categories or words users may be searching. If you are a nonprofit organization, create boards for volunteers in action, inspirational photos, and events you have hosted.

4. Name boards and tag carefully. Don’t just use the main Board names that Pinterest recommends when you sign up. Think of keywords that you target in your other marketing, and name the boards using those same words. Search on Pinterest to see what other boards you will be “competing” with if you name a board a certain way. This will help you find topics you can dominate, as well as other boards you may want to follow and repin from. Tag photos following the same rules.

5. Add the Follow and Pin It Button to your website and blog. Pinterest offers code for a Follow button. This can be used on your website, and wherever else you recommend people follow your social media. You can also add a “Pin It” button on your product pages or on your blog posts, where appropriate. This will allow and encourage Pinterest users to pin your images directly from within your post.

As you can see, it will take some time to learn to use the site properly and to get a feel for what works for your business. But if you can manage to be creative, consider your brand, and put some effort in, it will likely pay off to be an “early adopter.” Don’t have time? Consider Sparking—we can help. If you’re ready, go ahead and get pinning!

What are some of your favorite brands on Pinterest?