Using Pinterest to market your business

by Katie Navarra
Tell your story. Build a community. Send traffic to your website. Social media of all types helps businesses spread the word about the products and services offered. Using social media sites to promote farm products, farmers markets and onsite events can be a cost effective way to increase sales.
Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn are by far the most frequently social media sites mentioned, but Pinterest is becoming an equally important outlet.
Why Pinterest?
Pinterest is the fastest growing social media site. The site is growing at a rate of 25 million users per month. There are 11,716,000 unique users in the United States alone.
At this point, Pinterest is attracting users who are more likely to spend money on products seen on the site compared to other social media sites. For example, shoppers who saw a product on Pinterest spent on average $170. Consumers who saw a product on Facebook spent $90 and only $70 after hearing about a product on Twitter.
The site is an interest based site that is similar to window shopping. Pinterest works similar to an old fashioned bulletin or cork board. Images that relate to a particular theme are “pinned” to a board for viewing.
On Pinterest, users virtually “pin” images to specifically themed boards. The Pinterest boards are tailored to specific interests such as crafts, do-it-yourself projects, menus and more. A user can save and revisit their own pins or share pins with others. “The site is only three years old and at this point is still ad free,” Connie Hancock with University of Nebraska Extension said.
Is Pinterest right for your business?
When using any social media site, Pinterest included, it is important to remember that first and foremost these sites are designed for social networking. Users are looking for tips, advice and general information.
Before establishing an account on Pinterest, decide if your target audience is using the site. From a business standpoint, Pinterest may be helpful if your target audience is a consumer rather than another business, female, ages 25-54 with an income of $50,000 or more.
“Statistics from March 2012 indicate that 72 percent of Pinterest users are women and 79 percent are between the ages of 25-54,” Hancock said.
Depending upon the report you reference, the list of Top 10 Pinterest Interests vary. Hancock shared a list that she has seen recently. Top 10 interests include:
Fashion designers and collection
Music, art and memorabilia
Vineyards and wine tourism
Utah
Crafts
Public Relations
SEO and Marketing
Venture Capital
Iowa
Graphic designs
Using Pinterest
Getting started with Pinterest is relatively simple and at this time free.
Prior to November 2012, Pinterest only allowed users to create personal boards. Since then, the site has since allowed the creation of business boards. Individuals are able to maintain a personal and a business Pinterest account, but it may become overwhelming to keep pace with two accounts. It is important to know that individuals who want to maintain a personal and a business account will be required to use two different e-mail addresses to establish an account.
“Business accounts offer features that personal accounts don’t, like widgets,” Tara Gross, owner of Country Drawers said. Unlike Facebook, users are not required to have a personal account to create a business account.
Pinterest is designed for images and videos. Using high-quality, striking images that are clear and easy to view are critical. “The pinable image should be easy to pin and easily identifiable,” Gross added. Any image can be pinned to the site, but if it is unclear, low resolution or small in size users will be less likely to repin or return to the image.
Creating an account is simple. Visit http://business.pinterst.com. A step-by-step tutorial will guide you through the process of establishing an account.
Once an account has been established, one or more boards can be created. Each board should include images that focus on one particular theme. “People only see the first 10 boards, but if you have more than 10 you will have the ability to edit and change the layout so you can control what people see first,” Gross said.
Businesses that are not interested in maintaining a Pinterest account, can still tap into the ever expanding user network. “Even if you don’t have a Pinterest account, have ‘pinable images’ on your website,” Gross suggested, “try to have a “pin-it” button under each item to make it easy for people to pin.”
Benefits of Pinterest
Using Pinterest is one more tool in a businesses’ social media tool kit to reach a broader audience. “When I pin something it not only goes to Pinterest, but I also have the option to Tweet it as well, which I have found helpful to spread the word because not all of our clientele is on one location,” Hancock said.
The marketing concept behind using Pinterest is similar to Facebook, Twitter and other social media. “It’s an online social network, you don’t want to advertise just your own business,” Gross noted. Instead it should be used to develop a network and share information that followers can use. Within the information that is shared, such as ideas for decoration or gifts, your products can be integrated as appropriate.

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