Most people have no idea how to use Pinterest – either for fun or for business. ”What’s Pinterest?” Is the answer you will likely get when you mention it to somebody, and little wonder. It has not exactly advertised itself, but between December 2011 and January 2012, the sites membership increased by 155%.
What is Pinterest?
Pinterest is a new social network that reached #5 in Hitwise’s top 10 social networking sites in December 2011. That’s higher than Google+ or LinkdIn and pretty good for a relatively new site. Knowing how to use Pinterest can help you market your products & services or help you build your email list.
The Pinterest website says, “Pinterest lets you organize and share all the beautiful things you find on the web. People use ‘pinboards’ to plan their weddings, decorate their homes, and organize their favorite recipes.”
You can “pin” just about any photo for other folks to view (just like Facebook and other social sites), and you can also pin promotional photos with an associated link. So, the cool thing is that you can pin photos that link to a specific page on your website. Pinterest is meant for you to pin whatever you want to share and you’re passionate about.
How to Join Pinterest?
Technically, you can join Pinterest by invitation-only, but if you wish to join you can visit the site and click “Request an Invitation.”
A much quicker way to join Pinterest is through invitations from other members – so ask a friend that is already a member to invite you. You may have already received an invitation without even knowing it and ignored the invite, not realizing the potential Pinterest has to offer.
When you receive an invitation from Pinterest, be sure to sign up through Twitter rather than Facebook, so you can tie your Pinterest account to your business’s Twitter account. Because, at this time, Pinterest cannot tie to Facebook business pages.
What Are Boards?
A board is a set of pins. A board an be created on any topic, like Books Worth Reading, Favorite Recipes, Favorite Photos, etc.. You can find great tips on just about anything accompanied by photos. This is not Flickr, but a significant extension that works in a completely different way and also works like a blog. The site enables you to create boards, each containing pictures relating to specific topics.
You may have one board full of recipes, another of your own artwork and yet another with pictures of old comic books. These are just examples, and each board is focused on a specific topic, niche or even on your mood. That’s one major way in which it differs from other social networking sites that enable photographs.
Can You Market with Pinterest?
Part of the Pinterest Terms of Service is that you cannot use it for commercial purposes. However, many do and it is hard to prevent, so the general feeling at the moment is that Pinterest is evolving with uses for branding-type of content.
For now, it is easy to include links to your website by pinning a photo from your website. For example, I love to read, so I have a board of “Books Worth Reading” with some photos of books that link back to my website’s “About” page. I also have a board with “Favorite Logos” that points to my website. The take-away here is that any link back to your website should be for branding purposes. Not direct selling. Etsy has a great Pinterest page with photos of ideas for gifts, holidays, etc. These photos link back to the various Etsy sellers and their products. So, Etsy is offering tips and ideas to help Pinterest viewers, not sell to Pinterest viewers.
Pinterest is growing, and is ready to help you share your brand’s image. Like Facebook and Twitter, Pinterest is about the content you share, not about the products and services that you sell. You can use Pinterest to personalize your brand, and simultaneously connect with followers and potential clients and customers. Just as Facebook and YouTube came to be essential marketing tools for your business, Pinterest can as well.
Get invited to join Pinterest. Once you set up a Pinterest page, start pinning content that reflects your company’s brand identity. Pinterest can be really addicting, so be mindful of precious time spent on this new social media network. The most important of component of your marketing with Pinterest is to support your brand image.