Pinterest for Small Businesses: Does It Make Sense for You?

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A funny thing happened at the beginning of 2012. Suddenly, everyone was buzzing Pinterestabout this “new” thing called Pinterest.

What’s interesting to note is that Pinterest isn’t new – it’s been around since 2010 – but it wasn’t until late 2011 and early 2012 when the social network “tipped.” And, man, did it ever. Some quick stats:

We know what you’re thinking: “Oh, no! Not another social network to worry about! Should I care? Can it help my business?” And, like everything else, the answer is it depends. It depends on the type of business you have. It depends on the type of customer you have. And, as is the case with all social media marketing, it depends on the commitment you’re willing to make to it (a commitment of time and, possibly, money).

First, let’s back up a second and go over the basics.

What is Pinterest? According to its own description, Pinterest is “A content sharing service that allows members to ‘pin’ images, videos and other objects to their pinboard.” Back in the “olden” days, if you were researching something visual – wedding dresses, bathroom vanities, kitchen tables – you might have bought relevant magazines and tore out images that interested you. From there, you might have collected them all and laid them out on the table so that you could figure out your “favorite” or so you could identify a theme (e.g. “Wow, I must really love lacy wedding dresses!”). With Pinterest, you create an online collection of all the cool images you’re researching, seeking, or oohing and ahhing over. Essentially, you “pin” your favorite images to a virtual “pinboard.” From there, you can share your pins and boards with others, and they can re-pin images from your boards…and you can re-pin images from their boards. It’s one big visual smorgasbord.

Who uses Pinterest? Women. Lots and lots of women. As in 97 percent of Pinterest users are women, and the social network is especially popular with the “mom” demographic.

What businesses might benefit from Pinterest? This is where it gets tricky. Essentially, Pinterest is NOT a place where any business should be blatantly promoting its goods or services. Do so and users will smack you down (we’ve seen it happen) and call you out on it. That said, if what you pin provides “visual value” – remember, Pinterest is all about the way things look – then odds are your business could get a big bang for its social media buck.

Let’s explain what we mean. Let’s say you’re a landscaper and you’re good about taking pictures of your work. Perhaps you do a board that features nothing but backyard waterfalls. You’d label your board as such, and you wouldn’t provide any promotional details, like “We designed this waterfall. Call us for a quote.” Instead, you’d simply provide details about each waterfall—size, plant life/flowers used, etc. For each image you pin, you could then link back to your website, ideally a specific landing page on backyard waterfalls where maybe you provide some sort of free offer, like a white paper on “3 Tips to Consider When Choosing a Landscaper Who Designs Waterfalls.” People fill out the form to get it, and you could follow up with the prospects that way.

Or maybe you’re a wedding photographer. Perhaps you do a board called Bridal Hair Trends 2012, and you showcase images of the backs of brides’ heads that you photographed. You’d link each pin to a page on your website that talks about how you work with brides and grooms etc. Sure, not every bride-to-be who is looking at these pictures will be in your area, but there’s a good chance some will be. And all brides need wedding photographers. Get the idea?

  • Pinterest works especially well for any business that deals with visuals. In addition to landscapers and photographers, think design/build firms, interior decorators, dressmakers, graphic designers, house painters, chefs and caterers…the list goes on and on.

What about b2b businesses? We think it’s much easier – and more natural – for b2c businesses to use Pinterest, but that doesn’t mean it’s impossible for b2b businesses, although it’s  subject for another post. If yours is a b2b business, check out some other b2b companies that are using Pinterest effectively, such as HubSpot and Constant Contact.

How much time will this take? Like anything else, there’s a learning curve, but once you’re comfortable with the basics, this needn’t be a time sink. The key with Pinterest is that people love new eye candy. So if you regularly post a new image to your board (and if you’re in a visual business, you’ll likely have plenty of pictures to choose from), the new image will be seen and likely re-pinned, liked, and commented on. What’s the definition of “regularly”? You need to decide that. It might be daily, or it might be weekly. The key is to keep adding fresh stuff. So maybe every time you complete a job (whatever that is), you take a bunch of pics and then either share a couple, create a new board, or figure out a new theme.

Don’t have any fresh images? Why, that’s OK. See, this is what Pinterest is all about: it’s about finding and sharing cool photos (most of which you can find ON Pinterest itself… but you can also grab some off websites you visit using the Pinterest Bookmarklet). So your boards needn’t be – and shouldn’t be – all about YOU and your business. Love food? Create a “Fun Snack Recipes for Our Staff” board. Do you have a dog at the office? Create a board in honor of your mascot. You get the idea. Pinterest is a great place to show off your company’s personality and corporate culture, likes and dislikes.

How much money will this take? Quality images work best. But we ourselves are often wowed at the quality of “regular” digital cameras and smart phone cameras. That said, if your business is all about the final “visual” product – like a newly designed kitchen – you’re probably investing in photography anyway for your website portfolio. In other words, the work you do on Pinterest doesn’t need to be an added monetary cost.

Do you have more links I can check out? Of course! See below.

Are you or is your organization on Pinterest? What’s your experience been like? Share in the comments.

Oh, and be sure to follow Amsterdam Printing on Pinterest as well.

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