Pinterest is not often top of mind for business owners. However, with more than 100 million active users and a 111 percent growth, it is a social media platform that should not be ignored.

And if you are seeking organic traffic, search engines are just so yesterday. Today, Pinterest is the second highest referrer of traffic to websites. Only Facebook can send more traffic your way. Businesses who have wondered about incorporating Pinterest in their social media strategy should give it a good look to see if it can work for you.

The basics

Like Facebook, there is a separation between personal and business accounts on Pinterest. Be sure to read the guidelines as well as the Acceptable Use and etiquette policies. In addition to rules about promoting your presence on Pinterest, you will be reminded:

  • Don’t promote spam, “such as asking participants to comment repeatedly.”
  • Don’t “run a sweepstakes where each pin, repin, or like represents an entry [or] ask pinners to vote with a repin or like.”
  • Don’t run contests, sweepstakes or promotions “too often.”
  • Don’t “suggest that Pinterest sponsors or endorses” your business.

The allure of Pinterest

They say a picture is worth a thousand words. According to the Social Science Research Network, 65 percent of people process information based on what is seen. The 3M Corporation states that the brain processes visual information 60,000 faster than text. Thus, visual content marketing is vital for business today.

A comScore study found that approximately 71 percent of Pinterest users in are women and the average user spends 1 hour and 17 minutes on the website.

In their book, “Pinterest for Business,” authors Jess Loren and Edward Swinderski note that these statistics can help you pinpoint your audience. “Having just the right image can potentially bring in the right kind of people you want to talk to,” they say. Additionally, they remind that images have long been directly linked to the ability to entice consumers to purchase. There is a science behind the allure of Pinterest and an emotional tie to imagery drives that.

What to pin

While Pinterest is not the social media platform for every business – and frankly not every social media platform works well for every business all the time any way – product-based businesses do best on Pinterest. Because users actively look for products (and price tags) on Pinterest, many people are ready to buy. Including that price tag is important. Pins with price tags get 36 percent more Likes than those that do not have the tag.

You will want to keep your users interested with frequent and consistent photo posts or, in this case, pins. As with all other social media, if you want to raise your engagement, it is necessary to do some research in order to understand your target audience as well as how to reach them using your overall marketing strategy.

Get a feel for what your audience pins (and repins) and what types of boards they are most interested in. This will help you create boards that your audience will want to follow and share with their friends and followers.

Also, keep on top of trending pins and boards. A study by the University of Minnesota and Georgia Tech found that the most popular topic for both men and women was “food and drink.” Women’s other interests include crafts, home décor and fashion. Men looked at pins about photography, art, design and home décor.

Boards help segment and target your audience. Optimize your boards by being creative with what you pin. This can include:

  • Product images
  • Photo contests
  • Infographics
  • Client testimonials
  • Inspirational images
  • Educational information
  • Company facts or figures
  • Celebrity endorsements
  • Employee expertise

This diverse content will help you build your brand. Think visually and focus on the story you are trying to convey with your images.

Be sure to include pin descriptions with your images. Hashtags and relevant keywords will help your pin to be found in searches. Keeping in mind that Pinterest drives traffic to your website, always include a link users can click to get them exactly where you want them to go.

Also, use the Pinterest Business Center to find tools to tie together your website and blog with Pinterest. The Pin It Button can be embedded in your website so content is easily one-click pinnable. The Pit It Bookmarklet embedded into your browser makes it easy to pin from the web.

Once you take some time to learn what Pinterest is about, you can take steps to develop a strategy that may work well for you.

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