Today, most businesses use some form of social media. It’s almost uncommon for a business not to have a Facebook or Twitter, but what about Pinterest? Businesses and organizations of varying industries are finding value in the picture-centric platform.
Highly-visual, Pinterest allows users to create themed digital bulletin boards to memorialize links. It’s popular with the DIY crowd, with crafts, projects and life hacks intermingling with recipes, inspirational quotes and a side of fashion. Largely female dominated, the social platform is expected to grow to 50 million users in the U.S. next year.
How have local businesses been able to tap into this market? We asked six businesses and organizations how they’ve used Pinterest, and to share some advice with other business owners. Here’s what you should know before picking Pinterest.
To pin or not to pin?
That is the question. Pinterest is a highly-visual platform that might not make sense for all businesses. Just like any form of social media, you’ll have to decide if the time you put into it is worth the return it earns for your business.
“For starters, make sure Pinterest actually aligns with your overall communication and marketing goals before you dive in,” says the team behind Columbus Marathon’s Pinterest boards. “There are so many social networks to choose from, and the biggest mistake a business can make is thinking they need to use all of them. Our advice is to pick a few that make the most sense for your brand – based on your goals, audience, resources, etc. – and focus on those first.”
If you decide to go for it, don’t forget to research best practices for your particular industry – and keep researching. Continued changes in the platform might open up new opportunities.
If Pinterest could be summed up in one word, it’s inspiration. How is a business going to provide inspiration to its customer? What that’s going to look like depends on what you do.
For businesses with an expansive inventory of unique items like antiques dealer Grandview Mercantile or vintage building material haven Columbus Architectural Salvage, Pinterest provides a place to show off their product.
“It is such a visual social media channel, so it really gives us an outlet to show our products to people who may not see them otherwise,” says Grandview Mercantile.
However in Columbus Architectural Salvage’s experience, highlighting inventory on Pinterest does come with one major downfall. Once a pin is up, it’s up, so the store says they do get the occasional call from a customer inquiring about an item that’s already been sold. But, they say the platform is a great one-stop-shop for images that can serve as continued inspiration.
While the goal of Columbus Architectural Salvage’s Pinterest is to drive traffic to their website, it’s hard to tell what impact it has had. For customers that visit the store, Pinterest is rarely mentioned as a referral source.
Grandview Mercantile uses Pinterest as a way to engage customers.
“We make it a point to engage with every person that pins something from our website,” the business says. “We look at Pinterest as another venue for our customers to be able to find us and interact with us.”
For other businesses and organizations like the Columbus Marathon and digital marketing agency The Social Firm, Pinterest is a major driver of website traffic.
“We use Pinterest mainly for SEO purposes to drive traffic to our website,” The Social Firm says. “However, we also want it to be a rich source of information for our audience and a positive reflection of our brand.”
TSF pins a mix of blogs, company updates and links to their website, as well as photos of the city and content from other digital marketing agencies in Columbus.
TSF uses Google Analytics to track referrals to their website from Pinterest, “Typically it is one of the top referrers to our website, which is our goal,” the agency says.
The same is true for the Columbus Marathon.
“Being a resource for the community has always been foundational to our social media strategy, so we have boards for training tips, apps and technology, nutritional advice and inspiration,” the Columbus Marathon says. “We also share pins that are relevant to the race, like course updates, registration reminders, and highlighting the Patient Champions.”
Like many users who seek inspiration on Pinterest, so can businesses. Photographer Ashley West will pin her own shots, but “I think Pinterest is a great space to get inspired,” she says. “I love to look at posing/styling and location ideas. Whenever I feel like my work is in a rut, I go there to try and get inspired and creative.”
West says she hasn’t seen many if any referrals from Pinterest, making her business use more like that of a personal user.
Local businesses are also tapping into Pinterest’s huge DIY-draw.
“We also create DIY tutorials which are very popular on Pinterest,” Grandview Mercantile says. “People go there to find new ways to do things, and it’s great whenever we can help and share our ideas.”
Columbus Architectural Salvage finds their DIYs to be popular, too.
Clintonville craft shop Wholly Craft initially started using Pinterest as many users do – to collect ideas and inspiration.
“We soon noticed that many of our customers were on it looking for craft and gift ideas, so it made sense for us to be there too,” Wholly Craft says.
They curate several boards that highlight craft projects that customers can make themselves.
Wholly Craft is also finding a way to take Pinterest from the digital space to in-person customer interaction.
“The best way we’ve garnered business from Pinterest so far is by hosting monthly themed Pinterest Parties at the shop where we make some of the projects featured on our boards,” Wholly Craft says. “We did the first party back in February, thinking it was a one-time thing…but our Pinterest activity blew up and the event sold out almost immediately, so we realized we were on to something. They’ve been selling out every month and we’re having a great time exploring the different DIY project out there in Pinterest world. The best part is taking those virtual boards and making them come to life with people and projects in the shop.”
One Last Piece of Advice
Different businesses, different uses, but our business owners still have some sage advice for anyone looking to make Pinterest a part of their social media plan.
- – The Social Firm: “Start out small, creating three to five boards that you can build on over time, and increase steadily as necessary. Pay attention to all of the details, from the image quality to clean text in the description, relevant hashtags and adding the correct link. Many times, board descriptions are over-looked, but this is another area where you can include strong keywords and information.”
- – Columbus Marathon: “The most important thing is to listen and learn from your community. What types of content do they interact with most? Is there a certain day/time they’re most active? If what you’re pinning aligns with what your audience is looking for, your network will continue to grow.”
- – Wholly Craft: “Find your target customer and see what they are pinning about. I think more than other social media platforms, Pinterest lets you get into your customers’ shopping frame of mind. You see what products and styles they are collecting as inspiration for their homes and lives and that can help you understand where your offerings fit into the picture.”
- – Columbus Architectural Salvage: “Seek advice from a Pinterest guru who knows what aspects may benefit your particular business, otherwise it’s a huge time suck. One too many clicks and you go down the rabbit hole.”