We've all been hearing a lot about Pinterest lately, so you're probably wondering whether you should take the plunge and create a profile for your company.
Pinterest has a highly engaged audience - a reported 3.3 million users logging more than 421 million pageviews - so there's plenty of opportunity for brands to flesh out pinboards and catch pinners' eyes.
Pinterest is a visual social discovery network. You create online pinboards (like a bulletin board) for various categories, and you "pin" items to it.
Businesses beware: Pinterest etiquette clearly states that it's not a platform for self-promotion - it's not a broadcast mechanism like Twitter or Facebook - so brands need to approach the site a little differently. Here are some tips for navigating Pinterest, along with a rundown of how various companies are already using the visual social network.
1. Promote a Lifestyle
"For most consumer brands, the idea behind your brand makes sense on Pinterest."
Since you're not supposed to blast pictures of your products on Pinterest, try to think outside the box and pin images that capture a lifestyle and/or the essence of your brand. Pinterest calls for a more holistic approach to marketing, and it can be more effective and engaging than traditional advertising because the consumers can really see how your brand fits into their lives.
On your page, you can curate as many boards as you like. Pinners can choose to follow none, a few or all of your boards, so don't be afraid to be adventurous and curate a wide array of boards - the point of Pinterest is to explore and discover new things, so eccentricity is appreciated and encouraged. If you own a hotel, post pictures of landmarks near the location, food from local restaurants and even pieces from local artists. Own a restaurant? Post pictures of the farm where the meat is raised, the appliances and gadgets used in your kitchen or anything related to the name of the restaurant - for example, Panera could have a board devoted to beautiful artisanal breads. If you're in fashion, you can pin new trends, fashion sketches, pictures of fittings and shots from runway shows.
Beyond pushing one's products, you also can use Pinterest as a way to convey your company culture - post pictures of the office, the mascot, people's cubicles, lunch breaks and office events. Fans are interested in these details, and this imagery helps to humanize the brand.
To see what some brands are already doing on Pinterest, click here to look at the full article. Perhaps they'll inspire your own boards.
2. Use It Like a Focus Group
Millions of people use Pinterest to keep track of objects they love, places they enjoy, foods they devour and things that inspire them. Therefore, you can view it as a sort of focus group.
Look at the pinners who follow your brand - see what they're pinning and who else they're following. They're volunteering a lot of information about their interests, passions, dreams and sense of humor in a more natural way on Pinterest than they would on a survey or even on Facebook. Use this information to your advantage to glean insights about your target consumers.
You can ask fans to pin pictures of themselves with their favorite product of yours and tag you, and then you can easily repin those photos onto a VIP board - it'll give a shoutout to these fans and show potential customers that your current users really like using your product.
If your company hosted an event recently, encourage people to pin and tag the photos as a sort of crowdsourced scrapbook.
4. Run Contests
Since the site is relatively new, there aren't that many case studies, but one company recently did a particularly good job harnessing the power of Pinterest. From December 14 through 21, Land's End Canvas's "Pin It To Win It" campaign asked users to create a Pin It To Win It pinboard (in the women's or men's apparel categories) and pin 10 to 20 images from the Land's End site or repin them from the Land's End Pinterest page. Once your board was complete, you were to email the URL of your pinboard to Land's End for a chance to win one of 10 $250 gift cards - this was your official "entry" for the contest. A search on Pinterest shows that there were around 200 boards created for the contest, with each containing at least 10 to 20 images, which means a lot of Land's End merchandise was injected into the Pinterest feed at no cost.
Running contests like this is a great way to expose your brand and products to a large audience, given the viral nature of these images and the engaged Pinterest audience.
5. Inspire Your Team
There are a lot of inspiring things on the web, and you can create a sort of mood board for your company, pinning things that are relevant, interesting or inspiring to you brand and your team.
Pin logos and websites with good design, clever copywriting, images of possible team outings (bowling night or karaoke, perhaps), colors to figure out your new advertising palette or use it to brainstorm an upcoming campaign.
By browsing Pinterest, you might even see items that could inspire your company's next big idea, so keep that Pin It button handy.
Click here for the full article