May 29, 2012 at 11:54am ET by Stephanie Hobb
It’s the ‘new’ social network everyone is talking about – and if you’re a local business owner, it could be a strong addition to your online marketing strategy.
For the past few years, marketers have stressed the need for local businesses to leverage social networks like Facebook and Twitter to drive engagement with existing and potential customers. Now Pinterest, the visual scrapbook network that allows users to “pin” images and video they want to share from across the web, is becoming part of the conversation for a number of reasons:
- Unprecedented user growth. In March, Pinterest had nearly 19 million users, according to comScore, and is one of the fastest-growing standalone sites ever.
- High usage. Pinterest users spent an average of 89 minutes on the site in January, far surpassing Twitter and LinkedIn and second only to Facebook, according to comScore.
- Young, female, relationship-centered demographic. While women make up 65% of Pinterest users, they represent 84% of both minutes spent on the site and pageviews, according to comScore. The firm also found that the average pinner is 32-years-old and a strong majority are married or in a relationship.
- Defined interests. Pinterest users have clearly defined interests in creative and visual categories like jewelry, clothing, furniture, photography and other lifestyle and vintage goods.
- Unlimited future opportunities. Just this month, Pinterest raised $100 million from a group led by Japanese online retailer Rakuten, indicating that investors see big possibilities for the site and its ability to capture advertisers and consumers alike.
Most importantly for your local business, Pinterest is already becoming a notable player in social commerce.
Shopify recently released an infographic from results of a study that analyzed data from more than 25,000 of its online stores. The study found that referral traffic from Pinterest is now equal to that of Twitter. The study also indicated that shoppers referred from Pinterest are 10% more likely to make a purchase than those from other social networking sites.
Businesses of all sizes are certainly recognizing the opportunity. National brands like Coca-Cola and Neiman-Marcus are jumping on the Pinterest bandwagon, and The Wall Street Journalrecently profiled several small business owners across the country who said they are experiencing notable jumps in website traffic and online revenues being driven by referral traffic from Pinterest.
So what should your local business be doing to increase visibility and generate sales on Pinterest?
1. Determine If Pinterest Is Right For Your Business
There are several key factors to consider when deciding if Pinterest will work well for your local business:
- Do visuals play a key role in your products or services? If your business sells jewelry or art, prepares gourmet meals, landscapes beautiful lawns, or remodels kitchens, Pinterest may be an ideal place to engage your target consumer with photos and videos highlighting your products, past work, customer testimonials, and other content. If you’re a lawyer or an accountant, Pinterest is probably not the best place to dedicate your marketing resources.
- Do your visuals link to products and services featured on your website? One of the major benefits of Pinterest is that users can follow links to business websites where they can move forward with online purchases, call in an order for pickup / local delivery or find the address to nearby locations.
- Does your business cater to women? As the statistics above indicate, women represent the majority of traffic on the site.
- Are you prepared to dedicate the time and resources necessary to make Pinterest a success? This involves preparing new and original content and engaging with other users on a daily or near-daily basis – in addition to moving forward with your other online and social media efforts.
2. Ensure Pinterest Is Set Up In Ways That Maximize Your Presence
Setting up an account on Pinterest is easy (once you’re sent an invitation to join, which typically doesn’t take too long), but taking the right steps to reach your target audience requires some additional effort:
- In the “About” section, add descriptive keywords about your business and its location.
- Add your website URL to your profile and link your account to your Facebook and Twitter channels to further the reach of your content.
- Add the Pinterest “follow” button to your website and “PinIt” buttons to each product and service page featured on your website.
- Create individual boards on your profile with easy-to-identify names that highlight specific product and services. For example, if you sell women’s shoes, create boards with names like “Boots,” “Evening,” “Sandals.” Also create boards that promote discounts: “Under $50” or “On Sale.”
- On each board, pin images and videos featured on your website. Use descriptive language in each pin and make sure to include prices where applicable (according to Shopify, pins with prices receive 36% more likes than those without). Users that like a specific product or service featured in a pin can easily click the image or video to see the offering on your website.
- Don’t use your boards to just promote your own content. Regularly pin other relevant content that you think your followers will enjoy, even if you don’t sell it. Also take the opportunity to showcase images with advice and tips – for example, how to wear a scarf or a belt – so that users begin to see your brand as a resource.
3. Engage The Pinterest Community
There are numerous ways to participate in the Pinterest community and increase visibility for your business in the process:
- Follow like-minded businesses in your area, local community influencers, and even your own customers so that they know you’re interested in their content, but also so you can monitor and react to what they’re sharing.
- Comment, like, and re-pin content to generate a positive conversation about topics you and your followers care about.
- Host contests to generate activity for your Pinterest profile and attract more eyeballs for your products and services.
4. Remain Active & Integrate Activities Into Larger Social Media Plan
It’s important to remember that your business’ Pinterest presence will only be successful if you dedicate time and resources to updating content and engaging with other users. If you choose to engage on Pinterest, update it with the same priority as you would pick up a call to your store or stock your shelves.
Also take the time to review what content your followers enjoy most and what specifically drives increased traffic to your website and in the end, generates greater sales.