By: Connie Blaszczyk, Managing Editor, Monster Resource Center
Is your small business social media strategy in shape? Company website looking good? Check. Facebook page? Check. Twitter feed? Check. Pinterest? Pinter-what?
While Pinterest is the newest social media tool on the block, it’s quickly found a place in the social media galaxy -- especially for small business.
To learn why, we spoke with Pinfluence author and social media specialist Beth Hayden.
Monster: How does Pinterest differ from other social media platforms?
Hayden: Pinterest is a visual platform. Users share images and videos on virtual collage boards called pinboards. I think it’s a very positive tool -- something about using images the way Pinterest does make it a very uplifting, fun and beautiful place to hang out. I tell my clients that Pinterest is like Facebook -- but without the whining!
Many of the images on Pinterest are also “aspirational” content for users -- stuff like recipes they’d like to make, home décor that would love to install in their houses, and trips they would love to take. I think this is something that really makes Pinterest unique. It’s a place to dream.
Also (from a business/marketing standpoint) the content on Pinterest links directly back to websites and blogs, which makes it a great marketing tool.
Monster: Who is using Pinterest -- is it primarily a younger audience?
Hayden: As of March of this year, the stats on Pinterest were that their user base is primarily between 25 and 54. So it’s not all young folks on the site. And the gender gap is also starting to close. The percentage of women to men in January 2012 was 80/20, and by March it had already closed to 72/28. I think those numbers will continue to balance out -- check out Mashable’s Pinterest infographic.
Monster: What are some of the best examples of how small businesses are effectively using Pinterest?
Hayden: I love how these small companies are using Pinterest:
- Croft Global Travel Featuring unique and interesting board names like the License Plate and ZooBorns and really great travel resources like the Travel Apps That Rock board.
- Tamara Suttle Therapist and marketing coach for therapists. A wonderful resource for all kinds of therapists and coaches. Tamara pins regularly, puts a lot of thought into what she pins, and is a great resource for her community.
- Geralin Thomas Professional organizer. She does a wonderful job of curating great information on her subject.
- Mayflower Brewing This site is just getting started, but I love this company story board.
Monster: Why do small businesses use Pinterest -- to build brand awareness, drive revenue, for lead gen -- or?
Hayden: I think companies use it to engage with their customers and to give a human touch to their brand. They can use it to tell their story, let people know what their values are, etc. They can also use it to drive traffic back to their company website and facilitate direct sales (especially from their websites!)
Monster: What guidelines should be kept in mind when choosing or creating images to share?
Hayden: There are a couple of different types of images companies can use:
- Images and videos that will be educational, interesting or entertaining for their target audience.
- Images and videos that let your company personality shine through are great way to let people get to know you and what you’re about. This can include company origin stories, staff photos and stories, etc.
- Keep in mind that images shouldn’t be too tall if you want them to get shared -- less than 5000 pixels tall is ideal.
Monster: Can companies without a “visual” business use Pinterest?
Hayden: I think so, yes. I’ve see B2B companies and nonprofits that don’t have a “visual” business that still use Pinterest very well. I think one of the keys is to try to curate information on your subject. Blog posts, videos, images, articles and slide decks all make great online content for your audience.
Monster: Realistically, what type of results can a small business expect to generate via their Pinterest account?
Hayden: I think they can expect a bump in traffic fairly quickly, and to start getting repinned by other users. Building a following on Pinterest is a very slow but steady process, though. If you pin every day, and follow people with whom you want to engage, your numbers will grow and your traffic and sales will increase, as well.
Monster: How much time should be spent on creating and maintaining it?
Hayden: This is up to the individual company, but I think you can accomplish quite a bit by spending 20 minutes a day doing some pinning, following other pinners, and using Pinterest in strategic ways (like setting up new boards, using it for interacting with current clients, linking Pinterest with email marketing strategies, etc.)
Monster: What’s the best way to track metrics?
Hayden: Unfortunately for right now we have to rely on the PInterest internal metrics, since Pinterest hasn’t released their API for developers and there really aren’t a whole lot of third-party tracking tools. But you can check out followers, repins, etc from the Pinterest website, and the apps for iPhone, iPad and Android.
I also encourage companies to track their web traffic from Pinterest very closely using Google Analytics (or whatever tool they use to track traffic) - particularly seeing which times of day they get the most traffic from Pinterest. This will help them figure out when their peak pinning teams are (the times of day when they get the most click-throughs to their site).
Monster: What if there isn’t time to create a Pinterest account? Can it still be leveraged as part of a social media strategy?
Hayden: Yes, I definitely think you can use it as part of your overall marketing strategy even if you don’t have your own account (although obviously it is better if you can start your own profile.
For instance, you can look to see what other people are pinning from your company website. You can do that by opening this address into your URL field in any browser: http://www.pinterest.com/source/[yourwebaddress.com].
You can see who has pinned images from Monster (and what they have pinned) by going to http://pinterest.com/source/monster.com/.
This will give you great information about what pinners like on your site, what they are pinning, what boards they are pinning your images to, and what they are saying about your site (and your company). This can help you shape your content strategy and give people more of what they love.
Beth Hayden is author of Pinfluence, (Wiley, 2012). Beth is a social media specialist and technology trainer who helps entrepreneurs make money effortlessly through Internet marketing systems that support them every step of the way. She has been a featured guest blogger at Copyblogger.com and Problogger.com, two of the Web’s best social media and blogging sites. Visit bethhayden.com for free Pinfluence reports, checklists and marketing ideas.