As interest in Pinterest grows, marketers are left scratching their heads about the whys, hows, and whats of integrating the social service into their marketing mix.
Based on the current landscape and technology surrounding Pinterest, here are some of the best ways to guide interactions.
1. Have a plan for pinning. Know why you’re using Pinterest, and make sure your pinning addresses your business goals. Be focused, yet also be flexible, to adapt to what works. Are you pinning for traffic? Brand awareness? Community building? All of the above? Each goal will dictate how you use Pinterest, the boards you create, and the pins you curate. Part of your planning should include rules and guidelines for pinning, to be shared with your team and collaborators.
2. Find your audience. Conduct searches on Pinterest before diving in to make sure the types of consumers you want to reach are there and avidly using the service. While Pinterest is 98 percent women, that doesn’t mean that every woman you want to reach is pinning. It also doesn’t mean that Pinterest can't be leveraged to reach men. Don't just look for your audience; look for popular pinners who can help you communicate to your audience through repins.
3. Determine your messages. You may think that Pinterest is just a bunch of images, but you know what they say about the worth of pictures. Each image you pin or repin communicates volumes. You can add your perspectives on those images in comments, but make sure the images you pin and repin can also speak for themselves. If you are pinning your own images, consider adding text on the images themselves to keep messaging consistent.
4. Create compelling boards. "Compelling" is in the eye of the pinner, but if you can get a lot of people to repin and like your pins, you know you’re on the right track. As you set up your Pinterest account, don’t be intimidated or get lazy and simply accept the default boards. Come up with at least half a dozen board ideas in advance that address your goals, brand personality, brand messages, and target audience. Don’t box yourself into being literal, and make sure to add a few tried and true boards that get attention and action. For example, consider adding a board for quotations. Determine the sentiment of your quotes board -– humor, inspiration, motivation -– based on the overall image you want to project and followers you want to attract.
5. Be mindful of copyrights. The jury is still out regarding image ownership and issues of potential copyright violations on Pinterest. If you're worried, pin cautiously and include your copyright messaging on each of your own images. When repinning others, never remove credits or copyrights from the comments and make sure you are repinning images with the actual source URL by clicking on the pin first to determine its destination. When in doubt, don’t pin or repin.
6. Leverage curated content. Take advantage of the visual content you’re curating by looking for ways to display your pins elsewhere, including your Website, blog, or Facebook Page. (Quick tip for posting pins to your page: Try If This Then That.)
7. Participate in the community. Pinterest may seem facile, with nothing more than pinning, repinning, and liking, with the occasional comment. But Pinterest community members are voracious about their pinning, and actively supportive of other pinners, including friends, brands they love, and individuals who provide compelling fodder. While you may not see long conversations taking place, the shorthand communication on Pinterest can still strengthen relationships.
8. Consider your site’s pinnability. Have you checked your site via Pinterest? Peruse your pages and try pinning. Not every site has a wealth of pinnable images, however -- many sites have none at all. If you want others to pin from your site or repin your own pins that lead to your site, make sure there is strong visual content there. And check back to No. 5 above regarding protecting your images.
9. Initiate Pinterest campaigns. Brands big and small can incorporate interactions and build excitement via Pinterest through contests and typing Pinterest activities into their promotions. For example, a small crafter of handmade jewelry, Simple Starfish, offered a gift certificate to stimulate follows and repins. And Lindt chocolates built themed pinning about Easter into its promotions.
10. Collaborate. Bring in others to pin with you on specific boards, to share the pinning, build community, and expand your reach. Be strategic about who -- and how many -- you bring on to any given board, and provide instructions and guidelines to keep things on track.
Are you marketing on Pinterest? Tell us about it in the comments below.
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— Aliza Sherman is a Web pioneer, an international keynote speaker, author of nine books, and a digital strategist since 1992.