Even if you have not yet tried Pinterest you're sure to
have heard of the latest social media craze. There has been a huge
buzz around the virtual pinboard recently and its rapid growth in
the last six months means it probably deserves all the attention.
But what is Pinterest all about, how does it work and, importantly,
is it any good for your business? Here, guest blogger Ed Beardsell
explains the basics and how to get started.
What is Pinterest?
Pinterest is a new social networking phenomenon, launched in
March 2010, which is fast becoming the talk of the internet. But
what's all the fuss about and how do you even start to unlock its
potential? Pinterest's rapid success has prompted some social media
commentators to predict it will soon break in to the top 50 sites
in the world. All of the buzz surrounding the new kid on the social
media block has made many small businesses stop and pay attention
to see if they can jump on the bandwagon and use the potential of
Pinterest to help promote their products and services.
It is a highly visual site and essentially revolves around making
and sharing collections of images that you have found on the web or
created by yourself. These pictures can then be liked, re-pinned or
The pictures, or the pins, have a URL attached to them, so they
can be linked back to their original website.
Many businesses are beginning to understand Pinterest's potential
as an effective marketing tool and are already reaping the rewards
of a rich traffic boost as a result. Recent research has shown that
Pinterest is driving even more users to websites than Google+, but
given the laboured take-up of the latest offering from Google this
is, although still positive, unsurprising.
At present, Pinterest works on an invitation only basis, but you
can go to the site and request an invitation. And even if you don't
have an account, you can still have a mooch about and see what
people are pinning, what images are proving popular, and use this
as a basis in assessing the suitability of your own business to
How Does it Work?
Pinterest is, in its purest essence, a virtual version of a cork
pin board, where you can pin images that you have found on the
internet or created yourself. You can lay claim to more than one
board and many users have topic-specific boards where they add
images that are relevant to that particular board, for example
places of interest or food. Once signed up, you can use these niche
boards as a means of connecting with and following specific people
who share similar interests to you.
Users of the site will often "re-pin" images that they have
found to their own board. This shows their appreciation of the
image, in the same way that "re-tweeting" highlights the
appreciation given to an article on Twitter, giving it a wider
audience by sharing with their own followers. Many users will see
an image that does not necessarily fit on their own board, but can
recommend an image by clicking the "like" button or commenting on a
Who Uses It?
The demographic profile that Pinterest attracts is extremely
interesting for businesses and will give small companies a guide to
whether their service would benefit from being on the site. At
present, 80% of users are female, and within that group 55% are
between the ages of 25 and 44. This demographic is likely to change
as Pinterest becomes more popular and attracts a wider mix of
people. It is worth noting that this exact same phenomenon occurred
with Facebook and Twitter as they gained popularity and broadened
their demographical bases.
Why Use Pinterest?
Although Pinterest is a relatively new social platform and it is
still being tinkered and tweaked, it is proving to be an extremely
effective marketing tool, and even in its infancy has the potential
for businesses to attract new customers. This potential is
confidently underlined by the figures, showing that in July 2011
approximately 1,000 people were visiting Pinterest daily in the UK
and just seven months later this figure has grown to half a
Will Pinterest be useful for your business?
Pinterest will work best for you if your product or services are
highly visual and your business lends itself to capturing the
imagination or excitement of your target audience through visual
means. Your Pinterest account page can be effective in showcasing
your products and services to a worldwide audience who - with the
right marketing mix - will be interested in interacting with your
products and services in the form of engaging with the content you
pin on your board.
But before rushing off to set up your account you'll have to
assess your target market. Who are your customers and what can you
do to stimulate interest in your service? Have a look at the
competition from other small businesses on Pinterest and see how
they are getting the best out of the site.
Pinterest is not intended for self-promotion; it is an online
outlet for members to share their interests, tastes, hobbies and
lifestyles. However, if your business offers a service, which could
fit neatly into this profile it is worth investing the time in
setting up shop and getting pinning. You will need to be creative
with setting up your board, treating it as part of your overall
marketing strategy. Ideally, you will not be heavily promoting your
service, but will be showing the lifestyle that can be associated
with your service.
Ultimately, in order to make Pinterest work well for you, your end
goal should be both creating as much social buzz about your brand
as you can through Pinterest as well as keeping your eye on the
prize in trying to ensure that you are guiding the users back to
your own website. It would also be advisable to track the number of
users coming through Pinterest in order to assess how successful
your presence is on Pinterest and where improvements can be made to
incrementally establish yourself on the platform in your relevant
So why not take five minutes to have a little look round
Pinterest and see whether your business model lends itself to this
free way of reaching out to your customers? As an early adopter of
this fledgling social platform your company will be able to take
full advantage of a marketplace that is still trying to find its
Ed Beardsell is a head blogger and content writer in the
ever-changing world of B2B services.