Pinterest: How to Conquer the latest Social Media Craze

Pinterest is the up-and-coming social media networking site that, throughout 2011, confounded expectations and steadily grew into a minor sensation. And it is still growing. It has already done enough to concern Facebook’s upper echelons – they have deemed it necessary for their site to enforce a scrolling “Timeline” to each user’s wall. It is overtly similar to Pinterest’s layout. Whilst Facebook no doubt believe they can stop their users jumping to Pinterest, it is the latter firm who will benefit from this. So how can your company capitalise on the latest sensation and, for those unaware, what exactly is Pinterest?

The website has an effective layout and a simple principle of user creativity; members “pin” photographs of recipes, travel destinations, quotes, pets, or anything else they deem entertaining enough into their account. As a user you are free to browse over this information on the central page and, if registered, comment. Following the initial appeal of using the site for entertainment value, some soon began to consider how the website could be utilised to promote businesses. It is not immediately obvious how as the site is different in how it approaches user interaction. When compared to Facebook and Twitter it all suddenly seems like a lot of unnecessary hassle – this is not a case of typing out a brief message and hitting “send”. However, if used correctly the impact on your customers could be far greater than an arbitrary tweet, or gaining a score of “Likes”.But to the basics: first you have to register your account, and to do that you need to request an invitation. Once you receive one you can register your company and begin to alter the settings to suit your businesses’ needs. The next stage is to create some pinboards so that you have some content for your account. This is where Pinterest comes into its own. The more creative you are the more interest you will receive. There are some fundamental tips to follow in order to make things run smoothly for you, and one of the first things you can do is link the old with the new. Your Twitter account can join with Pinterest and, as both use similar techniques to make posts more searchable, you will find using hash tags a familiar practice.

The informal nature of Pinterest is something your business should exploit in order to interact with customers like never before. Essentially you can provide a pictorial of your wares to other users, showcasing what you have to offer. To be even more personal you can add pictures of staff members or the view from the office window. Displaying your corner of the world to customers is a friendly touch. However, Pinterest do insist you limit the self-promotion as the site is, after all, about creativity and not commercial gain. This means you must be creative, too, if you expect to be allowed to use the site! Assigning a staff member with creative flair for this task could work wonders in finding the correct approach. For instance, if you sell computer products you could endeavour to have photographs taken of your products in unusual places. It is far more entertaining (and in keeping with Pinterest’s sensibilities) to take a keyboard to unusual destinations for an impromptu photo shoot; you could go to the local cafe and pretend to be meeting it for lunch. Silly creativity such as this will get you much further than having a collection of your wares photographed proper up on one of your desks. Customers appreciate a brand with a sense of fun. Literally, the more eccentric and surreal, and the more “cute” factor you apply, the more people will take interest in your account.

What other steps can you take to promote your company? Connecting with your customers is a must – once users are aware of your presence you should engage in the Pinterest spirit. The age old competition takes on a new meaning with Pinterest. Encourage your customers to send in pictures of them using your products – having a user-generated board is great free content. It is also good publicity as it connects you with your customers in a way tweeting or using Facebook never can. But, ultimately, your success with Pinterest depends on your commitment to it. Regularly updating your account with new pictures is a must, as is including well placed backlinks to your business website. It is important to remember to show your fun side; your account reflects your company persona. Your customers want to feel like you are engaging with them wilfully, and not finding another way to divert them to your products.

There are a myriad of uses and what is detailed here is just the beginning. Pinterest will continue to grow and with it will come many new changes, and as it is in such an early stage there is no telling how popular the site will go on to be. Regardless, your company should be riding the crest of this creative wave and be willing to pin its way to a well earned sales boost. If you can have some fun along the way then consider it a job well done!

This guest post was submitted by Alex Morris who works for Office Kitten in Manchester where he writes, researches and blogs about the business world. He can also be followed on Twitter.

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