Pinterest for Business?

Janet Fouts (jfouts) on Pinterest

I admit I’m a little behind with this post. Everybody and their cousin Sally has already written a post on Pinterest by now. Its’s the media darling of the day. Or at least it was. Then we actually read the terms of use and some people are already deleting their accounts in protest. See, it turns out that not only does the TOU state “Cold Brew Labs and its licensors exclusively own all right, title and interest in and to the Site, Application, Services and Site Content, including all associated intellectual property rights”, (that means the pins you post too!) but Pinterest is apparently adding affiliate links to some of the posts to earn money when you click on the links. On top of that their sign-up process is really designed to “automatically” build your following by notifying your entire list of connections that you’ve joined and suggesting they follow you. Smart eh? That’s why you are suddenly getting tons of emails from Pinterest.

Hmm. In this day and age, transparency is hugely important and this wasn’t cool. The digerati who are up in arms about the TOS. But when all is said and done though, does the user base care? The market is collectors and mostly women, who like to curate collections of images around things they like. I’m willing to be they could care less if Pinterest makes money from affiliate links on their collections as long as they are free to curate more. As for the emails, either filter them into a mailbox or change your email settings on Pinterest.

How is business using Pinterest?
Now see, that’s the interesting thing. Because it’s all the rage businesses rushed to figure out how to leverage Pinterest’s incredible popularity to get people talking about their business and there are some very creative uses by brands large and small alike, as well as nonprofits.

Which businesses do well on Pinterest?
Clearly interior design, food and infographics are doing really well here, but it’s really all over the map. Here’s a board of Fashion Brands on Pinterest and another for the America Heart Association. Here’s one just for the boys, er, men, called Board of Man. Even the National Guard has gotten into the act. Just do a search for what you do and you’re likely to find some boards built around it.

Start with a core group of pins and then drip them in over time
Remember that as more users follow your boards you have an opportunity to remind them of your existence every time you post a new pin. If you post a dozen pins at once they get a dozen emails at once. Once a day is probably a more tolerable noise level for most. Just like with Twitter it’s better to spread out your shares rather than inundating us with them all at once.

Create boards that are different
We do not need another board all about cupcakes. We don’t really. Do something to make your board stand out from the crowd. Here’s a fun way to do it by slicing up images for a single board, similar to what people have done with Google+ photos.Post items that are shareable. (DUH)

Think of ways to pin on a schedule
It trains your users to expect a great pin from you every day and they begin to look forward to it. Can you have a theme for every day of the week, or even weekly that keeps people interested?

Name your boards with SEO in mind
While we have very little demographic data about our boards it’s clearly showing up in search engines too. Create your board title with SEO in mind. “My board” doesn’t mean a thing. “Hot Cars” is clear and much more likely to both gain interest from users and seo form the search engines. What will people search for to find you? Select a category for your board that is appropriate to your purpose in pinning. Fill out the description with keywords in a complete sentence.

Follow other pinners
Follow the people who are most popular in your areas of interest. Most likely they’ll follow you back. It’s super easy for people to click that “follow JFouts’s back” and they are following all of your boards. This is important. Let’s say you are in the wine industry and you’ve created boards for sustainable wine making, your wines, Sonoma valley travel and wine accessories. When someone follows all your boards they get a bigger picture of who you are and when you post your new labels or the latest vintage, they see that too.

When you find an influencer you are impressed with invite them to collaborate on a board. To do that you just create a board, then go to edit and choose “Me + Contributors” under who can pin. This will allow you to invite influencers in your area of interest, people who have a complementary viewpoint, etc.

Be social
Pinboard is boring if nobody comes to your party. Re-pin great finds from other boards. It’s good for them and it’s good for you. It’s likely they will reciprocate and may even invite you to collaborate. Go see who the people are who like or re-pin your posts. Follow them, re-pin something of theirs. Reciprocation is the core of social interaction. Ph, and of course don’t forget to share your pins on social networks, add the Pinit button to your blog and maybe even add a widget with your recent pins to let people see what is important to you.

Click Here to Leave a Comment Below 3 comments
Megan Keane

Thanks for this, Janet. I’ve been looking into Pinterest before diving in and hadn’t known the sneaky business surrounding the TOU and affiliate links. I’m hoping the negative press and outcry will be enough to have them make a point of being transparent in the future, if not changing their policies.

I think the collaborative aspect of Pinterest is one of the most interesting parts about this. I could even see collaboration being a way to illustrate differing points of view as a form of debate. It also seems like there’s definitely a lot of potential for “stickiness” with viewers since images tend to be the most powerful part of memory.

Matt Hamilton

I keep trying to avoid Pintrest but maybe it’s just inevitable that I will go use it. I haven’t found a way it could benefit my clients social media presence because they don’t have many pictures to share and I don’t want to be spammy. I do have one client that is a non-profit thrift store who posts pictures on Facebook of donations coming into their business that will be for sale. Do you think the donation pictures would be interesting enough to be worthy of ‘pinning’?


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