In Part 1 of “Is Pinterest Right for Your Small Business?” we looked at the demographics of Pinterest and how to determine whether your target market is present on the social pinning site. If you think of that as the “who” of Pinterest, then today I’d like to discuss the “what” and the “why” as it relates to your small business. After that, you’ll be fully prepared to make an informed decision.
Once you’ve determined that your audience is using Pinterest, it’s time to look in the mirror. What will your company pin? How can you make your product or service visually compelling? Sometimes it’s obvious: a restaurant will probably post pictures of their best dishes and maybe even divulge some of their recipes. For many industries, however, some ingenuity is required. Take for example Peugeot Panama, the Central American branch of a French carmaker, who took a clever approach to their Pinterest campaign by creating a series of jigsaw puzzles that take advantage of Pinterest’s layout. Pinners were tasked with tracking down the missing puzzle pieces (pins) from other boards to assemble them into completed pictures of Peugeot vehicles.
And then, there’s Nordstrom. The department store giant isn’t content to coast by on product pictures—they mix things up with irresistibly creative board names, like “Shiny Things,” “Shoe Lust,” and “Fashion Cats.” That may not seem like much, but it works: Nordstrom is the most followed brand on Pinterest.
Let me take a moment to clarify something. As with other social media and networking websites, your Pinterest presence can’t be all about you. If you go too heavy on the self-promotion, you’ll lose your followers’ interest. And then you’ll lose your followers. So mix it up a bit: pin things that aren’t direct advertising, repin things from relevant boards, invite followers to put pins on your boards—in other words, be social. You’re not going to attract followers by being a Pintrovert.
Finally, before you take the Pinterest plunge, you should set goals and plan your strategy for achieving them. There’s no sense going in blindly, and a disorganized approach can be harmful to your image. Put in writing what it is that your company stands to gain from Pinterest, and estimate how long it should take. If your purpose is simply to make sales, then maybe you should check out Fancy before you go any further.
Brand awareness and community building efforts are the kind of goals that are more likely to succeed on Pinterest. I wasn’t familiar with the Italian restaurant chain Maggiano’s, but thanks to their “Pin it to Win it” campaign, their name has received quite a bit more recognition than before. Or take a look at Panera Bread’s Pinterest community—they boast a ridiculous 98% engagement rate with their followers. That’s an impressive stat in any social media arena. And Honda earned some major points (and an award: Best Use of Pinterest) for their unique “Pintermission” promotion: they selected 3 top influencers on Pinterest and paid them $500 to take a 24-hour break from the social network and use that time to do, make, or experience one of the things they had pinned about. The campaign blew up and even spread to Twitter, thanks to the #Pintermission hashtag. Not bad, for $1500!
Now, if you’re really outside-the-box clever, like Sonja Foust, you can make Pinterest’s popularity work for you. Sonja has labeled herself “The Pintester” and she brings to life (or death) the various DIY projects and recipes with walkthroughs, hilarious commentary, and pictures of her results (mostly failures).
Your strategy should also address how often you’re going to post, how much time you’ll spend creating or finding things to share, how you’ll coordinate Pinterest with the rest of your marketing, and what resources you’re willing to devote to your campaign. Be specific and make your goals quantifiable—that will help you to measure your success later.
By now you should know everything you need to know to make a sound decision regarding your small business and Pinterest. We’ve talked about the Who, the What, the Why, and the How, and if you choose to embark on a pinboard pilgrimage, the only question that remains is: When?
Good luck, and happy pinning!