By Ida Cheinman
This article was first published on Social Media Today.
Whether you are an early adopter or a skeptic when it comes to new marketing channels, social media’s ability to help companies reach a broader audience and to do it at a relatively low cost has put it at the center of today’s marketing discussions.
While LinkedIn is still a premier social networking platform for professionals, Pinterest has rapidly gained popularity since its creation in 2010. According to the Experian’s The 2014 Digital Marketer: Benchmark and Trend Report, Pinterest is the sixth largest social networking site in the U.S.
The power of images to attract, retain and magnify our attention is monumental. Images have demonstrated the ability to facilitate the relationship between a brand and its audiences, creating immediate trust through a more authentic interface.
In today’s marketing environment, when business owners and marketers are placing significant value on visual content, Pinterest can be an invaluable tool to:
- Deepen emotional engagement with your audiences.
- Convey complex ideas in direct, uncomplicated ways.
- Create a community of like-minded brand champions.
- Humanize your brand.
While its benefits to marketing are undisputable, in order to use Pinterest to strengthen your brand, deepen customer engagement and grow the bottom line, it’s important to understand how to use it strategically and effectively.
How can business owners, CEOs and CMOs harvest the power of visual storytelling to create more compelling brands and deepen engagement through Pinterest? Start by understanding this social media network – its strengths, unique characteristics and pinning techniques, so that you are working from a strong foundation.
As with any marketing channel, ask yourself:
- Is this the right tool for our company?
- Is this the right channel to reach our target audiences? Are they on Pinterest?
- How does it fit into our overall marketing program?
- Do we have the time and/or human resources for managing our Pinterest account? Who are potential contributors?
What is Pinterest?
Defined as a virtual pinboard, Pinterest is still often thought of as a tool to plan one’s weddings or organize favorite food recipes. But it can also be a powerful marketing tool for business.
With Pinterest you can:
- Organize and share visual content that engages your audiences.
- See, share and engages with pinboards created by others.
- Get inspired and inspire others.
- Promote your business and expertise.
Pinterest for Business
- Set up a profile with your logo and a keyword-conscious company description.
- Plan strategically: What boards would be of interest to your audiences? What boards would best showcase your company, its areas of expertise and its culture?
- Mix your company’s expertise with interests of your clients and your company brand/culture.
- Follow, repin and like as you would with any other social network. You can follow entire accounts or just individual boards.
Pinterest comes with several useful tools for easy sharing:
- Beginning with a “Pin It” browser button that you can add to your browser toolbar and use to pin whatever you find interesting online.
- “Follow” and “Pin It” buttons to add to your website – remember this is for sharing visual content, so make sure to include visuals in your original content that are conducive to sharing.
- And, of course, there’s a Pinterest App for Mobile for pinning on the go.
In addition to public boards, Pinterest offers up to 500 “secret” boards per account. You can use these boards for team collaboration, creating mood boards for client projects, or internal company initiatives. And if at any point you chose to, you can always take your secret board(s) public.
What to Pin
Look for visually engaging content that showcases well. Some ideas may include:
- Recently completed projects: Did your company design a building? Took a new product to market? Designed a cool website? Wrote a book?
- Life in the office: as with all social medial networks, this is a great opportunity to showcase your company’s culture and personality.
- Volunteering and Community Involvement (Ex: http://www.pinterest.com/FedEx/community-involvement)
- Thought leadership: Share articles, e-guides, e-books, white papers, webinar recordings and other educational and trends-related content (Ex: http://www.pinterest.com/hubspot)
- Audience-specific boards: Are you after architects, banks – what’s trending in their industries? What would make them believe that you “get” them?
- Expertise-related boards: if you a marketing company, post pins related to marketing, social, digital trends, etc. If you are an architecture firm, post about sustainability, BIM, prefabs, workplace trends, etc.
- Don’t be all business all the time: show the personality and culture of your company, be professional yet remember to entertain.
- Make sure your content is relevant, valuable, engaging, and visual.
- Be strategic about your descriptions and put a URL in the description – boosts SEO and calls attention to the link.
- Use meaningful and descriptive file names for your images (this is true for all social media networks and all online marketing in general).
- Be creative with your pinboard titles – don’t use the default categories; include search terms when possible; use titles that will make sense and appeal to your audiences.
- Check all pins and repins to make sure they click-through to the original source.
- As with any content, promote it outside of the network – drive traffic to you pins and boards from your blog, other social media channels, and through other forms of marketing.
- Make sure to use at statistics and reports to help your company gain insights about its audiences and their interests.