Pinterest for Local Business: What You Need to Know

One of the hottest new sites year is Pinterest. In fact, ReachLocal recently launched an account on the site, sharing stats, facts, infographics, and other content from across the wWeb. If you haven’t heard about the social media site from a family member, friend, or colleague, here’s a basic overview of what you need to know about using Pinterest for local business.

What is Pinterest?

Essentially, it’s an online pinboard that allows you to post, or “pin”, an image that links back to a content source from anywhere on the Web to a curated board on your Pinterest account. It then showcases your image to a feed your followers see whenever they log into the site. Whenever they view your specific pin, they can also follow the link back to the originating source for the full content, whether it be a blog post, how-to article, or product showcase. Each pin is organized onto a “board,” which is a collection of images you curate under a specific topic of your choosing. You can create as many boards as you want and name them whatever you like, adding each board into a subject matter category like fashion, art, food, technology, and more.

Other users can subscribe to you as a user, or to your individual boards. What each user sees when they log into their account is a stream of images from all the accounts and boards they follow, creating a great interest discovery experience. You can also “repin” the content that other users have posted to one of your own boards, which means that Pinterest becomes a powerful way to discover and share new content, products, brands, and more.

So, why is Pinterest useful for online marketing?

For one, the site is driving a lot of traffic to business websites. A recent Shareaholic study showed that Pinterest accounted for 3.6% of referral traffic in January, driving more traffic than Google Plus, YouTube and LinkedIn combined.

In fact, if your business features images on your blog, website, or web store, you may already be getting traffic via Pinterest if your customers or fans have “pinned” your images using the site. Since whenever an image is pinned using the Pinterest shortcut it automatically links back to the referring source, it creates links back to your original content. Which means that when someone on Pinterest finds something they’re interested in, they can like it, pin it to their own board, and even visit the site directly to learn more or purchase the item featured. This all serves as a great opportunity for generating traffic to your web content.

What’s unique about Pinterest?

Pinterest isn’t simply about finding things to buy. Instead, it focuses on things users enjoy, giving them an easy way to catalog them, refer to them, and share them with people who have similar interests. That can include connections from existing social networks, like Facebook, but it may also include new connections who share a common interest, like cooking, crafting, travel, or technology.

Overall, what sets Pinterest apart is that it’s centered on the interest graph rather than the social graph. And this provides an interesting new way for consumers to interact with each other and with brands through their content. Because of the user experience of Pinterest, it’s very common for users to “repin” content they find useful or interesting, regardless of whether it originated from a brand or another user. That’s because a user’s boards become a form of self-expression, primarily by sharing content from other people – and businesses.

How can a local business get started on Pinterest?

1. Build a Business Presence on Pinterest

Currently, there is no distinction of business or brand accounts on Pinterest. But, to get started on the site, you’ll need to get an invite, as the site currently does not accept open sign ups. To do this, try asking someone you know who’s already on the site to send you an invite. Short of that, you could post on your business Facebook, Twitter, or Google+ account that your business wants to get involved, so you need an invite. Once you are able to sign up, put your business name in the First Name field in the sign up form so that it’s displayed properly on your account, then complete your profile to describe your business.

You may also want to send an invite to yourself via another email account once you’ve set up your business account so you can create a personal profile. This will allow you to experience Pinterest as a user so you can better understand how to use the site to appeal to consumers.

2. Share Content Your Customers and Fans Will Love

It’s important to think of your customers and fans when building your Pinterest approach. What kinds of content, topics, and interests do they enjoy? What would you as a user find interesting? Don’t limit what you post to just information about your products and services. Don’t just share images and links to your existing product pages, blog posts, and website. Instead, share content that other users will love sharing. For example, a local bakery could create boards for cupcake recipes, frosting tips, taste combinations, decorating ideas, party ideas, personal favorites, cake disasters, wedding planning, and other topics their followers might be interested in.

3. Follow Customers, Fans, Employees, and Like-Minded Businesses

After you’ve created your boards and pinned some interesting content, you’ll want to start following other users and establishing your business presence on Pinterest. Not only will this notify them you are using the site, it will also fill your stream with content that you can re-share. So, search the site for content you’d like to share from your brand, and follow some users – both individuals and businesses – who are sharing about common interests. And, don’t forget to share with your fans and followers on other sites that your business is on Pinterest, too!

4. Create Pinterest-Friendly Content and Make it Sharable

Businesses who are actively sharing photography, images, and infographics related to their brand can boost their brand awareness and drive more traffic to their blogs and websites by keeping Pinterest in mind. You can pin your own images to appropriate categories to let followers know what new content you’ve posted so they can share it. You can also put a “Pin It” button on your blog or website, enabling viewers to directly pin your content from your site.

These are just a few tips for getting started on Pinterest as a local business. Are you using the site – personally or for business? What are your thoughts? Feel free to share you tips, tricks and ideas in a comment!

And check out ReachLocal on Pinterest to see what we’re sharing!

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