With the dust finally starting to settle around the Facebook IPO, the time has come to turn our attention to something new.
I’m always being asked what the next big thing is going to be in social media.
My first response is always ‘ if I knew that, I’d be building it myself’ but the reality is, such is the power of the big players like Facebook and Google that new kids on the block tend to get swallowed up in takeovers before they can get any serious runs on the board.
However, a serious contender did emerge on the social media scene earlier this year. Pinterest is a social sharing network. Similar to the way people share videos on YouTube, on Pinterest they share images called Pins, via themed virtual pinboards called Boards.
A quick browse across the platform and you’ll spot a lot of sharing going on from wedding ideas and books people love to fashion favourites and recipes.
It’s all very entertaining, but savvy business owners are already asking, ‘What’s in it for me?’
It’s an excellent point and a timely reminder that the Goliath of social networking, Facebook, also started largely in the personal, consumer space. The moral to that story is a reminder that wherever potential customers gather in their personal lives, businesses are sure to follow.
There’s an obvious synergy between showcasing highly visual brands and Pinterest but this brings us back to the original question posed by this article: What’s the point of Pinterest?
7 ways to get the most out of Pinterest
- Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery
Why reinvent the wheel when you can be inspired by others? Spend some time looking around at how other businesses are using Pinterest. A great example to start with is the New York Public Library where you’ll find Pins highlighting books, events, history, literary greats and much more. It’s also worth checking out the US chain of supermarkets Whole Foods to see a more commercial approach.
- Pin from your website, don’t upload photos direct to Pinterest
When you pin a photo from the internet to Pinterest, the source is attached to the Pin, so if someone clicks on it, they are redirected back to your website.
- Keep it simple
Pin an image that is appealing and add a small amount of text to generate more interest. Entice the visitor to your website for more information rather than blurting it all out on your Pinterest board.
- Think outside the square
If your company sells services not products, what do you Pin? Staff photos, staff pets, events, beautiful architecture in the street where your office is the list is endless as long as you use your imagination.
- Connect the dots
This should be obvious, but if you’re going to get started on Pinterest, don’t forget to tell people about it and promote your new profile on your established social networking sites.
- Don’t be a social snob
Yes, Pinterest is full of pictures of dream wedding dresses and other fluff that leaves most of us a little bewildered. But then YouTube, Facebook and Twitter are too. Sift and be selective.
- Follow others you are interested in
It’s the same strategy as Twitter. If a person or a company is relevant to your business, follow them. It’s a polite way of saying you’d like to make a virtual connection. Not everyone will follow you back, but if there is relevance between you, you will start to see conversion over time.
Ready to start Pinning? Here are a few frequently asked questions about getting started. Feel free to ask your own by posting a comment at the end of this article.
How do I open an account?
Pinterest is currently invite-only, which is pretty astounding considering there are more than 10 million users per month. You’ll need a friend who is already a member to invite you. Check out your Facebook friends. By now there’s a good chance someone you know is already Pinning. Otherwise you’ll need to click “Request an Invite” on the Pinterest homepage. Once you’re invited, follow the prompts to sign up. You will need a Facebook or Twitter account as part of the process but you can unlink it in your settings after you’re up and running.
What are Boards?
Boards are categories you use to organise your Pins (photos). Pinterest will suggest five commonly used categories when you sign up but you can create your own with any names you want.
How do I add a Pin to my Board?
When you sign up, you are prompted to add the “Pin It” button to your browser Bookmarks Bar. Do this. Then any time you are on a webpage, you just click the Pin It button and it will bring up all of the images you can Pin from that page. You just select an image and add it to one of your Boards. The original source of the image is always included with the Pin.
People are already writing full-length books about using Pinterest, so this is just a taste of the possibilities. Check it out for yourself and let me know what you think by adding a comment below.
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Next time: How to create a custom background for your Twitter profile
Jillian Bowen is the social media manager for CPA Australia and responsible for the strategy, content development and management of platforms reaching an audience of more than 35,000 people.