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The Next Big Thing

[ 0 ] May. 29, 2012 | SBO Editor

How you can connect with buyers through Pinterest.

By all accounts, Pinterest, an online bulletin board for sharing (aka “pinning”) favorite images, is the latest social media phenomenon. Since its 2010 beginning, it reportedly crossed the 10-million user mark faster than any other independent standalone site in history. Currently, it’s driving more traffic to company websites and blogs than YouTube, Google+ and LinkedIn combined.

Pinterest is a pinboard-styled social photo sharing website. The service allows users to create and manage theme-based image collections. The site’s mission statement is to “connect everyone in the world through the ‘things’ they find interesting.” Pinterest is managed by Cold Brew Labs, a team based in Palo Alto, California. The website has proven especially popular among women. The site’s founder is Ben Silbermann, of West Des Moines, Iowa.

Early adopters of Pinterest – overwhelmingly women ages 25-44 – helped propel it to success.

Thus, Pinterest has real potential to boost customer engagement for those brands that target this audience and (importantly) have visually appealing images to share. The home products industry is one notable example.

Pinterest skyrocketed into the top ten most visited social networks of 2011, and it continues to gain traction and popularity.

Users of Pinterest curate themed image boards, populating them with media found online using the “Pin It” button, or uploaded from their computer. Each such item of media is known as a “pin,” and can be a picture, a video, a discussion, or a monetary gift. Pins can be grouped into “boards,” which are sets of pins created on a given topic. Pinterest can be accessed by adding the “pin it” button to the desktop bookmark bar, “follow me” and “pin it” buttons added to personal website or blog pages, and the Pinterest iPhone application available through the App Store.

To register for Pinterest, new users must receive an invitation from a friend already registered on Pinterest or request an invitation directly from the Pinterest website. The registration process currently requires users to link their Pinterest account to their Facebook or Twitter account. Users choosing to log in via Facebook must currently be using (or opt in to) Facebook’s “timeline” format.

Pinterest allows users to follow the activity of other Pinterest users. A “Tastemakers” page suggests relevant users to follow. When viewing the site’s homepage, a user sees a “Pin Feed” that shows activity among the boards and pinners that the user follows.

Like other types of social media, users set up an account with a profile and selected settings. There’s an option to automatically connect to your company’s Twitter account and Facebook page. You can also elect to: make your Pinterest profile open to search engines, set your location to better attain geo-targeted traffic, add your company’s website URL and relevant keywords to your profile.

Once you set up an account, you install a button to your browser’s toolbar that is used to “pin” an image that you want to save. After that, it’s a matter of “pinning” other people’s content, attracting followers (like Facebook and Twitter) and eventually adding your own boards with images and descriptions of your products or projects.

Perhaps the most powerful business application for Pinterest is the ability to post images of a company’s products or work on a Pinterest board and link them back to a website .

Other ways a business can use Pinterest: create a special deal or coupon for its followers, host a sweepstakes or other contest, collect valuable feedback on new products, display a brand’s personality, or recognize and thank customers.

The best images – funny, beautiful or thought provoking – attract the most attention and followers. Also, if you plan to use Pinterest to sell products, make sure that you do more than just that with your account. Interact with users, or give them useful content that benefits them.

An example of this is the Pinterest board for home improvement retailer Lowe’s. The board links to projects from Lowe’s Creative Ideas website, as well as product pages from its own website and project tutorials on other blogs. By offering inspiration and project ideas, Lowe’s has positioned itself to be an inspiration resource.

According to Wikipedia: “In early 2011, the company secured a $10-million Series A led by Bessemer Venture Partners. In October 2011, the company secured $27 million in funding from Andreessen Horowitz, which valued the company at USD $200 million. Earlier in the year, it had been valued through venture financing at only $40 million.

“As of February 2012, the start-up, with 16 employees, did not have much revenue and was unprofitable. Pinterest derives some income from modifying users’ affiliate links to commercial sites. By replacing the original affiliate tracking code with Pinterest’s tracking code, any affiliate payment is passed to Pinterest instead of the original affiliate.”

For more information on business marketing with Pinterest and other social media, contact Walt Denny, Inc. at 630-323-0555, email walt@waltdenny.com or visit www.waltdenny.com.          

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Category: Magazine, Small Business Opportunities, Small Business Opportunities Sept 2012