The growth of social media has opened up new advertising venues from the start, especially for smaller businesses that are willing to try new ways to promote their business. Many have made excellent use of the various networking sites from the early days of MySpace to the more recent glory days of facebook and Twitter. Trying to break into that group with already quite a bit of success – in January, it referred more people than Google+, YouTube and LinkedIn combined – is Pinterest. Last month, it even beat referral heavy-hitter Twitter.
Pinterest is, for those not already using it, in essence a digital pin board. You can pin images you like, similar to the way you can like things on facebook, and add them to your personal boards. Pretty much any image is possible, from your holiday snapshots to product images or drawings of Shakespeare you found at an obscure Hungarian site. And of course it’s possible to re-pin (or like) images other people have on their boards, thereby creating the social media aspect.
The implications for businesses with human consumers at the end, whether they are retailers or service-providers, are obvious. Add your product to your pin board and hope that it drives traffic to your website. But of course, it’s not quite as simple as that – people don’t want to be sold on something on social media sites, they want to share what they are about. That is why it is important for you to create your own profile first by posting content that is not directly related to your business, but still connected. A local bakery might pin a few recipes for bread. A fashion boutique could add some dresses that are unique – even if they are not for sale there. And an architect might share the buildings that inspired him to pursue that career.
Only once people have become interested is it a good idea to focus on your own products and try to get new customers that way.
Is success guaranteed? Certainly not. As with other social media sites, Pinterest thrives off its community and they might just not be interested. But it is an easy and above all cheap way to connect with new people. Certainly a lot can be said for giving it a try and seeing whether it works out. Especially if you are like me and find the whole “pinning things you like” strangely addictive.
Further advice on how best to explore Pinterest’s potential can be found in Jason Falls article for Entrepreneur.com.