Pinterest first appeared on the social media scene in 2010 as a place for users to curate or “pin” favorite images from the Internet. Users have embraced the concept and have already pinned more than 30 billion images. Pinterest is now positioning itself as more than just a place where recipes are swapped and designer rooms are ogled. The company is offering ways for businesses to engage in branding and marketing while making some money in the process.
18 months ago Pinterest began offering special business accounts and that was followed by a rollout of promoted pins — images that large companies could pay to promote so that they would be viewed by more people. Initially, promoted pins were strictly offered to companies the size of the Gap, General Mills, or Target. But now businesses of any size are joining a waiting list to have the chance to promote their pins as well.
Why should this interest small-business owners? Sherry Nouraini, Ph.D., a new media marketing instructor at the University of California San Diego Extension and president of Captive Touch, a company that offers social media strategy, education, and coaching, says it’s because Pinterest offers a unique social media experience.
Consumers join social networks to connect with family and friends or with professional colleagues, Nouraini says, which can make it difficult for small businesses to convert prospects into paying customers via social channels.
But, she adds, Pinterest is an exception because of its visually addictive nature.
“People join Pinterest with the intent of finding things they love and cataloging them, which gives content shared by brands more longevity compared to other social networking sites.”
The idea of promoting pins is to build brand awareness and drive traffic to a company’s website. That’s why Pinterest offers rich pins that have data and information built right into the pin.
“Rich pins allow brands to communicate the value of their product and service right on Pinterest, eliminating a step for the consumer to search for information on a brand’s website.
Rich pins can be enabled for movies, recipes, articles, products, and places. The description of the pin travels with it and cannot be changed by pinners as it is shared. And if the price changes on an item in a rich pin everyone who has pinned it will receive a notification.
“This is an extremely powerful feature as it puts the power of retargeting in the consumers’ hands,” Nouraini says.
Creating rich pens is a technical process that requires adding metatags to a website, and businesses have to apply to Pinterest to use them. At might not be so easy: The Pinterest website suggests getting professional IT help to enable these kinds of pins.
Another new Pinterest feature that requires much less technical expertise is Interests. Users can set their profiles to show them things they are interested in, whether they follow the pinner or not. Previously images only popped into a pinner’s homefeed if they were already following a particular board. This gives small businesses the opportunity to appear in new feeds every day and increases the importance of collecting interesting and relevant pins on their boards.
Also, Pinterest has just added a direct messaging feature that a business can use to share pins with an entire group of followers.
Pew Research has found that one-fifth of internet users are on Pinterest, more than the number that use Twitter. That’s why small-business owners should keep an eye on all the new tools this ever-growing service has to offer.
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