Cheat Sheet

Pinterest Marketing For Dummies

Pinterest is a powerful platform for marketing if you use the site properly and follow standard etiquette. After you get the hang of interacting and networking on the site, you can use Pinterest to self-promote in small doses. You can also use tricks to see who is spreading the word about your company. Here are some tips and tools to get started:

Pinterest Marketing Etiquette

All of the time and effort in the world spent marketing on Pinterest is useless if you annoy everyone there (or, worse yet, get reported as spam!). On Pinterest, the emphasis is on sharing great images and being creative while you do it. Companies that only pin their own content and follow no one back are not engaging well. Here are tips on marketing etiquette:

  • Avoid constant self-promotion. It is perfectly acceptable to occasionally share a pin that is from your site or self-promotional as part of your Pinterest marketing, or even to have boards dedicated to self-promotion. As a general rule, pin images that are self-promotional no more than 20 percent of the time. You should also avoid several self-promotional pins in a row. Spread it out!

  • Follow people back. When someone follows you, unless there is an overwhelming reason not to, you should follow them back. Many brands make the mistake of collecting followers and following few (or none of them) back. If you want to build rapport with customers and fans, you need to make Pinterest a two-way street.

  • Interact with others. Don’t just pin and wait for people to interact with you on Pinterest. Repin (sharing another user’s pins), like, and comment on others’ pins.

  • Be a careful pinner. Don’t upload images you don’t own. Don’t pin from Google search results and other sources that are never the original source of the image (pins from the web automatically link to the location where you find them). Don’t pin a post directly from the homepage of a blog, but click the headline go to the permalink so people will find it later.

  • Have fun! Pinterest is no place to take your company too seriously. The great thing about Pinterest is it truly brings out the human and fun side of a brand. Embrace it instead of fighting it. Think of fun and silly boards that would be engaging and tie into your company.

Finding Buzz about Your Company on Pinterest

People might already be raving about your company on Pinterest right now. Really! Whether you still haven’t even joined Pinterest or you are an old hand at it, you should find (and monitor) what people share about your company on Pinterest. Here are a few methods, and I recommend using them all:

  • Find pins from your site. Although it isn’t obvious (for example, it isn’t anywhere in the Pinterest menu options), you can find all pins from a specific site. Just go to your browser and enter the web address in this format: http://pinterest.com/source/YOURDOMAIN.com (replacing YOURDOMAIN.com with, well, your domain). This takes you to a list of original pins from your site, and under each you can also see any repins and likes.

  • Search for your company name and industry. Use the search box in the top toolbar to search for terms related to your company name, product names, or even terms related to your industry to see what is getting buzz. After you conduct the search, you can filter results. Pin results are the default, but you can also look for boards related to your company or industry. You can also search people, which can be an important way to watch out for people impersonating your brand.

  • Search Google. Using Pinterest search isn’t the only way (or even the best way) to search for buzz about your company on Pinterest. You can also search the Pinterest site on Google by entering site:http://pinterest.com search term/company name; for example, site:http://pinterest.com Type-A Conference.

  • Get alerts. You can set up that same search in Google Alerts at google.com/alerts and get an e-mail whenever there are results on Pinterest with a search term you specify, such as your company name. There is also a new site, pinalerts.com, where you can enter domains and receive an e-mail when a new pin is posted with that domain.

Finding Time to Maintain a Pinterest Presence

Pinterest can be addictive after you get the hang of it. That can be great if you have all the time in the world. Otherwise, you can still be active and engaged on Pinterest without letting it get in the way of work, life, sleep, and other social networks. Here are a few tips:

  • Have dedicated Pinterest time each day and limit it to a certain number of minutes. For example, getting on Pinterest can be a nice way to start the morning over coffee. You don’t need to do Pinterest just one time a day because it can be done very much in rapid-fire fashion (five minutes here, and five minutes there). Create a schedule and stick to it.

  • Install Pinterest’s official mobile app on your iPhone, if you have one. It is great for downtime such as standing in line or whenever you need to kill a couple minutes. With your phone, you can hop onto Pinterest anywhere.

  • Allow for more time on Pinterest when you first begin to help you get the hang of the site and get comfortable. Make plans to scale the time back as you learn the site and build a core of followers.

  • Integrate Pinterest into your daily routine. If you make it as easy as possible to pin as you do other things, that can really help. Install the Pinterest Pin It button, which can be found at http://pinterest.com/about/goodies/, to allow you to easily pin great images while you do your normal web browsing.

Elements of Pin-Worthy Content

The most effective way to use Pinterest for marketing is to create content that is pin-worthy and encourages others to buzz about your business (even if you don't toot your own horn). Here are some key elements to pin-worthy content:

  • It has a dazzling, eye-catching image. No matter what else your content has, a great image is mandatory to encourage sharing. Yes, you can have a bad image and still get shared on occasion. The key word is on occasion. You are looking for images that are either beautiful or interesting, that catch the eye quickly, and that promise that a click-through will take you to something very interesting.

  • It is easy to pin. The easier you make it for a visitor to your site to pin, the more likely they are to do it. You can use the Pin It Button for Websites from http://pinterest.com/about/goodies. If you use WordPress, you can find a number of Pinterest Pin It plug-ins.

  • The content on the page being linked is fabulous. People want to link to content that is useful, fun, entertaining, instructional, and so on. Beyond having a great image, you also need to be sure that people who are considering pinning your content see there is more to the URL than a pretty picture.

  • Your images are optimized. The image should not only look good, it should also be optimized for Pinterest or it might get passed over for a pin by a savvy member. That means a large image (at least 250 pixels to look good in pin results pages, and up to 600 pixels wide to look good on a pin page).

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