15 tips for using pinterest as a way to build your little biz

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love it? pin it!Pin It

WARNING: proceed at your own risk. pinterest is highly addictive. if you are like most of its users, you will find hours have slipped away just clicking ‘see more pins’ over and over. it just might be the best fun you have ever had online!

pinterest is the new kid on the social media block. it’s the fastest growing social sharing site, growing from 40,000 users to 3.2 million in just 1 year (source). for buildalittlebiz.com it has become the number one source of traffic, and i know i am not the only site experiencing this.

for those of you who haven’t checked it out yet, pinterest is a ‘virtual pin board’ for images (and video too) that people can organize in their own themed pin boards. it is only available by invite (you can request an invite from pinterest or email me and i can invite you if you want to skip the waiting list.) with pinterest you can pin any image from any website, or you can just hang out on pinterest ‘repinning’ the stuff you love.

and there is a lot to love.

one of the reasons i think pinterest is so fun is because it’s visual – with all the information we get from ebooks, blogs, newsletters, websites, facebook posts, tweets and more online, pinterest feels so peaceful! it’s easy to scan without information overload. it’s easy to share what you love without feeling spam-ish. it’s easy to stay organized. it is simple. it’s pretty. it’s fun.

pinterest is mostly comprised of female users (70 %) but it is appealing to men too (my hubby is as addicted as i am, pinning all of the funny stuff he finds there. but don’t tell him i told you he likes pinterest. he does think it’s girly!)

because it is visual, pinterest lends itself well to sharing excellent images, inspirational quotes, how to instructions, tips & ideas, local places, humour, infographics, and videos. i bet that any little biz can find applicable things to share on pinterest!

at this stage it is for people (not businesses) so when you sign up you sign up as yourself. your pins & boards are public, so keep in mind that what you share is a representation of you (and your business if you are using it that way!) like with all social media, i always say if you wouldn’t want it displayed up on a billboard it is probably best not to post it (or pin it in this case)!

you can link to your personal facebook profile (not your business page) and to your twitter account as well. these links will automatically be added then to your pinterest profile, plus you can link to your website and include your business information in your profile. and do link your social media profiles, sharing your pins across other platforms will allow you to expand your following. which is the point afterall!

once you sign up you can start pinning right away. when you see pins that you love you can follow the pinner or just follow individual boards. find people/boards to follow that fit with your brand, products/services, niche, passion, interests, target audience etc. the more you pin the more likely you are to get repins and people following you and your boards.

it’s quite simple really. you pin stuff you love, you repin stuff other people love, you follow people/boards who pin stuff you love. that’s pinterest!

tip #1 – do what you love.

yes, this is one more platform in a world where it already feels like there is too much to do and not enough time. have a look at it, if you think pinterest is a good fit for your own interests and the interests of your ‘right people’ then it can be a great tool to add to your business. but, like all social media marketing tools, pinterest takes time and requires you to be present and to engage. if pinterest is not your thing, that’s ok. only do what you love!

but if it is your thing, i bet it won’t even feel like working when you use pinterest for your biz. like i said, it can be very addictive! you can spend hours just looking and pinning and looking some more. if you do that with your biz/brand/people in mind then you are building your brand, spreading your message, and interacting with your right people at the same time. working plus having fun at the same time. what could be better?

tip #2 – don’t be spam-ish

pinterest is NOT a place to sell sell sell your thing. in fact pinterest specifically asks you NOT pin your own things over and over on the ‘etiquette’ page. pinterest IS a place to curate and share the things that you are interested in.

your job on pinterest is not to promote your business, but to share the things you love and that you think your right people will love. let the people who love you share your stuff for you.

tip #3 – be ‘pintastic’ with your biz

the key to getting traffic back to your site from pinterest is to have something worth pinning. people seem to love to pin stuff that is:

  • pretty – so be sure include excellent images in your blog posts/website
  • helpful – share how to’s, step-by-step instructions, tutorials, infographics, recipes, patterns, videos
  • inspiring – share great quotes, phrases, lyrics, poems
  • funny – comics/graphics, humour, snark & sarcasm, commentary on the world today

so if you want your stuff to get pinned then your stuff needs to bepintastic. (i thought i just invented that word but apparently it has been around for awhile. sigh.) keep it in mind when you write a blog post, share something on facebook, send out a newsletter, update your product images. are they pintastic?

in particular, be sure that the images you share (of your products, yourself, your workspace, the result of your services etc.) are pintastic. you might right a super helpful blog post with a super crappy image attached. people will pin your post & that super crappy image will be pinned and repinned over and over. it is better to have great images associated with your brand, no?

tip #4 – ask your 'right people' to join you

having a pintastic business is just one half of the equation. you also need your customers and fans to be into pinterest, in order to get them pinning your stuff. so ask your fans & customers & followers to join you at pinterest – share a basic getting started guide like this one or write your own.

tell your fans why it is a great place to hang out. share examples on your facebook page or blog of the stuff you are finding over there. offer to send them invites. link your pinterest community with your facebook & twitter community. once your fans are on pinterest they will be more likely to pin your things and word will spread!

include ‘follow me on pinterest’ buttons on your website, emails, newsletter, etc. pinterest has the code for a follow me button in its ‘goodies’ page.

Follow Me on Pinterest

tip #5 – make it easy to ‘pin it’

include a ‘pin it’ button on your blog posts, website and newsletter – pinterest has the code for a pin it button in its ‘goodies’ page and there is also a wordpress  ‘pin it’ plugin.  you need to include the code for each post/image you want people to pin, but it is worth the minute it will take you to add it. the benefit is that you get to choose which image in a post gets pinned, be sure the permalink is the exact post you want linked, and write a description that will entice interest and repins.

and don’t forget: ask people to pin your stuff if they love it! a clear call to action will help your images get pinned.

tip #6 – watermark & name your images

when an image is pinned from your website it is linked back to your website so that people can click and see/read more. that is what makes it great for driving traffic to your website!

but sometimes images get posted on other blogs, sites like tumblr or flickr, newsletters and or facebook pages and unfortunately there are people who will use your images without maintaining your link or crediting you. (click here to read about one blogger’s experience with this problem.)

the best thing to do with any image on your site/newsletter/facebook page etc. is to watermark it with your business website. even better, include your logo in your watermark to increase brand recognition! this way, even if your image gets reposted, repinned, and loses the link to your site you will still be credited and people will still have a way to find you for more information.

if you have photoshop or photoshop elements, MCP actions has a free action for watermarking your images with the click of a button. or try GIMP, picasa or picnik for free photo editing software that will allow you to watermark your images.

better yet, use that software to edit your photos , add inspirational/informative text, create quality images, and create something pintastic for your fans! do a YouTube search for tutorials on using any of those programs, you will find heaps of help!

tip #7 – check in regularly on your biz pins

you can easily see what people have pinned from your site. pop this in your browser bar: http://pinterest.com/source/enteryoursitehere.com/ and bookmark it so you can check it regularly.

see what types of images/posts get pinned most often. see what comments you get. see how people ‘name’ the pins to get an idea of how they categorize your stuff. you can learn a lot about what works for your right people (and get ideas for what else you can offer!)

tip #8 – pin stuff your people would love

as mentioned, the point of pinterest is not to promote your business. it is to curate the fantastic stuff you find online. so create boards and fill them with things that you know your customers, readers, and fans will love. again, people seem to love pins that are helpful, inspiring, funny, interesting, snarky, controversial, local, and  pretty! share the great pins you find on facebook and twitter as a way of growing and linking your communities.

you can add a 'pin it' button to your browser bar to make it easy to pin great stuff you find on websites & blogs (find the pin it button for your browser on the goodies page.) when you come across something that you would like to pin, do it from the original source of the image. use the permalink of the exact page/blog post you find the image, that way followers can visit the right spot to find more information (vs just pinning from the home page of a site or from a source that is not the author of the image). read more about frustration with this here & here.

give your boards interesting, inviting names. make people want to look through them & follow them. you can have as many boards as you want plus boards, pins, and descriptions  are easily editable so if you decide to re-organize/re-name things, no problem!

place your board under an appropriate pinterest category to make your pins come up in searches, and give your pins good descriptions for the same reason. if an item is for sale, add a $ to your description, pinterest will put a price banner on it and add it to the gifts category (this is a great way to support the little businesses that you pin images from).

tip #9 – share your brand message

in the blueprints i write about business i suggest creating a ‘vision board’ or ‘inspiration board’ for your business and brand. pinterest is the perfect place to share that vision. create a board that shouts your brand message ‘loud & clear’. share your passion & your personality. come up with something catchy and interesting you would like to be associated with you and your biz – eg a color, an image or icon, a word or phrase – before you know it people will be sending you pin ideas that just scream ‘you’!

encourage your right people to start their own vision board for their goals, their family, 2012… whatever. give them something inspiring to pin as a starting point. become a part of their vision for their own lives!

tip #10 – find inspiration

pinterest is a fantastic place to find inspiration for your own blog, newsletter, or facebook page. use something you see there as a starting point for an article or a conversation. match a quote, DIY instructions, or activity idea with something you sell. compile a number of helpful tips or fabulous ideas into a ‘round up post’ that you can share with others.

but, and this is hugely important, before you use any image or info you find on pinterest for your own business, get permission from the author of the pin, credit the author and link back to their site. you will find that most people would love to get a link back to their site from yours (it is great for SEO!) and will gladly permit you to share their image.

never never just use the image and cite/link to ‘pinterest’ as your source. at the very least the author deserves the link back (rather than pinterest) and it is really bad form. (click here to read more about how to credit images.)

tip #11 – get ideas for new products

use pinterest to do some market research and to watch trends in the marketplace. people tend to pin a lot of great instructions, ideas, tips, tricks and information but they might not have the time to DIY it all. this can be a great opportunity for your biz!

the things that are popular with your right people can give you ideas for products, services and information that you can provide. look at what your customers love, what they struggle with, their dreams & frustrations. what solutions can you offer?

tip #12 – get your fans to contribute

one great component of pinterest is the ability to create a board and invite collaborators. one way to grow your business community is to start a board related to the needs and interests of your customers/fans and ask them to contribute. you need to invite collaborators by email and you need to have followed at least one of their boards, so it does require a fairly close connection to them (you can’t just tell people to jump in!).

alternatively you can let people know you are looking for contributions to a specific board and ask them to tag you with an @mention when they see a pin that would fit. you can then pin it to the board and share the board often with your fans. be sure to thank the pinner that contributed to encourage further sharing & participation.

tip #13 – get creative

pinterest is still new enough that nothing has really been overdone and the possibilities are endless. make the most of a new platform and enthusiastic users to have some fun with your fans & followers.

encourage fans to post images of themselves using your product/the result of your service and tag you. create a board of these reader contributions and give them a shout out for sharing.

have a ‘pin it to win it’ contest where fans create a wish list board for an upcoming occasion and have them email you the link. or pin a fabulous image related to your business or brand message and tag you. offer a random prize or a prize to the most creative entry.

come up with fun weekly or monthly themes for slogans, images, colours, products etc. related to your brand or to the kinds of things your fans are into. share the best entries on facebook & twitter, your blog or newsletter.

tip #14 – share some little biz pin love

pinterest is not really designed to be a place to promote your biz, but if you have things on offer that people love then your business can fit in well on this platform. for instance, it is a huge source of traffic for etsy! as you grow your presence on pinterest support other little businesses in the same endevour. start a board for ‘mum run businesses i love’ or ‘the best blogs run by women’ or ‘my favorite handmade bizzes’. use it like a public bookmarking tool to sprea some little biz love!

do not just use pinterest to build a community with your readers, use it to build a community with other little businesses. especially if you have complementary products & services, or a similar target market, or a similar brand message & passion, you can work together to spread that message. karma is a pretty fantastic thing; the more you pin other people’s fabulous stuff the more likely you are to get your own stuff pinned in return.

tip #15 – keep to the spirit of pinterest

my final tip is really a summation of what i have already said. pinterest is about community. it is about spreading the love. it is a place to curate awesomeness. it is a place to explore and discover new things.

the value in pinterest is that is different from all the other social platforms that seem to be more and more about having information thrown at us from all directions. people love pinterest because it is a breath of fresh air. let’s keep it that way! let’s not ruin it by being spam-ish, competitive, marketing machines.

when you use pinterest for your business strive to be: 

fresh. pretty. interesting. fun. funny. helpful. inspiring. genuine. awesome.

(click here to tweet that. help me spred the word!)

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help me spread the word! pin it!Pin It

what are you waiting for? hop on and try it out. it just might be the most fun you have ever had spreading the word about what you are passionate about. that should really be what all of your marketing is! just sayin…