Many start-up founders and owners of existing small businesses wonder what their companies could possibly gain from yet another new form of social media. Finding adequate time to properly manage business profiles that already exist on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn is enough of a challenge.
The social network lets entrepreneurs create online scrapbooks featuring photos of their newest or most popular products. Importantly, it also provides them a platform to write compelling descriptions of those products, and to embed links that direct consumers to their websites or to order forms.
A product could potentially go viral because of the way the social network allows its users to “follow” other users, including businesses. If someone follows say, Etsy.com, the online crafts marketplace, his or her own Pinterest profile will then display all of the images on Etsy’s Pinterest profile.
Keep in mind: Etsy’s brand is particularly suitable for Pinterest, because both sites are popular with women and creative types. Since joining the social network in October 2010, Esty’s main profile already has accumulated more than 51,000 followers.
To start, try to spend a few days or weeks using Pinterest as consumer to get a sense of how it works before diving into it for your business. Also, study what other businesses already on Pinterest have done.
Take a cue from Warby Parker Inc. of New York, with its Pinterest profile showcasing the brand’s eyewear, combined with other images that are intended to say something about its culture and mission. Notice how its profile is separated into categories, or “pin boards,” with themes such as “Fresh New Frames” and “Sunglasses are a Must.”
Use images with personality.
“The images that get shared the most are funny, inspiring or emotional,” says Jason Keath, a social-media analyst in New York. You don’t need to invest in professional photography. However, the images you post to Pinterest should be visually striking. “People share images that make them look good,” Mr. Keath says.
Highlight only a few of your most popular or newest items so your profile doesn’t look like an advertisement.
If you own a service-based business, use images that show what your brand is about.Balance Yoga Studio LLC of Woodinville, Wash., for instance, shows photos of magazines and books on healthy living, plus graphics with inspirational quotes like “Keep Calm and Carry Om.”
“It’s just creating more of a yoga community online for us,” says owner Michelle Michael, whose 20-employee company launched in October and created its Pinterest profile last month.
Write breezy descriptions.
The images you pin to your profile from a Web page will automatically include an embedded link to that page—but not a caption. Use this space to give users updates on what’s new with your business, as well as to describe product.
“Happy Valentine’s Day! We added Coral to our colors! This is the Light Duty Fish Tail Bracelet,” wrote, Survival Straps, a Jacksonville, Fla., maker of utility-cord bracelets that recently started using Pinterest, in a pin earlier this month.
Use the widgets.
Add a “Pin It” or “Follow” button to your company website by going to Pinterest’s“Goodies” page and following the instructions provided. You can also download the Pinterest logo to your site from the same page.
Add many links.
By clicking “Settings” and filling in the prompts, you can include links to your company website, as well as your Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn profiles from your Pinterest profile. Then, add links to back to your Pinterest profile from each of those pages.
By creating these trails for consumers, you’ll help lead them to your site. “It’s like a breadcrumb strategy,” says Larry Chiagouris, a professor of marketing at Pace University’s Lubin School of Business.
Write to Sarah E. Needleman at email@example.com