Pinterest is a huge network. We’re talking about the fourth largest network in the world with over 85 million users, most of whom are female. It is a primarily visual medium which relies on aesthetic stimulation and interest to motivate sharing. And for people whose job description doesn’t include taking professional-quality photographs of high-end products and exotic locations, using Pinterest for marketing purposes can seem intimidating. But it doesn’t have to be.

Pinterest is actually an easy-to-use marketing tool for your company, whether you run a design blog or sell bolt cutters. Pinterest presents an opportunity that few other social networks offer to help your customers visualize your brand’s personality and then share it with others.

Here are six simple steps you can take to make the most of Pinterest:

  1. Have a strategy. Like with any other business endeavor, you should strategically plan out your steps before you take them. Think about the kind of boards you want to create and the kind of content you want to pin. Think about who will contribute to (hint: many different people) and who will be in charge of (hint: one specific person) the account. Then, follow your strategy, adjusting it according to what is and is not working according to your web analytics.
  2. Make sure your Pinterest profile is visible. There is an option to “Hide your Pinterest profile from search engines.” Make sure this option is turned off. Once this change is made, all of the pins, if properly optimized, can help overall brand SEO.
  3. Pin content relevant to your company. You don’t have to pin only your products (in fact you shouldn’t), but every pin should contribute to educating your followers about your brand and its personality. Show your expertise by creating the best board on Pinterest about *insert topic related to your brand here*. This can mean posting event photos, infographics, useful products, or related how tos, but it can also be an opportunity to get creative. Does your company or institution have a mascot? Make a pinboard of that kind of animal. Do you sell boltcutters? Make a pinboard of things your cutters could cut (or even things it shouldn’t cut). Being humorous has its place, and a pinboard could be that place.
  4. Optimize your website for pinners. Most popular pins are portraitstyle photographs or infographics with lots of visual interest because they look best within the Pinterest interface. Consider adding text to your photos to identify your company or even the specific product/topic. You can even add a mouseover “Pinit” button to the pictures on your site (click here for a tutorial on that topic).
  5. Make sure your pins are easy to search for. Like Twitter, Pinterest uses hashtags and keyword searches to help pinners find content relevant to them. Don’t overload on hashtags, but be strategic in choosing tags and keywords that will help potential customers find your pins.
  6. Interact with the Pinterest community. Like with any other social network, the reason for joining this network is to be social. Repin, like, and comment on your customers’ pins as you see fit. Hold contests where a brandor topicrelated pinboard is the judging criteria. Pin photos of your customers from events and submissions. You can even create a pinboard that influential pinners can contribute to. This will help them feel like a part of your brand, which will turn themfrom merely followers into ambassadors.

Recent Changes on Pinterest. Pinterest’s recent changes to both its user interface and its functionality make it even more useful to companies looking to market their brands.

One new feature of the business accounts enables users to add product information to the pin itself. This way, potential customers can see information they are interested in before clicking over to the website, meaning that a higher percentage of page views coming from Pinterest will result in sales.

In addition, Pinterest has added basic analytics, allowing users to identify what images are being pinned from their sites (including repins). Total impressions, reach, and referral traffic are easily measured and displayed as well. You’ll still need to use a thirdparty system to determine variables like influential pinners, but the Pinterestbased analytics are more than enough to get you started.

Many changes have been made within the user experience, including interface, duplicate pin notification, and the ability to send pins to friends. Perhaps the greatest user experience change, however, is to the mobile app. The mobile experience is now nearly identical to that of the website; almost all of the features are now accessible from your cell phone. A highly functional mobile app leads to a higher number of average sessions per day, meaning more exposure for your company.

So now it’s time to get started! Just create a strategy, optimize your web content, and start promoting your brand’s personality on Pinterest to increase brand loyalty and exposure to your company. Happy pinning!

About the Author: Samantha Gale is a social media and content marketing specialist working for 60 Second Communications, a full-service marketing agency working with brands around the globe.

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