Understanding Pinterest as a Business Tool

by Matt Klassen on July 27, 2012

Just as many companies are getting used to the idea of connecting with existing and prospective client bases through tweets and Facebook posts, along comes a new trend like Pinterest, leaving many still in the old school marketing mindset scratching their heads. While at first blush the new social networking phenomenon may seem little more than a mishmash of unrelated pictures and links, Pinterest offers businesses a unique opportunity to connect with clients on a whole new, and might I add deeply visceral, level.

For those of you who really have no idea what I’m talking about, Pinterest is the latest social networking craze, a social bookmarking site where users collect and share photos of interests, hobbies, events…or practically anything else. Pinterest is one of the fastest growing social networks, lagging behind only Facebook and Twitter in terms of its overall user base.

So if you want to improve your social networking presence expanding to Pinterest is certainly the next step, but unfortunately its not quite as easy as that, as marketing on Pinterest requires a deft touch.

The difference between marketing through Pinterest and other social networks like Facebook or Twitter is that the former requires a lot more back and forth between company and client, meaning that no matter if you’re Nike, Verizon, or the small Mom and Pop shop on the corner, if you want people to engage with your brand on Pinterest, you’ll have to engage with their content as well.

Simply put, while on Facebook and Twitter companies can trumpet their brands, Pinterest demands a different approach: the faceless company needs to find a face, become more like an individual, and engage clients on a personal level.

As Tamara Littleton, CEO of social media management company eModeration, explains, in order for businesses to establish a presence on Pinterest, its best for them not to focus on the hard sell or directly promoting their brand, but instead on engaging and interacting with people.

“The brands that are doing well are the ones that get Pinterest,” she said. “It’s not about self-promotion. It’s all about taking the time to look at other people’s content and engaging — leaving comments on other people’s pins, repinning. One of the key things that brands can do is to repin individuals’ content, so it’s very personal.”

This means that while there’s usually no obligation (or interest) for companies to actually look at the individual Facebook pages of their followers or check out the tweets of those who follow their Twitter feed, Pinterest requires a great deal more participation, otherwise it really won’t be effective.

The bottom line is that Pinterest is a visual conversation between users, a social network that connects people with people on a deeply intuitive level, one where users (and the site itself) want to avoid flagrant self-promotion; meaning that if you want to establish a Pinterest presence, try using it to connect with your clients, instead of using it to sell stuff to them.

But what’s the payoff? Why use Pinterest at all? For starters, that’s where your clients are, which means you should be there as well. Further, this sort of personal engagement leads directly to increased brand awareness and loyalty, which leads, of course, to increased revenues. While I will admit its often difficult to monetize such consumer engagement, helpful tools like tools like the iGoDigital Pinterest Tracking tool are designed to do exactly that, meaning there’s no reason for your company not to start ‘pinning.’

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Written by: Matt Klassen. www.digitcom.ca. Follow TheTelecomBlog.com by: RSS, Twitter, Facebook, or YouTube.

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