If you haven’t been hibernating the last 6 months or so, you have probably heard about Pinterest, the so-hot-right-now social media trend.  As a fairly new Pinterest user (and abuser), I’d say the characteristic that has made Pinterest spread like wildfire is simply this – it is addicting.  And I mean, seriously, Words-With-Friends-or-Angry-Birds-style addicting.  And while addicting habits can often distract you from getting things done for your business, Pinterest is quite the opposite really.  The more you pin, the more you spread the word about your business, causing it to spread like wildfire too.  For those of you not on the pinwagon yet, below is a summary of what Pinterest actually is, and why you’re missing out if you’re not pinning.   

What is Pinterest?

Pinterest is an “online pinboard” where you can store images to themed boards on your profile.  Still thinking – huh?  Let me illustrate.  Pre-Pinterest addiction, I wanted to give my phenomenal web development team an idea of the look and feel of the images and design we wanted for our soon-to-launch online bridal marketplace.  I scoured Google images, saved them to my hard drive, and sent emails attaching them.  In a word – annoying.

Now, post-Pinterest addiction, I can either: 1) run a search in Pinterest and pin the images I like to a board on my profile; or 2) pin images I like from the web to the same board.  Then I can just tell my web developer to follow that board.  I also receive a consistent feed of images pinned by people I follow (similar to the Facebook Newsfeed), and people that follow me see the images I’m pinning.  In a nutshell – Pinterest is a place to find and share awesome images.

7 Ways Pinterest Can Help Your Business Grow

1.    Pinterest Drives Traffic.  Each image pinned shows: 1) its source- the website of the image’s origin; 2) the Pinterest profile of the user who uploaded it; 3) the profile of anyone who re-pinned the image; and 4) likes and comments by users.  That’s four different ways to get your business name out there, actively engage with potential clients, and drive traffic from curious pinners to your site.  A recent study showed that Pinterest currently drives more traffic to websites than YouTube, LinkedIn, and Google+ combined.[1]  For many women’s sites, Pinterest refers more traffic than Facebook and Twitter, and is second only to Google.[2]  If you’re not pinning, you’re missing out on traffic – it’s as simple as that.

2.     Pinterest Is Awesome for SEO.  The internet is vast and the adage “if you build it they will come” is obsolete.  By creating a profile description, board titles, and image descriptions that are relevant and include your keywords, you grow your online presence and make it easier for potential clients to find you.  We created a board with images of wedding dresses by indie designers, and days later, our board was the 3rd link Google returned for an “indie designer wedding dresses” search (it’s since fallen a bit).  Not bad, huh?

3.    You Can Position Yourself As an Expert and Create a Brand Identity through Pinterest.  By pinning high-quality images that get heavily re-pinned, as well as images from the main bloggers and sites in your space, you show you have done your research and are in-the-know in your industry.  For example, Style Me Pretty – a wedding blog – is known for posting only the most high-quality and trendiest of wedding images.  It currently has over 235,000 Pinterest followers and routinely gets dozens of comments and re-pins per pin.[3]  Followers know that if they plan their wedding using SMP’s images for inspiration, their wedding will be the envy of all the guests.

4.    Pinterest: Not Just for Women.  While we’ve talked a great deal about women-focused businesses in this article, and while women do make up the majority of Pinterest users, there is nothing inherently female about what Pinterest offers.  Easily search-able and store-able high-quality images are universally useful.  And 32% of Pinterest users are, in fact, male (a higher percentage than many probably assume).  As Pinterest becomes mainstream, more and more men will start to use it.  Male-focused businesses would be wise to be early adopters, getting creative about using Pinterest to create a community early on.  A GoPro page with “Best Surf Breaks”, “Best Ski Runs” and “Coolest GoPro User Shots” – why not?  Men need eye candy too.

5.    Pinterest Is Incredibly Useful for Market Research. Each time an image is pinned, you can see how many comments, re-pins, and likes the image receives.  It’s a virtual popularity contest for images.  This means I can track what my audience responds to and what it doesn’t.  For example, I have found that my followers really engage when I post images related to the vintage wedding dresses, indie designer wedding dresses, and mismatching bridesmaid dresses.  However, they are not excited about the black wedding dress trend.  I can also find new trends by paying attention to what brides and other wedding business are posting.  It is a great way to determine what items will sell and where to focus time and effort.

6.    You Can Use Pinterest to Sell Your Stuff.  When posting images of products you sell, you can add a price to your image description and Pinterest will automatically put that price in the upper left-hand corner of your image.  Your users can then click on the origin link for the image to buy it.  It’s essentially free advertising for your products.

7.    You Build Relationships on Pinterest.  Similar to Facebook and Twitter, I can follow and be followed by major players in my industry and my target audience, and interact with them through re-pinning and comments.  The more I pin, the more I am building awareness organically (without advertising a bit).  I can also hold contests where users can upload images to a user-created board on my profile, further strengthening relationships and building brand awareness.  We have discovered strategic partners and loyal fans via Pinterest and continue to be introduced to new valuable connections every day.

Now that you’re familiar with what Pinterest is and how it can benefit your business, go ahead, binge a little.  In fact, go on a Pinterest bender.  We’re pretty sure the only regret you’ll have is not developing the addiction sooner.

Please stay tuned for our next article, which will share tips and tricks for maximizing your effectiveness on Pinterest.

Authors:  The Hustle Your Bustle Girls, TK & Katie, are co-founders of Hustle Your Bustle, an online bridal marketplace for the sale of high-end wedding gowns launching Spring 2012. They both have legal backgrounds, but are entrepreneurs and hustlers at heart.  Inexo is a web development firm and creators of the Hustle Your Bustle platform.

To contact the authors: Website, Facebook, Blog, Twitter, Pinterest, or email tk@hustleyourbustle.com or Katie@hustleyourbustle.com

[1] http://blog.shareaholic.com/2012/01/pinterest-referral-traffic/

[2] http://mashable.com/2012/02/26/pinterest-womens-magazines

[3] www.pinterest.com/stylemepretty