How to Use Pinterest to Effectively Market Your Small Business

Last October, when Pinterest first launched its paid advertising service Promoted Pins, it was only available to large businesses.

But now, Pinterest has released a new product that allows small businesses to promote their Pins to increase click-throughs, improve reach and potentially drive more traffic to their sites. Called “DIY Promoted Pins,” the service, which is slowly being rolled out, allows businesses of any size to connect more with Pinterest users through Pins that show up in search and category feeds in the platform. The Pins work on a cost-per-click basis.

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Although there is a waitlist for the DIY Promoted Pins tool, it’s not too soon to prepare to launch a Pinterest marketing campaign. Having an active Pinterest presence now will allow you to promote your small business' most popular Pins across a wider audience later. Here are some tips to get started:

1. Know your audience.

Pinterest is largely used by women, mostly Millennial Moms, according to a research study conducted by Ahology and AcuPOLL Precision Research, Inc. With this in mind, it's important that you use that information to determine if you should spend time on marketing via Pinterest. If your typical customer demographic is primarily male, your marketing efforts would probably be better spent somewhere else. And if your business caters to women between the ages 15-29, you should definitely create a presence on Pinterest.

INCREASE YOUR SOCIAL PRESENCE

2. Think like a content marketer, not an advertiser.

The majority of active Pinterest users (59 percent) click on Pins that go to blog posts, articles and even photos, and less than half of those users click through to brand or shopping sites. Clearly, engaging content is what users seek. Additionally, it's probably no surprise that the most popular topics on the platform are those that lend themselves to being quite visual: food, fashion, beauty, crafts, decor, and content related to holidays and events. But, of course, not all businesses on Pinterest offer products and services related to those topics. So, those that don't must find ways to make their content highly visual to win clicks. Boards containing infographics, images from blog entries, and even photos of staff members are popular. But all that's needed is a little creativity. For example, one Pinterest board from the Wall Street Journal is a collection of quotations displayed in a visually compelling way. Another, from TD Bank, called "our littlest bankers," is filled with adorable photographs of small children "training" to become future bankers.

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Linking your Pins to relevant and compelling content to get more prospects in your sales funnel may well prove more effective than swooping in for the sale too soon.

3. Look to Pinners for inspiration.

If you get stuck in a creative rut, check out the board of people who are pinning your pins for inspiration. Someone who is pinning your pins will likely have related content on their boards that can help you better learn what your typical customer in interested in, help you identify the latest trends, and can spark your imagination when it comes to creating new ideas for a marketing campaign.

4. Make sure your boards are well-categorized.

Pinterest is different than your small business' Facebook page, where a hodgepodge of information is posted in chronological order, rather than in order of importance or by topic. By allowing you to create multiple boards—one for each category of your products or services, for example—Pinterest helps keep users engaged not only in your general content, but in content that's specific to their interests. According to the Ahalogy/AcuPOLL study referenced above, 52 percent of daily Pinterest users have pulled up Pins on their mobile devices to guide their in-store purchase decisions. So, make it easy for them!

IMPROVE YOUR CURRENT MARKETING EFFORTS

5. Determine posting frequency.

Pinning excessively might overwhelm or annoy your audience, but pinning too little might cause your followers to forget you exist. Create a posting schedule, and then gauge the audience reaction before drastically increasing or reducing the frequency of Pins. With new knowledge of your audience, engaging content, a well-organized Pinterest presence, and a smart strategy, you’ll be able to hit the ground running once your small business is called from the DIY Promoted Pins wait list!

How has Pinterest worked for your small business? Let us know in the comments!

  Yael Brauer image About Yael: Yael Grauer is a Minneapolis-based freelance writer and editor. She writes about world-changing tech startups and strategic content marketing. Yael can be contacted at Google+.        

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