Chances are, you're already well aware of Pinterest's popularity as a social networking platform. Since its launch in 2010, the site has amassed over 70 million users, who rely on the site to collect everything from recipes to style tips in beautiful, pictorial form. Still, popular or not, that age old social media question is still worth posting: is there any way for businesses to actually profit from the platform?
The answer is yes, yes, 100 times Harry & Sally restaurant scene yes. For starters, Pinterest users are simply more engaged than Facebook and Twitter users. In fact, several case studies have shown that Pinterest users specifically flock to the site to keep up with trends, get inspiration for what to buy, keep up with brands they like, get special offers, and keep track of things they like. These, of course, are all behaviors that transfer naturally into buying and brand loyalty. While this is somewhat of a draw for sites like Facebook and Twitter, marketers have to be far more careful on those sites to fit into the more social landscape. How much you can market on any given platform, after all, depends on how willing and ready consumers are to receive your message in that arena. On Pinterest, they're primed.
Not surprisingly, this has big implications for marketers and businesses, which can effectively use the platform to engage followers, offer coupons, and drive traffic between its Pinterest presence and online stores. What's more, the same benefits are available for big businesses as they are for small-time craftpreneurs looking to drive traffic to an Etsy store or another third party platform.
So, how can you use Pinterest to drive sales? Let’s take a look.
1. Create an Ecosystem of Boards
The great thing about Pinterest is that it allows you to have a diverse presence on the platform, rather than a single feed. By creating multiple boards, you’ll be giving both your marketing team and your followers several different frameworks within which they can engage more creatively with your brand. (And engagement, in the long term, drives sales through brand awareness and loyalty). Boards will of course vary based on the kind of business you're promoting, but a few good ideas include:
- Lifestyle boards for different themes. This can really run the gamut. All Recipes, for example, has one board for healthy recipes, one for slow cooker recipes, and so forth. A clothing company might have one for A-Line fall skirts, or back to the office wear. The possibilities are really endless.
- Event boards. As spring fashion week unfolded, Elle followers could follow developing fashion trends as the brand pinned the latest fashions from its front row seat. An event board like this will make your followers feel like they're in the know, even from far away.
- Coupon boards. Coupon boards are the most direct way to drive sales through Pinterest. They're easy to create, too. Just design a coupon image like you would for any other campaign, post it to your coupon board with all relevant details, and have it link back to a page on your site where the coupon can be redeemed. Alternatively, just add a code to be entered at checkout.
- Contest boards. Travel companies have proven particularly adept at Pinterest contests, inviting followers to follow their boards and pin photos from their favourite dream destinations around the world in return for free hotel stays or airfare. However, contests can take many different forms, with the added benefit of being inherently shareable on other social media networks thanks to the visual nature of the form. Just be safe, to brush up on current contest regulations before launch, as the site has recently placed more restrictions.
- Sneak peeks. In today's social media landscape, customers expect their brands to feel personable and accessible. A Pinterest board that gives customers a sneak peek into how your product is made or even what life is like around the office is a great way to do just that.
- Customer boards. Last but not least, why not have a board dedicated solely to customer pins? This could be photos of customers using your products in creative ways, ideas for new products, or anything else that feels relevant to what you do.
2. Take Excellent Photos
Naturally, an image-heavy platform is only as good as the images you post to it. This means taking clear, high resolution shots in good lighting without any shadows or busy background. In fact, a recent study posted on Wired.com found in its analysis of this popular Paula Deen Pinterest photo found that good photos: avoid human faces, focusing only on the product; use multiple solid colours, most especially red; go for about 50% colour saturation; and are portrait rather than landscape style. Images that followed these criteria were shared at much higher levels than those that weren't.
Additionally, it's important to pack as much information into the image as possible without detracting from the aesthetics. This is best when done through visual cues, like showing the products or materials used or showing how the product can be applied in the real world. When that can't be achieved, a minimum of text can still be effective if artfully integrated.
3. Optimise Your Pinterest Presence
SEO is just as important on your Pinterest page as it is elsewhere, as there's not much use in having a Pinterest presence if no one can actually find you. To optimise your presence, make sure to integrate the same keywords you use across your social media and webpages into product descriptions and on your about page. It's also good practice to include links back to your other sites in your about page as well so that customers can easily follow you on whatever platforms they find most engaging. Of course, links are even more important in product descriptions, so followers can easily buy the product you're promoting.
4. Use Rich Pins
One of the newest offerings from the platform, rich pins are an incredibly effective way to give your followers a much deeper understanding of the products you feature on your Pinterest page, as well as ways that they can buy that product or become more deeply involved in your brand. The first kind of rich pin is called a product pin, which allows you to include a price for the product below the image, which changes as the price does. This is obviously the most directly connected to driving sales. However, you won't want to miss: place pins, which integrate a map and contact information onto your page; article pins, which help followers easily save your content marketing blogposts or any articles written about you; and recipe pins, which are obviously great for any company with a need for a recipe board, as they make it easier for followers to actually put together the recipes provided.
5. Promote Your Pins
Another great new feature on Pinterest is price alerts. With this feature, consumers will receive alerts every time the price of a product they've pinned changes. That can be a big motivator, especially when you've got sales going, but it's entirely dependent on the consumer having actually pinned something in the first place. All of the strategies we've discussed so far will work towards those ends, but there are a few other things you can do specifically to drive pinning.
- Pay for a promoted pin. This has yet to roll out, but when it does, the concept is presumed to be much like promoted tweets, with your promoted pin appearing higher and more prominently in search results. Of course, you'll want to save these for special moments, like when you really want people to know about a contest.
- Cross-promote. It's never a good idea to showcase your products in just one place. On your website, make sure to add a Pinterest button to every product listing or bit of content marketing. Likewise, don't be afraid to post links to your pins on your other social media sites, so that all of your followers across platforms know what you've got going on.
- Talk to your pinners. Pinterest users are engaged and motivated to buy (80% make a decision within three weeks of pinning). But that doesn't mean they can't do without a little nudging, especially within that critical period. Don't be afraid to reach out to pinners to thank them for sharing, or to offer them an incentive for pinning more or for buying sooner. Just like on other social media sites, pinners like companies that are responsive and that seem down to earth.
- Collaborate with other pinners. This is an especially effective technique for small businesses and solopreneurs, who can benefit from pinning and showcasing each other's stuff. Doing so means exposing your work to twice the audience, and more exposure means more pins and more customers.
No matter how you slice it, Pinterest is a powerhouse when it comes to driving online sales. What kind of board will you make first? Let us know in the comments below.
Rosie Scott is a content strategist at a digital marketing company. An avid blogger, you can find her at The New Craft Society or on Twitter.