If you haven’t heard of Pinterest, it is essentially a virtual pinboard – a place to collect, organise and share your favourite images and the stories associated with them. It looks beautiful, it’s fun and addictive – but is it useful?
The reason Pinterest has got people talking is due to its phenomenal growth in such a short space of time. Mashable provides some interesting stats on the profile of users, including the fact that 68% are women.
After just nine months the site passed 10 million users and claims to have an average of 1.36 million visitors a day. That’s a statistic that’s difficult to ignore for anyone trying to reach a large audience, particularly retailers as the site lends itself very well to online selling – even allowing a price to be displayed on an image.
I believe the best way to find your way round a new social network is to explore it for yourself and if possible, set up an account and actually use it. After all, as long as you use a little common sense, what can really go wrong? If you’re nervous about damaging your business’s brand, set up a personal account or even an anonymous one until you feel more confident.
Trying a new social network doesn’t have to be all consuming; if you give it a go for a couple of weeks and decide it’s not for you then you haven’t lost anything. That said, it does take time to build contacts so be patient and don't expect immediate results.
There are so many social networks now in use it is very difficult to find the time to maintain them all. As a PR and marketing agency, we have accounts on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn and, of course, Pinterest. It’s part of our job to keep abreast of the latest developments in social media but that doesn’t mean that every network is right for every business. Think about the audience you are trying to reach and dedicate your efforts to the appropriate network.
I created the Maxim pinboards but also my own account – partly to learn about the way in which the site works but also to see the differences between a company setting up an account and an individual.
My first lesson came after posting a picture of a dog looking rather sorry for himself on my personal account.
Within hours, it had been repined 26 times, liked 15 times and received three comments – figures which far exceeded anything else I’ve posted and despite the fact that I only have six followers of my account.
I admit I cheated a little; I’d seen the image go viral on Twitter so knew it would be popular. Perhaps pictures of cute animals will always be more popular than interesting news stories, whichever network you’re sharing them on?
It is very early days with both accounts and I certainly wouldn’t claim to be an expert on how to use Pinterest but there are plenty of useful articles on the web from people who have been using it a lot longer than I have. A quick Google search will lead you to endless sources of information. We're still finding different ways to use the site, as are a lot of people. Media group Northcliffe seems to be exploring by collecting interesting stories from around the county at This is Kent.
You need a Facebook or Twitter account to sign up but you don’t have to have the links turned on permanently so if you don’t want to alert your Facebook fans or Twitter followers every time you ‘pin’, you don’t have to. ReadWriteWeb makes some interesting points on staying safe on Pinterest.
After deciding on a few interests, Pinterest will suggest people for you to follow – immediately populating your account with images you can ‘like’, ‘comment on’ or ‘repin’ to your own boards, once you’ve created them. When you do create a board, you can categorise it in order to help people find your images. I found the choice of categories somewhat limiting for a business but I imagine they will grow as users demand more choice.
Installing the ‘Pin it’ button on your internet browser’s toolbar allows you to surf the web and quickly and easily select images to pin to your boards. Clicking on the image will take you to its source so you can easily direct people to your website. You can also upload your own images, write descriptions and if you include a price, it will automatically appear on your image.
There have been some concerns about copyright infringement with the site owners admitting they are still trying to work out how to avoid such issues – something to keep an eye on in the coming months.
If you decide to give Pinterest a go, Beth Hayden has written an inspiring post on ways to market your business through the site. Don’t feel you have to jump on the Pinterest bandwagon but with a growing audience, it’s probably worth taking a look. If nothing else, you’re bound to see a lot of pictures of cute cats and dogs.
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