The prominence of Pinterest in social media after only three years proves just how user-friendly it has been from the outset: By February 2012 it was already driving more traffic than Google+, YouTube, and LinkedIn combined. No wonder marketers have been scrambling over each other to set up accounts.
Pinterest has recently re-styled some of its features, meaning that brands can get even more out of the image-sharing site. I’ve put together some of the top tips and tricks to using Pinterest for your brand so you can make the most of its slick new look.
1. Pinterest suits all industries.
Although it’s known for being the site of choice for the lifestyle and fashion industries, Pinterest can help all industries find a new audience and connect with its fans through images. The U.S. Army, for instance, has a hugely popular page with boards that feature Army values, families, veterans, history--and, of course, Army style!
2. Make it visual.
Your brand might not be obviously image-based, but think how you can represent it visually. Parenting magazine and Penguin Books have both created well-followed pages, despite producing text-based products, by posting images related to themes they write about or the lifestyle that goes with their products. Even pins showing short quotes work really well, as long as they are well designed.
3. Don’t be afraid to be quirky.
Pinterest is all about creativity and having fun, so think about the lighter side of your brand. Southwest Airlines’ Pinterest page captures the sense of humor they are famous for, with boards of "Plane Party Ideas" and fun plane-related crafts.
4. Learn from your stats.
One of the most exciting new features for marketers is the analytics function. Now you can track re-pins, views, reach, clicks, and website visitors, once you have verified your site. Be sure to evaluate which boards and pins are creating the most buzz and evolve your Pinterest strategy accordingly to build your following.
5. Get creative with the names of your boards.
Your boards should stand out if they are going to attract followers. Choosing a strong theme and great images are obviously central to this, but so is giving it a snappy title to attract people’s attention. Sony Electronics has 30 boards on its page, with titles such as "I can haz gadgets," "So hipster it hurts," and "Call me maybe." With 26,000 followers, they are doing a great job of capturing people’s imaginations with the way they represent their ethos as well as their products.
6. Build a community.
Like all social networks, Pinterest encourages conversations rather than broadcasts. It’s fine to pin up plenty of your own content, but if you want to build a loyal following, be sure to re-pin images, Like, and follow back. Whole Foods Market is one of the most popular brands on Pinterest with 115,000 followers. They have built up this following by re-pinning images related to their interests, products, and values from their community so their page feels more like a celebration of their ethos than an advertisement for their brand.
7. Use high-resolution images.
Pinterest’s new look aims to improve the best feature of its site: its images. The maximum image width is being increased from 600 pixels to 735, which means your best photographs can have an even greater impact. So be sure to use the largest images you can to showcase your products for the best effect.
8. Use seasonal boards.
Pinterest thrives on new content, and seasonal pins are particularly widely shared. Whether they are holiday themed, Valentine's Day, summer, or tied to current events like an election or the Super Bowl, giving a seasonal twist to your pins can help them go viral and broaden their reach. HGTV, for one, is particularly good at keeping its content relevant: Take a look at their boards "Ideas for Spring," "Color of the Month," "4th of July," or "Halloween Ideas" for some inspiration.
9. Link to your website.
If you want to increase traffic to your site, don’t forget to put a link to your website (and verify it, see above), as well as activating your website itself by adding the Pin It button. This will encourage visitors to your website to share your images with their own followers, even if they don’t follow you on Pinterest, which will help you reach new audiences.
10. What does your audience want?
Knowing your audience is key to Pinterest success. Eighty percent of users are female, and lifestyle, hobby, crafts, and design are the most popular themes. So don’t think about your typical brand following when posting to Pinterest. If you consider who uses the site you are more likely to gain a new audience. It may seem surprising, given Mashable’s techie readership, but the online magazine has 1.5 million followers on Pinterest. Their boards reflect the lifestyle and interests of Pinterest users, with themes such as "Your Connected Living Room," "Women of Tech," "Nerdy Desserts," and "Pets Gone Digital."
11. Mix up your media.
Pinterest allows you to upload videos as well as images, so try mixing it up with photos, artwork, quotes, infographics, cartoons, and videos to add some variety to your boards. Take a look at the Mashable's Pinterest page for some ideas of how to be creative with your media.
12. Don't just post--engage.
If you want followers to engage with your pins, make sure to Like, follow, re-pin, and comment on other people’s images to get the most out of this interactive site and build a loyal following. Pinterest makes it easy for you: The more people and boards you follow, the more ideas you will have for pins to share. Keep your content fresh and current, and be sure to read up on the site’s etiquette guidelines if you are new to Pinterest.
Pinterest’s new features and redesign are great for helping brands take their marketing to new levels and reach new audiences. For more information, check out this great article from Social Media Examiner, which takes an in-depth look at the changes and what they mean to marketers.
[Image: Flickr user GaelForce Photography]