Whether you're a real estate agent, an advertising executive, or an up-and-coming blogger, now is absolutely the time to start using Pinterest to build your personal brand.
Although the image-based social network is still struggling to generate significant revenue, its user base continues to grow well beyond just home decor lovers, brides-to-be, and food enthusiasts. There are currently about 25 million people using Pinterest, and more and more, these pinners are small business owners looking to build their personal brand.
While you might think that what you do professionally doesn't lend itself to such a visual platform, think again. There are plenty of ways you can pin your profession, such as posting a reading list of books you like, sharing photos from your office space, or posting testimonials and tweets from clients and customers. For example, check out how agency executive Paul Biedermann uses Pinterest to share everything from his favorite infographics to photos of people who inspire him.
"Pinterest is the perfect visual complement to the rest of my social media presence, rounding out my personal brand," says Biedermann, owner and creative director of re:DESIGN. "As a designer and visual communicator, not only can I feature my own work—showing rather than telling—but I also bring attention to the kind of work I support and believe in."
Here are seven steps to get your Pinterest presence up and thriving.
You've probably heard stories about Pinterest's gender divide, some reporting the sharp split as follows: 80% women, 20% men. When creating your Pinterest presence, think carefully about who might visit your boards. While not everything you do is going to be board-worthy, the key is to think outside the box. As a keynote speaker, I've been trying to figure out a way to share what I do on stage on Pinterest. The easiest solution? A board featuring a variety of photos from events I attend, showcasing a wide range of audience sizes, presentation topics, and conference formats.
If you want to build your brand, it's a good idea to switch over from a personal account to a business account, so you will have more functionality to track your traffic. Make sure you complete your full profile settings, add a link to your website, include a detailed bio, and link to your Twitter account and your Facebook account. This will make it easy for interested visitors to find you elsewhere online.
Pinterest success is not possible simply with a "if you build it, they will come" attitude (yes, I know this is slightly misquoted from Field of Dreams, but it works better with 'they' than 'he').
Tracking firm ShareThis recently reported that Pinterest is about to overtake email as the third most popular sharing channel (behind Facebook and Twitter), so it's a good plan to give people the tools that they need to pin properly. Use the Pin It button on your blog so readers can easily share your posts and include a follow me button on your site. If you don't post a lot of content on your main website, consider putting a Pin It button on your About Page so interested surfers can include you on their boards.
Now that you've made it easy for pinners to share content from your site, it's time to start creating boards on Pinterest. Check out how some big brands have become brilliant pinners with quirky and creative ideas. Pet insurance company, Petplan, has created a board called "Breed All About It," featuring information about our 'canine companions' and common health problems. Eventually, after you've created some successful boards, you might want to create a group board that will allow other people to join the pinning party.
There are plenty of Pinterest apps that will make the pinning process easier, and most important, make your pins look great. When building your personal brand, Pinstamatic (http://pinstamatic.com/) is a helpful web app that will help you get creative with everything from sharing a quote you love to posting a Twitter user you follow. You can also dress up photos with captions, filters, and more. For example, if you want to feature a business partner's website on one of your boards, you can also use the Website feature in Pinstamatic to share a snapshot of this site (if you have design skills, you might want to mock up your own images to add to Pinterest, but otherwise, Pinstamatic is a great quick fix).
Pinterest has a business blog to help you figure out better ways to reach pinners (http://businessblog.pinterest.com/). Although some of the entries cater more to businesses selling physical products, there is still a wealth of information for a plethora of pinners. For example, to establish yourself as an industry expert, it makes good sense to create a board or two featuring article pins (content you read and want to share). As Pinterest explains, more than 5 million articles are pinned every day. In short, look for Pinterest's new 'Pin It' button on news sites and blogs you love.
When you sign up for a business account, Pinterest will give you the option to have your website verified so you can start tracking how many people are pinning content from your website. This will help you see what pinners like and how your content is trending over time.
Good luck and happy pinning!
Have a good example of personal brand or professional pinning? Tell us all about it in the comments below!
[Image: Flickr user Quinn Dombrowski]