5 Ways To Pin Like A Boss On Pinterest

Have you joined the Pinterest craze yet? Here's everything you always wanted to know about the online pinboard site, but were afraid to ask.

A decade into the social media revolution, fatigue has set in. There are lots of ways to interact, but there are still only 24 hours in a day. What social media network is still worth your time?

For a growing number of brands, Pinterest is making the cut. According to Cincinnati-based marketing company Ahalogy, some 22% of Americans are now monthly visitors to the site, where people pin and share pictures and articles like you might pin magazine clippings on a bulletin board. While men are starting to join, the vast majority of Pinterest users are women, and they are generally younger women. If you’re marketing fishing equipment to retired gentlemen, then this is not your medium.

But if you’re trying to reach Pinterest’s core users of millennial moms, here’s how to stand out.

1. Think In Terms of Projects

People visit Pinterest for ideas and inspiration. "It’s much more search than social," says Bob Gilbreath, cofounder of Ahalogy. The typical user is looking for a recipe for dinner. She also signed up for a yoga class and wants to find the perfect pair of yoga pants.

Ahalogy found that nearly 98% of Pinterest users had tried something they found on the site, while two-thirds of daily Pinterest users have tried more than five Pinterest-inspired projects.

"That’s a marketer’s dream," says Gilbreath. "People are raising their hands and saying ‘I’m getting into yoga now!’" By being useful, you can reach people when they’re in the market for something new.

2. Brands Are Welcome

Surprisingly, Ahalogy found that 83% of active Pinterest users would prefer to follow a favorite brand than a favorite celebrity. Gilbreath links this back to the primacy of projects. Twitter is about sharing news, so people follow Justin Bieber to see what he’s up to. But Justin Bieber doesn’t have a whole lot of project ideas to offer anyone. A brand like Kraft does.

"We know Kraft is an expert on food," he says. "They’ve been sharing recipes for decades." This is good news for consumer-oriented brands, as Pinterest users actually want you to reach them.

3. Remember the Top Categories

On Pinterest, people are primarily interested in a few big areas: food, do-it-yourself projects like crafts, home decorating, holidays, and fashion. If you want to market to women, and you’re not in one of those categories, your best bet is to create useful content linking your product to these topics.

"If you’re an insurance company, you’re not going to pin your insurance rates or your funny Geico commercial," says Gilbreath. People shop for insurance around life transitions: getting married, buying a home, and having kids. If you sell home insurance, for example, you can create pin boards around ways to decorate your first home on a budget, how to prepare your house for rough weather, and what to stash in your home emergency kit.

4. Don’t Force It

Everyone needs a revenue model, and Pinterest is now starting to experiment with promoted pins. You may decided to pay for placement on Pinterest, or not.

"You’ve got to err on the side of great content," says Gilbreath. "You’re not forcing a brand down someone’s throat."

The real victories come when people share your pins voluntarily. People will do that for a creative recipe incorporating one of your products. They probably won’t do that for something that looks too much like an ad.

5. Pin A Lot

Like any social media channel, frequency is key. "We’re fans of pinning multiple things per day," says Gilbreath. The good news is that marketers often have a lot of content they can use. You probably take hundreds of photos to get one you use in magazine ads.

Pin a few other versions of photos or items up on Pinterest, and tack the content onto different boards. The same recipe could be labeled as an idea for lunch boxes, a summer snack, or picnic fare.

You can re-pin items after four to six weeks. In the digital world, attention spans are short, so that’s one way to get the most bang for your buck.

[Image: Flickr user Kim Love]

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