Should Your Company Have an Interest in Pinterest?

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  • February 28, 2012
  • INK Team

This post comes from INK alumna Rachael Genson.

Lately, I’ve heard a lot of talk about Pinterest for business. What was once a small community for people looking to share recipes, crafts, photos and the like is quickly becoming a must-have component of any business’ social media strategy.

This infographic on Mashable shows that more than 100 of America’s most recognized brands (i.e. Whole Foods, HGTV, Gap) are using Pinterest as a forum for connecting with their audiences.  And why shouldn’t they?  Pinterest hit 10 million U.S. monthly visitors faster than any independent site in history – that’s a lot of potential customers.  While the seemingly logical option would be to follow the industry giants and create a presence on Pinterest, company leaders first must understand the benefits of a company Pinterest account.  I’ve called out some ways that businesses can maximize their company’s presence on Pinterest:

Actively engage with your community: Like all social media networks, Pinterest is a sharing community at heart.  Its idea is one based on the active discussion between users –as such, your business should not just push out content, which can come off as self-serving.  Focus your boards on relevant company material, with only a smattering of promotional content.  Over time, this will build credibility with your user base and you will find an increase in likes, comments and repins. Whole Foods does an excellent job of not only posting relevant content (think recipes, kitchen gadgets and sustainable tips), but encouraging followers to engage with their company by posting pins directly to the Whole Foods pinboards.

Whole Foods Pinterest pinboard

An example of a Whole Foods pinboard (found on pinterest.com).

Use Pinterest like a focus group: The way that Pinterest is set-up makes it an ideal sounding board for new products and ideas.  Use the site’s boards as a way to push new ideas and encourage feedback from followers through the use of comments and pins.

Promote a lifestyle: Some companies have begun using Pinterest as a way to promote a specific event or lifestyle that is relevant to their industry or location, but may not be specific to their work.  Take Austin advertising agency GSD&M as an example.  They created an entire site dedicated to pinning survival tips for the legendary South by Southwest Festival, and provided users with a diverse mix of SXSW related boards – everything from “The Eats” to “The Gear” to “The Parties.” GSD&M has found a unique way to increase their brand visibility by engaging with this specific event community.

Inspire your team: While Pinterest serves as a place to engage with your consumers, it can also be a great place to inspire employees.  Create pinboards that showcase employee work, highlight valuable team members and feature creative workspaces.  This gives team members a visual way to interact with the company and motivates them to continue producing quality work.  Plus, people are more likely to engage with companies who openly provide their employees with a positive work environment.

While Pinterest is a great tool to add to a business’ social media arsenal, it’s important to remember that it is not the right fit for every company.  Before spending the time and effort on the site, make sure that you have an appropriate audience to connect with, a relevant industry to promote and, above all, enough time and resources to dedicate to building a quality community. If you can confidently say yes to the previous requirements, Pinterest is absolutely an outlet to test out.

Personally, I think Pinterest is great, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the current concerns surrounding copyright infringement.  As majority of the content on Pinterest has been copied from outside websites without permission, content owners have questioned if the site is in violation of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.  This article by The Verge provides a thorough explanation of the situation. Now, I don’t want to deter any company from leveraging Pinterest in their social media strategy; I just want to make sure that every company follows all legal procedures when contributing content on the site.

Happy Pinning!