November 21, 2014

Small Business Pinterest Starter Guide

Now hailing 11.7 million unique visitors a month, Pinterest has become the fastest standalone site to pass the 10 million visitor mark since, well, ever. But even more impressive than that are what those 11.7 million visitors are doing once they land on Pinterest — they’re staying and they’re engaging. Reports say that the average Pinterest user spends 89 minutes interacting, sharing, and posting on the site. And that could be your content they’re interacting with, but only if you’re taking the steps to leverage Pinterest.

Pinterest page

If you’ve heard the buzz surrounding Pinterest but weren’t quite sure how to jump in and take advantage of it, keep reading. Below are some handy starter tips that every small business owner can use to build an audience via Pinterest.

Getting Started

If you don’t currently have a Pinterest login, you’ll have to request one as the site is still invite-only. Luck for you, it shouldn’t take more than a few days for Pinterest to send you an invitation to join. Once you get it, you’ll be asked to log in with either your Facebook or Twitter account. Don’t worry too much about which to choose as you’ll have the option later to switch it or to have your account tied to both.

With your account created, go into your Settings and take some time to fill out your profile. You’ll want to set your email settings, fill out your About section, include a Web site and then decide how you want Pinterest to interact with your other social media accounts.

Do you want all of your pins to sync to Facebook? Do you want to link your Twitter account? Depending on how you plan to use the site, this will change. If you’re not sure yet how you want your pins displayed, don’t worry too much. You can always come back and edit these settings.

Create Unique, Interesting Boards

Life on Pinterest starts here. When you start creating boards, focus on putting together boards that show off the lifestyle and beliefs behind your brands, not your actual products or services. The key to mastering Pinterest is to realize that it’s less about promoting your products and more about promoting how you do what you do and how you see yourself in your market. That means creating boards to show off your company beliefs and culture, not your inventory.

For example, maybe you’re a local catering company. If so, you may want to have boards related to:

  • Healthy Eating
  • Buying Organic
  • Going Local
  • Green Living
  • Family Picnics
  • Dinner Recipes
  • Holiday Recipes
  • Food Mentors

These types of boards are related to what you do in your day-to-day business, but they also go a step further to show people what you believe and what you represent. That’s what users are looking for.

Do your best to come up with creative and compelling board names, as these will get shared when people pin your content. Similar to titling your blog posts – putting something eye-catching in there will help your content spread faster.

Assessing Your Pin-able Assets

This is where many business owners start to freak out. Don’t! It’s easy to think that if you’re not in the business of pretty or quirky pictures that Pinterest can’t work for your brand. But it absolutely can! Every site has visual assets that they can take advantage of. Sometimes you just have to think outside the box. For you, pinable content may come in the form of:

  • Infographics or other data visualizations
  • Video stills that link off to media where you appear
  • Covers of books or eBooks you’ve written
  • Eye-catching visuals for blog posts
  • Images of customers using your products
  • Images of how your product could be used

Take a look through your site to identify assets you already own. Once you do that, think forward to brainstorm new ways to incorporate visuals into your Web site. For example, you’ll want to make sure that you’re using images in every blog post or newsletter article you’re creating so that you (and your readers) will have something to pin. Maybe you’ll want to build more data visualization into your content strategy or focus on creating things that lend themselves to visuals. Build the assets you’ll need later.

Get Your Team Involved

One of the fun features Pinterest offers is that you can add contributors to any of your boards to help keep them updated and engaging. As a small business owner there are a lot of neat ways to take advantage of this. You can:

  • Add employees as contributors to boards about company culture
  • Add frequent blog commenters/community members to boards related to content/ industry finds
  • Add your executive team as contributors to charitable pursuits.

The more people you get involved, the more life you’ll add to your Pinterest account and the more others will want to follow what you’re doing. To add board contributors, go to the board you want to add a contributor to and click Edit. On the board’s settings menu, select “Me + Contributors.” You must follow at least one board belonging to a user in order to add him/her as a contributor. Once you’re there, start typing his/her username into the text field. Once potential matches begin to load, click Add when you see the person you want to add as a contributor. Then save your settings.

Build Followers

The best way to build new followers is to become an engaged Pinterest user. That means following other users, pinning content, repining content others share, etc. Each time you follow someone or engage with their update on Pinterest, by default, they’ll receive a notification email letting them know. This is a good way to build up your followers because, if you have good content, they’ll check you out once they see the email and follow you back. It’s also a good way to show others that you’re interested in the community and what other people are sharing.

If you’re looking for potential people to follow OR simply looking to understand what type of content you should be following, try going to http://pinterest.com/source/yoursitehere. This will show you what content on your domain has already been pinned and whose pinning it. You can also do the same for competitor URLs to see who is pinning and sharing their content.

Promoting Your Account

Once your account is set up, you want to do your due diligence and promote it so that your audience knows it exists. This may include adding a Pin It! button to your blog posts so content can be easily shared, syncing your Pinterest account to Twitter and Facebook, encouraging people to subscribe to your Pinterest RSS feed, mentioning your account in company promotions/emails, etc. The more ways you can make Pintest part of your marketing efforts, the bigger the account will grow and the easier it will be to make content spread.

The above tips are designed to help any small business get involved with Pinterest. How are you using the site to market your business? Any lessons you want to share?

More in: 24 Comments ▼

Lisa Barone


Lisa Barone Lisa Barone is Vice President of Strategy at Overit, an Albany Web design and development firm where she serves on the senior staff overseeing the company’s marketing consulting, social media, and content divisions.

24 Reactions

  1. Hi, Lisa! I am an avid Pinterest visitor and I think it’s one of the best sites these days. Keep up the good work.

  2. Pinterest will become very important for webmasters too. The traffic there is huge so do not forget Pinterest.

  3. One of the best kept secrets for SEO, lots of pix and girly talk but a mover for sure. BTW, your Google+ plug is not working…

  4. Great tips. I’ve seen some amazing things from “Pinnable” blogs and websites.

  5. Hey Lisa, cool article, thanks for sharing! Just did a quick audit on our Pinterest and website and found that lots of people have pinned our stuff. Do you suggest that we should go follow all those people from our company Pinterest account?

  6. Great post Lisa. I like where you say that the best way to build followers is to become an engaged user. I feel that this is what truly separates those who are successful on pinterest and those who fall flat on their faces.

  7. Lisa, I enjoyed reading your post. I liked your tip about creating unique interesting boards that match the personality of your brand, rather than complete self-promotion. As I discussed in my blog post – http://www.cookerlypr.com/2012/02/whats-the-interest-in-pinterest-part-2-lets-talk-business-2.html – strict self-promotion is frowned upon on Pinterest and should be avoided. I would also like to recommend against streaming posts on Pinterest. Excessive pins on Facebook and Twitter will annoy users. If interested in posting pins on other outlets, I would recommend being selective in your pins.

  8. One major advantage with traffic from Pinterest compared to something like StumbleUpon or Twitter is that extra traffic you gain can carry on for several days or more. So it’s well worth getting those boards in order.

  9. I know its the rage but for a service based company not sure about the value. Was talking with someone today and she is in the fashion industry and for this, it should be a great tool. Anything that is visual maybe. For the rest of us possibly a way to brand?

  10. Don at Holland Industrial

    Sorry, but this is *not* Pinterest 101, because it does *not* tell what Pinterest *is*. I have no clue what it is, and what happens inside it, so I thought you would give me that. You simply jumped in with how to access it and what to do in it once you get in. I am a service technician, sole proprietor, and I don’t see yet how Pinterest may work for me.

  11. The only bummer is that Pinterest is a visual site. So how can a tech site or say an industry that is not very exciting wow the Pinterest crowd?

  12. Interesting read

  13. Hi Lisa

    We advise our clients to use Pinterest to help drive traffic but they are often confused by the opportunity.

    What’s your view on Pinterest’s ability to sell services B2B as well as it does products?

  14. Having just added Pinterest to my SB today this is a great post to find. Thanks Lisa.

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