Pinterest and The Social Media Business Equation

Meredith Darling | @merdar Like we said in a previous blog, "Pinterest is a growing bookmarking site that lets you tag websites based on images, and sort those images onto boards." Confused? Don't over think it- it's a bunch of pretty pictures all in one place. Boards can be of anything you want, Bucket List, Places to Visit, Fitness Motivation, Junk, Crafts, Reading List, Squirrels... the options are only limited by your imagination (excluding nudity and hate). The site launched via invite-only in 2010 and managed to stay mostly under the radar until a few months ago, but now the word is out.

Named 2012's hottest website by Pete Cashmore, CEO and founder of Mashable, Pinterest has grown so much that it ties Twitter and Google for third place in online referral traffic at 3.6% (poor MySpace is still clenching for dear life at 0.01%). That's no surprise when you consider that visitors increased 4,000% from June-December of last year, with 7 million in December alone. These numbers are what has got companies drooling.Shareaholic, Pinterest, Social Media Delivered, social media

Here are the facts on Pinterest: people love it, it's growing, it gets people to your website. So the big question remains,

Should your business be on Pinterest?

Social Media Delivered is the first to admit that every social media network isn't right for every company. You have to find what works best for your product or service. Pinterest is almost entirely visual, aside from the captions and comments that, if you're like me, no one really reads. My feelings are if your company has found success on Facebook they will on Pinterest. Why? Just like on Facebook, users on Pinterest do not want to be sold to. They are there in most cases for reasons outside their professional life, which is why it is important to be careful about what you pin. That's where The Social Media Business Equation comes in.

Yes. Now what?

The Social Media Business Equation applies to all social media networks; Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, blogs, and yes, Pinterest. No one likes that friend that only talks about himself and never lends a helping hand, so don't think of Pinterest as another advertising medium. As with all social media, it is another way to connect with your clients, and that is why the equation works perfectly here.

Real Simple, Pinterest, Social Media Delivered, social media

20% Inform- share pictures that you know will be enjoyed by your prospects and client base. Take this example from Real Simple magazine. They have a board dedicated to "New Uses for Old Things." On it you'll find interesting uses for every day items you may have thrown away otherwise. Real Simple knows that their subscribers will find this interesting and helpful because organization advice is part of what the magazine offers. Pin things related to your industry. For example, a hotel or airlines could pin travel tips. A bank could pin images of how the design of paper money has changed over time. A supermarket could pin wellness tips. An energy company could pin Earth city lights view from space.

Zales, Pinterest, Social Media Delivered, social media

20% Entertain-post quirky and humorous photos or videos that apply to your industry. Zales has a board dedicated to love song videos, the idea being that you feel emotion when watching them. Other entertain ideas include inspirational quotes, memes, jokes, amateur video taken at the office, get creative! Your customers want to be friends with you, and everybody wants a friend who can make them laugh.

Southwest Airlines, Pinterest, Social Media Delivered, social media

40% Interact- ask questions, take a poll, request fans share their experiences, repin/like pictures, and make comments. How do you do this by pinning a picture you ask? Take a lesson from Southwest Airlines. The picture you pin doesn't always have to ask the question, but it should inspire them to answer it. A car dealership could pin a picture of the world's fastest car and ask "What song  would you listen to at 267 mph?" Remember: you are asking questions to connect with your customers and spark a conversation.

Lowe's, Pinterest, Social Media Delivered, social media

20% Convert to Business- you've taught them something, made them laugh, got them thinking, now it's appropriate to ask for business. Lowe's did a great job of this with their "Unique Gift Cards" board. Why would someone pin this you ask? Maybe they find it funny, maybe they are going bald, maybe they have a gift giving board or a to do list board. Maybe they just love Lowe's. One of their gift cards was pinned and liked by 16 people. Those people have a total of 1,025 followers. Something to think about.

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