FEATURE – Pinning down more business – Social media tool Pinterest becoming part of marketing tool kit

Posted on Jul 1, 2012 :: Features
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Posted by , Insight on Business Staff Writer

Think your business is set social media-wise? You tweet, are on Facebook and dabble on LinkedIn? Well, there’s one more social media platform to add to your to-do list: Pinterest.

“Social media never stops changing and this is definitely the next big thing,” says social media guru Dana VanDen Heuvel, owner of MarketingSavant in Green Bay. “Pinterest is the fastest-growing platform for branded content, which is key to businesses, since those images come from your website and as people connect with you, the hits to your website will increase.”

Pinterest is an online bulletin board where you can “pin” images and videos you like, whether it’s a favorite recipe, a favorite room or outfit, or a favorite saying. You can then share your boards with friends and colleagues. All of the images come from other websites, so when a user “pins” something, it creates a link back to the original website.

According to Statista, Pinterest is now the third most popular social media site behind Facebook and Twitter – not bad for something no one heard of less than a year ago.

Affinity Health System jumped on Pinterest earlier this year after watching the number of users skyrocket, says Tara Pearce, a marketing manager with Affinity. The Menasha-based health care system already has a solid social media presence with its Twitter and Facebook accounts and Pinterest seemed to be the next step. It was also a great way to tie in some of the content from its @Affinity magazine, which was launched last year, Pearce says.

“We couldn’t overlook the kind of explosive growth Pinterest was having and we also saw that women were highly involved and since they are a key decider in choosing health care, we knew it was a place we needed to be,” she says. “Pinterest is all about what’s important to you at that moment. Did you see a recipe that you wanted to try or liked? Pin it to your board and come back to it later.”

Business owners are clamoring to learn more about Pinterest, says VanDen Heuvel, who hosted a workshop on the topic for the Green Bay Area Chamber of Commerce last month. “People want to know what’s going on and it’s a site all kinds of businesses can use. Obviously, those in retail or restaurants – food is a huge topic on Pinterest – are ideal, but it can work for anyone,” he says.

Green Bay office furniture manufacturer KI found success on Pinterest, as have major retailers like Kohl’s, VanDen Heuvel says. But smaller retailers, like Just Act Natural in downtown Appleton, are also checking it out and looking to leverage a presence there into increased business.

“We try to be tech-savvy and already are on Twitter and Facebook, so when we heard about this, we had to check it out,” says store owner JC Paustian. “It’s a free way to promote your business and you can’t really pass that up. I appreciate that it’s so easy to use and it’s so visual that it can really tell people what we have in the store and give customers an idea of who we are.”

Pearce likes the immediate feedback Pinterest gives via its “repins.” If someone likes something – let’s say a recipe from an Affinity board – they can immediately repin it on their board. “We really like what we’re seeing with the reaction we’re getting from Pinterest,” she says.

Trying to balance all of Affinity’s social media outlets isn’t easy, Pearce admits but adds “you need to be in a lot of different places as a business. It’s just the next step in marketing. It used to be you had to be in newspapers, radio and TV – and we’re still there – but now you need to be in these new channels too. It all needs to blend together.”

Getting on Pinterest

Now that you know what Pinterest is, getting an account is easy. Go to www.pinterest.com and request an invitation. Once your invitation is processed, Pinterest will walk you through setting up your boards. They’ll start you out with some default boards that you can change to be more specific to your industry or business. They’ll also walk you through how to add a “Pin It” button to your toolbar. This button will facilitate your ability to pin visual assets to your boards as you navigate the Internet and execute your Pinterest strategy.

Pinterest works well with Twitter and Facebook, which makes linking it to your businesses’ other social media activities easy, says Dana VanDen Heuvel, owner of MarketingSavant in Green Bay.