Small business owners may consider visual social media platforms like Pinterest and Instagram to be just another social media channel, but they can have immense benefits to your marketing and brand reputation.
Pinterest, a pinboard-style photo sharing website that allows members to virtually collect and curate images and videos. Why should you use Pinterest?
Engages your customers
In today's over-saturated market, it's not enough to just use traditional online marketing. Businesses have to generate a community around their customers and find a way to fit their products and services into their customers' lifestyles. In this way, Pinterest is extremely effective because the act of 'pinning' onto a board and the ability to 'follow' other boards create a community of like-minded individuals.
Take for example, supermarket giant Coles, which has 27 boards and more than 1300 followers. Its food boards inspire customers to create new recipes and provide ideas on how to serve up food - although not directly 'selling' to their customers, it creates and engages a community of food lovers.
Brand engagement also translates to sales, with statistics showing 70 per cent of online consumers who visit Pinterest have found an item they've bought or wanted to buy, compared with 40 per cent of Facebook users.
Drives web traffic
Successfully engaging current and would-be customers also drives web traffic if your images are linked to your business website.
According to Search Engine Journal, Pinterest referrals spend 70 per cent more money than visitors referred from non-social channels. This comes as no surprise - if people are 'liking' and 'pinning' your images, they're more likely to be interested in your products and click through to your website. Pinterest encourages consumerism, which is not a bad thing when it comes to boosting traffic and sales.
Enables internal business collaboration
Pinterest now offers 'secret boards', which are boards hidden from public view. Businesses can create up to three secret boards, which can be repinned to other public boards without linking back to the secret board.
Businesses working on visual-heavy projects will find this function useful, whether it's giving employees a first-look at a product before it's launched or sharing the latest company designs. However, businesses should be careful when posting sensitive information and have a social media policy in place before enabling employees to participate.
Showcases industry leadership or creativity
Businesses can use Pinterest to showcase their thought leadership and industry expertise, with an indirect approach often working to their advantage. An effective example is General Electric. The company believes in "pinning things that inspire us to build, power, move and cure the world", shown through its 25 inspirational boards on innovation and technology. Or local activewear brand Lorna Jane, whose 22 boards encapsulate a healthy lifestyle and inspirational travel. Both brands build on their expertise within their industry, further adding to consumer engagement.
Get inspired by other businesses
You don't always have to pin your own images - there are many similar businesses out there with great visuals you can repin to your own boards. This not only allows you to potentially collaborate with these businesses and exchange ideas, but can also inspire you to create new products, improve existing processes and identify trends.
How to use pinterest effectively: