The brass tacks on Pinterest
12 December, 2012
Pinterest is not just another social media platform, it can be a terrific way of engaging with customers, says Jim Sullivan
It has won more attention than Boris Johnson’s hair-do on a blustery day. It is the fastest-growing social media company around the globe, with more than 19 million unique monthly users, and is now the 3rd most popular social network in the US, trailing only Facebook and Twitter. Plus, its users like to eat and drink. A lot. If it was any hotter, Pinterest would have to be wrapped in a tortilla.
What it is Pinterest is a virtual pinboard that allows you to collect, organize and share all your favourite things from the web, and your brand. What is more, it’s free. Picture a university dorm room bulletin board or a family refrigerator door, only a neater, cleaner, more organised electronic version, capable of posting, organizing and sharing images, videos, text and blogs. You organize your Pinterest content via different topic boards that you name. You can also easily link the boards to your company’s website, imagery, menus or blog and add or share other user’s images to your own via “re-pinning”. That is Pinterest in a nutshell.
Getting started Two good reasons to join Pinterest: 1) it is an interesting and popular new marketing tool, and 2) it is easy to use. I think Pinterest has the shortest learning curve of any social media site out there. You will be up and running in less than 15 minutes (try that with a Facebook business page). To get started on Pinterest (as of
this writing) you need to have a Facebook or Twitter account and be invited. You can receive the invitation at Pinterest.com or from a friend using Pinterest. You usually get your invitation within 48 hours. Once invited, you log in via your Twitter or Facebook account.
Think visual Pinterest is driven by imagery more than text. In that regard it is ideal for posting food and beverage photos, videos and related visuals, such as menus or catering spreads, or even vouchers, if you market them. While you can add text to any or all of your visuals, your goal is to get re-pinned (shared) by current users to their boards too, which gets their friends and their friends’ friends re-pinning too. The more unique (or mouth-watering) the photo, the more you get shared.
Do this first Before posting or pinning anything, I recommend first clicking on the Pinterest “Everything” feed via the search box on the top left. Browse the entire site and get a sense of what imagery is available and how (and what) kind of content other people and brands are pinning to their boards and re-pinning from others. After reviewing the wide breadth of content and branding across the site, define a specific plan relative to how you want to position and share your brand on the site. Next, review the “Pinning 101” section at the Getting Started tab.
Create your profile page Take a look at how other companies and creative individuals are representing themselves on Pinterest. Do not make your boards just about your menu. Showcase the personality and fun of your company/brand too. Choose funky over formal.
Download the Pin It button to your desktop ribbon. With the “Pin It” button at the top of your screen, anytime you are at any site and see an image, video or article that you want to pin to a Pinterest board, you simply click the Pin It button and an image from that web page will be presented to you to add to the board of your choice. Add text if you would like. It is simple to do. Just visit Pinning 101 on the help page. If you see an image anywhere on someone else’s Pinterest page that you would like to add to one of your boards simply scroll over it and click “Repin” to post on your pinboards too.
Now pin some boards You get five pre-named template pinboards to begin: “Products I Love/For the Home/Favourite Places and Spaces/Books Worth Reading/My Style”. But it’s easy to re-title these boards by clicking on the edit button (for instance I replaced my “For the Home” board with “Restaurants I Follow” and “My Style” with “Videos I Dig”). You can also add as many different boards as you would like. Give them creative names. Instead of “Menu Items” featuring pics of your food, for instance, call the board “Bucket List Food & Beverage” or “Mouth-Waterers.” Interesting drives interest. Post a description for each pin. For every pin there is a box that allows you to add a description, brief or lengthy, of every image. When pinning a menu item image or video from the web or one that you uploaded from your
computer, describe both the item and the best ways to enjoy it (“Our famous jalapeno mac and cheese is not only the perfect side for our mouth-watering pot roast beef sandwich but is a very popular to-go item too.”)
Build a community The key to effectively leveraging any social media tool is to entice customers/followers/users to share your Pinterest boards with their friends, family, and co-workers. Add new content weekly on a schedule. People (and search engines) are drawn to fresh content and postings.
Add your Pinterest user name in the contact information of all emails and stationery. Engaging users via Pinterest drives more traffic to your Facebook pages, company blogs and Twitter posts. Encourage your customers and fans to engage, collaborate and re-pin your Pinterest content by asking them to post their favourite menu items or share anecdotes of the special occasions they’ve had at your restaurant. “Group boards” can also be a fun and effective way for chefs, managers, multiunit managers or R&D teams spread across disparate geographies to collaborate on specific projects or ideas.
For those of you who feel worn out by yet another social media site that requires your attention, your suspicions are true: marketing isn’t getting easier, it’s getting harder. But as always, you must be where your customers are. Connecting with customers is a marathon, not a sprint.
Jim Sullivan, chief executive and founder of Sullivision.com, is a sought-after speaker and consultant worldwide who lives in the United States. He can be found on Pinterest@Sullivision. Jim will be back in London with Peach in 2013