For any small business trying to get ahead without a large marketing budget, social media can seem like an incredible opportunity AND a confusing time-sucking hole of uncertainty. I’ve been on both sides of the relationship, working with small businesses and as an entrepreneur myself. But I’m here to tell you that one social channel is unique and can be an incredible opportunity for any small business trying to sell something online and it’s Pinterest.
While Pinterest first began as a tool used mainly by women, today more people are pinning more things on more topics than ever before. Old and young, male and female, urbannites and suburbanites can all be found adding pins and browsing boards on Pinterest today. They’re looking for inspiration, new ideas and products to purchase. Nearly 73 million people are pinning more than 14 million articles every day. More than 30 percent of those users are men,and 40 percent of those users are from outside the U.S. They’re not just pinning gowns and home design anymore either. Mary Meeker’s 2015 Internet Trends Report revealed Pinterest has seen particular growth in “non-core” categories. Car and motorcycle pins grew by 118 percent and men’s fashion pins grew by 96 percent year over year.
In my role at Viraltag, a marketing platform for Pinterest & Instagram, I’ve been working with thousands of businesses to build a presence on Pinterest and tap into the full potential of the platform. We’ve found that Pinterest can be an amazing tool to share your visual content to build deeper connections and generate new customers. In fact, it can be the most powerful social media tool for marketing a product online. Pinterest users are more likely to be in a shopping mindset and more likely to shop online than any other social media network. That’s why Pinterest is one of the top sources of referral traffic today.
Fortunately, it’s easy to start seeing results organically given some basic steps. In this post I’ll take you through 10 things you can do to use Pinterest to increase sales for your small business.
Verify your business account
It may seem simple, but many people miss this critical step. If you’re a business, make sure to create a “business account.” Verify your business website and let users know that your account is official.
You can do this by going to your settings and clicking “confirm website”. Check out these steps from Pinterest if you have trouble. Once you verify your business, you’ll have full access to Pinterest business analytics. You’ll also have access to promoted posts and rich pins.
The best part about creating and verifying your business account is when anyone shares anything from your website, the pin will automatically be tagged with your logo. Just a simple step and you’re ready to use Pinterest to increase sales and have enabled others to begin marketing your products for you.
Find your target keywords with Pinterest Guided Search
Pinterest is a social discovery tool. People come to Pinterest looking for things to buy and make. You want to do all you can to make sure that when your potential customers are looking it’s you they discover.
Researching keywords on Pinterest will help you ensure that result. Consider keywords or topics that relate to your product. For example, imagine you’re selling your handmade scarves. You may want to explore keywords around winter clothes, cold weather and of course scarves. Start by typing “scarves” into the Pinterest search box and here you will see all the most popular keywords people are searching in connection to scarves.
Then, incorporate hese are keywords into your Pinterest profile, boards and Pins. These are the words that people are looking for on Pinterest and associating your product with these words will help you get found.
You can also explore the top Pinners and Boards connected to that keyword by clicking around in the area below the keyword boxes. These are great people to follow, to engage with and to imitate in order to build your own Pinterest presence.
Add keywords to your Pinterest profile, boards and Pins
Now that you know what keywords you need to target thanks to the Guided Search research you can start incorporating them into your Pinterest presence.
Start with your name. You have 15 characters for your username and 37 characters for your profile title. Use these wisely and insert keywords if possible to help get your profile discovered more easily. If you’re an e-commerce site, try adding your category in the name if possible.
Then consider your Profile description. You have 160 characters here. Use them to clearly describe who you are (what makes you unique) and what people should expect if they choose to follow you. Link your other social accounts and include your website URL.
Next you can begin working on your boards. Use your keywords to consider what boards you should create. Let’s take the case of the handmade scarves seller again for an example. A seller like that might decide to create a board titled “How To Wear Scarves” and “DIY Scarves” and use the Board Description space (you have 500 characters to work with) to include more keywords and explain to your audience why they should follow this board.
Now, let’s take a look at a real life example. Sarah Arnold, founder of Accidental Artist, uses Pinterest to market her handmade tutus. She created boards like “Tutus for Flower Girls” and included keywords wedding, birthday, ballet and costume in her board profile to attract more new customers. As a result she saw her following and click throughs grow. Her tutus are a perfect fit for Pinterest and her sales benefitted from a carefully considered Pinterest strategy.
And make sure to keep track of these keywords and continue to research and fine-tune your strategy. Every time you create a new Pin or re-Pin from another user, make sure to include relevant keywords.
Design Pins For the Platform
Pins are the way you post content on Pinterest. You can share a Pin from a website or re-Pin something added by another user. Pins should be vertical and ideally with an image aspect of between 2:3 and 1:3.5.
Research shows certain style choices also help your Pins attract more attention on Pinterest. A study by Curalate found that colorful Pins get more than 3 times the engagement than Pins with only one dominant color and Pins with the color red received twice as much engagement as blue colored Pins in the study.
Finally, unlike other social platforms, Pins with faces perform less well on Pinterest. To use Pinterest to increase sales, use pictures of your products and use captions to describe what the user will find when they click through. Use a tool like Canva to create Pinterest-perfect pictures. Consider working with a great photographer to get the shots that will wow fellow Pinteresters.
Write Strong Pin Captions
People look to Pinterest for information. As a result, Pins that provide more value perform better on the platform. This means you should include more information in your description in order to gain more exposure for your brand and Pinterest profile, and ultimately drive sales.
It’s important to keep in mind that most Pinterest users are going to be browsing on a mobile device. On an iPhone and on an Android, only up to 4 lines of text will appear of a description (about 100 characters). About 10 lines will appear on an iPad (around 250 characters). There’s no perfect length, so try experimenting with your own content and see what works best for you.
Create Rich Pins
This is an incredible option Pinterest provides to upgrade your Pins with more information, making them more shoppable. Upgrading your product Pins to Rich Pins means it will show real time pricing and where it can be bought. If a Pinterest user saves one of your Pinterest Rich Pins to their board and you change the price of that product on your website (like put it on sale, for example) that user will get an email from Pinterest letting them know.
Make it easy for your customers to do some marketing for you. Add a Pin it Button to your website and to each of your Products on your website. People use Pinterest to plan what they want to buy in the future. Help them easily save your product to purchase.
With that in mind, consider the style and size of your product photos on your site with Pinterest in mind. Is there anything else you can do to help them perform well as Pins?
Consider Buyable Pins
Pinterest now offers some upgrades to make your Pins shoppable for a user direct from the platform. Buyable Pins appear with a blue button saying “Buy It” next to the “Pin It” button. Pinterest users can browse and filter by the “Buy It” button to find things to purchase. Checkout happens all within Pinterest or the Pinterest app (for mobile shoppers) and Pinterest doesn’t even take a percentage of the sale.
Currently this option is only available for businesses using 5 commerce platforms. If you run your e-commerce store through Shopify, BigCommerce, Demandware, IBM Commere, or Magento, check out how to get started with Buyable Pins.
Pin Consistently and Complement with Curation
The more you Pin the more business you’ll see. When you have a consistent Pinning schedule, you will grow your number of followers, which leads to more sharing of your Pins and more click throughs to your website and ultimately more sales.
But keep in mind, Pinterest users aren’t looking to follow someone who only Pins their own product. They want to learn and be inspired, so complement the sharing of your own products with valuable and relevant Pins from other places. This requires finding relevant sources and carefully curating beautiful boards but the time will be well spent.
As a standard rule, we find sharing 4 pieces of content from other people for every 1 of your own is a good rule of thumb. Consult those keywords and popular boards and Pinners to discover what great content you can curate for your growing audience.
Small businesses have found Pinterest is not a place for competition but a space where sellers can grow together. Join forces (and audiences) by creating group boards. This means you collaborate on a board by allowing multiple people to contribute content. The reach of your content is amplified and you’re not solely accountable for making sure there is a steady flow of new Pins.
Create your own group boards with other e-commerce stores or online sellers you know. Or find group boards to join that area already doing well. A tool like PinGroupie allows you to search and discover group boards and monitor their performance. Find boards that attract your target customer, then reach out to the owner and ask if you can contribute.
Setting up a Pinterest profile, optimized for discovery with the right keywords, and upgrading your Pins to Rich Pins or Buyable Pins where possible will help you drive real business from Pinterest. Try out these steps and let us know what you find. I’ll be answering questions in comments and am always available if you’d like to reach out.
Guest blog post by Jilly Badanes, the Director of Marketing at Viraltag. She also writes about visual content marketing, social media tools and Instagram and Pinterest strategies for Viraltag’s Blog, Social Media Examiner and Social Media Today. Tweet at her @JillyBadanes.