Using Pinterest For Fun & Profit (Without Being A Dweeb)
So. You bought into the hype about Pinterest (Um. Sorry about my part in that!) You got yourself all signed up, and you’ve pinned a cake recipe or two. You’ve stared at endless wedding planner collections. You ‘ve declared that you WILL try the DIY lightbulb terrarium project, and maybe repaint your end tables a loverly shade of blue.
But you’ve got no clue how to make this work for your business.
I’m here to inspire you.
Or maybe confuse you.
But either way, I’m here!
And I have a plan! Granted, it’s a mostly untested plan, because like almost everyone else I’m pretty new to Pinterest. But I have ideas, IDEAS I say!
Step one in the plan?
DON’T approach Pinterest as a “marketing tool”. Forget about the traffic you’ve been promised from Pinterest, and start a personal account. Use it as a tool for inspiration, for both work and personal projects. Use it for relationship building. Use it for research. Use it as the creative porn visual crack eye-candy curation tool it was meant to be.
Browse the site, and re-pin anything that appeals to you. Fiddle around with your own original boards, with silly names. Follow people who have intriguing boards. Poke around Comment on other people’s pins… and I mean stranger’s boards, not just people you already know and feel safe with!. You can “Like” pins that you, well, like, but don’t feel like repinning yourself, or create a “misc. hodgepodge that I don’t know what else to do with” board.
As you wander on the web, create your own original pins. Smile absurdly when people repin things from your board (It’s human. No matter how “different” we like to think we are, we also like knowing that other people share our taste)
Don’t worry about being “on brand”, for now.
This exploration? It’s about you. As long as your pins aren’t potentially offensive to your customer base (do be careful with sex, expletives, religion and politics) you’ll be fine. So go for it! Pin those Dr.Who plushies, that recipe for death-by-chocolate, that $5000 headboard you’d never buy but are in lust over. Pin the book you’re reading, the movie you just watched, the video that made you laugh, snort.
Browse other people’s boards… browse them a LOT. Get to know their sense of taste and style. Notice if they’re pinning for themselves, or a brand. Notice if your taste is in line with theirs.
Spend at least a week doing this – preferably a month. You’ll get a good sense of how people actually use the service, what is acceptable in that culture, what gets attention, and what doesn’t.
And if you really need to know how this helps your business, right now? Here you go:
The Immediate Benefits:
As you network with peers (and potential customers) in your niche, (and outside of it) you’ll start to see where your taste and interest overlaps, and where it diverges. That’s potentially important marketing info – info that can either be analyzed, or just intuitively incorporated into your product development and marketing plan.
By pinning and repinning items, you’ll naturally build boards that tell an intuitive story about who you are, and what you do, how you do it, and what you’re interested in. Other people will be able to visually read that story, and instinctively know how well they are likely to relate to you, and therefore, to your offerings.
Your Pinterest boards let people window shop through your eyes… getting a glimpse of how you see things, what interests you, what attracts you. Window shopping is a time-honored bonding exercise, (especially with women) and sharing this part of your world may just help your online contacts and customers feel a little closer to you.
Pinning recipes, parenting tips and DIY home & garden projects? Again, these are popular and natural bonding exercises. The same goes for pinning book, music, and movie collections. Pinterest allows those social activities to happen online, in what seems (to me at least) a more natural way than many other social-sharing sites.
Yes, there are lots of sites out there devoted to social sharing of books, movies, recipes, crafts, etc… but Pinterest lets you share ALL of them, without immersing yourself in domestic-girly-goddess land. Your boards present a more balanced presentation of who you are, and that helps your customers and clients to relate to you better. A pin may become a topic of discussion for you and a potential customer. They may feel like they can give back to you, by repinning or liking your products, or by sharing pins that you might like.
And now, the “Without Being A Dweeb” part.
Whenever a site starts getting attention from the Internet Marketing & Social Media Guru crowd, the Dweeb Factor comes into play.
You know the type…. the folks who only promote their own stuff, without adding any benefit to the community, the ones that treat social media like their personal free billboards. Then there are the ones who sign up and immediately stir the pot with controversy, by being intentionally aggravating and inappropriate.
I had some examples queued up for you: a woman who was pinning nothing but her company logo over and over again. A man who was pinning nothing but lingerie shots of hot women. I can’t find either account, now – so either they’ve been blocked by Pinterest, or have just moved so far down on the visibility list that they might as well have been blocked.
That’s the thing about Pinterest… mindless spamming or pot stirring just won’t work. No one will follow those boards, no one will pin or repin their stuff, no one will click through to their site. The worst those folks can do is be temporarily annoying.
Another more insidious dweeb-tactic?
Resetting the URL to lead to an unrelated site, usually a product catalog or link farm. I haven’t heard of any malicious sites being linked this way yet, and it would take a lot of work to get significant traffic off of an account created for that purpose, but that, too, could happen.
Some members are putting their own affiliate links directly into Pinterest – like from Amazon, for instance. That’s not directly prohibited by Pinterest (yet) but I suspect it will be, especially since the business model is designed to insert the companies own affiliate links where applicable. And although not as annoying as the other dweeb-pinning-behaviors, it’s a pretty icky exploitation of the site, and likely to get you in trouble, when the terms of service *do* change.
- Before you dive in and start using Pinterest for promotion of your brand or business? Learn to use it on a personal level.
- Before you decide to use Pinterest in a new and different way, learn how it’s meant to be used, how people are already using it.
- Pin stuff. Repin stuff. Follow new people. Be yourself. Reveal your odd hobbies and interests. Play. Have fun. Connect to people you know, and people you don’t know. Network.
Soon? I’m going to be starting a brand new shiny Pinterest account, a Quirkipreneurs one that I can use for research, and as a product directory of sorts, as well as a promotional tool. By the time I’ve got it set you, you should be nice and familiar with Pinterest, and then we’ll discuss the whole branding and traffic thing.
Now excuse me as I wander back to my hermit cave.
I have silence to ponder, and stuff to pin!
P.S. What’s the most inventive use of Pinterest you’ve seen, so far? What’s the most offensive, outrageous, or spammy behavior you’ve seen there?