Last Thursday, Pinterest revealed its long-anticipated plan to generate revenue through sponsored or "promoted" pins, which it's rolling out gradually. Among other things, CEO and founder Ben Silberman promised that the pins, which promote select small businesses, will be tasteful, transparent, and relevant.
"If a consumer is searching for weddings, they might see a pin from a local shop advertising a deal on dresses, or a local photographer showcasing their wedding portfolio," explains social media expert Bradley Lautenbach, who is COO of Randi Zuckerberg's Zuckerberg Media.
As companies begin testing out the sponsored pins, Inc. tapped Lautenbach and Amber MacArthur, social media guru and author of Power Friending, for a refresher course on businesses can best market to Pinterest's 70 million active users.
Why should businesses care about Pinterest?
"Pinterest has already proven its ability to drive traffic and convert browsers into buyers," says Lautenbach. Pinterest is currently responsible for 41 percent of e-commerce traffic and drives more than twice as much e-commerce than Facebook does. "One reason for this is the simple fact that high-quality, visual content sells," says Lautenbach. "It’s highly engaging."
How can non-visual businesses rethink their strategy?
Get creative. "Pinterest can be a great place for non-visual businesses to promote their company cultures and recruit new hires by pinning photos of the office, behind-the-scenes events at headquarters, speakers that come to visit, fun offsites, etc.," says Lautenbach. "For example, financial businesses can pin visual infographics about the industry or offer tips and inspirational quotes on personal finance and investing."
Your photos "should be colorful, bright and interesting--things that people would want to share," says MacArthur. Just make sure they're authentic. "The Pinterest audience rewards authenticity and they will abandon brands whose pins start to look too promotional," Lautenbach says. "Attractive, compelling images are more likely to get repinned over those that obviously look like ads."
Which businesses shouldn't use Pinterest?
That depends on your customers, says Lautenbach. An overwhelming majority of Pinterest's users are female--about 70 percent. "If a business's goal is to target men," he says, "then Pinterest may not be the first platform to turn to."
What are some ways to track user engagement?
MacArthur recommends following a schedule, say posting a few times a day, and committing to a long-term strategy, because a following won't appear overnight. "It's a numbers game in terms of how often your items are pinned," she says. "For a lot of companies it's going to come down to having a simple spreadsheet and trying to study those successful images, then trying to do more of the same."