Melyssa Griffin is the host of the  Pursuit With Purpose podcast and helps entrepreneurs and bloggers grow their platforms and their businesses. Griffin says that Pinterest is an underutilized platform, often thought of as strictly for female creativepreneurs. But Pinterest can be an integral part of a social media strategy, helping small business owners of all types build their personal brands, bring in new leads, increase traffic to their websites, and subscribers for their email lists. 

Griffin shared some tips for making sure that you're getting the most out of your Pinterest presence. 

1. Determine your target audience.  

"Many people think Pinterest is solely for DIY projects, recipes, and pictures of gorgeous homes," Griffin says, and that can impact their willingness to use the platform as well as the content they choose to share there. "If your ideal customers don't fall under any of those categories, then don't pin those things!" she says.  

Before using Pinterest, decide who the "right people" are for your to attract with your content. Ask yourself questions about what they search for online, and what they want to know more about, so you can figure out the right content to create and pin.

"Stick to what you do best," Griffin says. "Your people are on Pinterest waiting for you."

2. Refine your profile to meet your audience's interest. 

"Now that you know who you want to attract, tailor your profile so that it's THE go-to hub for that individual," Griffin says. 

Update your profile name, description and profile image to make sure it's immediately clear who you are and how you help people. Create clearly-named and logically organized dedicated boards that are relevant to the themes, questions, challenges and interests of the audience you want to be attracting, and fill them with relevant pins.

If you're already active on Pinterest, this may mean you need to remove some of your existing boards and pins that are not relevant to your defined target audience's interest. (If you want to save those pins for your own reference later, switch the boards to private so that only you will be able to see it, and it won't dilute the focus of your profile and brand.)

3. Implement Pinterest SEO.

"Pinterest is not a social media platform, Griffin says, "it's a search engine, like Google."

Like on Google, when a user searches Pinterest for a particular term or string of words, they're shown content that's deemed the most relevant and high-quality results related to that search term. The goal is to have your pins show up in the top posts for the keywords that your audience is searching for. 

Defining your target audience likely helped surface some key terms and phrases that your audience is interested in, but Pinterest makes it easy to know what's most relevant. When you type a general keyword into Pinterest's search area, and hit "enter," Pinterest will show and suggest popular keywords related to the original term you put in. This will give you great ideas for search terms to optimize for.

Once you have a list of keywords, start adding them to the "description" area of your pins and your boards. If it's possible and natural, try to weave them into your profile name and description, too. 

4. Schedule and loop your pins.

Griffin says that Pinterest's algorithm strongly weighs how often you pin quality content, and prioritizes those accounts that are adding it every day. While this might seem overwhelming, there are ways to make it less of a burden on your calendar. 

"To save time, I use a Pinterest scheduler called BoardBooster," Griffin says. This tool allows you to loop your pins, or re-pin the content you've already pinned to help create a steady stream of activity. The result is that your account always looks active and engaged.

But using a scheduler isn't an excuse to neglect "live" pinning, Griffin says, since Pinterest also likes recent and new content, too. "Even five minutes of daily pinning is more than enough," she says, "And for the traffic Pinterest will bring you, it's totally worth it." 

5. Find Similar Pinners and Join Tailwind Tribes.

Pinterest's algorithm also weighs engagement pretty heavily when it's ranking content, seeing comments, likes and re-pins as a sign that content is high quality. This means it's important for you to engage with (and earn engagement from) other pinners in order to drive up your placement in search results. 

"An easy way to fast track your account's engagement is to join some Tailwind Tribes," Griffi suggests. Members of these groups will share pins that they'd like to receive more engagement on, so that other members can repin and leave comments on each other's pins, supporting one another's growth.

"Tailwind Tribes are a great way to show Pinterest that you pin quality content, and therefore, it should rank higher in search results," Griffin says. 

6. Optimize your website.

But optimizing your Pinterest presence is really just the first step. Once users click a pin and head to your website, you need to have optimized the path you want them to take, such as signing up for your email list or joining a course.  

"Don't spend all your time getting traffic from Pinterest if you haven't first optimized your site," Griffin advises. "Make sure that it's abundantly clear what your website or business is about as soon as someone lands there from Pinterest."

If you're using Pinterest to grow your email list, be sure to add opt-in registration forms on your website in multiple places so that new visitors will be invited ot join. As a bonus, Griffin says, offer an incentive for users to join the list. For digital product or service-based businesses, Griffin suggests a PDF resource like a checklists and worksheet. For SaaS businesses, free trials are a great option.