Just when you were starting to get comfortable with Social Media, along comes Pinterest which seems to reframe both your expectations and understanding of how sharing platforms work and how they deliver value.

What exactly is Pinterest?

Pinterest, the newest social media darling, claims that  its mission is to let people “organize and share all the beautiful things you find on the web.”

With an easy to use interface, Pinterest lets the user create “online pinboards” where they can “Pin” images or videos they “like” or find interesting to share with others. Pinterest also allows users to attach a short description, add hashtags, links and immediately share their pinned content with both their followers and the growing Pinterest community.

People doing house decorating or remodeling, for example, can create a visual scrapbook of inspirations and ideas on everything from materials, lighting, furnishings and architecture. And as other decorators or remodeling enthusiasts see and share their images, the visual content spreads—often faster than you can imagine!

Pinterest Boards
Extend your content reach with boards on Pinterest | TeamworksCom

So what’s all the fuss about?

The Wall Street Journal recently reported that site traffic to Pinterest has grown tenfold over the past six months. In January 2012, the number of visitors on Pinterest.com was almost a third of that on Twitter.com. And as CNet recently reported, Pinterest is now one of the top 10 most frequently visited sites on the Internet.

And if those numbers aren’t impressive enough, users spend more time on Pinterest today than on Google+, LinkedIn and Twitter combined! As marketers are quickly discovering, there’s growing value in what people share on Pinterest for a number of reasons including:

  • | Inspire easy sharing and engagment with pictures + images
  • | Remove the intimidating requirement of writing
  • | Tell stories with the power of images for visually oriented users
  • | Extend the reach of content beyond your existing social channels
  • | Say a lot about your brand in an instant without reading
  • | Add SEO juice by raising content visibility for search engines

Constance Aguilar of Abbi Public Relations compiled a list of some ways brands can use this visually centered channel to create engagement with prospects and customers. Some interesting opportunities include:

Get instant visual feedback. Find out how people feel about a new product’s look, well before launch. Track the number of times your photos are repinned, and what comments users add to the stream. “Think of it as a social media focus group.”

Showcase your personality | Use photos to showcase your brand’s personality. Magazines can post past and present photos to share places they’ve covered. Local politicians can start a “Board” highlighting their community work. In the description, link your pin to the original story; descriptions often get repinned along with images.

Showcase your company | Large operations can organize Pinterest boards around their different departments. One marketing firm started a Board for its public relations efforts. And its design department’s Board showcases the logos and webpages the team has created.

Promote Contests | Use Pinterest to host contests for “best Board” or give away prizes for the most “Repins” on a topic (topics can be open to “Pins” from others, or a selected few).

Visually interact with customers | Repin customers’ product interpretations, giving them a way to further relate to you! Repin shots of your customers wearing or using your product; it’s a great way to recognize their creativity.

So how should you be using Pinterest?

Here are three tips that can get you off to the right start on Pinterest. But be forewarned, things will evolve and hopefully get even better.

Gaining some familiarity and fluency in the current version may put you ahead of your competitors and may prove to one of the best channels you can use to extend the reach of your visual content to a new audience.

This is box title

1. | Follow others

People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care. Replace “care” with “Pin”—and you’ve got a roadmap. Draw inspiration from other Pinners and Repin their work. They’ll appreciate your attention; some will follow back and may eventually start Repinning your visual content.

2. | Segment, organize and categorize

Pinterest lets you keep multiple Boards (ways to organize your photos), which users can choose to follow individually or all together. Use different Boards to showcase what makes your brand visually interesting and attract different types of followers. Use keywords and be specific. Name your Boards and add descriptions to your Pins. Include hashtags (#keyword) for all of your images. Even in galleries under a specific term. The result will spread your reach to others looking for that content category.

3. | Pin on the move

Pinterest’s iPhone app lets you Pin what you see on the fly. Some of the most popular images on Pinterest are how-to photo collages. So consider creating a few Boards on your own lessons learned, or how-to sequences that telegraph a concept or idea with pictures instead of words.

Time to start pinning?

Gaining insights on what your audience likes and shares with others should be your primary objective. So let your personality, curiosity, and creativity be apparent in your Pinterest Boards.

When you do, it’ll come right back to you in Repins and click-throughs back to the content on your blog. That should give you guidance on what other content you can start to add to your Pinterest Boards so that it furthers your reach and increases traffic and refers back to you.

Have you started using Pinterest? How are you using this great resource to support your brand? Share your experiences and happy Pinning!