Pinterest is getting a ton of buzz as the hottest new social network. For those who haven’t dived into the site yet, think of Pinterest as an online cork board where people post pictures, articles and videos that inspire them, things they want to try, things to read, places they want to go, etc. Pinterest is one of those sites you have to try for yourself to realize how easy it is to get sucked in by all of the visual ideas put in front of you.

Besides being an excellent place to find Mother’s Day gift and recipe ideas, Pinterest is becoming an increasingly powerful tool for businesses. According to a recent study by Shareaholic, Pinterest now drives more referral traffic than Twitter. Sure, it’s easy for big brands such as Whole Foods to be successful but what about small and local businesses? The good news for local businesses is that Pinteret’s search feature makes it incredibly worthwhile for local businesses to be on Pinterest.

Tips for setting up your business account

  • Link your Pinterest account to your business’ Twitter account, because you can’t set up a business Pinterest account through a business Facebook page.
  • Keep in mind that your boards should not be overly promotional. Pinterest is the place to show off your company culture and show people what kind of ideas can correlate with your products and services. For example, a jewelry store should not only create boards with pictures of their products, but also showcase hairstyles and clothes that might go well with their jewelry so that people can get a sense for how everything comes together.
  • Before you seek out local people to follow, create a few boards first so you give people a reason to follow you back.

How to find local pinners

Since people have to sign in with either their Facebook or Twitter accounts, Pinterest grabs the information that people attach to those profiles. Most people list the specific city that they’re from — which is good news for local businesses. To find local users, click the search bar at the top left and enter the town you are targeting and hit search. Pinterest will naturally default to search for boards that have been created with that town name in it, but the trick is to filter it by People. Now you should see Pinners from the town that you searched and can search for towns in surrounding areas to connect with even more local Pinterest users.

Okay great, you know that local people are on Pinterest, but what should you do next? You can follow them, comment and like their boards. You can even repin and create a board full of local pins and title it, “Coolest Repins” or “Best (Insert your town here) Pinners.” Social media is all about engagement and Pinterest gives you a
prime opportunity to connect with users in regards to ideas that are very personal to them.

Pinterest as a research tool

What’s better than being able to see the specific interests of your target market? Look through the boards of your local users and take notes on what kind of products they love and what kind of style trends they are attracted to. This is a perfect opportunity to really learn who your target market is. The greatest thing about Pinterest is that people go there to discover and be inspired by things. It’s different than people shopping online where they usually know the exact thing that they’re looking for. With Pinterest, you can really get a feel for the interests, desires and inspirations of your target market. Then you can use this information to position your business effectively in front of your ideal customers.

Amber Wallor is the president and co-founder of Left Hand Marketing in the Chicago area. She specializes in social media training, social media management and video marketing.

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14 Responses to “How local businesses can do research and gain an edge with Pinterest”

  1. Darrell Ellens says:

    I really like the part about showing off your company culture and finding "Local Pinners" Thanks for sharing more of the B2B side of Pinterest, I always cherish someone else's point of view on how to use new technologies for business. Great article.

    • AmberWallor says:

      Hi Darrell, I agree, Pinterest is such a great way for businesses (especially B2B companies) to show off that they're human which naturally resonates with people. Thanks for commenting!

  2. Jacqueline says:

    More tips about Pinterest for Business: P4B strategies, See my blog http://www.jacxu.com/1/post/2012/04/3-ways-to-suc

  3. Amber – Nice article, especially the local angle. Students in my Pinterest 101 classes are seeing more traffic from Pinterest than any other referral site. There's definitely a lot of confusion about how to use it well, and you nailed it by not being overly-promotional. It's a great place to let more of your personal side show, and it's definitely not as much maintenance as Facebook or Twitter.

    • AmberWallor says:

      Thanks, Maria! I completely agree with you. As with all social media networks, businesses need to keep in mind that they shouldn't be overly promotional since that doesn't appeal to many. I love how easy Pinterest is to use once you get the hang of it and you're completely right in that businesses can let their personality show. Thanks for your great comment!

  4. Tisha M. Silvers says:

    Hi Amber:

    You stated, “Link your Pinterest account to your business’ Twitter account, because you can’t set up a business Pinterest account through a business Facebook page.”

    Actually, here’s the link to help get Pinterest pages onto your Facebook Pages:

    http://www.linkedin.com/redirect?url=http%3A%2F%2

    I’ve had my Pinterest “tab” (or actual Pinterest “page”) on my Facebook Page for nearly a month now:

    https://www.facebook.com/SocialMedia.Mobile.Local

    And Pinterest has its own FB as well – https://www.facebook.com/pinterest

    You just need the Pinterest app is all. Here’s the link and it’s free: http://www.woobox.com/pinterest

    ;~D

    • AmberWallor says:

      Hi Tisha, thanks for commenting! Just to clarify what I meant by that statement, users can log in to Pinterest via Facebook which will automatically share their pins with their personal Facebook community in the news feed, but it’s important to note that you can’t connect Pinterest to a Facebook business page in that same way just yet. Although a Pinterest app will not share pins within your business news feed, it's a great idea, thanks for sharing that information!

  5. MaryD says:

    Great article Amber. I didn't know about searching for local pinners.. very cool! I am glad you said that about mixing it up and pinning some of your personal likes because I have been doing that not realizing it was a good thing. I was afraid I shouldn't be mixing business with personal but most of my personal pins are about food because the recipies are so good. Great article and can't wait to read your next one!

    • AmberWallor says:

      Thanks so much, Mary! I agree, searching for local pinners is so powerful! And it's great that your strategy with Pinterest was already on target and not being overly promotional!

  6. Hello Amber,

    I appreciate you writing this valuable content about Pinterest.

    It took me a few months to get on the Pinterest bandwagon but I am so glad that I created my account.

    I absolutely love this social media outlet to attract my target audience. It is also fun place to research new content and develop ideas.

    I would love to share your article on my blog. I will of course credit your work with your bio and your links for my readers to go to for your expertise. Let me know if you are okay with this.

    To Your Success,

    Stacie Walker

  7. AmberWallor says:

    Hi Stacie, I'm so glad you joined the Pinterest bandwagon! You're so right, social media makes it fun and easy to research and find new ideas. I'm thrilled that you would like to share my article on your blog! I'm definitely okay with it, please make sure to add "This post originally appeared on SmartBlog on Social Media." at the bottom. Thanks for commenting!

    • Amber, you are awesome! Thank you and I will be sure to add: "This post originally appeared on SmartBlog on Social Media." I look forward to more of your content. Have a wonderful evening.

  8. Jagruti says:

    Hi Amber,
    I totally agree with this concept that pinterest is the ideal platform for local and small businesses. I actually visiualize it as search engine for shoppers. I even blogged on this; do check out my blog post which speaks to the same point that you are enlightening us about: http://digimarketingviews.wordpress.com/2012/05/0

  9. AmberWallor says:

    Hi Jagruti, thanks for your comment! Pinterest is definitely a great search engine for shoppers and for people looking for ideas! Great blog post, I like how you list the similarities between Pinterest and Twitter. Thanks!

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