Business Features

There’s GOLD in Them Thar PINS

Pinterest’s soaring popularity and its visual nature makes the image bookmarking site worth the investment

published in Paint and Decorating Retailer Magazine

Rebecca Dumas resisted setting up a Pinterest page for Gregory’s Paint and Flooring for as long as possible. She didn’t know how long the social media platform would be around, and she was already using Twitter, Houzz, Instagram and Facebook.

“But I had every other woman walking into my store with an iPhone or iPad saying, ‘I saw this on Pinterest,’ ” said Dumas, who is also on the Paint and Decorating Retailers Association board of directors. “I realized it was such a popular phenomenon, and I could really help my business categorizing things that people struggled with, including paint colors.”

So a little more than a year ago, she launched a Pinterest page. She started with paint colors, because that was what everyone had been showing her on their iPhones and iPads. Dumas went on to add Surya products, rugs, wallpapers and fabric. She works on it while she’s updating her other social media sites each morning.

She’s seen her effort pay off. “Pinterest in general has brought people in, looking for paint colors predominantly,” Dumas said. And she can attribute at least one or two customers a month directly to Pinterest, resulting in several hundred dollars more in monthly sales.

Her page comes in handy when she’s talking to a customer on the phone or by email as well. She can direct them to Pinterest to see a photo, or she copies the link and pastes it into an email.

“I definitely see the value now.”


What Is Pinterest?

Back in the day, if one were trying to find a new hairstyle, shop for a vehicle, select a wedding dress, choose recipes for a dinner party or redecorate a room, one would likely sift through stacks of magazines, tear out pictures you liked, and pin them onto a bulletin board.

Today, Pinterest is the virtual version of a stack of magazines and a bulletin board. It’s a place where people who are planning or simply dreaming can collect ideas and share them with others.

When you create a personal account on Pinterest, the site gives you several general “boards,” so that you can sort images by theme: “Books Worth Reading,” for example. You can change the board names to fit your interests.

When you see an image that you like or a story that you want to hang on to, you “pin” it to a board. You can pin images from all kinds of places. Pinterest serves up images on its home page for you to consider. You can add a “pin it” button on your Internet browser’s tool bar, so that you can pin images from anywhere on the Internet. And some websites have already added “Pin It” buttons on their pages to make it easy for you to save their content. (You also can add a Pin It button on your own business’s website…but more on this later.)

When you pin an image, the pin takes along the original link, meaning you can find your way back to the original story or video with which the image appeared. Let’s use an example. Say I’m online, and I’m reading an article about painting furniture. I want to remember the tips about sanding that furniture, and I love the look of the finished project. While I’m on that web page, I can click the “Pin It” button in my browser’s toolbar. Pinterest will select the image, and I can choose a board to which I want to pin it…even though I’m not using Pinterest at the time. If I later go to that board in Pinterest and click on that image that I pinned, it will take me back to the original article about painting furniture.

Within Pinterest, you can find friends who are also using Pinterest, so that you can see what they’re pinning. If you like their pins, you can pin them to your own boards. You can “follow” your friends, so that when you go to your home page in Pinterest, you’ll see new things that they’ve recently pinned. They might decide to follow you and repin things that you’ve pinned to your boards. Pinterest will also suggest new people to follow based on what you’ve pinned.

As you can see, one pin can travel a very long way.


Who Is Using Pinterest?

Fifteen percent of all people using the Internet in the United States are on Pinterest, according to Nielsen’s State of the Media: Social Media Report 2012. The site showed the most growth of all social media sites year-over-year for social desktop usage, social web usage and social app usage, with a 1,047 percent increase in unique PC visitors in 2012. By July 2012, Pinterest reached a unique U.S. audience of more than 27 million.

Pinterest ranked fourth in total minutes used on mobile apps in 2012, up 6,056 percent from the year before, according to Pew Research Center’s Internet and American Life Project Post-Election Survey, conducted November 14-December 9, 2012.

Most of those users are female: Women are five times as likely as men to use Pinterest, according to the Nielsen report. White people, those under 50, the well-educated and those with higher incomes are particularly likely to use the site.

Twenty-three percent of Pinterest users have incomes between $50,000-$74,999; 18 percent have incomes greater than $75,000.

Does this sound like your business’s target audience? If so, then Pinterest might be a great tool in your marketing tool belt. According to a study by social media analytics firm Simply Measured, Pinterest is driving more traffic to websites and blogs than Twitter, Linkedln, Google+, or YouTube. One in five Pinterest users has purchased something he or she has seen on the site. When they buy, Pinterest users spend around $80 per purchase—twice that of Facebook shoppers.


Before You Begin

Creating a Pinterest business page isn’t hard, but it does require time and thought.

Consider who will set up and maintain your page. You can expect to spend several hours on the initial setup; afterward, maintenance will consume about two-and-a-half hours a week.

If you set up a page, commit to maintaining it. Better to never create a page than to entice people to come to your page and abandon them.

The person who maintains your page should be someone who knows your business well. Don’t delegate it to a teenager simply because it’s technology, unless you would trust that teenager to work on your sales floor as well. Whether you maintain your page in-house or you hire a professional to manage it, remember that it is a public face of your business.

Consider what you want your page to do. Will you use it to spotlight new products? Feature your customers’ projects? Showcase your staff’s talents? Offer tips? Build your brand? All of the above? You should create boards that reflect your goals.

Finally, consider how you’ll monitor the results of your Pinterest page. Will you track visits to your website from your Pinterest page using Google Analytics? Will you ask customers how they heard about you? Will you hold a Pinterest contest and collect email addresses? Monitoring the effects that Pinterest has on your business can guide your use of the page going forward.


Getting Started

Pinterest provides all kind of support for businesses who want to set up a business account at business.pinterest.com.

There you can learn how to add “Pin It” buttons to your website, which will allow people to easily pin content from your website or blog to their boards, helping your material get discovered. If you don’t already have images with tips and articles on your website, now is the time to add them. Consider setting up a blog. And make sure your images are high-resolution (at least 600 pixels wide).

When you have content on your website, pin those images to boards on your Pinterest page. You can pin an image to more than one board, if it fits in more than one category. Elaborate on the image in the caption—those words will help people find your image when they’re searching for ideas.

Set up boards that reflect your business strategy. Do you want to move seasonal product? Showcase techniques? Highlight trends? You can sort by color, by room …whatever makes sense for your product mix. Give your boards clear titles of 20 characters or less. Add rich descriptions of each board to help people find you in search.

Fill out the “about” section of your profile page, using words that people might use to search for your business. Your logo makes a great profile image.

You can rearrange your boards, putting the most relevant on top. You also can choose a cover image for each board—you don’t have to rely on the default image chosen by Pinterest.

When your page is set up, you’re ready to engage. Create a group board and invite customers to contribute. Invite customers to email photos that you can pin. Pin images you come across on Pinterest that help tell your story or benefit your customers. And continue to build out your boards. Expect to work on Pinterest once or twice a day for about 15 minutes at a time.

Pinterest helps you track how many people are pinning content from your website, seeing your pins and clicking on your content. You can use this information to adjust your content on Pinterest and your website; you might even find it valuable in determining what products and services to focus on in your business. Click “Analytics” in the top-right menu under your name; Pinterest will give you a few lines of code to copy and paste into your website.

Promote your Pinterest page in your store, on your business cards, in your advertising, in your customer emails and in your email signature line. You can download the Pinterest logo from the site. (Review their guidelines for usage first.) Include a link in electronic communications.

Ultimately, whether you consider social media friend or foe, the level of Pinterest’s success in the retail segment is hard to ignore. Pinning might need to be a part of your store’s future marketing plan.


Plusses & Minuses

+ Works particularly well for visual products
+ Gets products and services in front of a broader audience
+ Spreads website content farther and wider
+ Spreads products, services and content, via customers/fans
+ Spotlights high-end or unusual products and services
+ Builds brand image and recognition
+ Generates desire in someone who was not actively engaged in a project
+ Reinforces a reputation for trust among those who are actively working on a project
+ Boosts a business’ rankings in search results by creating another online position

– Requires time for setup, maintenance and follow-up
– Requires good photography
– Needs regular updating of business’ websites
– Could create unmet demand when pins outlast products


The Best Is Yet to Come

Pinterest has just launched product pins. These will allow Pinterest users to see real-time pricing, availability and where-to-buy information on each item pinned. It will require adding meta tags to your website, and you have to apply to get them on Pinterest. To find out more, see business.pinterest.com.

© Julianne Will 2020