If you’ve been thinking Pinterest is irrelevant for “real” businesses like yours, or that it’s pointless because your business is strictly local, think again. Images are the ultimate power tools when it comes to capturing attention from prospects, and Pinterest is the ultimate power source when it comes to images.
Pinterest makes it easy to intermingle and interact with your target audience, so you can use it for networking, to drive traffic to your website and drive traffic to your store, restaurant, auto repair shop, salon, dental practice or church. One recent study showed Pinterest generated more referral traffic than Google+, LinkedIn and YouTube. Combined.
Because you can create multiple photo boards and each one can hold myriad images, you can reach out to all segments of your target audience in one place.
There are lots of ways to localize your Pinterest efforts.
When you create your business account, include your address, city and state so searchers can see your local and where you are. Verify your website to validate your business authenticity and gain access to Pinterest analytics.
Enable Rich Pins so you can add helpful for users by pulling details such as pricing and availability directly from your website to shared pins. Retailers love this real-time pricing feature, because you can reach out to pinners who aren’t currently customers and attract them to your site.
Here’s how it works: after someone pins one of your products, if you reduce the price, they will receive an email alert. The email comes from Pinterest, not you, so you benefit from the site’s amazing reach. Some retailers are using this feature to deliberately “fish” for traffic by altering pricing for often-pinned products to trigger the notification feature. In effect, this breathes new life into existing pins.
Enable Place Pins, an interactive map you can use on any board. Engage prospects and customers by asking them to take photos at your business and pin them to their map board.
Do a Pinterest search to find customers, vendors or business neighbors that are using Pinterest. Follow some of their boards and like or comment on some of their pins. It’s nice when someone likes one of your pins, but it’s even better when they repin your posts – or when you repin something posted by a customer or fellow local business. Repinning is Pinterest’s sharing mechanism that magnifies your reach and transforms pinners into advocates for your business.
So when someone follows you, follow them back. Better yet, track down an original pin of theirs, and repin it on one of your boards. Make a pact with complementary local businesses to share each other’s pins – a clothing boutique and a shoe shop, or a daycare center and a toy store or an auto parts store and a tire center.
Use Promoted Pins, which are specially labeled and displayed according to user relevance. You can drill down to “metro-city level” geo-targeting with this pay-to-play feature, which means you can reach a broad local audience beyond your followers when you share your own content.
Invite customers to pin “testimonial photos” of themselves using your products or pin “before and after” shots of your landscaping service or their visit to your hair salon. Or hold a special in-store event for pinners and ask them to pin photos of their experience.
Use group boards for networking.
Encourage local shopping by promoting “The Best” around town. You’ll be seen as an valuable resource if you create boards that help people find great places to eat, things to see and do, “hidden secret” businesses, etc. Invite pinners to add their favorites, and add a map to each board so you can highlight each business with Place Pins.
Create collaborative boards with other business. Engage customers by inviting them to collaborate with you by pinning ideas for your new menu or store display. Work on projects with existing clients using “secret” boards no one else can see.
Hold a contest to invite engagement, asking customers to submit images to one board, then asking Pinterest users to vote for their favorite by liking or commending. For example, how would they accessorize this spring’s “little black dress”? Or which of your products would they include in a home or landscape makeover? Offer a prize to the pinner whose post attracted the most – or the most interesting – comments.
Pinterest requires words, not just pictures.
The site may be all about tantalizing images, but each one needs a well-crafted description or you’ll miss out on most of the benefits.
Pinterest posts show up in image search results and in Google Alerts, so they help build SEO and put you in front of more searchers. Make the most of that opportunity by using descriptive keywords, including your location, in account names, board titles and descriptions, pin descriptions, image titles and alt text.
In addition to your usual keywords, think about “insider” words or phrases specific to your town and use them in your profile description and some of your pins to emphasize your local-ness. When you pin your own images, be sure the description includes a link back to your website so it’s easy for pinners to visit you.
Create captions that build your credibility and trust while boosting SEO. Depending on the photo, you can mention awards or special certifications you hold, include a testimonial quote or your Twitter handle or cross-link to YouTube postings, especially videos that introduce your professional staff, new products, etc.
Local success starts with best practices.
Promote your Pinterest page. Like all social sites, you have to let people know you’re there and make it easy for them to find you. You want to attract new interest, but also encourage your Facebook, Twitter or other social friends and fans to connect with you (and share) via Pinterest, too, so:
- Add the Pin It button to your website and blog, so visitors can easily pin your photos. As those photos are shared, you’ll attract more traffic back to your website.
- Add the Follow button to your website, blog and email signature, to let people know you’re on Pinterest.
Take it one step further and advertise your Pinterest page using geo-targeted paid ads on Facebook or Twitter.
Curate strategically. Use separate boards to appeal to each niche within your target audience. Give each one a theme and name that clearly describe the content. Carefully select your cover shot, because it’s your visual “invitation” to that board. Use your boards as you use other social avenues – to share useful information, recommend great picks, spark your audience’s imagination.
Learn from pinners who follow you, by studying what they pin and who they follow. Track repins, likes and comments your pins receive. Use that insight to understand what’s trending or especially interesting to your targets, and modify your content accordingly. Always upload images directly from your website, so they always link back to you. And try posting at different times and tracking results to see when you get the most comments, likes and repins.
To see which images people are pinning – and how often — from your website, use this URL: http://pinterest.com/source/yourdomainname.com.
What kind of images should you include?
Think lifestyle and self-actualization. Put your photos into local context by using action shots of customers on the trail with your camping gear, on a recognizable local street wearing your apparel or showing off their fabulous new haircut or their super-white new smile.
Pin behind-the-scenes photos of yourself at work or work in progress. Show your community spirit with images of your staff hard at work on a volunteer project.
Pin a mysterious QR code that links to a landing page on your website (but don’t leave all to mystery, include a call-to-action that tells viewers what they’ll get when they click through).
Pin a funny cartoon about your industry.
Pin infographics – they’re hot, and they’re an ideal way to engagingly depict statistical data or explain complex subjects such as how dental implants work.
Humanize your business with pins that link to short videos introducing your professional staff. This is an excellent way to build trust and confidence, but it can be fun, too. Are you a dentist that also plays the piano? People want to see that pin!
No matter what you do or sell, there’s something visual about your business, your products or the services you provide. Show it off. You can leverage Pinterest to attract and serve a strictly local audience by telling your story in pictures.