Pin it to win it
From Facebooking and Tweeting to Linking and Instagraming and everything in between, navigating the ever-expanding world of social media is becoming a full-time job all its own. Though the increasing number of social media options available can be overwhelming, at least one growing tool is a worthwhile asset for those in a design-oriented business like home furnishings.
Online scrapbooking site Pinterest has exploded in popularity over the past year or so and shows no sign of slowing down. According to NBC News, Pinterest "was the fastest standalone website to hit 10 million unique visitors a month" and has now grown to about 25 million users.
Denise Keniston, president of Web4Retail, recently hosted a webinar in partnership with the International Textile Market Association about how businesses can use Pinterest to increase brand awareness, drive traffic to their websites and potentially increase sales. Because Pinterest is photo-driven, Keniston argued it's the ideal platform for eye-catching color and design. "This is a completely visual medium, and as such, home furnishings and textiles really do well," she said.
For the uninitiated, Pinterest allows users to create themed pin boards and "pin" images or videos to said boards. For example, (shameless plug) Home Accents Today's Pinterest features boards for new products, market coverage, editor's picks and more.
By allowing potential customers to virtually peruse your products via Pinterest, they will often "repin" their favorite products to share with their own followers, who may repin them for their followers and so on. And if they're interested enough, users may click through the pin to your website to learn where to purchase the product. "This is the path you want your customers to take, and this is why Pinterest is so important," Keniston said.
NBC News cites a study by RichRelevance that found while Facebook has more users, Pinterest generates more money per user, with Pinterest shoppers spending an average of $170 per session and Facebook shoppers averaging $95 per session. The Wall Street Journal highlights an Adobe Systems report that found last Cyber Monday, "the number of referrals that came from Pinterest more than doubled from the year-ago period" while Facebook and Twitter referrals were flat.
Keniston offered several tips during her webinar for how businesses can keep their Pinterest presence fresh:
• Take advantage of Pinterest's new business accounts. This option allows businesses to verify their corporate website, add a button to their website inviting visitors to follow their Pinterest page and install a "pin it" button on their website so users can pin content directly to their own Pinterest pages. You can also easily convert an existing personal account into a business account.
• Don't approach Pinterest with a "buy my stuff" mentality. Users will be turned off if the social media experience feels too much like an advertisement. Instead, engage your Pinterest followers with interesting content, from creative photography to clever descriptions. "The best pins are the ones that are eye-catching, creative and relevant to your business," Keniston said.
Surya is a great example of a business with an effective Pinterest page. Boards showcasing how Surya products fit into a variety of trends, patterns and color palettes grab your attention with their striking designs. Others highlight products by specific designers or illustrate products in lifestyle settings. On the retail side, the One Kings Lane page presents the e-commerce site's product catalog without coming across as overly promotional. Boards feature products by category, color, style, room and more for an engaging collection of the company's product offerings.
• Boost your search engine optimization by including key words in your "About" box and pin descriptions. If you're a retailer specializing in accent furniture, lighting and wall décor, be sure to incorporate those key words. Like on Twitter, you can also use hashtags on Pinterest to increase the likelihood that users searching for those topics will find your pins.
• When possible, link your pins to your website to drive traffic there. But abide by Pinterest etiquette - if you pin from a source other than your own website, give the original source credit. If a pin links to your website, the image should be hosted on your site where users who click through can easily find it.
• Cross-promote among social media platforms. Keniston suggested creating a "What's trending on Pinterest" photo album for Facebook, showcasing your most popular pins and referring your Facebook followers to your Pinterest page.
• Have fun with it. Though Pinterest can be used as a marketing platform, it shouldn't be a chore to update your page. With a little creativity, this digital scrapbook can energize your online persona and develop valuable interactions with buyers, potentially turning your pin into someone's must-have treasure.