Piquing Your Pinterest — How to use the hottest new social network to market your business

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The concept behind Pinterest is pretty simple; see something you like online, tack it to a virtual bulletin board for all your friends to see. The site design is clean, direct, and easy to use. By all accounts, Pinterest is the simplest social network since Twitter. But for such a simple social site (try saying that five times fast!), Pinterest has generated an incredible amount of buzz in an extremely short amount of time.

The site already has well over 10 million users, and in fact, according to marketing company Lemon.ly, they were the fastest independent site in history to hit 10 million unique page visitors. They got there faster than Facebook, faster than Twitter, even faster than Google+. Clearly, there’s something to love about Pinterest.

If you haven’t used Pinterest yet, it’s definitely worth checking out. You can request an invite, or, if you want access a little more quickly, just find a friend who has an account, and she can send you an invite instantly. Once you’re in, the process is simple; create boards; pin things to boards; repeat. You can find things to pin on pretty much any website, or, if you want, you can search through the items already pinned by other users, then just repin the picture onto your page. Do you like the Muppets? A quick search on Pinterest will bring up thousands (and then some) images of Muppets for you to browse through, enjoy, like, and repin.

It’s a great network for quickly and easily sharing images with your friends, and it’s also useful if you want to keep an online collection of ideas and inspiration. Thinking of redecorating your living room? Start a board called “New Living Room” and pin every piece of furniture, every paint scheme, and every set of drapes you find that you think you might like. Getting ready for some spring landscaping? Create a board called “Landscape Ideas” and pin all your favorite landscape shots from around the Web.

The possibilities are virtually endless.

But how can Pinterest help you market your business?

Pinterest is already a hot spot for many companies, and as the site continues to grow, so will the need to give the Pinterest public easy access to your business and product. After all, not only does being on Pinterest give you another outlet where you can reach potential customers, but if you pin items directly from your website, anyone who clicks on the image will be redirected straight to the source, and just like that, your webpage has another unique visitor. The question isn’t really if your company should be using Pinterest, but how.

Some industries are easy, natural fits for Pinterest. Any company focusing on style and fashion can use Pinterest to showcase their designs and motifs. Take Benjamin Moore Paints, for example. Their Pinterest page is full of boards that showcase not only various color palettes, but also inspirational images of what you can do with a little (or a lot of) color.  Better Homes and Gardens has a similar page, where various boards like “Holiday Decorating Ideas,” “Quick and Easy Recipes,” and “Livable Living Rooms” offer inspiration straight from the pages of the magazine. Looking for an update to your wardrobe? Barneys New York has over two dozen boards showcasing various styles and trends.

Pinterest is also a great fit for people who work in graphic and visual arts. Some photographers, like Emily Smith of Emily Rose Studios, utilize Pinterest as an online portfolio space, and the site is loaded with talented graphic designers showcasing their own work and pinning up the work of others that they find inspiring.

But what if your company sells something that doesn’t easily lend itself to visual representation? Or what if you provide an intangible service? How can you utilize Pinterest when your company just isn’t a natural fit for a digital bulletin board? Well…then it’s time to get a little creative.

For example, check out the Pinterest page for the Pittsburgh Penguins. Whether you’re a hockey fan or not, there’s a lot to love on their page. The team has found some creative ways to use boards to help promote their overall brand. The “Penguins Pics” board has some images of the team at work on the ice. “The Burgh Board” showcases some of the team’s favorite Pittsburgh places. “Pens Fans” shows…you guessed it…photos of some die-hard Penguin fans. They even have a board called “A Great Snack for Hockey,” where they pin up some fun hockey-themed food creations. The Penguins have taken their Pinterest page and turned it into a space to show off not just the Penguins, but a whole host of things a Penguin fan might like. They’re taking a wider view of their brand than just “a professional hockey team.” They’re expressing themselves as community oriented (with “The Burgh Board”), fan-appreciative (with their “Fan Photos” board, where they pin up photos submitted by fans), and just plan fun (with the food board, and with “Beyond the Rink,” which offers pictures of hockey-themed home goods).

There are a lot of great examples out there about how you can have fun with a company Pinterest page, even if you don’t sell a tangible, visible product. We at Gremln provide a service that’s tricky to represent visually, so we decided to use it as a basis for strengthening our connection with our users. We use our Pinterest page to give them a glimpse of some of our favorite things. Several of our employees keep their own, individual boards on the Gremln Pinterest page, and we each use our own board as a space to show the Gremln community what we’re like as individuals. When our Pinterest followers repin or comment on our pictures, we get the opportunity to learn what they like in return. It really helps us to feel closer to our customers, and it’s been a tremendously fun project for us to work on.

So yes, even if Pinterest doesn’t seem like a good fit for your product, you can still use it to strengthen your brand. It may take a little creativity, but heck; that’s the fun part!

What are some of your favorite companies to follow on Pinterest? Tell us in the comments below—we’d love to check them out!

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