Pinterest: Not Just for Planning Your Imaginary Wedding

This post was originally written for the NOISE Inc. Trendspottings newsletter.

By now, you’ve probably heard of the popular niche social network, Pinterest. Although it launched nearly two years ago (March 2010), Pinterest has seen an incredible rise in users over the last several months. Experian Hitwise, an Internet analytics firm, estimates that Pinterest received nearly 11 million total visits during the week of December 11 alone. That’s almost 40 times the number of visits six months earlier (CNN).

For those who may not be familiar with Pinterest, here’s a quick background: Pinterest is a “virtual pinboard” that allows users to organize and share images found on the web. Content can be “pinned” to different boards, organized by category. Common boards include recipes, fitness, weddings, family, home décor, do-it-yourself (DIY) and travel. Besides uploading your own images, you can browse the boards of other users or browse by category, price and popularity. If you find a pin that you like, you can add it to your own collection by hitting “Repin.”

All of this sounds great to those looking for some inspiration, or just a place to escape and view interesting images. However, there is one very important feature – all images uploaded to Pinterest include the original image URL. Clicking on an image will take you back to the original site on which the photo is hosted. This capability has marketers and brands taking notice.

Social networking sites are a great place to grow referral traffic back to a company’s website. However, Pinterest has blown Facebook and Twitter away when it comes to referral traffic. This niche network has become one of the top referral sites for traffic, ranking just below search engines. All in less than two years!

You may be asking, “How can my company take advantage of this opportunity?” Well, all it takes is a few hours to get started, and some monitoring throughout each week. Pinterest is still invite-only, so you’ll have to contact an existing user to get an invitation, or join the waiting list (which usually provides an invite after a few days). Choose your name, update your account information and start uploading!

If your business has a website or blog with a lot of visuals, upload those images to your Pinterest account. If you write a lot of tutorials or have articles that explain a new product, strategy or innovation within your company, create a graphic that describes your content – then “pin it!” You can organize your boards by putting them under a variety of categories – apparel, architecture, design, fitness, history, outdoors, technology and more. If your company sells products, pin images of your products in action. Pinterest also allows you to associate a price with your photo, which is displayed in the corner of the photo.

The website’s “Pin Etiquette” section notes that self-promotion is generally frowned upon within the Pinterest community. Showing a picture with the sole intent to drive traffic back to your website isn’t going to get you very far on this website. Why not take a few extra minutes to create something that is educational, visually stimulating and fun for your audience. The more appealing your imagery, the more likely people will share it.

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