While Facebook and Twitter get the lion's share of attention in any conversation about social websites, many others compete for visitors. Every so often, one will reach a tipping point of sorts: their membership explodes, they get discovered by the media, and site owners and SEOs try to figure out how to promote their company and brand through it. Pinterest is the latest site to reach this point.
Pinterest offers a simple idea manifested in an intuitive interface. Users find images and/or websites they like, and then “pin” them to their “boards.” The boards show good-sized thumbnails. Users can make and maintain as many boards as they want; usually, they give the boards titles in keeping with the theme of the images they're collecting onto each board. Users can choose to share boards with others. They can allow others to simply view certain boards, or pin additional items to a board.
If you're interested in getting a feel for what Pinterest is and what it can do for you, I'd recommend you set aside at least an hour or two to explore the site. It isn't so much that it's difficult to learn how to use it, as that it's difficult to stop exploring other people's boards! You don't need to be a member to search for pins, boards, or people associated with particular keywords. You can even click on images to see the full-sized versions, and hover over them to find out where the user got them.
With this briefest of overviews, you might think that the best way to raise interest in your website on Pinterest would be to set up a board and carefully optimize the title and other parts for your particular keywords. I wouldn't recommend that you do this as your first step. Todd Bailey, writing about Pinterest for Search Engine Guide, actually suggests a more passive approach – at least at first. Most users aren't trying to trumpet to the world how great they are; they're putting together some ideas in the form of pictures and thinking “isn't this cool?” or “couldn't these things be put together into something great?” To get noticed on Pinterest, you need to play to this mindset.
So how do you do it? Pinterest users love pictures, so “Ensure your brand is producing high-quality, search-engine-optimized graphics,” Bailey recommends. Think of it as bait. If visitors to your site see gorgeous eye candy, they may want to take it back to one of their Pinterest boards. If you sell products with an important visual element – like clothes, electronic devices, or art – this is especially important. Remember, if a visitor “pins” one of your images onto one of their Pinterest boards, people browsing on Pinterest may see that picture – and can find their way to your website simply by hovering over the image.
There are other ways you can use Pinterest to promote your business, but setting your own graphics in order is the first step. Take the time to explore the site in detail to get a feel for it, and consider taking a personal approach by building boards around your interests – and not just your business interests. As with any social site, the best way to promote your business interests is to show that you're a real person. Good luck!
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