Use Pinterest for Your Small Biz

pinterest for small businesses

Many years ago I took my first college art history class. I soon fell in love the subject; one would watch many slides of wonderful art in each class, and the assignments involved visits to art museums. Pinterest is a bit like that, but you can use your web browser or your mobile phone to view the images. And you can participate by pinning your own.

Pinterest is hot:
Pinterest’s total visits have grown from 10 million to 17 million this past month. From the same article, “Pinterest had seen a 207% increase in unique visitors between November and December.” Many of the users of Pinterest are women using Pinterest. Hitwise found that 58 percent of the visitors in the past three months were women, and most, 59 percent, were between 25 and 44.

Basics of Pinterest

Pinterest is made up of pins, boards and pinners (those who pin). You pin images (not necessarily your own) unto boards. You can set up any number of boards on any topic (Pinterest likes when you categorize your topics, but I find my topics don’t fit neatly into their categories). There are two ways to find images to pin – you can use the Pin tool (scroll down the Goodies page) to pin any image on the web or you can repin what others have already pinned.

Bloggers Using Pinterest

Emily Segal and her My Recipes board on Pinterest

Emily Segal (a food blogger) and Robin Epstein (a photographer) got into an interesting conversation on Facebook on whether one should pin ones own images. Robin thought it better to have someone else pin your images. Then Emily said she gets lots of blog traffic from pinning her own images. Then Robin decided she should indeed pin some of her own photos.

Here is Robin Epstein’s board of Inspiring Photography (photos by others that inspire her):
robin epstein inspiring photography

And here are some of Robin’s own photos, first pinned by others:
robin epstein, photography pinned on Pinterest

I first learned about Pinterest from Praveen Rajarao. Praveen uses Pinterest to pin blogger’s logos. I love the idea in theory, but I’m thinking he would get more interest in the pins if he posted some fabulous imagery that are on those blogs. I have one board for Pinterest articles, but not many of the people on Pinterest seem to be there to read an article. It’s about relaxing with beautiful imagery.

Highlight Local if Your Business is Local

Is your business geographically based? How about some boards related to your area:
New Jersey Family - Jersey Jaunts and Beyond board on Pinterest
New Jersey Family - New Jersey charities board on Pinterest

If you know other local pinners, you could also set up a community board, like this one called The Jersey Shore Community Board. Get some of your fans and friends to help you find and pin great images of your area.

Here’s a community board of Central New Jersey, by Salit Auto:
Central New Jersey, community board on Pinterest by Salit Auto Sales

Heidi’s Cottage started a Rutgers board on Pinterest:
heidi's cottage Rutgers University Pinterest board

Pinterest Pinning Ideas for Small Businesses

Pinterest can be a platform for a business to publicize one’s brand. One should probably think carefully about the initial set up if using Pinterest for business (and experimenting by using a personal name first is probably a safe approach), but once you have some boards set up, pinning new images and repinning from the boards of others is easy.

Here’s one idea for businesses that may need some help with pizzazz – add some great imagery to your blog. Then pin it to one of your boards. If your business is mostly local, a local board might be appropriate. If you are an accountant writing a blog post on how winter can effect a budget, put a great image on the post of winter and later pin the image to a seasonal Pinterest board. You can write the summary of the blog post in the comments – perhaps someone will be drawn in to read the post. I’ve seen some snazzy charts on Pinterest – can a graphic designer help explain some statistics you want to present? Or maybe you can repin someone else’s charts.

Mrs. G Lawrenceville New Jersey Pinterest board

Mrs. G TV and Appliances has some good pinning ideas – the appliance store ran a contest of painting refrigerators pink in support of breast cancer awareness back in September. She pinned the colorful winners unto a Pinterest board. Note also when she pins kitchen design elements unto a board, she leaves a detailed comment: “Yes this has a beautiful tiled backsplash but we noticed the exceptional detail of how the base columns on each side of the 48″ Wolf Dual Fuel Range matches exactly to the edge of the range. Now that is a Kitchen Design Detail we love!… photo compliments of” She got 7 repins on that image.

Another small business using Pinterest is Gray Car Travel. Look at all the beautiful imagery on this board:
Gray Car Travel Pinterest board
What is missing, however, are repins and likes. Gray Car Travel needs to do a little more socializing to get others to see them as people and value what they are posting.

Which Images Get Repinned?

dogwood tree

One of the images from my photo blog that has 25 repins is the dogwood flowers photo on the left. Another image I found that has 817 repins is this floral river image. Clearly, nature imagery with bright colors has a good chance of being repinned, but how you relate it to your own business might be a bit trickier.

Why Use Pinterest?

With so many social media platforms out there, why use Pinterest? One just has to ask, why is Pinterest growing so fast in use? Perhaps it is because few other platforms are so simple to use and so rewarding in visual imagery. There isn’t much I can do when I’m tired and it’s late at night, but liking or repinning is fun and easy. Maybe your future customers will feel this way, too.

A Few Pinterest Tips

  • Leave the name of the artist or photographer if you have that information. Always good to give credit.
  • Use Pinterest as an opportunity to get to know someone better. Ask a question about a choice of pin or “like” a few of their pins that you might not be interested in re-pinning to your own boards. If someone is posting from their own blog, go visit and comment there.
  • Just as you might space out your tweets, you should probably space out your pins as well. For example, it might be better to pin 3 images in one hour than 330 images.

Your Turn, Please

Do you have any ideas on how a small business can use Pinterest? A blogger? An organization? Any ideas about how to connect to others by using Pinterest? If you have never used but are interested, feel free to ask questions. It’s easy to use once you get the hang of pinning an image from anywhere on the web.

And here’s the link if you want to follow me on Pinterest.

More posts on Pinterest:

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36 thoughts on “Use Pinterest for Your Small Biz

  1. Hey Leora,

    Just the other day I read the debate at Gini’s blog (Spin Sucks) of whether Pinterest was any use for marketing and the likes. Well, you just added on a lot for the FOR.

    Though I still haven’t been addicted to it as much as everyone! But I have read some amazing reviews of how people are using it to their advantage. The fact remains that Pinterest can’t be ignored. Not just as yet. And though we are focusing on what it lacks; it might incorporate them soon enough.

    So glad I stopped by!
    Hajra recently posted…Will they call you over for a bloggers party?My Profile

    1. Hajra,

      Aha! I found you and followed you on Pinterest.

      If so many people are using it, some repeatedly, it is bound to be of use for marketers. And as the article on small business, Pinterest and SEO points out, it is also good for SEO.

      Thanks for leaving a comment – always appreciate the first one to get the conversation going.

  2. Thanks for featuring my board Leora. Personally I do not want pinterest to turn into some marketing heavy platform business platform. On the other hand, it is now my leading source of blog traffic, and my recipes are getting a much wider audience.

    Still, 90% of my pins are of other people’s stuff. I just love it!

    1. Happy to feature your food photos and articles, Emily.

      I don’t think you have to worry about Pinterest becoming some heavy marketing platform. If the pictures are dull and lackluster, no one is going to follow, like or repin them. The ones that work celebrate what people love anyway: good food, local favorite attractions, beautiful scenery, wonderful art.

  3. Leora,
    This is the best article I’ve seen yet on Pinterest. I think there’s huge potential here for small businesses. Before reading this, I was thinking on the lines of artists and crafters but you’ve opened my eyes. I’m now thinking this has huge potential for a client of mine who is a Realtor in a specific geographic area. I’m helping him to position himself as an authority in that area – the go-to-guy for real estate. This would be a great opportunity for him. I’ll have to look into the community board option. Thanks so much for writing this.
    Sherryl Perry recently posted…What is Your Twitter Strategy for Following Someone?My Profile

    1. Yes, I certainly think this could be useful for a realtor. Just make sure he doesn’t use it for straight sales – no one except the people looking for a house at that exact time will want to see images over and over again of a house for sale. On the other hand, if he can post images of natural beauty or fun attractions in the area, that would certainly be a plus.

    1. Lucy,

      It really has proved a wonderful source for your business. I see you posting images of fun kids’ crafts – too bad my kids are out of the stage where they would enjoy those sorts of things. With the community board for the Jersey shore, you really have opened up opportunities for us to share in the fun.

      1. Maybe if enough people suggest it, Pinterest will add to their features. Although I’m afraid you would end up with Pinterest spam if you opened it up to everyone, sigh. That’s a scary thought.

  4. Hey Leora,
    Pinterest has real potential but from using it for a while you get a sense that it’s a social network predominately used by females that post the same types of images: vintage fashion, homeware, interiors, kitchenware, food etc. The same style of images found on inspirational Tumblogs. I prefer to use Gimme Bar as it’s used by other designers to gather inspiration.
    Rizwan Sultan recently posted…Symptoms of Crohns DiseaseMy Profile

    1. Rizwan,

      True, many of users do post a lot of that Martha Stewart type imagery! But as in Twitter, you don’t have to follow any of those Pinners. In fact, I’ve seen a lot of interesting infographics and design posts, some of which were posted by men.

      Choose to follow what appeals to you.

      Thanks for leaving a comment on the post.

  5. I never thought about using this service for business Leora.

    I was using Evernote first and then a blogging buddie of mine told me about Pinterest. She sent me an invitation and I checked it out. Thought it was pretty cool so I set it up and I use it more now than Evernote.

    I use it mostly for when I find sites I want to go back to or I’ve found interesting for maybe future post ideas or things I want to look at more thoroughly later, I’ll save them there.

    I never gave it much thought to use it like you’ve shared here. Just one more thing I haven’t dove into I suppose.

    I guess I have some more learning to do then don’t I! Thanks for sharing this with us Leora and I guess I better get to work. 🙂
    Adrienne recently posted…How To Set Up Social Media Icons In WordPress Using SocializeMy Profile

    1. If you have used it already, Adrienne, you probably know it fairly simple to use (so it really doesn’t feel like working). Maybe now you can think in terms of how it can benefit your business or at least build on relationships.

  6. Leora- I echo the other commenters in writing that this is one of the best articles I’ve read about Pinterest for businesses yet.

    What consistently surprises me about Pinterest is the number of people who are following pinboards, and that there is literally an audience for any type of board. I feel like I’m missing this one important thing – is Pinterest a community? I know that I can re-pin things, follow pinboards. However, how else is it like a community?

    Thanks for all!

    1. Debra,

      Thanks for your compliments on the post, Debra. It seems one can use it to create community. In the case of New Jersey Family Magazine, for example, Lucy Banta has worked at creating community on other platforms, such as Twitter and Facebook. Here she engages her community further, this time with visuals, that obviously has taken off nicely.

      The same can work for others, but one must need 1) a good idea and 2) the energy to follow through and connect with others.

  7. Hi Leora,

    It is my first time visiting your blog, thanks to Samantha Bangayan’s CommentLuv Premium! (I sure do ADORE this lil plugin!!)

    I have just only heard of Pinterest for the first time a couple of days ago but didn’t have such a good understanding of it til reading your post here. Fantastic job detailing this exceptional tool!

    I can see how this will appeal to so many different kinds of professionals in the world. Thanks for helping me to understand this better and for suggesting ideas on ways to apply it!

    Great site too, by the way!!!

    Glad to meet you,
    Cat Alexandra
    Cat Alexandra@Internet Marketing Success recently posted…Smart Media Technologies | Smart Media Desktop | Home Page Pays – A ReviewMy Profile

    1. Cat,

      Thanks so much for leaving a note on my Pinterest post. You can get quite creative with how you use it. You just have to like imagery.

      And yes, great to connect with CommentLuv.

      Appreciate the comment,


  8. Loved the post Leora!

    Thanks so much for stopping over at my blog and I know I am a little late in coming over to visit your blog- but it is indeed a pleasure to come over and check out your wonderful blog as well 🙂

    I had also read Praveen’s post on Pinterest and have bookmarked it on my to-do list ever since but never really got down to checking it out yet.

    It sure is one of the things fast catching up with Google+, Twitter and Facebook. I guess I should head over and check it out right away 🙂

    Thanks so much for sharing and a great reminder as well 🙂
    Harleena Singh@Freelance Writer recently posted…Accepting the 7 Links ChallengeMy Profile

    1. Harleena,

      Pinterest is a lot of fun. If you need a direct invite, please let me know. You can use it for business reasons or you can just enjoy (or try a combination of the two).

      Thanks for dropping by here – a pleasure to have you comment on my blog.

      – Leora

  9. Leora – thanks for the mention and am glad you are now hooked onto Pinterest. I do pin all my blog posts and those i find interesting but somehow the only images I find available to be pinned are those. As you have rightly mentioned, i should think of a better way and maybe get into other blog domains that focuses on imagery.

    1. Praveen,

      Not to say the blogs you do tell us about aren’t great, but for the posting to work on Pinterest, it does work better if the imagery is tantalizing or at least attractive. Look forward to whatever you do find.

      The photo you took of your daughter is stunning, by the way. One of my favorite pins that I “liked.”

      – Leora

  10. Hi Leora,

    I always thought Pinterest was for personal use, much like our bookmarks, so never really paid it much attention. Now that i have read this post and some of the comments I’ll have a look at it and see how I get on.

    Some of the images you’ve included here are excellent so i look forward to seeing more of them when I arrive over there.

    I saw Adrienne mention that she was invited over to Pinterest, is it an invite only site or can anyone jump on it?

    I was also pleased to see that Emily said it was her best source of blog traffic, now that is impressive 🙂

    Thanks for a detailed post Leora, I’ll be sure to check it out once I have sorted everything out with my product launch.

    Take care, Barry
    Barry Wells recently posted…You Have The Passion For Working Online But What Comes NextMy Profile

  11. Great post Leora. I love all of the examples you gave on using Pinterest for small business. I think it is a fun site that will allow your prospects and clients to connect and get to know you at a deeper level.

  12. Great article and well timed. I run an adventure travel site and have decided to use Pinterest solely as an ethical adventure holiday shop window, each board categorised around the themes of the trips we aggregate on Much Better Adventures. Here is our board: if you’d like to use it as an example in your article for travel. Cheers! – Sam

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