Pinterest for Direct Selling

Note from Jen: In this article I discuss ways to use Pinterest as a direct seller. If you don’t know what Pinterest is, you may want to do a little pre-reading. Start here.

Pinterest is making big waves in the social media world. A quiet little startup that is suddenly one of the top 10 social networks in the world. And it’s growing quickly. The site is especially popular with females and people interested in arts and crafts between the ages of 25 and 44. And retailers are finding that it’s driving big traffic. (Source) I actually identified Pinterest as one of the top 6 media trends for 2012 for direct sales.

So what does this mean for you, the direct seller? Should you run out and set up your own Pinterest account immediately?

The answer is, maybe.

How Does All This Sharing on Pinterest Work?

First, let’s take a look at how Pinterest actually works. It’s not so face-driven as Facebook. Even though a lot of sharing of content is going on, it’s not typically shared because of my relationship with someone else. Rather, I share something just because I like it; it reflects my personality. And while we often see things shared by our friends on Pinterest by default, if you’re looking for something specific like recipes or decorating ideas, it’s easy to switch to what everyone on the site is sharing.

This of course means that you have an opportunity to share your content beyond your circle. But you have to do it in the right way if you want to have success on Pinterest.

Getting Started

When you first set up your Pinterest account, you have a handful of boards by default. You can begin loading content onto these, or create your own boards. I personally have created my own boards, with things like Fabulous (for clothing), Fabulous Shoes, Recipes, Causes I Love, Feed Your Head, etc.

I do not recommend that the first boards you set up have anything to do with your business, but rather focus on your passions. This will help you to get into the spirit of the tool, rather than just look at it for marketing (and the true purpose of any social network is the social aspect. Use them to help people get to know you as a person first.) So build boards using content you already love. If you love to cook, share recipes. If you love fashion, share outfits. If you love fitness or decorating, create boards for that. The point is, approach the tool as a user first, and get used to how others use it.

Direct selling companies have an opportunity here to craft a personality for their brand. By choosing content that helps to define the brand (not just the products) you can give a more human face to your company. It might be words of inspiration, tools to help grow a business (content from The DSEF could be a good place to start), it might be food related, it might be causes your company supports. Whatever you choose, remember that you have the opportunity to create a personality for your brand, based on the passions of the organization beyond just your product line.

The point is that both individual consultants and companies can use Pinterest successfully.

Moving into Business

Once you’ve used Pinterest for a few weeks, you’ll have a better idea of the types of content that people share. You will probably have figured out that content that is an outright sales pitch is probably not going to do as well as content that fits into the context of other people’s passions. So then you can start thinking about how to package content in ways that will appeal to the average Pinterest user.

So let’s say you sell home decor products. You may want to create a “Decorating” board. On this board you can place photos of products you sell (probably in lifestyle shots that show them in the context of a decorated room). Make sure they link to your website, where people can purchase the products. Categorize your board as “Home Decor” and it will be available to Pinterest users that search this category.

Also be sure to include descriptive keywords in the comments you include with your individual pins, so people searching for specific items (like “Picture Frames”) will be able to find your item if it applies. So for example you might include the comment “I love the black picture frames in this room. They really stand out against the yellow paint. I’ll keep this in mind when I decorate my living room.”  Then people who are searching for yellow rooms, black frames, and living rooms will be able to find your pin.

You can do the same thing with topics like fitness, arts and crafts or scrapbooking, cooking, etc. Create lifestyle boards related to your content and share both your own content as well as other content that’s applicable. Creative Memories does this through creating boards like “Paper Crafts” and even cute ones like “Scrappin’ Snacks.” Private Quarters does this through creating boards like “Beautiful Spaces” and “Comfort Food.” Note that both brands are making sure to include content that is frequently shared on Pinterest, and is of interest to the user base.

Does Pinterest Work for My Product Line?

This is an important question to ask yourself. Pinterest works best when your product line is highly visual, and of interest to the main user group on Pinterest (females between the ages of 25 and 44.) Cookware, recipes, crafts, decorating, fitness, books, and other items that fall into the main categories that Pinterest offers are probably going to do best. If you sell energy or insurance, Pinterest may not be your best social tool of choice. You can see a list of all the main Pinterest categories on the right.

Pinterest, Your Website, and SEO

I have personally noticed that Pinterest is generating incoming traffic to my blog. The Search Engine Optimization (SEO) benefits of Pinterest are certainly something to think about. Every time someone repins your item on Pinterest, it becomes an incoming link to your website. This is one of the reasons it’s important to make sure that your website pages are easily “Pin-able.”

It’s very important if you’re pinning to your own content to make sure it links to a place where people can buy the item. This is usually your personal website provided by your company. Each of your product pages should have a “Pin it” button that makes it easy to share that product on Pinterest.

You need to make sure that the picture of the product can be captured by Pinterest as well. If you house your pictures in a Flash movie, for example, Pinterest may be unable to post your photo. There are ways around this (upload the picture individually, then edit the picture by providing  a link to the page) but that’s difficult, and the average person won’t pin your content that way.

I recently saw a cute home decor item posted by a direct selling company that I wanted to pin. I went to the company’s website, but I was forced to go through a process of connecting with a consultant before I could pin the item, and then could only pin to that individual consultant’s website. While on the surface you may think that’s great, it’s actually a big hassle for the end consumer that could prevent your content from being shared. While you may want to make it mandatory for the final purchase to go through a consultant, people should be able to pin without that hassle if you want maximum exposure for your product line.

Final Thoughts

This article has only scratched the surface of Pinterest, and focused on products. I have also seen consultants using Pinterest for things like team support (sharing links to training and support tools), etc. You can also share videos and music on Pinterest, which means that you could put your opportunity videos and other items on Pinterest. The trick will be getting other people to want to share them, which could be harder on a tool that primarily focuses on the passions of others. I’ll be exploring more on this, and would love to hear your thoughts as well.

Are you using Pinterest? Is your company? Would love to hear your thoughts on Pinterest in the comments below.

 

15 Responses to Pinterest for Direct Selling
  1. Richard Henry
    September 27, 2015 | 1:11 pm

    Hi Jennifer. Just found your blog. Gave us great inspiration on selling our quilt patterns. Could you also let me know if there is anything published on using Pinterest for opportunity videos (referencing your “final thoughts”
    Thanks!!

  2. prafulla somani
    February 8, 2013 | 1:21 am

    Hi Jennifer, This is the very useful for me as i am working in Direct Selling. Thanks. Have a great day. !!!!!!!
    prafulla somani.
    MonaVie India.

  3. Leslie A. Burton - Thirty One Gifts
    February 13, 2012 | 6:19 pm

    How do I know if my website is pin-able?

    I’ve heard we aren’t supposed to use the company’s images, so can this work if i take pictures of the products myself?

    I haven’t gotten on Pinterest yet – heard it could be addictive and I have been busy with a new baby (12 days old) and getting ready for his arrival, but reading these articles has me more interested. I’d love to be able to generate more business and possibly grow my team. Seems like this could be a good tool.

    Thanks for sharing this information!

  4. Kristy
    February 6, 2012 | 11:23 am

    This article is exactly what I need to read! Thank you for the excellent ideas. I started using pinterest for a marketing tool a few weeks ago and now wish I had read this article first. Also, I have been looking for a good pinterest plug-in that would add a pin button to each post and page, but all of them I have found add extra steps to posting or updating pages. I would love it if there were an automated button that is added to each page when I publish it.
    Kristy recently posted..Iowa State Scentsy Warmer | Cyclones Scentsy Warmer

  5. Kristen
    February 3, 2012 | 10:16 am

    Thanks for including the Creative Memories board in your blog, Jen! Our staff has been obsessed with Pinterest for over a year so it was natural progression to create our own branded boards. It’s been amazing to watch the rapid growth in followers and repins. We look forward to doing more on Pinterest in 2012!
    Kristen recently posted..Digital Freebie Embe

  6. Scott Herrera
    February 2, 2012 | 6:01 pm

    Hi Jennifer, I appreciate your informative post on Pinterest and how you can use this for direct selling..very clever and huge opportunity for backlinks and exposure. I think I am on my way to creating boards!

    Thanks,

    Scott

  7. Bobbi Spargo
    February 2, 2012 | 1:16 pm

    I just found Pinterest two weeks ago and love it! I can see why it has grown so quickly and I can see that this will be huge! It’s inspired me in new ways and reawakened some previous, forgotten sources of inspiration. There is only business owner that I have heard speak of it for the purposes of marketing and he is actually starting to offer classes to teach others about it. I don’t quite understand all of the ins and outs yet, but I think those who jump on this bandwagon quickly are making a very important leap and they will be glad they did.
    Bobbi Spargo recently posted..Letter to Santa…

  8. Angela Tippets
    February 2, 2012 | 10:05 am

    I started using Pinterest last summer. At first, I just played around with it. Within a week or so, I figured out what the possibilities were as a marketing tool for my Scentsy business. It has been awesome! When I put a post on my blog, I immediately add it as a pin to my Scentsy board. It’s really important that you don’t use Pinterest only for your business though. I will usually add 8-10 pins (not related to my business) and then post a Scentsy pin. Pinterest is such a visual social media platform, you need to “give more than you take” in sharing with others before you post a business related photo pin for yourself. It is a great tool if you use it correctly. Thanks Jennifer. 🙂
    Angela Tippets recently posted..Scentsy Buddy Duck | Wellington March 2012

  9. Karen
    February 2, 2012 | 7:55 am

    Great article Jennifer! Very well put with words of wisdom!
    Karen recently posted..Groups VS Pages on Facebook

  10. Tanya Johnson
    February 1, 2012 | 4:41 pm

    Can I admit to be totally addicted to Pinterest? I think it can be an excellent tool! For me, my business and my passion are one and the same – primarily cardmaking, which has made it very easy for me to use Pinterest. As you mentioned, Pinterest seems to attract women between 25 and 44 who are interested in arts and crafts – this is essentially my customer base! I have two boards that specifically ‘cater’ for my customers and would-be customers. One, ‘‘ focuses on card designs I like, and I think my customers will like too (have recently started pinning other ways to be creative took, like sewing). The other board specifically with my customer in mind is ‘‘, designed to focus on craft room ideas and organisation – most crafters I know are always looking at ways to improve their craft organisation. I also have a ‘‘, and ‘‘ boards to help my customers be inspired! Everyday I find something new I can pin or repin to my boards. Pinterest makes it easy for me to pin cards I’ve created and uploaded to , which then (hopefully) generates traffic back to my blog. At the moment, our company doesn’t allow online sales, so my blog is my next best thing.
    Tanya Johnson recently posted..Shiny Chipboard

    • Tanya Johnson
      February 1, 2012 | 4:45 pm

      Sorry, this should’ve read:

      Can I admit to be totally addicted to Pinterest? I think it can be an excellent tool! For me, my business and my passion are one and the same – primarily cardmaking, which has made it very easy for me to use Pinterest. As you mentioned, Pinterest seems to attract women between 25 and 44 who are interested in arts and crafts – this is essentially my customer base! I have two boards that specifically ‘cater’ for my customers and would-be customers. One, ‘Be Creative’ focuses on card designs I like, and I think my customers will like too (have recently started pinning other ways to be creative took, like sewing). The other board specifically with my customer in mind is ‘Be Crafty’, designed to focus on craft room ideas and organisation – most crafters I know are always looking at ways to improve their craft organisation. I also have a ‘Be Colourful’, and ‘Be Inspired‘ boards to help my customers be inspired! Everyday I find something new I can pin or repin to my boards. Pinterest makes it easy for me to pin cards I’ve created and uploaded to my blog, which then (hopefully) generates traffic back to my blog. At the moment, our company doesn’t allow online sales, so my blog is my next best thing.
      Tanya Johnson recently posted..Shiny Chipboard

  11. Kristi
    February 1, 2012 | 3:16 pm

    I think using Pinterest as a marking tool is great. I love the personal connection I have with others sharing what my children are making for valentines or what tile I want to put in my bathroom. It’s not cramming my products down their throat, but IF THEY WANT to see them, they can click on that board. I love seeing new items that others post about my products being used in ways that others may not think to use them. I think it can be a great asset to a business if used properly.

    • Kristi
      February 1, 2012 | 3:24 pm

      I wanted to add, that our company feels strongly about marketing on Facebook, because it takes away from the emotional connection. There are ways around this by still following the rules! I am sure the pinterest site will be evaluated soon as well, but this is a great way to showcase our products, to those who know us well, and to those who just found out about us.

      http://pinterest.com/thegiftof31/products-i-love/

  12. Lenore Sanborn
    February 1, 2012 | 12:04 pm

    I have found & really enjoy the pinterest boards that are made with a specific purpose or for a specific person. I recently created a board with tips, ideas & fun food to serve to my February hosts and have been creating boards for specific customers as well. (http://pinterest.com/lenoresanborn/february-parties-extensions/) It has created a deeper connection on a personal level between the customer/host & I, and has been repinned like crazy, but I have yet to see any actual sales from it. That’s not why I created it, but if we are talking about it as a business tool, it seems to be a valid metric to evaluate: product sold, parties booked, etc.

    Which brings up an additional question: Again, I do not run an internet business, even though I can sell things through my website, so most business should translate to the in-person, direct sales model. Considering all of this, I start to wonder how much repinning is simply done as an “interest” or “hmmm- what an interesting thought…” kind of attitude as opposed to being something someone actually acts on. I know in my own case, I have hundreds of pins for organization ideas and recipes that I frankly will never use nor implement.

    I have also, therefore, been cautious about spending precious business hours on developing a pinterest strategy. If it suits the customer, I am happy to use it as a tool to support them, but I also worry about my team spending countless hours feeling like their are growing their businesses by “pinning,” when a few phone calls would go a lot farther in growing their business.

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