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.
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.
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.