I received this question from Flora over the weekend:
I just learned about you via your Pinterest infographic on Michelle Shaeffer’s site.
It was wonderful to better understand Pinterest, but there is one aspect of it that’s still troublesome to me. How do I avoid self-promotion and yet attract visitors to my site with the expectation of growing my business?
Flora has a PhD and still finds Pinterest confusing: what exactly is the balance between marketing in a way that doesn’t appear overly-aggressive? That’s the #1 question I get from students in Pinterest 101.
Pinterest is About Discovery and Inspiration, Not Sales
Pinterest is yet another way for potential clients to learn about you and follow your business. That process takes time: just like any other relationship, you test the waters until you establish trust. You don’t ask someone to marry you on the first date, and people aren’t going to buy your product immediately after seeing you on Pinterest.
It’s a process. One that takes patience, consistency, and creativity.
You need patience, because we’d all like the quick sale, but rarely does that happen, especially in a down economy. Put yourself in a potential client’s shoes: what do they need to know about your business to trust you? Is Pinterest the best place for presenting that?
Pinterest is great for visuals, graphics, video, and showing the fun side of your business. Pinterest 101 student Jenifer Dick loves Pinterest “because I can show more of my personality” than she can with other social networks.
Pinterest is not the place for a hard sell. To give details about yourself, your business, and your policies, offer your website link as a place to find that.
You need to be consistent because . . . . few other people are. They start on a social network, don’t see immediate results, and abandon it. Just by showing up consistently and posting new content, you’re beating out your competition and staking a presence.
You need creativity because Pinterest requires beautiful photos, graphics, and videos. You don’t have to be a graphic designer, but you do need to know how to create well-done visuals you can use here. Or hire someone who can.
Pinterest is for Women — Swamp People is for Men
In this Pinterest infographic (which has been repinned hundreds of times, by PayPal for Business, Walt Disney, and Search Engine Watch, to name a few), notice the pink? That’s no accident. Pinterest’s users are overwhelmingly female, so why not a pink infographic? It certainly stands out. No, it’s not a lifestyle topic like food or hairstyle, but those women have businesses too, and while they’re on Pinterest searching for redecorating ideas, they’ll see my infographic being repinned by a friend, and discover it. Voila – a new potential client.
Pinterest is Martha Stewart Living; Your Website is Forbes
Pinterest is first and foremost a lifestyle social network: women go there for ideas. They spend their evenings browsing the boards for ideas, to be inspired, and to see what their friends like. Brides love Pinterest for planning their weddings. The most popular Pinterest pins are food, hairstyles, and decorating.
Don’t let that stop you. Find a way to make your business relevant to those same women looking for food, hairstyles, and decorating. When you’re at Wal-Mart, how many impulse purchases do you make? Think of Pinterest as having that potential: women may not be on Pinterest to learn about your business, but if you can capture their attention with a beautiful pin, you’ve got a potential lead.
If you post overly-commercial pins or boards, you’ll simply be ignored. You won’t gain followers and your pins won’t get repinned. Leave the commercial stuff for your website (where it belongs), and capture pinners’ attention with something captivating. Direct them to your website, capture their contact information, and you’ve used Pinterest as a lead generation tool.
Want your own copy of this Pinterest infographic? Just shoot me an email at email@example.com and I’ll send you one for your very own, along with some extra tips on Pinterest to get started.