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Anyone who wants to stay in business today will have heard that it is necessary to be active on social media platforms to enjoy success. However, while Facebook and Twitter appear to be the preferred social media platforms for business, there is another that may be capable of delivering even better results. That platform is Pinterest.

What is Pinterest and who uses it?

Pinterest relies on images to engage its users. The idea behind the platform is that any web user who comes across an image, photograph or other type of graphic they like, can “pin” it to a “board” on Pinterest and share it with others. Boards are categorized according to subject, and once shared, can be filled by anyone in the Pinterest community.

It was once thought that Pinterest was only used by women, and while 83 percent of its users in 2012 were female, this demographic is changing as more businesses realise the platform’s potential. Pinterest is expected to have more than 47 million users in the U.S. alone by the end of 2015.

How is it better than Facebook or Twitter?

Pinterest is growing at an incredible rate. In 2014, it grew by 97 percent, making it the fastest-growing social media platform. A Facebook post or Twitter tweet is soon pushed further down the web page, becoming less visible within hours, whereas a Pinterest pin is visible for far longer. In addition, unlike other platforms on which users spend only a few minutes or even seconds making posts, the average Pinterest user spends longer than 14 minutes with every login. This equates to more visibility for any company that chooses to use Pinterest in favor of, as well as alongside, other social media platforms.

Is Pinterest only for product-based businesses?

There are several misconceptions regarding the pins on Pinterest. One is that only a company that sells physical goods has any images worth pinning. While it is true a business that sells goods may find it easier to source relevant images for pins, a business that provides services can also benefit. For service-providing companies, it is necessary to engage in market research on the platform, identifying target customers and discovering what types of pins they are sharing. Like all social media, Pinterest is about sharing, so businesses should not only share pins that are self-promoting, but images that will be of interest to their target market. This widens the scope of relevant pins for businesses that provide services rather than goods.

How can I tell if Pinterest is working for my company?

Like many social media platforms, Pinterest has its own inbuilt analytics. Examining this will allow you to see which of your pins are generating the most interest, which are being shared most often, and which are driving the most traffic to your website.

Businesses owners who want to achieve a competitive edge with social media should consider channeling some of their efforts into Pinterest. They will enjoy higher visibility, increased awareness of their brand and increased blog and website traffic, as they witness new leads converting into sales.