Monday, April 16, 2012

Five Ways to Use Pinterest

Pinterest allows you to share your favorite images, as well as store them away for later.

When it comes to social platforms, the old adage "a picture is worth a thousand words" is a remarkably apt description for Pinterest. The site allows users to post and share their favorite images from around the web -- something that may seem limiting at first. While the purposes advertised on the platform's "About" page focus on personal uses such as wedding planning or home decorating, those are only two of a wide array of uses for individuals and businesses. As with any social media platform, the most obvious purpose is promotion -- whether that be promotion of your own personal brand, a specific product or the brand identity of an organization -- but the platform also offers opportunities for much more.


  • While other social platforms also allow posting of images, with Pinterest you have the added advantage of categorizing your images into various "boards." This gives followers the opportunity to hone in more narrowly on their specific interest. If you're an organization with many products and styles, the platform gives you a way to narrow things down for your potential customers. For example, take an organization as large as Nike. The company's "Nike Running" Pinterest site includes a number of boards, including sections such as "Runs We Love" and "Women's Running Gear." Unlike other social platforms, that specificity may mean attracting users who in another platform may have glossed over a hundred uninteresting posts before they got to yours.


  • The instant gratification of the right image lends itself beautifully to the online contest. By creating a site that asks people to share images of a selected topic, and to offer an incentive for posting, such as a prize or coupon, you have the ability to draw interest for your brand or organization. You can encourage people to create a board based on their favorite images from your site, and then broadcast that whoever gets the most pins and repins, wins. Ann Taylor's 2012 "Ann Taylor Hearts Fashion" contest was something just like this, offering the winner with the most pins and repins a $250 gift card. By encouraging people to post their favorite fashions from the Ann Taylor website and boards, the contest accomplished a number of viral marketing goals, including an increase in followers, more eyes on its boards and an increase in traffic to the company's website.


  • Once you've held your contest and drawn in some new followers, you're now beset with another monumental task -- but one that can yield monumental rewards. It's research, and this is something that every social media manager should take seriously. By monitoring the things being repinned from your boards, you have the ability to conduct research into the habits, interests and behaviors of your audience, and to tailor your future efforts toward what's been popular in the past. Research in other platforms has been limited to the typed comments from users; with Pinterest, you have the ability to get visual representations of users' interests. Spend a minute and type "Stuff We Love" into Pinterest's "Brands" search and you'll see a wide array of images about various types of interest. Seeing clearly what people like gives you a clear idea of what to market to them.


  • Pinterest has another purpose for those who spend a lot of time online and need some place to file away all their great ideas for later use. Whether you're an educator, marketing expert or photographer, the ability to add items you love to your boards allows you organization ideas on-the-fly, with little fuss. They'll be readily accessible when you need to retrieve them. On top of that, you have social features working in the background; posting ideas on your board means that even while you've left your boards idle, you may have others repost those images, or share even more images with you that pertain to that topic.

Student Collaboration

  • Pinterest also has potential for educators. Think about the traditional yearbook that students spend the whole year agonizing over -- which is really a collection of memorable photos with some captions included. If you're a journalism teacher, yearbook adviser or other type of educator, you could use Pinterest as a forum for student collaboration. If you're creating a yearbook, a group Pinterest board could be a place to throw out ideas or consider certain photos. If you're in charge of a student newspaper, Pinterest could be an online extension of the newspaper's brand. For photography students, you could create a board for students to share photos or images that pertain to a certain theme.

Copyright Concerns

  • Pinterest is one way for you to showcase your company or brand's values. But with that comes the need to examine copyright concerns: all that sharing means you'll need to make sure you're properly crediting the source. Pinterest does provide HTML code that allows website managers to block "pins" of their content. As of 2012, Pinterest is a new addition to the social media scene, and as such, the owners of certain images may not be privy to that blocking tool. As a general rule, ensure that your pins give credit where credit is due by "pinning" from the original site, as opposed to Google Images or another aggregation service. If you know something to be copyright protected, don't pin it. If you're not sure, contact the site's administrator -- typically found on the site's "Contact" page -- to ask for permission. And if some of your own intellectual property has been violated, use Pinterest's "Copyright" page to report the problem.

| updated March 19, 2012

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