Pinterest dos and don'ts for brands

[The suddenly-hot Pinterest uses an "online pinboard" format for sharing content. Below, guest columnist Jen Corbett - a social media strategist with Flitter -  provides a survival guide for companies looking to experiment with what many see as the Next Big Thing - Chris Keall]

It might feel like Pinterest has come out of no-where - but just like many other social platforms before it, early adopters - overwhelmingly women - helped propel it to it’s current status as the latest social phenomenon. 

The platform has reportedly crossed the 10 million user mark faster than any other standalone site in history - social or otherwise. Its referral traffic amounts to more than Linkedin, Google+ and YouTube combined, and approximately nine million of its users are connected to Facebook - a number which no doubt is rising after the websites latest integration with Facebook Timeline.

Now that Pinterest has reached a tipping point - it’s become another online tool marketers need to think about. But that doesn’t mean everyone should hop on board.

As a Pinterest user myself, I’ve also recently started using it for one of our clients too.

This has made me think a lot of what you should and shouldn’t do as a brand.

So I've put together this list to think about. It is by no means definitive, and if you feel like adding to or debating some of these points please do.

These will apply differently depending on what your strategy. My first suggestion is simply signing up / requesting an invite for yourself - as an individual, to get a feel for how it works. Simply put, if you don’t understand how it works for you as a means of expression - then you won’t really understand how to make the most of it for your brand.

Click to zoom

DO: Curate boards and pin things that express what your brand or business is about - be flexible, be relevant to your story but don’t be afraid to branch explore other things which are likely to connect with what people find compelling

DO: Spend a bit of time getting used to how it works - create your own profile, experiment, shift boards around, follow others in your industry

DO: Think strategically - ask yourself what boards you will curate and why,how this links in with what you are about. How they link back to your website or help you discover quality content to share on Facebook.

DO: Check out how other brands are using it - etsy, Nordstrom, Modcloth, Gap, Whole Foods, General Electric, Chobani yogurt, Bergdorfs & The Wall Street Journal - just to name a few

DO: Work out who are the "quality" pinners in your subject area, follow and pin their content - they’re more than likely to pin back - meaning your brand name is on their board

DO: link the pinned photo back to your site - click once to see the pin page, and again to see the source site)

DO: utilize the pricing function - this presents a huge opportunity for online retailers

DO: get your staff or key brand cheerleaders involved in posting to group boards

DO: think about swapping in URLS. The referral traffic is a key benefit of this platform, so simple things like URL shortening and tagging can really help you evaluate whether it is benifiting your company

DO: utilize the share to twitter feature wisely - if you have an interesting piece of news or something, an interesting way of sharing it can be first posting an image to Pinterest and then sharing

DO: ask is it "Pin Worthy?" - just like on twitter or facebook - the best content goes further - would someone re-pin it?

DO: Be social - add personalised comments, comment on other pins and like them - this shows in their news feed

DO: Download the bookmarklet to your toolbar

DO: Check in daily for new content and pin opportunities

DO: Introduce new content by using the bookmarklet or uploading your own photos, videos and artwork to share

DO: work out what it is about your brand that connects with people, that makes them want to share - and share in your story

DON’T: Join because it's the latest thing. It might be now - but it will take a while before we know if it will pan out to be a really big changemaker in the online environment. At this point indications look good but even if you are just experimenting at least have some idea of how it fits with your brand

DON’T: Find yourself asking where did the last four hours go? Limit your time on the platform - it is powerfully addictive! Just a few pins at a time is enough!

DON’T: broadcast EVERYTHING you pin on Facebook or twitter - be selective about it

DON’T: Pin everything and anything just because people might find it interesting - it’s your chance to really articulate and express what you are about. Don’t create noise that will confuse people about what is important to your brand

DON'T: Ignore that, at least for the moment, there is a predominantly female user base

DON'T:  Pin everything that you find - some sort of filter needs to be in place - pin with an objective in mind

DON'T:  Use it to only post product shots & marketing copy. You will find yourself unfollowed pretty quickly

DON'T: Pin only one subject all the time. We alll love cute animals but if that’s you pin, you will find your boards unfollowed pretty quickly

DON’T Ignore it. There is something special about Pinterest and it's ability to connect with and showcase who you are. If you are on it, use it and make sure your community is aware that you are there

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