Pinterest, the virtual pin board social network, has experienced meteoric growth over the past year.  Here are just a few statistics to put that in perspective: Pinterest hit 10 million U.S. monthly unique visitors faster than any other independent site in history, and is already generating more referral traffic to websites than YouTube, Google+ and LinkedIn… combined.  Additionally, Pinterest users average 15.8 minutes on site per visit, which is more time than users average on Facebook (12.1 minutes) and Twitter (3.3 minutes)… combined.

Brands are rushing to join these millions of users – but before you hop on the bandwagon blind, here are a few tips for the Pinterest novice:

1. Brainstorm Brand Values

The beauty of Pinterest lies in storytelling.  Take the ‘a picture speaks a thousand words’ cliché to heart.  Strive for pictures that speak to your company’s values rather than pictures of pure product promotion, consider pinning ones of behind-the-scenes footage, a color theme, or larger motif that will emotionally connect with the viewer.

2. Add the “Pin It” Button to Your Website

In adding the “Pin It” button to your site you kill two birds with one stone.  First, you enable users to pin pictures originally on your site to their Pinterest accounts, increasing the exposure of your content and drives content to your website.  Also, users are reminded of your presence on Pinterest.  After all, users are much more likely to follow your boards if they know that they exist.

3. Leverage Your Content with External Sources

Along with expressing brand values, all of the pins on your boards should not be solely from your site.  Pinterest was originally created with the idea of “sharing the things you love” and with some growing pains it’s new motto is more concerned with being “authentic in telling your story.”  Pinterest has addressed the copyright issue of sharing others’ content vaguely, but it does at least have a way to report copyright violations on site.  It is a gray area.  What we suggest is to repin DIY projects and pins by bloggers that help express your brand’s lifestyle.  Be “authentic” in producing content that is largely your own, but with credited pins from external sources.  We recommend getting familiar with the Pinterest Terms of Service.  

Pinterest is largely like the other social networks in that content should be an extension of your brand and an opportunity to show your customers, fans and brand loyalists your brand’s personality.

Have thoughts or questions about Pinterest? Leave us a comment.

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