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Why You Should Be Using Pinterest

By Crystal Vilkaitis, 3/12/2012
What’s been around for two years, has crossed the 10 million user mark faster than any other standalone website in history, allows you to share your interests visually and starts with a "P"? You guessed it, Pinterest!
I spent the past month at the winter markets in Atlanta, Dallas and Vegas speaking to over 500 independent retailers about social media, email marketing and daily deals. Every time I asked my audience who had heard of Pinterest, arms shot up faster than if I had asked who wanted a million dollars. I was shocked by the response from retailers about this site. I know I have a love (and addiction) for this tool, but I didn’t realize retailers shared the same feelings. Below is an explanation about what Pinterest is, in case you’ve never heard of it, how retailers can use it to market their stores and how you can join if you aren’t on it yet.
What is it? Remember back in the day when we read those things called magazines? Did you ever see something you loved – a dress you wanted to buy, a quote that inspired you, a woman running who motivated you or maybe a picture that made you laugh? You then cut that picture out of the magazine and put it on our bulletin board or a vision board to refer back to or look at every day. Well Pinterest is the same thing, but digital - like an online pin-board.
You can take those same kinds of pictures found online and create “boards.” These boards can be titled anything – “Things I Want to Buy,” “Inspiration,” “Go to the gym,” “Funny,” - whatever fits the pictures. You then “pin” pictures to the different boards you have, or you can create a new one for a category you might not have yet.
“Pinning” can happen a few ways: by uploading images that are saved on your computer through the “Add a Pin” section on the Pinterest website, by taking a picture using a smartphone and Pinning that photo using the mobile Pinterest application, by clicking on the “Pin It” button found next to a photo on a website or through the “Pin It” tool, which you first need to add to your toolbar.
Pinterest has made it easy for us to share our digital pin boards and to follow collections created by others which, is why this site is considered a social network. By “following” other people’s boards you can see their newest Pins on your home screen, which sort of reminds me of the Newsfeed from Facebook, but displays only photos. You can also “like” and/or comment on a Pin, which will then display in the Recent Activity section to all of your Followers, also reminding me of the Ticker on Facebook, but on Pinterest it can be found on the left hand side of the screen. You also can “Repin” another users’ photos, which is like sharing others’ content. Finally, after Pinning an image, you are asked if you’d like to share the photo to Twitter and/or Facebook, another social integration which can help gain more exposure for your Pinterest Boards.
How would I, a retailer, use it? At the winter markets I had a lot of retailers come up to me and say, “I use Pinterest personally, but I didn’t realize I can use it to for my store.” This site is a great way for retailers to showcase their personalities, store, staff and, of course, products. I suggest retailers create boards around the different products they sell in their store like “Gift Ideas,” “Valentine’s Day treats,” “Inspirations,” “My Store,” “Great Displays,” “Home Décor Ideas” and some consumer known vendor boards of products you carry, like “Vera Bradley,” “Brighton Must Haves,” “Yankee Scents,” etc. Depending on your store will determine the types of product boards you create.
*Important Note* When adding product pictures, be sure to include the price. When you do this, Pinterest will automatically create a price banner over the top left corner of your picture, making it easier to know it’s a product for sale. Also be sure to include a keyword-rich description for every picture you Pin or Repin, this will enable it to be found more easily in search results.
How do I start? Pinterest is currently an invite only website, so if you aren’t on it yet please feel free to send me an email and I’ll send you an invite. You can also request an invitation directly from the website. Once you’re in, Pinterest will ask you to select some categories that interest you and will suggest users to follow. Next, you can create some new boards like I mentioned above.
Make sure you fully fill out your Profile by hovering over your name in the top right corner and selecting “Settings.” Confirm all info is correct, fill out the About section using keywords as they relate to your store and make sure you aren’t hiding your profile from search engines under the Visibility section. Once you’ve set your profile up, I suggest searching for keywords that interest you in the top left search bar. Maybe words like gifts, apparel, store displays, your city name, home décor, color, trends, etc. Start Repinning images you like to the most appropriate boards. I also suggest you Like and Comment on some pins, which can start building relationships with other Pinners.
Finally, you need to tell people you’re on Pinterest. Post your Pinterest Profile on your Facebook Page and put a sign at your cash register that has the Pinterest logo and the direct link to your profile. You can also use Pinterest to support an email. Let’s say you’re sending out a spring newsletter, you can link to a ‘Spring’ Pinterest board from the email so your customers can see pictures and ideas of what you’re talking about in your email. 
Make sure you follow the SnapRetail page and if you have any questions about Pinterest, please ask them on our Facebook page. Happy Pinning!
For more helpful marketing tips, one-on-one help and online webinars, visit www.snapretail.com.

Crystal Vilkaitis is the Director of Social Media for SnapRetail, which helps independent retailers market their stores through email, Facebook and Twitter. Crystal has been using social media since early 2007 where she doubled and tripled web sales, increased traffic by over 2700% and was recently featured in Fast Company’s Most Influential Person Online campaign ranking in the top 2%. Crystal works specifically with independent retailers teaching them how to use Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, QR Codes and other social media tools to bring traffic into their stores and strengthen the relationship with their customers. For more information visit http://snapretail.com or contact Crystal at 412-545-9113, crystal.vilkaitis@snapretail.com. 


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