4 types of businesses that should be on Pinterest

Whether you are a small business, major corporation, nonprofit or the media, Pinterest can work for you.

Pinterest launched less than two years ago and is still invitation-only, but its popularity has exploded recently. According to ZDNet, Pinterest received nearly 11 million visits in the week ending Dec. 1, 2011. That’s a 4,000 percent growth in visits during a single week in just six months, CNET points out. This puts Pinterest in the top 10 social sites among the more than 6,000 properties Hitwise tracks.

We all see cool stuff online that we’d like to share or save—aka “pin.” I have some Facebook friends I wish would use Pinterest so they could stop filling my news feed with kitten images and quotation graphics, but that’s for another post.

Snark aside, it’s no surprise people can find uses for this online pinboard. My engaged friends and colleagues pin wedding-themed items, foodie friends pin recipes, fashion junkies pin wish-list items, etc.

I understand why individuals use Pinterest, but what, if anything, can it do for companies or organizations?

Cause marketing

Joe Waters answers this question for causes/nonprofits in a Huffington Post article. He says if you have an interesting or compelling story you can tell with images—he believes every cause does—and if you’re active on other social media platforms—you may benefit from the site.

However, he warns, you must be social and useful. One example is Amnesty International’s boards.

Small businesses

Kathleen Scarrow addresses Pinterest from the small business point of view in a “Globe and Mail” article. She points out that the majority of Pinterest’s users are women aged 25-44. If this is your target market—and again, if you can tell your story through images—Pinterest may be a great tool for you. She warns against self-promotion and encourages businesses to think creatively.

A good example is Etsy’s boards.

Journalists and the media

Mashable posted an article from the International Journalists’ Network that tells how journalists can use Pinterest. A journalist could use the site to showcase his work, pin pictures of breaking news, find trends or ideas, or simply curate the news into a makeshift online magazine.

Check out TIME Magazine’s boards. It uses Pinterest to share staff bios, promote behind-the-scenes blog posts, and more.

Corporate branding

Other articles, including this one on Mashable and this one on AmEx Open Forum, discuss how big brands can use Pinterest. The articles warn against blatant broadcasting and suggest brands use a holistic approach.

Brands could use Pinterest to:

  • Promote a lifestyle
  • Showcase its personality
  • Crowdsource
  • Provide inspiration for employees
  • Foster creative communication between itself and its customers
  • Run contests, such as Land’s End’s Pin It to Win It contest.

If you want specific brand examples, check out Real Simple’s boards which, according to a Business Insider post, get more referral traffic from Pinterest than from Facebook. Also check out Whole Foods Market’s boards. Warning: You will be hungry after you see them.

Why and how does your company use Pinterest?

Tressa Robbins is vice president of media contacts at BurrellesLuce. She contributes to the company blog, where a version of this article originally appeared.

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