What’s your interest in PinterestSM?
The beautiful thing about social media site Pinterest is that users are looking for pictures to love, lifestyles to emulate and products to buy.Pinterest is all about visual elements. Users create “pin boards” (think bulletin board) and “pin” images on their boards, organized by topics. It’s social because users can view each other’s boards, comment and “re-pin” (like a retweet or share) to their own boards. Simple as it sounds, it is endlessly enticing to anyone who likes to look at pretty things, people or places. But, don’t underestimate this stimulating visual montage that sounds more “pretty” than “product”. In six months alone, Pinterest has amassed 3.3 million users, 70% of whom are female.How can you make the most of this?

Well, for starters, you need to be subtle. The ethos of Pinterest is against blatant self-promotion. Users are not looking for your catalog reproduced. They can find that online already. Pinterest is not a sales site, but it can be a valuable marketing tool for establishing your brand. What users are looking for are ideas and lifestyle representations that enchant. In addition, Pinterest is a valuable fourth leg to your social media marketing strategy and can be tied to your company’s Facebook(SM), blog and Twitter(SM) accounts. Also, whenever an image of yours is pinned or repinned, it carries with it an origination link, which creates valuable backlinks to your host site, increasing your SEO ranking organically with each repost.

So how do you deliver that while still reinforcing your branding? Here are a few examples to begin to whet your whistle and get you thinking creatively:

  • Deliver images of lifestyle that embody your brand and show photos of your products in spectacular settings.
  • Pin photos of actual consumers enjoying your product.
  • Repin photos from other users that show your products in use.
  • Use Pinterest as a forum to offer contests. Ask participants to create and submit their own Pinterest boards or pins showcasing unique ways they are using your products! You can pick the person with the most creative idea as the winner of a giveaway.
  • Create a showcase of fun staff photos highlighting your employees at trade shows; encourage employees to pin to this board, as well.
  • Use Pinterest as a focus group; post photos of new products or options and encourage viewers to select their favorites through likes and repins.
  • If your company has recently sponsored a trade show, pin photos of the event, and encourage other participants to post their own photos.

Using Pinterest to stir interest in your trade show event

Before the show
Six to eight weeks prior to the trade show, post a scavenger hunt contest about your team’s trip to the trade show. Pin photos of alternating images of your product and sales team with images of places or scenes they will pass on their way to the trade show. Collect participant data and send winners a baseball hat or a t-shirt with your company’s message on it.

Invite crowdsourcing. Once you’ve gone public with your trade show plans, invite Pinterest users (“pinners”) to post photos of the best sights to see and places to dine, play or be entertained in the city of the trade show. Award extra points for pins that include a photo of your product. Top five winners will be sent a coffee mug or Fleece Scarf if it’s a cold-weather destination, or logo-printed Laguna Flip Flop Sandals if you’re travelling to a warm-weather destination. Also, post photos of your trade show displays, materials and staffers, inviting pinners to visit you at the show!

At the show
At the trade show, display Value Banners with Pop-up Stands showing that you are now on Pinterest! Offer a premium such as Little Thunder Tote to attendees who become your followers on Pinterest. They can do this on their smartphones and show you right there! Offer an additional premium to those who pin photos from the trade show to your board, such as Lil’ Shorty Aluminum Sport Bottles.

After the show
After the trade show, mine the data from your new Pinterest followers and continue to build connections with them by viewing their boards and “liking” things that appeal to your brand sensibility. It is optimal to follow other influencers—they help other people see things they like. The more you follow them, the more likely they are to follow you or view your boards and repin your images. Each of those repins carries with it a link to the source image, so they pay your company in increased SEO rankings. This, ultimately, is one of the main pay-offs to using Pinterest to build your brand.

Another new and exciting tool is at your fingertips! Take your interest in Pinterest to the next level and start to use it to spread the word about your upcoming trade show.

“Pinterest(SM) for Brands” Mashable.com

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