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If your small business hasn’t joined Pinterest® yet, there’s no time to waste. The growth opportunity that comes with this new social media giant just keeps on growing.

In May 2012, Pinterest had raised $100 million from investors, was closing in on 10 million active users and was valued at $1.5 billion. By February, 2013, its valuation jumped to the $2-2.5 billion range. You can imagine what that means in terms of traffic, which is skyrocketing: it’s four times what it was a year ago.

So, if it’s a crash course you’re waiting for, this is it. Here’s what you need to know about putting your small business on Pinterest.

Before pinning
Lucky for small businesses like yours, Pinterest created a profile specifically for businesses in late 2012. Before you register as a new user and sign in to create a profile, some things to consider:

  • Audience. Your business’s role on Pinterest is determined in large part by your target audience, or your customer base. Pull your team together to do some brainstorming about your audience. What do they do? What do they like? How do they communicate?
  • Boards. As a team, determine what the ideal pin boards should be for your business.
  • Sharibility. Don’t forget to ready your website (and your blog!) by snagging and integrating the Pinterest share buttons.

Begin to pin
Develop a strategy to go with your Pinterest activity. For instance, what kind of time should be devoted to the initiative and how often should the person behind your business on Pinterest engage with your followers? Here is some other sage advice:

  • Check sources. Sometimes it’s easy to forget that what we’re sharing belongs to someone else. Take a look at the source before you repin something to determine if it’s valid. And, if you pin something original, you may want to add a watermark specific to your business to preserve the image’s origins.
  • Product placement. If you’re going to be displaying pins of your products, don’t forget to add the price to its description as well as backlinks to a purchase page.

Tracking pins
Your business will have a very real “Pinfluence” so it’s important to track your impact. You can use basic tracking tools like PinReach, Pinalytics and Reachli—all of which are free! Keep an eye on who is pinning and repinning your images. This is especially exciting when you notice new customers engaging with your content. Here’s how to capitalize on each new interaction:

  • Thank you shout-outs. Use the @Tag to mention other users that have repinned your business images. It’s always nice to be recognized!
  • Use special offers to drive pins and repins. Draft a blog thathighlights your new place on Pinterest and allude to special offers that come with new interactions and repins. You can note special offers in the image description or you can house the special offers on your site. When you’ve matched people with Pinterest profile repins, include some fun promotional products in their order, things like a fun mood frame magnet, can cooler or beanie.
  • Offer promotional codes and reduced rates. Instead of gifts, you could also offer a one-time reduced rate unlocked by a promotional code they can locate via Pinterest.

Not all of your Pinterest activity has to be based online. Share some great ideas from Pinterest on-site with the help of posters on aisle ends to intrigue customers who may not have Internet access. That way, they can still take advantage of some of the awesome ideas on Pinterest.

Celebrate pins
Up your engagement by engineering a contest for your customers and followers on Pinterest. Ask them to snap a photo of something they created with products from you. For example, if you’re a home improvement store, you could create a special board for DIY projects and then ask your customers to give them a try, then upload the photo of the finished product and use a predetermined contest hashtag in the pin description.

Ask followers to vote on winners by repinning submissions. Then, when the votes—or repins—are all in, send some applause the winner’s way with a cool gift like a digital photo frame so they can continue to enjoy their photos—and think of you!

Indvik, Laura. “Report: Pinterest Raising Yet More Funding at $2 Billion+ Valuation.Mashable. Mashable, 5 Feb. 2013. Web. 14 Mar. 2013.

Indvik, Laura. “Pinterest Introduces Business Accounts and Tools.” Mashable, 14 Nov. 2012. Web. 14 Mar. 2013.

Vaughan, Pamela. “A Simple Cheat Sheet for Using Pinterest for Marketing [Infographic].” HubSpot, 13 June 2012. Web. 14 Mar. 2013.

Smarty, Ann. “Pinterest: Really Useful Tools to Measure Each Pin Impact.” Small Business Trends, 3 Jan. 2013. Web. 14 Mar. 2013.

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