This piece will cover the basics, while the next two articles will offer more technical internet marketing tips and navigational tools for using Pinterest. In case you haven’t heard, there are more and more bath and body entrepreneurs jumping on the Pinterest bandwagon (http://www.pinterest.com). In addition to being a fun social media site to visit for inspiring photos of anything from decorating ideas to soaps, many Pinterest users are reporting increased website traffic and sales.
In fact, some Etsy sellers have reported that after they have added Pinterest to their mix, online sales rose from 30% to 50% of their revenue. If you sell or shop on Etsy, you may have noticed that it recently added Pinterest's "Pin It'' button next to each item on sale. Customers click the Pinterest button to add an item to their pinboards. Even if they don't buy the product, artists benefit from the exposure.
Pinterest is also a website where journalists from print and broadcast media go to track trends and spot new products. Now do I have your attention? In addition to attracting media, what makes Pinterest's popularity unusual is that it's driven not by the usual crowd of computer-savvy men from New York and San Francisco, but by women, many of whom live in the Midwest and the central U.S. Internet tracking firm ComScore estimates that 68 percent of Pinterest users are women, and these women drive 85 percent of the traffic on the site. More than half the women on the site are 35 or older. They use the website for fashion ideas, wedding planning and home design, or to compile a “wish list” of what they would like to buy.
Pinterest is mostly used by its members for organizing and sharing or “pinning” collections of images on the internet either through uploaded images on their computer, by pinning images they find on the internet using the Pinterest bookmarklet (very similar to a browser add-on or extension. Does not require any installation nor does it require a restart. It is similar to a bookmark but performs a task when clicked on) , Pin It button, or website url address. Users can then follow other Pinterest members and “repin” or “like” their images. Photos get “viral” when they are shared among Pinterest users, but also when they share these images on Twitter and Facebook through easy share icons each time someone likes or repins your image.
It’s been referred to as “an online scrapbook of images, a digital dream collage and corkboard full of magazine clippings all at once.” Pinboards on the site are used to help users decorate homes, plan weddings, organize recipes, and oh yes, create boards for soaps and other bath and body products. What is completely fun (and possible addicting) is that you can view and follow others’ pinboards. It’s a great way to discover new products and ideas. It’s also a place to go to be inspired.
Access to Pinterest is currently by invitation only, so those looking to join need to request one from a friend already on it. Once you are signed up, you can follow other users on Pinterest, see the most popular pins or find gift ideas by price range. You can browse categories and "like" anything that catches your fancy, re-pin it to your own board or add a comment.
Pinterest released redesigned profiles on March 16, according to CEO and co-founder Ben Silbermann. Members are now able to more easily find other like-minded Pinterest users. In addition, Pinterest announced that it is also expanding into video pins such as Vimeo, Hulu and Netflix. Also, an iPad application will be released soon.
So just how popular is Pinterest? According to Experian Hitwise, it received more than 103 million visits in February 2012. It is the third most popular social networking site behind Facebook and Twitter in the U.S., with users spending an average 16 minutes per visit.
Pinterest's was created in 2009, but it started becoming increasingly popular in summer 2011. ComScore reports that the site had 17.8 million U.S. visitors in February 2012, up about 50 percent from 11.7 million in January and nearly four times the 4.9 million in November. In fact, Pinterest is the 16th most visited website in the U.S. and 45th most visited site in the world, according to Alexa, a site that ranks global web traffic.
Getting Started: Pinterest “How To’s”
Simply login and create a page under your business name. Add your business description, logo and link to your website. There is an option on this setup page that states “Hide your Pinterest profile from search engines.” Make sure this is checked to “Off” so your Pinterest profile will get indexed in search results.Be sure to register your account with the same email address you use for your twitter business account. This way you can easily share your pins through Twitter too. Then sign up through the Twitter option. Don’t use the Facebook option because Pinterest only offers a connection to Facebook personal pages, not business pages.
Next, start creating boards, which are a set of pins. A board can be created on any topic, such as Handmade Soaps, Display Ideas, Cook Packaging, etc. You can add as many pins to a board as you want.
Then start pinning. Follow other people and invite customers to post their own images on company pinboards. Type “@” to mention people and “$” to mention the price of your product, if you desire. Create interesting boards before you begin to follow others. It is unlikely that someone will follow you back if you have empty boards. It’s like meeting someone with no personality.
Simply visit your website, and look at the top of your computer screen for the “Pin It” button. For each page of your website, upload whichever pictures you would like to post. Then Pinterest users who click on these photos will be taken directly to your website where they originated. Or you can choose to add the url to the image you pin. If no information is entered, visitors won’t be able to find where your product is available or sold.
There is definite Pinterest “etiquette” if you want to keep your followers. Keep your pins light and entertaining. This is not traditional selling. Use fun and creative descriptions, not serious sales jargon. Make sure the way you “pin” matches your brand style and vision.
How to Track Traffic and Orders
Use Google Analytics to track traffic. If you have an eCommerce site (and have eCommerce tracking enabled in Google Analytics), find out whether Pinterest visitors are more likely to purchase, and whether their average order values are higher or lower than other sources of traffic. To do this, just click on the eCommerce tab (instead of the Goal Set tab) and select one of the eCommerce metrics (revenue, transactions, average value, ecommerce conversion rate or per visit value).
Use Referral Reports, Custom Reports, Dashboard and Multi-Channel Funnel options within Google Analytics to view traffic from specific images that you have pinned which link back to your site. Users can track which images resulted in the most sales by activating the eCommerce Goals function within Google Analytics.
The growing Pinterest buzz is definitely worth exploring. As with any social media site, use it to help generate traffic and interest in your company and products. If you are the type who easily loses time on sites such as Pinterest, it may be helpful to set time limits for yourself so that your day doesn’t slip away from you and your business doesn’t get neglected. Most importantly, track traffic and sales conversions to see if the return on investment is paying off.
Marla Bosworth is the CEO and Founder of Back Porch Soap Company, http://www.backporchsoap.com She teaches group and private classes on how to make natural skincare products in Boston and NYC. Ms. Bosworth also provides product, brand and marketing strategies for handmade beauty companies. Follow Marla on Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/marla_bosworth/