The image-sharing site Pinterest has been constantly in the news for the last few months. At first glance, the site seems to be nothing more than a place to share photos of shoes, recipes and crafting ideas arranged on aesthetically-pleasing Pinboards, but according to a study by Shareaholic, the site now drives more referral traffic than Google Plus, You Tube and LinkedIn combined. So how do you make that leap from putting together whimsical Pinbards on your profile to generating website traffic?

1. Show your personality, tastes, interests or values

Your Pinterest profile shouldn’t be a copy of your website: it can be used to show a more fun side to your business. As well as showcasing your own work, you can use it to show more wide-ranging interests, such as a commitment to environmental issues, pictures of the place you live, local events you support, or your staff’s pick of movies, books or music. As well as having a Pinboard of their own products, Victory Jewelry also show boards of spiritual inspiration, Harry Potter and LEGO creations. This helps to make their brand stand out by helping to project some real personality.

pinterest tips

2. Mark your content

If you are an artist, photographer or designer, you may wish to watermark your website images. Although Pinterest recommend only using images directly from websites rather than from image searches, making sure your images can be attributed to you not only helps to prevent potential copyright issues, but means that if images are used indirectly on Pinterest, you know that they can be traced back to your website if someone is interested in your services.

pinterest best practices

This photograph by Gallery by Laura has been marked so that it can always be traced back to her studio website.

3. Give Tutorials

You can go beyond product images to get your message out there: You Tube videos can be pinned to boards in the same way as any other thumbnail so you can show off your expertise with ‘How To’ videos for aspects of your business.

You can have a mix of learning techniques on a Pinboard, such as videos, infographics and storyboard images, like this board from Hero Arts. The content can then be shared both within Pinterest, or onto other networks.

social media marketing on Pinterest

4. Show behind the scenes

You might be concerned if your business is service based, rather than product based, that you won’t be able to use it to drive sales. But you can use Pinterest to show behind the scenes at your company, with boards about your staff, local environment and industry, or other ways of using interesting images to help people find out about what you offer. Rocket Clicks is a service based company, but still provide plenty of interest on their profile by showing photos of their staff, their inspirations, and industry inforgraphics.

5. Go beyond your website

Make use of what is possible with the Pinboard format by putting together ‘looks’, lifestyle ideas, or show your products in real environments to show how they can work.

These inspirational boards from Bandhini Design show how their products can contribute to lifestyle aspirations.

6. Make sure your products appear in the Gift section

Pinterest has a dedicated gift section, searchable by price range. If you have an e-commerce site make sure you tag your images by price when you upload them, that way they will automatically appear on the Gift Page.

As with this image from Econica Fashion, Pinterest will add a price tag on the corner of your image and copy it into the sales section.

7. Help others find your content

Remember to make your content easy to find by using #tags in your descriptions, as well as labeling your Pins and Boards with obvious titles. Users can search by Pins, Boards and People, so make sure your company name reflects what you do, for example including the word ‘Design’ or ‘Kitchens’ after your name. You can also have a company website link for when people click on your profile image.

These Boards by Ben Tyler Building and Remodeling are all logically labeled to help users find their images.

Like all social media networks, Pinterest is about community, and the same rules apply as on any other network. Share others’ content, don’t be too ‘salesy’, ‘like’ and comment on images shared by others, and engage in the conversation. Above all, pay attention to Pinterest’s own Etiquette Guidelines if you’re not sure how to get started.

Originally posted in American Express Open Forum