pinterest best practicesAre you sick of the engagement topic yet? You shouldn't be. It's the most important thing you can be doing right now to improve your online presence. In this series, I am focusing on what I call the BIG 5. Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn & G+ make up the BIG 5.

I have talked a lot about Pinterest. I wrote a simple guide to using Pinterest when it first launched, and recently I posted an article about its newly launched analytics. Not only is it simple to use, but also visually, it is an absolute trendsetter. More and more sites are taking the Pinterest design layout and making it their own. There is something in those little boxes that just screams usability. When you think of Pinterest you might think it's a women-only network. Yes, the audience skews female, but it is really a great network for all things visual.

Many of my clients have seen huge bumps in both sales and traffic after adopting a Pinterest strategy. If you are a retailer or in a visual field, head on over to Pinterest and set up your account. Actually, run on over. It's probably true that many of your clients are pinning your content as we speak.  

Here are seven steps to getting set up.

1. Plan Your Content 
As Pinterest is a very visual platform, you have to think in visuals here. How are you going to get your followers attention? This varies depending on your brand. You will want to have a dedicated board or two for your products. This will be content that you contribute to the site. Keep some original content strictly-or somewhat strictly-for Pinterest. Since you can't format the text you use to describe your pictures (the text should be keyword heavy anyway) you might want to think about putting text on the picture. If you are a follower of this blog, you probably know what I am going to say next. Ask questions. Encourage sharing and commenting via your visual. This is a great way to get people talking on a site that is non-talkative.

2. Search & Like, Pin & Comment 

A huge benefit of Pinterest is the search capability. You can search by keyword (which we will get to in the next point) or by source. Searching by source gives you an overview of who is pinning what from your site. This is bait for you! Now all you have to do is go and get them.

To search who has pinned from your site go here: http://pinterest.com/source/(ADD URL HERE). From there you will be able to see who pinned which items from your site. Because Etsy is so huge and popular on Pinterest, let's use it as an example. If you go to this link, http://pinterest.com/source/etsy.com, you will see tons of items that people are pinning from Etsy. Now imagine this is your site. All these people who have pinned something from your site are showing interest in your product. Now it is up to you to talk to them and show them your human side.

The first thing you can do is like the pin. This will show up in their notifications and now they know you are active on Pinterest and care about them. You can go one step further and repin their pin or maybe something else from one of their boards. If you are going to do this you should create a board like "Stuff Our Friends Like" or "Found on Pinterest". The best strategy is to comment on it. You might want to offer them a discount, let them know about a special, thank them or ask a question.

3. Search by Keyword 

This is another search tactic that is highly effective on Pinterest. You should search specific keywords. This could be your brand name, a product, or something you sell. Once you find your list you can take the same steps as listed above.

4. Name Your Board Thoughtfully 

As Pinterest comes up high on the search engines, it is a good idea to make sure you put some thought into your boards. Clothes, Paintings, and Food are far too common and you won't be found as easily. Instead, be more specific and timely. Plan ahead and start pinning in advance so that when you are found your content will be populated already.

You can even involve your followers by asking them to help you name a Pinterest board. Whoever's name you chose can get an incentive. There are a lot of ways to encourage Pinterest usage, so get creative. 

5. Make A Community Board 
Pinterest is a community, and we know that. By opening up one of your boards to allow additional pinners you are going to increase the amount of pages on which you will be seen. Every person who is an authorized user of that board will have your board featured on their board page. You can make a board with your name branded in it for ultimate exposure. While you may get a lot of random pins, you will also be featured on many people's pages, which is a good thing. After all, it is about community!

6. Increase Click Throughs 
This really isn't an engagement strategy but I thought it was an important enough point. Through my experience I have found that a lot of people repin, but they don't click through. Clicks to your site are important to driving traffic and getting new customers. By simply placing a little note that says "click on the image to buy," or "click on the image to learn more," you will see a lot more clicks to your site.

7. Host a Contest 
I love a good Pinterest contest and have hosted them for many of my clients. This is a great way to get people involved in your brand and pinning from your site. As I mentioned before, I will post an article dedicated to contests, but in the meantime start thinking about types of contests you can host. Pin It To Win It is a very common contest, and it’s a lot of fun, but you can do other types of contests as well. Just keep in mind that no matter what type of contest, make sure it is relevant to your business. You want targeted followers.

Don't forget to make sure your site is pin friendly. Add a social button that allows people to pin directly from your site. The less work you make someone do, the more likely they are to do it.

Are you on Pinterest? Are you more of a pinner or a repinner? What types of content do you pin most?