5 Remarkably Clever Ways To Use Pinterest
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There’s no doubt that Pinterest is a wonderful haven full of crafty projects, delicious recipes, home improvement ideas, and inspiring quotes… and that it’s easy to lose hours of time there. But for business owners and marketers looking to take this developing social media network to the next level, will they ever be able to get anything out of Pinterest other than a little bit of traffic and the occasional repin or two?
Innovative business uses for Pinterest are out there, if you just know where to look. Today, I’ll share five clever ways that you can use Pinterest for your business, or even just for your own account, and show you some great examples of these ideas in action.
Use #1: As an Interactive Map
Pinterest’s “Place Pins” function, introduced in November 2013, is a beautiful, yet somewhat underutilized addition to the site. While I’m certain there are explorers out there making boards to keep track of their adventures or future vacations — Pinterest has collected its own favorite examples here — it’s hard to find clever uses for this function that go beyond “where I want to go or have already gone.”
One idea I love, however, involves creating an interactive map of the businesses you support. This could be a collection of small businesses you frequent for their handcrafted products or delicious treats, or a nationwide collection of companies whose services you trust. This could help you answer the question of “where should I visit when I’m in town?” or “who do you recommend for…?”
For example, check out this interactive Pinterest map of SEO companies in the United States created by Elite Strategies. They created the map by pinning the companies they chose from their Foursquare pages. Anyone seeking out a provider of SEO services can browse the map by location, click on each pin to read a summary, and then visit the Foursquare page to learn more from there.
Use #2: As a Website or Microsite
Don’t have your own website? Need to create a portfolio, fast? Want an additional online presence? Why not use Pinterest? Depending on your industry or needs, Pinterest can give you a beautiful, interactive website in just a few minutes. No, you won’t have the same level of customization that you might on another platform, but it’s a phenomenal choice for beginners, photographers, or artists who can’t afford the cost of a website on another CMS.
Because Pinterest allows you to either pin from other sources or upload your own work, you can quickly create boards around any theme you like — for example, “my art” or “nature photos” — and populate images in a matter of moments. You can move boards around, change cover images to create a theme, and then link your Pinterest account from anywhere you like to show off your work.
P.ink, an organization that provides tattoo ideas for breast cancer survivors, uses their Pinterest board as a microsite. Thanks to the specific cover images they have on each board, it’s immediately obvious what each board contains. In fact, as you enter a specific board, you’ll find that each pin within is its own resource, or contains additional helpful information.
Use #3: As a Way to Motivate Charitable Actions
Many of us — myself included — tend to use Pinterest as a dumping ground for the things we covet. I confess I’m guilty of having a board named simply “do want,” which is filled with not-so-subtle hints to family members about gifts I’d like. But there are ways to use Pinterest that can go beyond your personal needs, and a few savvy companies have already discovered them.
If you volunteer for an organization that collects donations for the needy, Pinterest presents a great opportunity for you. Try running a virtual donation drive: pin items you would like or need to a board, and include information about where they can be sent or dropped off. If the items can be purchased online, shoppers can buy them through the pin and ship them to you in just a few clicks. If not, they’ll still know what you need and how to get them to you — and you’ll have a great, visual way to stay organized.
This is similar to what one company did during Hurricane Sandy. An organization named Helpin created Pinterest boards for families affected by the disaster, and who had often lost everything. They created boards for specific families, then pinned what each family needed to them; visitors could click through to purchase the product for the families directly, and Helpin would post a message when that product had been purchased.
If you work for an animal shelter, Pinterest is a great fit for you, too — just follow the The SPCA of Texas‘s lead. They have cat, dog, other animal boards filled with photos of adoptable animals. Each pin sends you to a page where you can learn more about the animal, request information, or even ask to adopt them. This is becoming common practice among SPCA branches and other animal organizations, both because people love looking at animals and because pins can spread quickly.
Use#4: As a Collection of Customer Stories
Do your customers sometimes send you photos, videos, testimonials, or stories about how they’ve used your products or services to improve their lives in some way? Why not collect these stories in a board on Pinterest?
A “customer stories” board provides fantastic social proof, can give you a ton of ongoing content for your Pinterest board, and can also make your customers feel just a little bit famous. Additionally, if your customers use your products in a craft or project of any kind, these stories have a high chance of being repinned and spreading around Pinterest; if the original content is hosted on your site, that potentially means more clicks and traffic for your site!
Gorilla Glue’s Tough Stories board collects pins from customers who have used their glue, tape, and other tough products in projects. You can view photos or watch videos directly from the board, read customer quotes, and learn more about the brand. It’s a great way to encourage engagement, and in this case, a fantastic form of proof that their product line works the way they claim it does.
Use #5: As a Way to Communicate with Clients
Finally, you wouldn’t think of Pinterest as a communication tool. If you wanted to chat with a friend, coworker, or client, you might turn to email, Twitter, or even Facebook. But for some professionals, Pinterest is an ideal tool to communicate with clients, exchange ideas, and come to a collaborative decision on how to approach a project.
Since multiple people can pin to the same board, see the same pins, exchange comments, and now even send pins back and forth, the possibilities of Pinterest communication are endless. This means that as a designer or developer, you could potentially create a board with inspiration for a website or project you’re building, show it to a client, and watch for their feedback. Based on their comments — or even their own pins — you could change your vision and ideas, and come to a final decision… without ever meeting in person, or sending a single email.
A perfect example of this method in action is stylist and designer Jane Ellen’s “Dressing Lynette Young” board. In a thread on Google+, Ellen talked about this unique way that she uses Pinterest to communicate with her clients:
It dawned on me recently to use Pinterest as a way to communicate with the clients I style so we could each see the vision together. You can have more than one person pin on each board. I only let my clients pin on their own boards as in “please, I want to wear this” and then I say “what? are you crazy?” and hit delete. See, it is a giving relationship. My clients are not all within walking distance of me and my knowledge is vast. No, really, just ask me. […]
Where do you get the content? You can just repin from another board. I do that sometimes. But much of my content is original in that I have spent hours searching the web for a specific piece for a client.
Young follows Ellen’s board, and can view or comment on the pins — which she definitely has:
This back-and-forth allows Ellen to make suggestions to her client, for Young to pick out the items or styles she like best, and for the two to come to mutual agreement — even while separated by hundreds or even thousands of miles. This also allows the two women to work on their own schedules, without waiting for days or even weeks for their next face-to-face meeting to discuss clothing options or inspiration for Young’s next event. Isn’t technology amazing?!
These are just five of the clever ways that I’ve found to use Pinterest. Have you found any of your own? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments! Pin on, my friends! :)
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