Five reasons why B2B businesses should start looking at Pinterest

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By Alexandra Reid

Although still invite only, Pinterest is skyrocketing as a popular social media platform among businesses and consumers. And while it’s not critical that B2B businesses launch their own boards right away, it’s certainly worth your while to check out the site and determine if and how it could be worked into a social media marketing strategy.

I’ve played around and done the research on behalf of our clients, and thought it might be helpful if I shared my findings for other B2B businesses interested in pursuing the new social channel.

What is it?

Pinterest was founded in December 2009 in Palo Alto and achieved closed beta status in March 2010. In October 2011, the company secured $27 million in funding and in December the site became one of the top 10 social networks, according to Hitwise data, with 11 million total visits per week.

Pinterest is an image-based platform, similar to Flickr in some ways, which connects “everyone in the world through the ‘things’ they find interesting.” By creating your own board(s) you can organize and share things you find on the web. You can also browse the pinboards created by other people and repin and comment on their images.

Pinterest supports cross-platform engagement, as it allows individuals to register via Facebook Connect and Twitter. It also encourages attribution of the original source of images, directing people to “pin from the original source,” “pin from permalinks” and “give credit and include a thoughtful pin description.” While the site does not have an e-commerce function (yet), it serves to direct people to sites where items can be purchased, even allowing individuals to post price tags through descriptions.

While the site is currently most popular among consumers and B2C businesses, its features also cater to B2B marketers. Here are five reasons why B2B businesses should take notice.

1) SEO

As explained previously, Pinterest encourages people to pin from the original source and so provides a wonderful inbound link opportunity. Not only can you pin images with links to your own website and social media pages on your boards, others are directed to do the same with your content. To help users do just this, Pinterest provides a bookmarklet to let users pin as they browse the web as well as a “Pin it” button for websites. Search Engine Land recently offered some good tips on how brands can use Pinterest for local SEO, which I suggest you check out.

2) Content marketing without the huge demand for engagement

Unlike other social sites such as Twitter and Facebook that can demand heavy user engagement on content shared, Pinterest requires little, if any, interaction with others, according to Social Media B2B. While Pinterest provides the opportunities to repin and comment, the requirement to do so is less demanding than other social media channels, while the platform offers the freedom for brands to “push out content on their own time.” Pinterest allows promotion of many different kinds of images, including product shots, infographics, photographs or even websites. For brands that are active on Facebook and Twitter, Pinterest encourages social sharing through channel integration.

3) Niche marketing

Pinterest encourages users to pin what they care about, helping brands visually demonstrate their niche expertise. Well-tagged images can be searched through the site, helping users find exactly what they are looking for, no matter how focused the request. People using the site are known to seek items that are interesting and unique, presenting a great opportunity to B2B businesses to showcase their offerings. I’ve read that the search function is still in need of work, however, so do be sure to use tags and appropriate descriptions on your images to help others find you.

4) Market feedback

Pinterest images can be commented on much like blogs, in a chain of conversation attached to the pin. Organized comments are a great way to determine a market’s receptiveness to a given product or service and also reply to important questions and concerns. Repins can also provide some indication as to a visually represented product or service’s popularity. For new businesses, or established businesses launching a new product, this feedback can be invaluable.

5) Collaboration

In addition to personal boards, Pinterest provides open boards, which allow multiple users to contribute images. This is a great way to encourage users to post their own images of a product or business alongside those pinned by the company itself. For example, if your business attends a trade show, you could post your own images while encouraging other trade show contacts and influential attendees to post images too, bridging valuable relationships while demonstrating to others your involvement in your industry’s community.

What are your first impressions of Pinterest?

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