Pinterest, an online bulletin board for your favorite images that launched in 2010 and is experiencing wild growth, is driving more traffic to company websites and blogs than YouTube, Google+ and LinkedIn combined, according to a recent report from Cambridge, Mass.-based content-sharing site Shareaholic. But here are a few things you need to know about it:
What makes Pinterest different?
Pinterest allows you to organize images – cars you like, wines you’ve tasted, favorite donut shops, killer ski jumps — into boards for specific categories. When you “pin” something new, your followers will see it. They can like, comment or re-pin it to their boards. Like Facebook or You Tube content, your Pinterest pins can go viral. Brides-to-be can pin pictures of different wedding dresses to review, and people shopping for a new phone can pin images of their options. My friend has a pinboard exclusively of varied photos of Rafael Nadal.
How Is Pinterest Being Used?
Perhaps the most powerful business application is the ability to post images of your company’s products or services on your Pinterest board and link them back to your website. Think of it as a social media virtual catalog. If you simply display images of your products without contributing other content or sharing other users’ pins, you’ll likely find that people don’t pay much attention.
Pinterest already is driving buyers to some websites. Retail sites are experiencing increases in web traffic from Pinterest and sales resulting from those visits have increased. I learned about BeyondTheRack.com based on seeing cool clothes on my friend’s pinboards, and I wanted to know where they came from. I have since acquired an entire Spring wardrobe from Beyond The Rack as a result of one particular eye-catching pin.
Is Pinterest Right for Your Business or Brand?
If you are a retailer, sure. If your product or service isn’t particularly visual, however, your images may not tie directly back to your brand. Pinterest also doesn’t offer business-oriented features, and the search function prioritizes pin and board subjects ahead of “people,” the category that brands would fall into.
You can create a new board of your products and services, and add descriptions, prices, etc. One thing is clear: whether you’re on Pinterest for personal or business reasons, the best images (be they funny, beautiful or thought provoking) attract the most attention and the most followers. As a business, your best images might be proprietary –stuff you are not comfortable pinning.
What do you need to know before you start “pinning” like a maniac?
There is very little that can be done to avoid infringing copyright if you are on Pinterest. The only way to pin pictures without violating the site’s terms of service (and the picture owner’s copyright) is to only pin pictures that you’ve taken yourself. Once you pin it, it’s becomes fair game. You can get permission to post others’ pictures, but that is a process which takes away the whole idea of quickly putting up pictures you like. Now it’s just become work. And perhaps more importantly, you could be exposing yourself to a possible legal risk. You can read more about that ongoing issue here: http://www.forbes.com/sites/anthonykosner/2012/03/15/pinterest-napster-for-housewives-or-wake-up-call-for-copyright/