Every week as SmallBizLady, I conduct interviews with experts on my Twitter talk show #SmallBizChat. The show takes place every Wednesday on Twitter from 8-9pm ET. This is excerpted from my recent interview with Jennifer Abernethy America’s Premier Social Business Stylist @SalesLounge. Jennifer is the author of the ever popular Complete Idiot’s Guide to Social Media Marketing (Penguin). She is ranked as one of the top 50 people in the world that truly get social media and is a multimillion dollar sales expert. Her company The Sales Loungeâ„¢ is the ultra hip learning lounge for professionals and her newest venture, Socially Deliveredâ„¢ is set up to become the world’s finest social media concierge firm. For more information: http://www.thesaleslounge.com/
SmallBizLady: Why has Pinterest Become so popular?
Jennifer Abernethy: At first it was a hard sell. It’s actually been around for a few years, but suddenly about 6 months ago it really took off. It’s the visual appeal. Think of it as virtual vision boards…we can see other vision boards and it triggers and emotional and creative response. We respond because we are tired of the written word (too much email); Pinterest allows us to utilize another part of our brain.
SmallBizLady: What are the types of businesses utilizing Pinterest?
Jennifer Abernethy: This is what initially attracted me to Pinterest. I went in and saw companies like Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream, Katie Couric, Tim Ferris of the Four Hour Workweek and even President Obama. Now we see major brands, Fortune 100 companies and boutique firms and serial entrepreneurs on the site. It’s great for small business owners to see the “big guys” vision boards and to connect with them on these sites.
SmallBizLady: What is the best way for a small business to use Pinterest?
Jennifer Abernethy: First get an account. Then surf for a while. Look at pages..explore..search individuals, companies and brands. Look at pages from folks on the West Coast, East Coast, and other countries. See what trends and new ideas emerge for you. Take your time. Think through your “why”. Then start naming some boards that relate to your expertise and passions. Then post some photos and videos if you can. The passions you share will make you more human and thus, relatable. Then begin paying attention to the comments you get on your page and pins.
SmallBizLady: How many people are using Pinterest?
Jennifer Abernethy: The latest stats from February 2012 are 17.8 million people with 2 million “daily” Facebook users pinning. 97% are women. With a total of 1 million total views to the Pinterest site in the month of March 2012. The numbers are climbing. As the site evolves the numbers are projected to go way up in the 2nd half of 2012.
SmallBizLady: What are some unique things people are doing on Pinterest?
Jennifer Abernethy: I’ve seen people do fun videos talking about their business. They are sharing their favorite books and their favorite foods. I’ve also seen people post job descriptions and QR Codes, Tip: For each pin, put a link to your website. Most see at least a 50% traffic increase to their website if they do this. Some people launch a daily “pin theme.” I might suggest a weekly or monthly theme. I love “tune” boards on Pinterest sharing music that aligns with your brand. If you have employees,have each employee do a board on your Pinterest page.
SmallBizLady: What about strategy to get new followers on Pinterest?
Jennifer Abernethy: Just like other social media sites, one of the first things you want to do is to “connect with” or “follow” those that have large followings. So find folks with aligned interests and connections and follow them. Name your board using a hashtag. Most people don’t realize that Pinterest is searchable by hashtags, so you can search for items and people via a hashtag and also create your own. Also put your Pinterest link (icon) on your website and blog, many forget to do that. Also put it on your email and business card, too. Acknowledge those that keep coming back to your boards, this will help develop brand champions on your Pinterest page.
SmallBizLady: What else is Pinterest doing this year?
Jennifer Abernethy: Pinterest is getting ready to go international. So, as the world gets smaller, start thinking of ways your business can connect, align and do business with entrepreneurs in other countries. The Gifts section is rapidly evolving, real estate agents are now pinning homes for purchase and retailers are putting products on the site. So think about how you can begin selling products on the site. Pinterest also recently launched customizable boards, which is going to change the way all of our pages look. We will each have our own look or feel depending on how we customize our page.
SmallBizLady: Let’s talk more about customizable pages…what are you seeing?
Jennifer Abernethy: You can highlight specific pins or photos to appear larger or on the top of your page. In other words, Pinterest allows you to select which image is featured as the cover of each board on your profile page. If you do nothing, the cover will be the last image you pinned. That helps keep your profile page dynamic, which is what you want to do. Also under your bio or about you section, put links and updated information that keeps it dynamic and searchable. Hint: also put your business phone number there so people can call you! Pay attention to your text choices when picking words to use to describe your boards and pins. This communicates volumes about your brand. Text should complement your pins and align with the branding of your business. Snappy, sassy, clever and creative copy always wins.
SmallBizLady: What are some “don’ts” that small business owners should know about?
Jennifer Abernethy: It’s important to remember that Pinterest is a social site. So you should follow back, connect and not “spam.” Spend some quality time exploring the site and looking for quality content to follow and re-pin. It’s truly important. People form impressions based on the company you keep so look for a savvy mix of companies, brands and individuals to follow. Stretch yourself and follow folks outside of your industry and find and follow leaders that you admire and that influence you. Just like I say in my book, everyone wants to be acknowledged so acknowledge others for a “board well done”.
SmallBizLady: What else do we need to know to become more empowered with Pinterest?
Jennifer Abernethy: Make sure your page overall teaches something. Whether it’s about your industry, products, services or teaches people about you. You want to be seen also as a resource. This way, people will keep coming back to your page to learn. Put articles, blogs, and share great copy on your boards; this is a powerful way to create a loyal following on Pinterest. It’s not just images and video. There are also copycat sites but some are very good – like Gentlemint for the male market is great if you want to target men. Another one I love is TheFancy.com. This is a board site for all things well…fancy. Cool design, destinations, it’s high end. We will see more of these emerge as the year goes on which is a good thing!
For more tips on how start or grow your small business subscribe to Melinda Emerson’s blog http://www.succeedasyourownboss.com.
Melinda F. Emerson, known to many as SmallBizLady is one of America’s leading small business experts. As a seasoned entrepreneur, professional speaker, and small business coach, she develops audio, video and written content to fulfill her mission to end small business failure. As CEO of Quintessence Multimedia, Melinda educates entrepreneurs and Fortune 500 companies on subjects including small business start-up, business development and social media marketing. Forbes Magazine named her #1 woman for entrepreneurs to follow on Twitter. She hosts #SmallBizChat Wednesdays on Twitter 8-9pm ET for emerging entrepreneurs. She also publishes a resource blog http://www.succeedasyourownboss.com Melinda is also bestseller author of Become Your Own Boss in 12 months; A Month-by-Month Guide to a Business That Works.