Creating a successful small business Pinterest page is no simple task. It takes an understanding of what Pinterest is, what your target audience is looking for, a plan to express your business culture effectively and lots of creativity.
I chose three small businesses to use as examples of what to do and what not to do to demonstrate these points.
It was surprisingly difficult to find small businesses with an active Pinterest account, although there were plenty of ghost pages. Although these accounts are used to represent the correct and incorrect way to manage a Pinterest page, they are among the few who have demonstrated the ability to have an account and therefore are already ahead of the competition.
And a word of wisdom: if your business set up a Pinterest page but decided not to pursue it, take it down. It is more professional to be without than to have a half-finished project online.
Who are they:
Designers Coast Inc. is a “creative house” of five women residing in Barbados, with a goal to….???
- The profile picture is the business logo and it looks great. A crisp color, clear print and it fits perfectly in its designated spot. It also looks very professional as a thumbnail. The profile picture is extremely important, do not baulk at spending the time to upload a quality graphic or picture. It will accompany everything relating to your business.
- The bio or “About” section starts off well but ends without a full sentence. Why? The bio is the perfect opportunity to introduce the business. Tell pinners who you are and why you are different from others in your industry
- Media links are connected to the business website and one of the designer’s Twitter account. Does the business have a Twitter account? If not, it should have at least one. But I do not suggest linking a business account to a personal account, unless it is discussed and agreed upon. A frivolous tweet could do a lot of damage.
- The first two boards are portfolio collections and named too similarly. Portfolio boards should not be the first boards pinners see. It is more personal to begin with a “Designs We Love” board and have a wide range of designs loved by all designers in the firm.
- Give followers the opportunity to know the women behind Designers Coast. If you want to have a designated portfolio board, use names like “Projects We Loved Most” to draw people in.
- All in all, the board names are too straightforward. Design is an exciting world – use creativity to name the boards in an unconventional and spunky way. Nab the viewer, do not let them peruse on by.
- Good job at filling in front real estate on the boards. Front real estate (my term) is the cover picture and four smaller pictures you see displayed on the front of a board. Empty spaces look drab and well, empty. If you create a new board, add at least five pictures before moving on.
- Do not use stock photos to fill space on your boards, ever. Considering the wide array of high-def pictures available on Pinterest there is no reason to sport stock photos, especially for a design business.
- Broken links. When I clicked on one of the pictures pinned on a portfolio board, it took me to a different place on the business website that had nothing to do with the original picture. This is a serious no-no. Links must correspond to their home spot on the business website.
The page looks great and is off to an excellent start. But it does need to be spruced up. Reconnect those links, have an office brainstorming party and come up with some awesome board names, mix your portfolio pieces in with other designs, fill up all your real estate and reconsider the Twitter connection.
2. Cosi Restaurants
Who are they:
Cosi is a restaurant chain with a seven-point description of who they are on their website, but the Pinterest account basically just says they cook, oh, and pin now – well, that’s encouraging.
- The first thing I noticed is the profile picture. It is the restaurant logo, but is disappearing into the sides. Pinterest is a visual social network, therefore everything a brand represents should be in tiptop shape, especially the business logo.
- The bio tells me nothing about Cosi at all. And they don’t give the location either. If the website has a bang-up, full-page description then the bio should not be difficult to fill. This is free advertising space – use it. Lure us in.
- The logo on Pinterest is white, the one on the business website is black. Black pops on the white Pinterest background, whereas the white logo blends in. Use your best elements on Pinterest, always.
- The cover pictures are inviting. Set all cover pictures as the best one from every board. Give viewers a reason to open them up and check them out full-size.
- Board names are interesting and fun, but using acronyms is not a good idea. In this particular instance it is referring to a popular sandwich, but unless your item/product/service is so popular everyone knows it – spell it out for us, or risk alienating pinners.
- Some board contents are confusing while others do an excellent job of creating a culture behind the brand. “When Life Gives You Lemons” not only has a catchy name, but it’s filled with a ton of things relating to lemons even though they are promoting a drink. This board illustrates the best way to promote a business without being obvious.
- The page curator did not write all the picture captions. Be careful with content captions – they should relate to the board and should be captioned by YOU, otherwise YOU look silly.
- Big cheers to Cosi for attempting to create follower collaborations with the Sun & Moon board. If you want to get followers involved, use the name as a call to action, “Share your Sun & Moon with us.” Ask them to be involved, don’t assume they will open it up and then find out.
Cosi needs to spend time revamping their page, but they are already showing a lot of personality and have value to give their followers. Come up with more creative names like, When Life Gives You Lemons, and rework current boards with new content. The entire set-up should be redone with the black logo, a bio, and locale.
Also, incorporate the fun attitude expressed in the company website throughout the Pinterest page and think of unique ideas to incorporate different franchises into the mix. A “Nebraska Cosi’s Love” board would get employees involved and they could be given freedom to articulate company culture. But make sure to include lots of content from other businesses and websites. Incorporate fun recipe boards and take another shot at getting followers involved. Cosi seems to have a lot of energy – let’s see it through Pinterest.
Who are they:
Tech-Gadgets provides unique gifts and high tech gadgets for that hard-to-buy-for person.” How do I know – it SAYS it on the bio! Awesome!! They also have a call to action in their bio, with emphasis on “shop.”
- Good quality logo design that fits perfectly into the profile picture space and looks professional.
- FINALLY, a well-done bio. Thanks for letting us know what you are, now, where are you located? Location is important and relevant to local businesses and pinners.
- Dull board names. They do nothing to draw me in unless I am a guy. And since women reign in Pinterest-land, that is not a wise move. Come on, tech gadgets are exciting (even to girls) – make us excited to check them out! And add some personalization, “Cameras we cannot shoot without.”
- The biggest problem with this page is it’s just another selling space for Tech Gadgets. There are few (like 1 or 2) pins unrelated to Tech Gadgets products and that defeats the purpose of Pinterest.
The social media golden rule is: 80% them 20% you. If there is difficulty in catching the attention of your followers, use better pictures or captions. There are plenty of ways to sell if the creativity card comes out.
- There is ONE personal board called, “Cool!” with two pictures. It tells followers nothing about who Tech Gadgets is, what they believe in or why they love tech gadgets. Make us like you and we will want to buy from you. Have a favorite tech movies board, share some of your YouTube videos – let us know who is behind Tech Gadgets.
- Repin Exchange is a successful follower collaboration board and it illustrates the kind of activity Tech Gadgets could have if it reworked its strategy. The board has 1,921 followers compared to 81 followers on the overall account. As the curator did, have specific instructions for what pinners can pin, and monitor the board constantly.
Tech Gadgets needs to rework the strategy; find a balance showcasing their products with others, rename the boards in a tech-savvy way, and express who they are as a company.
Although social media is the best way to reach your target audience, it is not all about sales. It is more about what is happening on the Repin Exchange board. Interaction leads to sales, community creates leads and inevitably your business wins out.
But props to Tech Gadgets for being one of the few small tech businesses with a working Pinterest account. Seems like the business has cool gadgets to sell, so reconsider the market and blow us away. It could become a destination spot for the perfect boyfriend present.
As shown, it is not easy to have a successful Pinterest account, but is can be achieved with a solid plan and a sense of humor.
A big thanks to the small businesses I used as examples. I respect your businesses and only chose them because they stood out against the competition.
Do you have any ideas for these business or advice on what to do with their accounts? Or perhaps you disagree with my critique – either way I would love to hear from you.