Pinterest has been the largest growing social network of the past year. According to data out this week from Nielsen, it's in fourth place in terms of unique PC visitors in the U.S., just behind LinkedIn (with the top two being Facebook and Twitter, obviously). Based on that data, Pinterest has grown by 1,047% year-over-year. LinkedIn has grown by 0%. Twitter has grown by 13%, and Facebook has fallen by 4%.
In a recent article, we looked at some ways for businesses to increase sales with Pinterest. Since then, Pinterest has only catered to businesses even more, having launched some new tools and resources. Suffice it to say, the opportunities are blooming on this red hot social site, which also recently launched apps for iOS and Android.
We had a chance to conduct a Q&A with Karen Lacey and Jason Miles, co-authors of the recently published Pinterest Power: Market Your Business, Sell Your Product, And Build Your Brand On the World's Hottest Social Network. They shared their thoughts on Pinterest's new tools, third party tools, the mobile apps, what Pintest is still lacking, and more.
Pinterest For Business
"First off, from a macro perspective these developments prove Pinterest is very interested in helping businesses grow and benefit from their website," Lacey tells WebProNews. "It's not just a place for swapping craft ideas. Ecommerce and social media are coming together here and we get to watch it unfold."
"Specifically, the new widgets are awesome," she adds. "Anytime you can get people to become more involved with what you're doing, the better. Use these! The verification badge proves the website you have in your profile is yours. This helps prevent some spamming issues we saw in the past, when folks were a little less than upfront about what they were linking to. The Case Studies and Best Practices sections share great ideas, and we can't get too much of that. So overall, the new business tools actually do help. I expect to see many more of these as the months progress."
"These changes do several important things to assist businesses," says Miles. "First, the updated Terms Of Service now clearly offers instructions for business use. The prior TOS did not offer clear direction to businesses. In fact, a close reading left businesses unsure whether it was appropriate to use Pinterest for business, even though the company was clearly encouraging it. So the most cautious corporate managers have been uneasy using the site, until now."
"But lots of people, even business managers, don't read the TOS too closely, and just use the sites functionality to determine what is okay," he adds. "So the second change, to the sign-up process is very helpful too. The new functionality gives businesses a way to sign-up as a company. So you can clearly sign-up as an individual, or as a company, whichever is most appropriate. In the previous sign-up process companies would have to use the 'First Name' and 'Last Name' boxes creatively to explain who they were."
"The third significant change is the addition of a business focused help section, with business cases and related tools," he says. "That content allows the Pinterest team to directly communicate with business managers, rather than having them hunt for tips and tools on third-party sites, like www.marketingonpinterest.com [Miles' site]."
He also mentioned the verified website tool. "This allows you to authentic your Pinterest Profile and you're rewarded for doing it by having a more prominent presentation of your website URL on your profile," he says. "This step serves end-users, and businesses alike."
Pinterest's New Secret Boards And Business
Pinterest recently started letting users create secret boards. These authors find this a useful addition for businesses as well.
"Absolutely these are helpful," says Lacey. "They let you collaborate on projects without the board being visible to the general public. Advertising campaigns, contests, giveaways, and etc. can be set up, then the board can be turned on so the public can take part. Remember that current boards can't be switched to secret status, only new boards."
"This is nice functionality, and yes, there is a clear business use," says Miles. "It allows you to use Pinterest as a collaboration tool, privately. That's great for internal business collaboration. You can also create a board privately, prepare a large collection of pins, and then make it public. At the moment it becomes public all your followers (that are following all-boards)will immediately be assigned to follow this newly public board, but they won't have to suffer through your manic pinning to build the board. So a new curation strategy is possible. Make a board privately, develop it into a robust collection, then make it public and add content less intensely. That strategy will allow you to make something that people will enjoy, but not force them to watch you build it."
In terms of third-party tools, Lacey says, "What we found in writing the book was that the major use of third party tools was in tracking visits, repins, and referral traffic. All sorts of tools exist for making interesting pins, but for the most part the most successful people want to know their Pinterest and other social media stats. If they don't, they should. Check out your Pinterest traffic with Google Analytics, Pinreach, and Curalate for a start."
"The leading tool is curalate.com, which allows you to manage your social engagement effectively," says Miles. "The Modcloth team raves about it, and they have 1.4 million followers. I think most larger brands do need to use a tool like this if they're going to try to actively engage with their most influential Pinterest followers."
"Marketers managing smaller operations are probably well served just using the primary functions of the site," he adds. "Of course, the most important tool any business owner can use is the Pinmarklet tool, available for download on Pinterest.com. That browser add-on allows you to pin things directly from any website you are visiting, and it also allows you to audit your own site to see how Pinterest users are experiencing your content. A top priority for any Webmaster these days is to ensure that pinning content from your site is quick and easy."
The Mobile Apps
It was a big deal when Pinterest launched its mobile apps. The site was always reasonably good for mobile, but as with most sites gone app, the app takes the experience up a notch, and that tends to keep users coming back.
"These apps are hugely popular and will be more so with the updates they recently made," Lacey says. "For example, now boards can be edited directly from the device, finally! Secret boards can be created from the device, and you can block or report users. What this all means is the divide between desk top and hand held is shrinking."