How visual social media can increase sales and promote your brand
No matter how old-school your marketing style, you must be aware of how social media has become the preeminent way to reach many consumer markets. Facebook is the granddaddy of social media, but there are many other significant players in the field, including Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest.
Pinterest uses the analogy of an old-fashioned bulletin board, on which users “pin” items of interest to various boards. You can also think of it as the modern day equivalent of creating collages from torn-out magazine pages. This system has found great success not only with consumers, but also with marketing and public relations professionals.
DISTINCTIONS IN THE SOCIAL MEDIA WORLD
Simple ideas make a social media site successful, but the social media market is anything but straightforward. The things that differentiate one social site from another are often the same elements that attract—or repel—one market segment to or from a platform. Social media can be a fickle sport.
For example, the attraction of Facebook for many consumer markets has simply been its ubiquity. Knowing that “everyone” is on it makes it an appealing one-stop shop for many users who are looking for easy solutions. As Facebook has become ubiquitous, however, many of its users have jumped ship to other sites, especially younger users who didn’t want to be on the same platform as their parents.
Every social media site has its own raison d’être—a twist or gimmick that sets it apart from other sites. Twitter’s twist is that it enables users to communicate in short bursts. Instagram, on the other hand, finds success by enabling users to communicate via imagery.
Many a network’s claim to fame has been simply that they were the newest—or, momentarily, the trendiest—one on the block. Most of those networks have come and gone. Only a handful have had the staying power to join the small list of social media icons we recognize on websites. Pinterest has had that staying power, thanks to the way in which it allows users to employ its tools.
The average Pinterest user’s intent is to find elements that they then incorporate, or “curate,” into their own boards. In the same way they use a search engine, users can search Pinterest for specific subjects and content. They can then create visually appealing boards by pinning and grouping the content they discover in ways that make the most sense for their needs.
For example, users can create and name many boards and then organize pinned elements onto them. Each pin is a link to the original website on which the image appeared, and, as such, the pins are more than just photos; they often include bits of information as well. Users can assemble items of personal interest, recipes, and how-tos onto reference boards.
Because of such flexibility, Pinterest’s platform has experienced significant growth since its creation in 2010. In a recent news item, one of Pinterest’s co-founders told Business Insider that the company’s most recent round of fundraising brought the company up to $1.3 billion of investment. This amount might seem like a lot, but the company is valued at $11 billion—not bad for a 5-year-old start-up (though with a piggy bank that size, Pinterest is as much a start-up as a Weinstein film is independent).
On the street, all of those billions translate into a website whose user base and viewership has had an off-the-charts growth rate. It reached 10 million unique visitors a month more quickly than any other website to date.
Demographically, the site is more popular with women. According to data from 2012, 83 percent of its user base is female—except in England, where 56 percent of Pinterest users are male. Pinterest’s age distribution closely matches that of Internet users on the whole. Thus, it reaches a broad range of users.
From the vantage point of artists and dealers, this demographic could represent a huge opportunity because these Pinterest users place a great emphasis on home decoration, do-it-yourself projects, and home improvement. People interested in these topics are often also interested in art.
Pinterest is a thriving platform on which to focus many types of art-marketing efforts. This fact is important for both the marketer and the platform. Pinterest has put great effort into helping business users get on board.
1. Choose to log in through Facebook or to create a unique Pinterest account. Logging in through Facebook is an increasingly popular option, and there may be some good reasons for choosing this option, but I prefer to control my accounts individually and create a unique account for each social media platform.
2. Decide whether to create a personal account or a business one. As always, there are pluses for both options. Pinterest states: “If you’re using Pinterest as part of how you make a living, whether by driving traffic to a blog that makes you some money or to build your personal brand to find customers for your products or services, you should sign up for a business account.”
As an artist or an art dealer, you want to show the world your personal talents or those of the people you represent. In that case, a business account is best. Because the casual user won’t see significant differences between a personal account and a business one, choosing a business account won’t forgo the homespun image that a personal account sometimes projects to the world.
Note that if you already have a personal Pinterest account that you have been using for business, you can now convert it into a business listing if you want.
3. Select five interests. Gallery owners, artists, and agents can start by simply typing the word “art” into the search box at top. A nice selection of art-related topics from which to choose will pop up.
4. Choose whether to add a Pinterest browser button. This browser extension allows you to easily pin items to your boards.
5. Once you’ve completed Step 3, the system chugs away to install the plugin and create your Pinterest page, drawing from the elements of each of the chosen topics. The accompanying graphic shows the default screen for the fictitious Acme Art Gallery account.
6. Verify your business website.
Obviously, doing business on a social media site entails more work than being a regular consumer on it. Although a business account on Pinterest won’t look obviously different from the consumer’s point of view, it does give the user access to many things designed just for businesses.
One of the most useful applications of a business account is the access to Pinterest’s analytics. The analytics display your average daily impressions, daily viewership, monthly viewership, and monthly engaged followers. They also allow you to figure out what people love most from your Pinterest profile and your website, which pins drive traffic back to your site, who your Pinterest audience is—including gender, location, and interests—and how adding the Pin It button to your website leads to referral traffic from Pinterest.
Another benefit of a business account is the ability to use Rich Pins. Rich Pins are a step above Standard Pins. They enable you to automatically add extra details, including pricing information and a direct link to your website. Rich Pins should thus become more useful to users and result in more traffic to your site. Rich Pins include selections for movies, recipes, articles, products, and places. If you sell products, note that Product Pins include real-time pricing information, and anyone who has pinned them will get a notification of a decrease in price. This feature can easily apply to art items.
Sellers of art should also consider taking advantage of Article and Place Pins. You can use these to create value-added information that draws in potential customers. Article Pins can be stories from your blog and items about your artists; Place Pins can be items about regional artists you may represent. Be creative and find ways to make the best use of these tools.
You aren’t required to create Rich Pins on a business account, but if you have an online store, it’s definitely worth the extra effort. However, setting up Rich Pins involves steps that may require the help of your web developer.
If you don’t create Rich Pins, you can still include a product’s price in a Standard Pin’s description.
Another creative way to use a Pinterest account is by hosting a contest. Contests are fun and are a great way to attract a bigger audience and drive engagement in your Pinterest account. Your contest can require entrants to pin an image from your website, follow your account, pin a photo of them with one of your products, or create a specifically themed board. Contests are also a great way to collect email addresses.
OPTIMIZE YOUR ACCOUNT PROFILE
Carefully choose your profile image to help people recognize your business. If you have a logo, use it. However, make sure your logo is square, because that’s how your profile will display. If your logo is not square, ask your designer to make a square version of it.
On the other hand, if you “are” your brand—for example, as an artist—then use a nice photo of yourself on your Pinterest profile. If you’re active on other social networks, use the same profile picture across your platforms so that your followers on one network will instantly recognize you on others.
Name your account appropriately. Use your company name if that’s what you typically promote. If the name of your product is more popular than your company name, however, use the product name.
Choose a username that makes sense. Your username becomes part of the custom URL of your Pinterest profile (i.e., pinterest.com/username), so make it the same as your business name.
In the About You section, write a conversational description of who you are, naturally weaving in your target keywords. Also provide and verify the URL of your website. This step is necessary if you want your hyperlinked URL to show up on your profile—and you do. Pinterest provides step-by-step instructions for accomplishing this task.
Now start pinning! You can easily pin items while surfing the web. Just install the Pin It button to your browser, and you can pin images from anywhere on the web to one of your boards without leaving the webpage.
Businesses should seriously consider installing the Pin It widget and one or more of Pinterest’s other buttons—including Follow, Profile, and Board—to their websites to allow visitors to easily share content from the site. You can find the Pin It button and other buttons and widgets on the Button and Widget Builder page. To find this page, visit the Goodies page in the About section of Pinterest’s website.
SOCIAL MEDIA: IT’S A PROCESS
Like all other marketing efforts, social media is a process that will not change your business overnight. It takes a commitment from businesses to become parts of the fabric of the social media network into which they put themselves.
If you apply these steps with real commitment and over a period of time, the returns can be tremendous. Keep in mind one thing: consistency. Don’t set your goals or commitments too high. Decide how many hours a month you might want to commit to the effort and stick with it. Consistently putting in five hours a month will yield better long-term results than dedicating 20 hours a month a few times a year.