Very Pinteresting – How Pinterest Can Help Your Business

This week we launched new social media buttons on Collectivator. At the bottom of every item webpage are “Like” “Tweet” and “Pin It” buttons. Now anyone looking at an item on Collectivator (including the sellers) can use these buttons to easily share an item to their social network. I’m very excited about this improvement, but social media does raise some questions. One seller asked me to explain Pinterest in particular, and how the “Pin It” function works. The seller questioned if a pinned image of their stock would remain credited to them. Unlike Twitter and Facebook which display obvious links, Pinterest is all about images. The seller was unsure if an image of one of their items would benefit them or potentially lead to a sale. Basically, would people know where to go if they wanted to buy something they saw on Pinterest?

These are excellent questions but I want to start with a basic description of Pinterest for those that haven’t been formally introduced. Pinterest describes itself as an online pinboard for things that you love (you “pin” things of “interest” – see what they did there?). It is a free social media website that focuses entirely on images. Users create “pinboards” that they populate with images they find online. Pinterest makes pinning images easy using their “Pin It” button that you can add to your web browser, or (as we did on Collectivator) to individual web pages. You can also “repin” an image already posted on Pinterest to use on your own boards. When you pin an image it becomes public for your followers, and anyone on the Pinterest homepage, to see. As a way to organize and curate collections of things you want to share, Pinterest works really well. It has a nice clean design and it’s very intuitive, so it’s no wonder it has already captivated 10 million users.

Now let’s get back to the question of links and image credit. The general rule of posting an image online is that you should always credit the image and link back to the original source. Pinterest makes it easy by automatically linking back to the webpage where you found the image. This link is a part of the image and remains unchanged even if your image is repinned by someone else. Easy breezy right? Well, not always. What if the webpage where you found the image didn’t own the image in the first place? Hypothetical situation: You googled “McCoy Pottery”, and  found an article on Bob’s Blog that had a nice image of some green McCoy pottery. Unbeknown to you, Bob had found that image on my blog and used it without giving me credit. If you pinned the image, the link Pinterest would use would go back to Bob’s Blog, and not to me (the original source). This situation happens more than it should and it can be a major problem for people who make a living from their intellectual property. It’s a reason movements like Link with Love started, and why I recommend if you do use Pinterest to always pin the image from the original source. It makes the internet better and it’s much better karma.

So keeping in mind that anyone could take an image from Collectivator and use it on their own website without credit, why do I think Pinterest is good for my sellers? Because most of the time people will be pinning directly from Collectivator and therefore creating links directly to the item listing. Take a look at this screenshot from my personal Pinterest account. This is an image I pinned from an item listing on Collectivator:

Pinterest screen shot

It’s a little hard to see because I had to shrink the image, but it shows the basic elements. At the top there is the image with a caption I wrote saying “Flamingos” by 6 Nations artist Chief James Beaver. Captions are required for all images on Pinterest and are usually quite brief. Below the image you see it was pinned onto my board “Great Folk Art”. Below that it reads “Originally pinned by Cassandra Ross” and (most importantly from my business point of view) “Pinned via pinmarket from”. Finally, below there is 1 repin from another user onto her pinboard “FLAMINGOS”.

The image is the link so if you click the image you go directly to the item’s webpage on Collectivator. Anyone who repins the image is now essentially promoting the link to their social networks, and as it gets more exposure and repinned it always links back to the original item listing. Pretty good free advertising, right? Also, note that the little thumbnails you see as pinned from were not pinned by me. These were pinned by our visitors. So now we’re getting more awareness for those items in particular, and our website in general. Win win all around.

Hopefully now you see some advantages of Pinterest from an online business point of view, and might be ready to start pinning. Great! Here’s some pointers to get you started:

  •  Pinterest is free to use but it is invitation only. Don’t worry – they’re not snobs. Just follow the clearly marked “Ask to Join” link on their homepage and give an email address. Within 24 hours you will receive notice that an account has been created.
  • If you’re a seller on Collectivator posting images of stock, remember to first post the item on Collectivator, then “pin” the image from the item’s Collectivator webpage.
  • When you create your pinboards, give them good descriptive names and be specific. You can easily make more boards as you go along.
  • Don’t be shy! “Follow” other people (either all their images or select boards), as well as “like” and comment positively on any image that strikes your fancy.
  • Even if you’re using Pinterest to post images of stock, remember that Pinterest is a place to get inspiration. Create pinboards dedicated to gardening, cooking, decorating, art, fashion or anything else you want to share.
  • I assume all my readers are proper ladies and gentlemen, but some people on Pinterest leave rude comments or post inappropriate images. It’s rare but it happens.
  • Finally, image is everything. Even your loveliest item will go unnoticed (and unpinned) if the image looks bad. Spend the time and effort to properly photograph your items. If you need some examples, just look around at what other people are pinning. Pin images of items that are visually interesting, and don’t feel obligated to pin everything. A little editorial discretion and effort will pay off when the selection of items you share are admired and repinned by others.

If you’re interested you might also want to check out my earlier post on social media for business. Enjoy exploring Pinterest & if you have any questions or tips please share them!

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