Pin it

If you recognise the image on the left, then you’ve probably already discovered the wonderful, and time-sucking, Pinterest.

I started playing with it about six months ago, and it really appeals to my visual senses, it’s a way to collect and categorise images. It adds a social element by allowing you to re-pin images from others, or to follow others. I’m using it to collect quotes, design ideas, fantasy homes, and “objects of desire” – for all those wild objects I’d buy if I had more money and another twenty rooms to put them in.

Interest in Pinterest has been growing, and it’s currently the fastest growing social media site out there. Even though it’s not easy to get an account; right now you’ll need an invite from a friend or you’ll be on a waiting list.

Given the high level of growth, and the length of time people spend on this site (the average user spends 88 minutes – third behind facebook and tumblr, and a long way ahead of Google+) it’s inevitable that people would see a business opportunity. In fact it’s already starting to rise as referrer site according to a study by Mashable.

So what are the best professional uses of Pinterest?

Product Catalogue

This is the most obvious use of Pinterest, particularly if your products are visually appealing cupcakes or fashion.

Wholefoods group great images of their products, under some fun headings “Eat your veggies” for example. Samsonite have used some boards to display their products

Education

I found two different approaches here, Savannah College of Art and Design focuses on current and prospective students. Their pinterest boards give a good insight into live on the campus and the achievements of their students.

The University of Pennsylvania Career Services on the other hand provides resources for their graduating students, including where to find a job, tips on job hunting, advice on updating linkedin, and image on appropriate interview wear.

Non-Profit

Unicef has arranged their boards according to the themes of the work they do for the most part, but has separate boards for video and cartoons which I found a bit disruptive to how I like to find things.

A more radical approach is taken by South West Key, they’ve got posters from activist campaigns, books related to their cause, and profiles of some members.

Magazines

There are a number of magazines using Pinterest, often as another channel to display their own content. Women’s Running does something smarter, collecting relevant, funny and inspirational images from around the web.

Beautiful Beaches

Locations

OK, this is a no-brainer, particularly if you’re promoting a place as beautiful as Aruba.

Museums

The Smithsonian’s Archives of American Art display some of their catalogue via Pinterest, museums usually can’t display all the artifacts they hold, so tools like Pinterest can increase their exposure.

Take-aways

Pinterest is new, but the most successful boards so far seem to have a few things in common;

  1. Be aware of your target audience; the University of Pennsylvania Career Services know who their audience is and match the resources they provide.
  2. Choose great images; the photos on the Aruba page had me contemplating travel.
  3. Go with themes; Samsonite provide some catalogue styled boards, but also play with the theme of travel.
  4. Don’t just reproduce content from your own sources; use the tool to collate relevant content from around the web as Women’s Running did.
  5. Have some fun labelling your boards; Wholefoods, the Smithsonian and Women’s Running magazine pulled this off. You’ve got images there to back up whatever labels you choose, this gives you a little extra freedom.
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