Over the past weeks, there’s been an almost deafening buzz from the tech blogosphere about the latest social networking site to take the Web by storm.
That site is Pinterest, as you probably know (unless you’re reading this on the moon). Although it’s been around since 2010 — and was called one of the “50 Best Websites of 2011″ by Time magazine last summer — it’s currently experiencing a phenomenal growth surge, with traffic increasing by more than fourfold in the fourth quarter of last year, bringing in 7.51 million unique visitors in December 2011 alone.
“Pinterest accounted for 3.6% of referral traffic, while Twitter just barely edged ahead of the newcomer, accounting for 3.61% of referral traffic. In July 2011, Pinterest accounted for just 0.17% of referral traffic, proving the site’s blockbuster growth.”
Why It Works for Small Business
The site is a free service that’s reinvented how info is “posted” via social networking. Members organize their favorite items by “pinning” them to the site, where they can be viewed, commented, and clicked on by other users.
But how is it different from other social networking sites — and why should small businesses care? Particularly if a company has already invested lots of time and effort into creating profiles for LinkedIn, Twitter, and/or Facebook, what does Pinterest have to offer that’s new or different — or profitable?
For starters, Pinterest is unique because it’s even more interactive and user-driven than Facebook; in a sense, it takes the “wall” aspect of that site and removes everything else. Think of it as a virtual bulletin board, where users post basically anything of interest for the rest of the world to see. And that’s ALL you see on the front page — no sponsored ads, no distractions, just direct access to user content, or “pins.”
But the question remains: “Can Pinterest Help Your Small Business?” asks Stephanie Rabiner of FindLaw.com (via Reuters).
The short answer: Heck yeah. The long answer: “Pinterest and small business seem like a match made in Internet marketing heaven.”
A sample of what Pinterest.com offers
Because of its unique “pinning” feature, as well as its recent surge in traffic, Pinterest is a great way to drive traffic to websites that may not regularly get that many visitors. And that, of course, is automatically an advantage to small businesses seeking to grow their businesses online.
“If done right, it can also link users to products you sell through your own website or affiliate programs on sites like Amazon,” Rabiner adds. “A small retailer can capitalize on this click-of-button advertising without too much effort.”
ZDNet’s Josh Gingold goes even further, declaring that small businesses “cannot afford to overlook Pinterest” — and offering some advice on just how to use the new site.
“Just creating a page and hoping people will find it probably isn’t going to cut it,” he writes, “so take some time to develop a goals-based strategy that addresses the same tried and true questions: what’s your market, who’re your customers, and how can you excite their interest?”
And, because of the female-dominated demographis it attracts, the site has already become a top five referrer for apparel retailers, according to Mashable. One designer compares Pinterest to window shopping, in online form.
So, how does it work? First, create a Pinterest account, and then you can start following other members who’re interested in stuff similar to what you’re selling. (You can also find followers other ways, such as those close to you geographically.)
Then, you can start posting info and links — much like Twitter’s Tweets or Facebook’s wall updates, pinning is a way to post a variety of things like products, photos, favorite sites, or blogs.
For a more in-depth overview on how to use Pinterest, check out this handy tutorial.
Have you tried Pinterest? Do you intend to? Do you welcome new social media sites like this, or are you growing weary of the seemingly neverending “next big thing”? Sound off in the comments and share your thoughts with the rest of the Executive Street community.