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How local businesses can do research and gain an edge with Pinterest

Pinterest is getting a ton of buzz as the hottest new social network. For those who haven’t dived into the site yet, think of Pinterest as an online cork board where people post pictures, articles and videos that inspire them, things they want to try, things to read, places they want to go, etc. Pinterest is one of those sites you have to try for yourself to realize how easy it is to get sucked in by all of the visual ideas put in front of you.

Besides being an excellent place to find Mother’s Day gift and recipe ideas, Pinterest is becoming an increasingly powerful tool for businesses. According to a recent study by Shareaholic, Pinterest now drives more referral traffic than Twitter. Sure, it’s easy for big brands such as Whole Foods to be successful but what about small and local businesses? The good news for local businesses is that Pinteret’s search feature makes it incredibly worthwhile for local businesses to be on Pinterest.

Tips for setting up your business account

  • Link your Pinterest account to your business’ Twitter account, because you can’t set up a business Pinterest account through a business Facebook page.
  • Keep in mind that your boards should not be overly promotional. Pinterest is the place to show off your company culture and show people what kind of ideas can correlate with your products and services. For example, a jewelry store should not only create boards with pictures of their products, but also showcase hairstyles and clothes that might go well with their jewelry so that people can get a sense for how everything comes together.
  • Before you seek out local people to follow, create a few boards first so you give people a reason to follow you back.

How to find local pinners

Since people have to sign in with either their Facebook or Twitter accounts, Pinterest grabs the information that people attach to those profiles. Most people list the specific city that they’re from — which is good news for local businesses. To find local users, click the search bar at the top left and enter the town you are targeting and hit search. Pinterest will naturally default to search for boards that have been created with that town name in it, but the trick is to filter it by People. Now you should see Pinners from the town that you searched and can search for towns in surrounding areas to connect with even more local Pinterest users.

Okay great, you know that local people are on Pinterest, but what should you do next? You can follow them, comment and like their boards. You can even repin and create a board full of local pins and title it, “Coolest Repins” or “Best (Insert your town here) Pinners.” Social media is all about engagement and Pinterest gives you a
prime opportunity to connect with users in regards to ideas that are very personal to them.

Pinterest as a research tool

What’s better than being able to see the specific interests of your target market? Look through the boards of your local users and take notes on what kind of products they love and what kind of style trends they are attracted to. This is a perfect opportunity to really learn who your target market is. The greatest thing about Pinterest is that people go there to discover and be inspired by things. It’s different than people shopping online where they usually know the exact thing that they’re looking for. With Pinterest, you can really get a feel for the interests, desires and inspirations of your target market. Then you can use this information to position your business effectively in front of your ideal customers.

Amber Wallor is the president and co-founder of Left Hand Marketing in the Chicago area. She specializes in social media training, social media management and video marketing.

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