If you’re tired of the plain old social media website or if you have a hobby or craft that you want to really promote online then check out Pinterest.
Founded in San Francisco in 2010 by Internet entrepreneurs Ben Silbermann, Evan Sharp and Paul Sciarra, the website has grown rapidly to 70 million users, becoming the third-largest social media network in the world (behind Facebook and Twitter) according to Experian.
Pinterest is more about things than people and unlike Facebook, users don’t have to include a ton of personal information or status updates to keep their pages alive. Also unlike Twitter, users won’t feel overwhelmed by information tidbits and chatter.
Once new Pinterest users create an account, they can explore thousands of public feeds (known as “boards”) loaded with everything from wallpaper designs and recipes to do-it-yourself (DIY) tips and home decor ideas. Users simply browse and click the red “Pin It” button to add ideas to their own collection boards. They can also follow users to keep up with their boards.
New users can post their own content or simply browse and dedicate boards to a particular theme: for example “Only in Mississippi” or “Southern Cooking.” Pinning updates can easily be integrated into a Twitter feed or Facebook timeline for friends and family to see.
Kristen Hermetz pins everything from decorating tips for her classroom to jewelry she likes. “I enjoy following Christian scripture and leaders, as well as fun and easy arts and crafts projects and creative ways to put together outfits,” she says. “I have heard of girls having Pinterest parties, where they each bring enough material to create that specific craft they found interesting that week.”
In addition to spawning Pinterest parties, the site has also help spur on the dot com trend known as life hacking: Easy tips or shortcuts for everyday life situations like lighting a hard to reach candle wick with a stick of spaghetti or using nail polish to identify different keys.
“The inventor of Pinterest is a genius,” says Amber Lynn. “My favorite things to pin are recipes. I also use it to get ideas for home decorations. Pinterest is the new way to keep articles. We use to have to cut them out of magazines and hope to keep up with them.”
Clinton photographer Meg Lake recently bought her last camera after researching it on Pinterest and says the website is a great gift buying guide. She also uses the site to study PhotoShop editing techniques and research different poses and props that photographers use.
“Pinterest is just such a wide open market,” Lake says. “You can find a little bit of everything. There were really clever ideas on unique housewarming gifts like wrap a cookbook in a kitchen towel and stick the wooden spoons in it. That’s what blows my mind.”
Others in Mississippi are using the site to grow their business or attract customers to their products or services. Simply type in the word “Mississippi” and Pinterest will send you to boards loaded with Mississippi-based apparel, gifts, photographs and artwork of the Magnolia State.
While the technology to track social media to sales is still in development, many independent business and shop owners agree that there is definitely tons of retail potential connected to the site.
Leigh Anne Lubiani handles all the social media for the Mississippi Gift Company in Greenwood including their popular Pinterest account.
“(Pinterest is) a good tool for driving customers to the website,” Lubiani says. “Its an affordable way to get your product and your name out there.”
The gift shop runs weekly promotions, “pin it to win it” contests, quarterly drawings and keeps boards stocked with pins of their best-selling products as well as gifts for the home or for college sports fans.
The store also pins wedding gift ideas year-round and special themed products during the holidays (grilling tools for the Fourth of July, for instance). If a product isn’t selling well in the store often Lubiani can breath life into it after pinning and promoting it on Pinterest.
Pinterest works on smartphones and tablets and that has helped Lubiani find new customers. “Everybody has a smartphone these days and we realized we were missing an audience if we didn’t get on the bandwagon,” she says.
Anna Peeples with Click Boutique in Hattiesburg suggests a few ground rules for businesses interested in starting a Pinterest account for their product or service.
Always include the prices as well as the store’s contact information on anything that is being pinned. “Always have your phone number available,” Peeoples says. “Even if one person sees it and comes down that’s awesome. That’s worth it.”
Another thing Peeples says to remember is to keep boards “brand appropriate.” For example, don’t pin garden tools or birdhouses on your page if you sell wedding dresses or bath products.
“Always be consistent with what you’re posting,” Peeples says. “We have one board that’s all about our collection and we put new styles on there… things that look like our personality.”