RunKeeper uses Pinterest to show beautiful running routes

Lots of Boston businesses are having success on Pinterest, as we covered last week, but how are they succeeding and what have they learned? We asked a number of marketers who have found value on Pinterest for their tips and tricks, and here are the top five lessons that we heard:

1) Don’t do Pinterest just because everyone else is

You may be relieved to hear that your company doesn’t have to be on Pinterest.

“Don’t rush to sign up a business Pinterest account to help you with marketing if it doesn’t make sense,” said Brianne Barrett of Marlo Marketing/Communications. “There are certain brands out there that you can tell are just jumping on the bandwagon but haven’t really thought about whether or not it’s really worth their time and effort.”

Advised Barrett:

If you truly don’t have anything to share to help your business (accountant firms, I’m referring to you!), then set up a personal account and have some fun with it in your spare time, but don’t tie it to your business. If you do set up an account for marketing purposes, don’t let it fall to the wayside. There’s nothing worse than seeing a major national brand with one board and only a handful of pins, yet thousands of followers.

2) Even B2B Businesses Can Be Visual

As HubSpot’s Rebecca Corliss wrote in a recent blog post, “By nature, many B2B companies are selling a product or service in an industry that most likely isn’t visual. The first step is to think outside the box to find images that align with your company’s image, fit nicely on Pinterest, and are fun to share.”

So what kind of stuff might B2B businesses post? Here are some of HubSpot’s suggestions: photos of your management team, infographics, data charts, book covers, and photos of your customers. Read the full post for how each of these can become the perfect pin.

3) Pick the right person to manage the account

“Make sure whoever is posting to Pinterest for your company has a high level of visual taste,” said Jules Pieri, founder and CEO of DailyGrommet. Think about it: would you pick someone who didn’t write well to manage your blog? Pinterest is an entirely visual medium and you need someone who thinks visually. Aside: This is why I will not be managing BostInno’s Pinterest account.

4) Take advantage of Pinterest’s SEO value.  

Erica Ayotte at Constant Contact noted that Pinterest can have unique benefits in terms of search engine optimization. As he explained by email: 

Pinterest is great for link building and improving your keyword strategy. Google indexes pages from websites with heavy traffic faster and higher in a search engine results page (SERP). You can increase your contents visibility in SERPs by adding keywords within the title of a board, the board’s description, and you even have up to 500 characters to use keywords to describe an individual pin.  Additionally, you can customize the pin’s link and point people back to your website or blog – further increasing the opportunity for your content to rank higher in a SERP.  From an SEO perspective,Pinterest allows you to do a few things that other networks don’t, so take advantage of it.  During the month of February, Constant Contact is currently running a campaign called “Fanbruary” and releasing new social media tips everyday and posting them to Pinterest.  Taking advance of Pinterest’s SEO impact, we were able to secure the top spot in Google’s SERP for “Fanbruary tips” with our Pinterest board.

5) Be sure to link back to your website

You can post lots of great images but still miss out on the value Pinterest can give your business if you don’t include links back to your site. As Corliss wrote in the HubSpot blog post:

In the B2B world, using Pinterest as a tool solely to “enhance your brand” isn’t going to cut it. When leads and customers are your bottom line, it’s really important that you’re driving quality traffic to your website with the goal of conversion.

To increase the likelihood of driving more traffic to your website, be sure to add a link back to the page on your website where that image lives for every pin. If you are uploading a photo instead of pinning something live on your website, choose a link that makes sense, and include that in the pin’s description.

6) Don’t be afraid to try humor

Janet Aronica of Shareaholic pointed out that, just like on any social network, humorous content can go viral.

“A fun example of this is Newsweek’s board dedicated to Santorum’s Sweater Vests,” she said. “It’s humor that only current events geeks will find endearing, but that’s Newsweek’s audience so I think they’re engaging the right people.”

7) Don’t just post your own stuff

Like with any social platform, active participation is key according to Sarah Hodges of RunKeeper. “Engage followers by building boards around your customers’ interests, not just your products,” she advised. And be sure to comment on other users’ activities.

Melissa Lacitignola of Gemvara agreed. “We are still in our experimental stages but we have definitely learned to find a nice balance between posting only our content vs. mixing it up a bit,” she said.

8) Let your customers post for you

DailyGrommet’s Pieri agreed that it’s important not to just post your own products, but went one step further, recommending businesses create a board to which other pinners can contribute.

“Why do all the work yourselves? If you have a company mission that inspires and engages people, they will want to help.”