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EcommerceBytes-NewsFlash, Number 2732 - February 03, 2012 - ISSN 1539-5065    1 of 3

What Online Sellers Need to Know about Pinterest

By Ina Steiner
February 03, 2012

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The verdict is still out on whether using Pinterest can help your online sales, but this fairly new "social networking" site is engaging enough to try just for the fun of it. To call it an online bulletin board or collage where you "pin" photos doesn't do Pinterest justice. When Chris Brogan asked on Google Plus how people were using it, the replies from his followers showed how versatile Pinterest is: wish list, scrapbook, photo album, recipe file, inspiration wall, wedding or travel planning, renovation inspiration, and more.

Ecommerce consultant and certified eBay instructor Stephanie Inge of Virtual Training Camp calls Pinterest a "pleasurable escape from mundane daily life" and highly recommends online sellers join Pinterest. "You don't feel like you're shopping or being sold to. That is a huge plus!" (Here is a link to her Pinterest page.)

Pinterest calls itself an online pinboard - a place to "organize and share things you love." You need an invitation to sign up, but Etsy provided a link on its Storque blog - use the Etsy invitation link to register, and you must also have a Facebook or Twitter account.

Pinterest makes suggestions for boards you can create when you first register, but you can ignore their suggestions and create new boards any time. You can add a Pin-it bookmarklet to your browser, so wherever you are on the Internet, you can click "Pin it," select the image you want to pin, and choose the board on which you want it to appear - and voila! - you've just "pinned" an image. You can find some tips on the Pinterest Goodies page for more ideas. You can also pin videos from YouTube, but it appears you can't pin photos from Facebook.

You can use Pin It to add things to your Pinterest boards any time you see an interesting photo, article, fashion item, recipe or product for sale across the web. The site is intuitive, and you can click on the Help link any time if you get stuck, but it's good to keep in mind Pinterest's recommended best practices when pinning:

  • Pin from the original source.
  • Pin from permalinks.
  • Give credit and include a thoughtful pin description.

When perusing Pinterest, it looks like a photo collage - but Inge said Pinterest is not just photographs -there are tutorials, videos and more. Since "pins" link back to websites, many users pin articles, particularly how-to advice.

Inge said she has discovered "some of the coolest blogs ever," thanks to Pinterest, saying the site was an amazing marketing tool for bloggers of all types and could be a huge marketing tool for online business merchants, as long as they don't use "in your face" marketing tactics. Other sellers agreed that using Pinterest could help merchants reach an audience as long as they aren't "pushy."

Faye Brogi of Antique-Graphique.com suggested sellers use Pinterest as they do other social networks - "the best course of action would be to engage, interact, converse, share with followers and have fun with it," she said, adding, "I would not recommend Pinterest as a sales tool per se, as in pinning your entire inventory and hoping for sales, but I do think that Pinterest can be useful to online sellers in getting their products, sites and storefronts in front of millions of new eyes, by pinning something interesting once in awhile in a way that would involve people and lead them to find out more about your store." (Here is a link to her Pinterest page.)

Each person uses Pinterest differently, and many users express their interest in fashion, crafts, decor, landscaping, vacations, gadgets or photography. Just the kind of audience that online sellers would find enticing.

Katherine Accettura of Happy Solez has been sewing for 12 years and sells handmade goods on Etsy. Her academic background in graphic design and media arts makes her an ideal candidate to talk about Pinterest.

"Since you can visually display work you make, and connect with thousands of other people who love the same things, Pinterest is a great way to promote your work," Accettura says. "I have received thousands of followers, and more people are following my work and my pins daily." (You can find her Pinterest page here.)

Accettura has many "boards" on Pinterest, from "Food that Deserves Attention" and "Music Festival and Concert" to "Fabric I Like" and "Party Planning." One board called "Happy Solez Hand Made" is devoted to her handmade items that link to her Etsy shop. "To promote your company, focus some of your Pins on your own work. I only pin the best photos of my best work."

She also warns sellers not to flood Pinterest with unflattering images. "If you Pin only the best, people will begin to see the strongest side of your work." Interestingly she says Pinterest has helped her realize how to take and present better pictures of her products.

Accettura also advise Pinterest users to include a short description of the image or idea, and give credit to the person or website from which it came. Brogi agrees - "I'd really like to see more description on pins," she said. "A comment is required when pinning something, and I'd like to know more of what the photo is, rather than just "cool" or "love it" comments." This would also be a good place for keywords for sellers who are pinning their items for sale, she added.

If you add a price to your description when pinning an item, Pinterest will add a banner displaying the price of the item right on the image. And Brogi provided another great tip: "When pinning something from the internet, if you highlight the text, then "pin it" the description will automatically fill in for you."

The normal advice about social networking etiquette applies to Pinterest as well. For example, "Follow back influential people who follow you," writes John Haydon on his blog. "The trick is to click "Follow All" on the individual's profile, then unfollow specific boards that aren't of interests to you."

While Etsy has added "Pin It" buttons to listings, it's not only artisans and crafters who've discovered the marketing potential of Pinterest. According to this article in AdAge, Nordstrom and Lands' End also have a presence on Pinterest.

There are many articles about using Pinterest, here's a useful one from Business2Community.com, 10 Pinterest Ideas With SEO Benefits.

Happy pinning!

View the author's Pinterest boards at Pinterest.com/InaSteiner.

About the author:

Ina Steiner is co-founder and Editor of EcommerceBytes and has been reporting on ecommerce since 1999. She's a widely cited authority on marketplace selling and is author of "Turn eBay Data Into Dollars" (McGraw-Hill 2006). Her blog was featured in the book, "Blogging Heroes" (Wiley 2008). Follow her on Twitter at @ecommercebytes and send news tips to ina@ecommercebytes.com.

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