pinterest-iconPinterest is one of the newest players in the social media world, yet it is growing to be on par with some of the big names like Facebook and Twitter. Unlike Twitter and Facebook, however, Pinterest is primarily visually driven, with text only playing a small role in the site’s design. If you have the right audience and use the site effectively, it can draw traffic to your site, boost your sales and improve your SEO. If you’re getting started with Pinterest for the first time, here’s what you need to know.

Keep the Right Ratio

Pinterest users have little toleration for pure marketing. If your boards are full of nothing but your own products and your own interests, you’re not likely to see much interaction. People want to learn something, smile or feel inspired by your pins. This doesn’t mean you can’t pin your own images, but you need to keep the right ratio in mind.

The majority of your pins need to be educational or inspirational. In fact, a full 40 percent should be devoted to each category. This leaves just 20 percent to devote to your brand specifically. Divide this evenly between your services or product and your business or brand.

Now, if you have links on your page that are purely inspirational or educational, they can fit into that category, but look carefully at them. Make sure they’re offering value to your readers and are not simply promotion, clothed in inspiration or education.

Know What Pinterest Can (and Can’t) Do

Your Aha Moment

Your Aha Moment

Pinterest is a valuable marketing tool, but it has its limits. Pinterest is visually driven, so you’ll be “pinning” using images, not text links. You’ll use it primarily to draw traffic to your site. Inspirational photos and infographics can be great linking opportunities.

Pinterest doesn’t allow you to sell items on its pages, but it does allow you to link to items you have for sale. To do this, add a dollar sign and the price in a particular pin’s description. When a user searches for “gifts” and a certain dollar amount, that pin will show up, with a bubble showing the price. If a user clicks on the link, you may generate a sale on your site.

Know the Audience

In 2012 a Pew report showed that 70 percent of the users on Pinterest are women between the ages of 24 and 44. If you’re going to use Pinterest, you need a business that appeals to this very specific demographic. If your business cater to this demographic significantly, then you should be using Pinterest to draw more people to your site.

Let Pinterest Help Your SEO

The search engines love social networking sites, so make sure you’re optimizing your Pinterest pins. Use keywords in your descriptions to draw search traffic to your pins, and thus to your page. Make all images on your site that you can “pinnable,” so your current users will be able add those social links easily. Add “follow me on Pinterest” links on your blog and website as well.

Using-Social-Media-To-Build-Links-Impact-Your-SEOKeep the Big Picture in Mind

No matter what you’re doing on Pinterest, keep your overall marketing goals in mind. Know your audience, your ultimate goal and your branding ideas at the forefront of every action you take. If a pin won’t, in some way, help you attain your goal or solidify your brand, then you probably shouldn’t be doing it.

Like all social networking sites, Pinterest is a tool. It can be used well, helping you reach your branding goals, and it can be a waste of time, if used poorly. Before you dive into this latest social marketing craze, take a look at your goals. If you think it can help you reach them, then I suggest you consider Pinterest as an addition to your marketing toolbelt.