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By Heidi Hesselberg

Using Pinterest to promote your small business

Pinterest has the potential to be your business's most successful social media platform. It is unique in that it allows users – potential customers – to surf pins based on interest rather than by business or by person. So, if your business is particularly eclectic, or you really want a chance to show off your amazing product, then Pinterest is the way to go.

The best thing you can do for your business's voice

The number one strategy for gaining followers organically is simply to create great, original content. That may seem obvious, but almost every pin that makes it to Pinterest was re-pinned from somewhere else. Pinterest users and Twitter users are more likely going to check out a shiny new post than the same recipe for vegan brownies that they have scrolled past 18 times already. Infographics are incredibly popular right now and are sure to garner lots of re-pins.

The dilemma of promoting a business on social media

Being a business on social media is more difficult than being a regular user. Businesses must stick to one topic without hitting their potential customers over the head with the fact that they're selling a product. But the absolute worst thing a business can do on social media, especially sites like Pinterest and Twitter, is act like a business. Pinterest is a place for social interaction and discovery, and ads stick out like a sore thumb. It is especially obvious when businesses try too hard to network without giving anything back.

The bottom line is this: A business does not need to sound "hip" and "youthful" on social media to garner attention. But it does need to be genuine, and it must give back to the users. Your business must give the users something for free on social media, like free content, free jokes or great images. Otherwise, it will be competing with users who do give those things out for free and don't have a product on the line.

Let others know you're on Pinterest

When not posting great content, your business should focus on networking with Pinterest users. Comment on pins, mention others in your descriptions, connect each of your other social media platforms together so nothing gets lost and follow people who you think might be interested in your business or content. An effective way to find these people is to search the followers of companies similar to yours.

Remember, these networking strategies should be used as genuinely as possible. Your business is competing with individual users who are (typically) genuine on social media. Stick to commenting on pins that are related to your business. It's obvious when this doesn't happen, and can lead to the alienation of your business online.

Classic business strategies

As genuine as your business must be on Pinterest, you must still prove that you are an authority. The easiest way to do this is to scale down and tighten the scope of your activity. Stick to a few solid boards that are each filled with great, useful content that pertains directly to your business. If you need more than a few, simply keep your best boards near the top of your business's Pinterest page.

When in doubt about how to conduct your business on Pinterest, remember that it's a marketplace of discovery and interest. Whatever it is your business centers around, there is a place for it somewhere on Pinterest. It's simply a matter of finding like-minded users that are interested in what you have to offer.

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