What is the ROI of Pinterest?

I have spent a decent amount of time on Pinterest during the holidays so far.

Not quite enough time to write a book about it or teach a class, but enough time to take in the etiquette and culture.

The always witty Scott Straten inspired this post after I read his bio on the blossoming social media “cork-board” site.

Pinterest ProfileI hope you laughed as you read it, I did.

Webinars, how to videos and yes even books are probably already being created about Pinterest in an effort to teach businesses how to monetize. Sad really.

In an effort to help you stay “bleeding edge” but also keeping in mind that no one can really declare the right path for you personally on a site that is still in an infant stage like Pinterest, I decided that I am going to give you the best advice I have to date.

Ironically, I am steadfast in my belief that the “tips” you will all so desperately seek out will not be new even though Pinterest may be.

What works on social media sites is what works in real life with people and with businesses.

Here is my never waiver list when “using” social media sites which I think applies nicely to Pinterest:

1. Photo, bio and completeness of profile are paramount. Don’t half ass it here like many do. Your goal online in many cases is to get hired right? Would you hand in a resume that was only partially completed? Take your profile set ups on the web that seriously.


2. Listen (and think) before you speak. My Dad loved that one btw well before the Internet. I can’t give you a magic number but I would say it is a good rule of thumb to spend a lot of time exploring a new site and seeing what others are doing before you post for the first time. I would find examples of the good, the bad and the ugly before I ever hit publish.

3. Be organized. I taught CRM for 3 years and I can tell you it is much harder to clean up a mess than start the right way with any “database”.  Lists in Facebook, rows in HootSuite, Circles in Google+ are all critical to success. Pinterest will be no different. See below the way The Corcoran Group is keeping the content they are sharing about New York City very cataloged. This creates a great user experience for those that visit your Board.

Corcoran Group

4. Don’t just push, pull. Only posting to your own profile and never sharing others or commenting just does not work. Find others who are sharing great content and repin it. You don’t have to go outside of Pinterest to find great content. I actually think it makes the most sense to share from within. Think about the way a Tweet feels when you see it in Facebook. Or the way a FB.com link looks when you see it on Twitter. Embrace the local ecosystem you are on and interact within their world.

5. Let people know you are there. Once you have a nice profile some great content and an organized experience it is okay to let the people know that you are connected to elsewhere. Part of the reason the first 4 items I have listed are so paramount is that when people do visit, the goal would be that they stick and connect. We often think of conversion on a website, but what we do with our social media presence is also converting or not. I am sure you have a Facebook, Twitter and email list. Let them know about this cool new service and show them how you are using it.

Here is my personal Pinterest account which I would love to connect with you on now (see that was easy right?).

Chris Smith Pinterest

6. Have zero expectation of financial gain. This one is hard for many of you. It is a very logical question to wonder if something will lead to business if it takes up your time. That being said, I am sticking to my guns and based on my personal experience online it is the absolute worst possible way to enter a new platform. Build the tribe before you need it. What happens for those who take this selfless approach is very special. I have experienced what it can do for your business and personal brand first hand. Be patient really big things are happening for a lot of people just like you simply because they are genuinely enjoying what they are doing. It is a fun place to be.

7. Follow the leader. If you have a high level of respect for people like those I have mentioned in the post so far follow them and watch what they are doing. Don’t do what they do, but watch and learn from what they do. Scott and Matthew are great leaders in the digital space as a whole. I doubt they will screw up Pinterest. Keep a close eye on them and be sure to follow their boards and pins. Again this is advice that is platform agnostic, but applies nicely to the flavor of the month.

I am sure I could go on, but about 80% of those who started reading this are already busy spamming Pinterest.

What can I do?

Would love any other “best practices” on Pinterest in the comments below.

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