By Alan Kleinman
Meritus Payment Solutions
A compelling, new social network is in town: Pinterest. Just when it seemed the market was saturated with social media sites, along came a virtual bulletin board that allows users to share, curate and discover images, links and videos they find interesting or inspiring. Once shared, these images become "pins" that can be grouped on thematic "boards." Once something is pinned, it can then be "re-pinned" by other Pinterest users.
Users can perform standard social networking functions such as following others' boards, liking and commenting on other users' pins, re-pinning content to their own boards, sharing others' pins on Facebook and Twitter or via email, and even embedding individual pins on their websites or blogs.
Pinterest is lifestyle-focused and advises users to "try not to use Pinterest purely as a tool for self-promotion."
According to Compete Inc., Pinterest's unique visitors increased 329 percent from September to December 2011; Experian Hitwise found that Pinterest is driving more traffic than Google+; and a recent study conducted by Sharaholic, revealed that Pinterest drove more referral traffic to sites in January 2012 than Google+, Reddit, YouTube, LinkedIn and MySpace - combined. Pinterest's meteoric growth over the last couple of months cannot be ignored.
Admittedly, Pinterest's users skew female ages 25 to 44, but some "nonfemale" brands are doing a great job of promoting themselves on Pinterest. See the General Electric Co. Inc. and Mashable Inc. pinboards (http://pinterest.com/generalelectric and http://pinterest.com/mashable, respectively) for excellent examples of how to get creative and appeal to both genders.
As an ISO or merchant level salesperson (MLS), if you've put any thought into developing your brand or cultivating a stellar workplace culture, Pinterest should interest you. It's your opportunity to show, not tell. It's also appealing because it:
Rumored to be addictive, Pinterest can make the most uninspired marketer feel creative. But before you add another social network to your marketing mix, evaluate what it can add to your social media efforts, define goals and devise ways to measure success.
User access to Pinterest is by invitation-only, but you can request an invitation at http://pinterest.com. After our company's request, it took only three days to receive an invitation.
Register your account with the same email address you use for your business Twitter account so you can easily share your pins through Twitter, too. And once you receive an invitation to sign up for Pinterest, sign up through the Twitter option, not the Facebook option. Pinterest only offers connection to personal Facebook profiles, not business pages.
Create a few pinboards before you start building your Pinterest following. This way, people will have a reason to follow your pins.
Some creative boards we've come up with at http://pinterest.com/meritus are "MeritUS," which showcases images of our employees outside of the office; "Great minds think alike," which highlights inspiring entrepreneurs; and "You are: here," which illustrates the freedom to run a business anywhere in the world with the right global payment partner.
Alan Kleinman is the Principal of Meritus Payment Solutions, the trusted global payment partner. Contact him at email@example.com or 888-851-7558, ext. 141.
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