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The Green Sheet Online Edition

March 12, 2012 • Issue 12:03:01

How ISOs and MLSs can use Pinterest

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."

Why you should care

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.

How ISOs and MLSs can use it

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:

  • Makes pinning easy: Pinterest requires minimal investment; you can divide work among "assigned contributors." Pinterest hasn't deviated from its initial minimalist aesthetic, making it very easy to use. If asking your team to contribute to the company blog is like pulling teeth, you may find staff will readily contribute images to the company Pinterest account. It only takes two clicks - no writing skills required.

  • Sparkles with personality: Pinterest lets you give people a peek into the personality of your brand. Create a pinboard that showcases your employees and some everyday office antics. Make your brand relatable, tangible and humanized.

  • Aids SEO: Pinterest connects images with stored links, making it easy to come back to pins' original sources in the future. You can drive traffic back to specific product detail pages on your website, and these links will count as inbound links boosting your organic search engine optimization (SEO).

  • Offers expert and niche positioning: Why not become the go-to Pinterest account for pins about a certain subject relating to your industry? If you specialize in e-commerce, share examples of good website design. If you have a robust sales training program, visually demonstrate motivational quotes of the day.

  • Can leverage Twitter and Google+: Just like with Twitter and Google+, Pinterest users can use hashtags to tag their pins and make their content more search-friendly. Create a pinboard around a promotion, and tag it with a hashtag you're also using on Twitter and Google+ to create a fully integrated campaign.

  • Augments recruiting efforts: Social media can be valuable for recruiting talent. Candidates will have more ways to evaluate their potential workplace, resulting in more qualified prospects.

  • Fosters collaboration: In addition to personal boards, Pinterest provides open boards, which allow outside users to contribute images. You can encourage merchants and partners to post their own images of your product or business on an open board. For example, you could post images from tradeshows and encourage attendees to post images, too.

How to get started

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.

Happy pinning! end of article

Alan Kleinman is the Principal of Meritus Payment Solutions, the trusted global payment partner. Contact him at akleinman@merituspayment.com or 888-851-7558, ext. 141.

Notice to readers: These are archived articles. Contact names or information may be out of date. We regret any inconvenience.

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