If you’re interested in selling online, or just promoting your business online, you’ll know that social media and social networking is one of the hot topics of the moment. Social media can not only be an incredibly powerful way of getting your name and product known but (well in theory at least) is far cheaper than traditional forms of media.
Facebook and Twitter are the probably the biggest and names in social media at the moment. But now a new social media kid called Pinterest has arrived on the block. And the early signs are that it is going to be absolutely massive. So today I wanted to tell you a little about Pinterest, and how you could perhaps get started making some money with it.
Pinterest was only launched a couple of years ago. But by December 2011 had become one of the ‘top ten’ social networking sites. Apparently (depending on which figures you read) it now has 11 million visits each week and rising – making it the fastest growing site ever – and it is the third largest social network in the US!
First of all what exactly is Pinterest?
Pinterest calls itself an online pinboard... one where you can organise and share the things you love.
So it’s sort of fulfilling the same kind of demand as Facebook and Twitter. But it is a social media website with a difference – because it is based on visual content. You can collect together (or curate) all your favourite images, videos, web pages and so on and then (if you wish) share them with other users.
One of the most notable and exciting things about Pinterest is that you can search for whatever you’re interested in and easily find relevant pins for it. Likewise, other users can do the same and find yours. In that way it’s much more useful as a way of collecting and sharing material than Facebook.
How does Pinterest work?
You can register for Pinterest through Facebook or Twitter. Also, currently, you have to be invited either by them (it usually only takes a few days to be accepted) or an existing user.
Pinterest works on a system of ‘pins’ and ‘boards’. A pin is an image added to Pinterest. A pin can be added from a website using the ‘Pin It’ button – which they’ve made really simple to do – or you can upload images from your computer or phone. Each pin added using the Pin It button links back to the site it came from.
A board is a collection of pins. You can create various boards reflecting various different interests and add as many pins to them as you like.
You can follow (a bit like Twitter) and unfollow a user’s individual boards, or all of them, and vice versa. You can add and reply to comments, where this is enabled. And, most importantly, you can repin other users’ pins to your boards, just as other users can repin yours. So, if lots of people repin your pins, your content can spread far and wide very quickly.
A few important things to know if you’re going to make the best use of Pinterest:
Pinterest is strongly US-centric right now, with only a couple of hundred thousands users in the UK. I’d be absolutely amazed if it doesn’t become big here sometime soon though – just in the same way that Facebook and Twitter took longer to enjoy a boom in popularity in the UK.
There are lots of different pin categories on Pinterest. But some are much more popular than others, so you need to do a bit of research to find the ‘hot’ areas. Food, fashion and home are currently most popular – with loads of recipes and craft ideas on there for example. Also, apparently, a sizable majority of the site’s users in the USA are female.
Interestingly though, there’s a bit of a debate on how the usage of Pinterest in the US and UK differs. Some figures I’ve seen say that in the UK Pinterest is used by more affluent, male, entrepreneurial types.
Pinterest also uses the same formula for popularity that YouTube uses. So if your pins get repinned quickly the popularity of your board can rise fast – gathering more and more momentum in the process, and potentially reaching thousands of other users.
So how exactly could you make money from Pinterest?
So much for the theory of course. But let’s quickly run through a few ways you could use Pinterest to generate an income stream...
… It works alongside Facebook and Twitter, helping to maximise their effectiveness.
… You can pin things from your blog. Yet another way to attract readers and traffic for your site.
… You can pin things from your own websites. Some users are finding it an effective SEO technique too. You need to use strong keywords and headlines to do this.
… You can use it in affiliate marketing. For example, sign up with Amazon’s affiliate scheme (Associates) and pin images of products from there. If your image gets repinned your affiliate link goes with it. It that sense, it’s another kind of viral marketing.
You can also use it for trending research. Look for boards with lots of likes and repins … there could be a promising product there.
One thing I should say. Pinterest currently has a clause in its terms of service restricting commercial use. So most moneymaking methods being used at present tend to involve what you might call ‘guerrilla tactics’. Many experts think Pinterest will drop this clause sooner or later though. In any case of course, with social media, you need to balance the way you mix interesting content and marketing carefully – and avoid obvious hard selling which can turn users off.
Lastly, I ought to mention that this is so new the ink isn’t really dry on it yet. It’s probably fair to say that no one has come up with really proven ways of making money on Pinterest yet. Some experts even think Pinterest won’t ever be a reliable way of making money.
But bear in mind that the best opportunities in new technology of this kind tend to be at the beginning. So I think it’s well worth keeping an eye on Pinterest. Or even thinking about setting up your own experimental boards on Pinterest, pinning content regularly, and developing an audience – even if it’s not something that you will actually use commercially until later on.
by Nick Laight
Business Opportunities Expert
Nick Laight is the editor of What Really Makes Money and helps ordinary people find simple, workable home business opportunities. You can sign up for his free weekly eletter here:
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