You hear us talk a lot about social media on this blog. Social media is an essential tool for local businesses, as it enables you to connect and engage with your client base on a more personal level. Some social platforms, namely Facebook, even factor into local search algorithms. But where does Pinterest, one of the fastest-growing social media sites (with 70+ million users!), fall on the spectrum of useful social platforms? Is it actually an effective online advertising tool for local businesses? That’s what we’ll discuss in this edition of Prospect Genius Reviews.
Pinterest is a social discovery tool that allows users to create and manage “boards” according to their interests by adding and sharing pins. Each board represents a different area of interest, and pins are basically just images (sometimes videos) that serve as visual bookmarks for online content. Users discover new pins by searching for specific terms or by seeing them pop up in their pin feed. Then, users save pins to their corresponding boards and share them with their followers.
The majority of Pinterest users are women— 71%, in fact. They save and share pins that give them ideas for products they’d like to buy, meals they’d like to make, and DIY projects they’d like to undertake. For that reason, the only local businesses that are particularly suited for advertising on Pinterest are retailers who have a largely female clientele and can post pictures of their own products. Users aren’t often turning to Pinterest to find local service providers like appliance repairmen, plumbers, or home improvement contractors. So while sharing pins of before and after photos of home renovation jobs or DIY appliance repair infographics might bring new visitors to your website for a few seconds, it won’t do much to generate local leads.
For local retailers, however, Pinterest may actually present an opportunity to attract new customers: In recent months, Pinterest has been testing out promoted pins, which use a PPC model in much the same way as Google’s sponsored ads. Account managers can promote their pins by targeting a certain keyword and audience (narrowed down by gender, location, language, and device). That means businesses that are already suited for Pinterest will be able to draw even more visitors to their sites. But the operative phrase here is, “businesses that are already suited for Pinterest.” If your business doesn’t have a built-in audience on Pinterest, paying for promoted pins won’t create one out of thin air.
With that being said, Prospect Genius reviews Pinterest with some optimism. After all, any presence on social media is generally a good thing, even if it doesn’t directly lead to more customers. When people see that you have a presence on several different social media platforms, they’ll infer that you’re a savvy and engaged business.
There’s potentially a more tangible upside to having a Pinterest business account, as well. Search engines already index Pinterest profiles (unless they’re set to private), so if you include your company’s name, contact info, website, and relevant keywords in your profile description, that could function as a good citation for local search optimization. While there’s nothing to suggest that a Pinterest account will boost your local search rankings, having yet another accurate citation on a reputable website will certainly increase your overall SEO value.
In addition, Alisa Meredith of Scalable Social Media notes that Pinterest pins are starting to appear in Google Alerts, which means Google is discovering Pinterest images. Meredith estimates that this might foreshadow Pinterest’s future influence on search results: “[Google] may also soon start using social signals (such as likes and re-pins) as a ranking factor. Bing is already including Pinterest boards in image search results.”
What does this mean? Basically, if you have time and energy to spare, creating an active Pinterest account for your business has the potential to fortify your overall web presence. That doesn’t necessarily mean your rankings will improve, but that could wind up being the case down the road. With Google’s algorithms in constant flux, you never know which platforms are going to prove valuable in the future. We do know, however, that Google does give weight to social signals, while regular people put a premium personal interaction. As it stands right now, Pinterest offers both. Who’s to say Pinterest won’t be the next Facebook or Yelp? It never hurts to get in on the ground floor just in case.
In short, when it comes to small businesses, Pinterest offers the most benefits to local retailers. However, if local service providers want to take a more aggressive approach to local search optimization, having a Pinterest account certainly won’t hurt.
Next time on Prospect Genius Reviews, we’ll find out just how valuable Twitter is for local businesses and service providers.