[img:1] As someone who does marketing and branding strategy and implementation, it’s my job to stay on top of the latest and greatest in the world of would-be life-altering Internet bells and whistles. Ironically, however, the last thing I wanted to do was learn yet another social media tool that promised to transform my online life. But day after day, my husband, Jon, would flash his iPad in front of my face and tease me with all the new, cool photos he was pinning on Pinterest. Besides, I was scheduled to give a talk on social media for book promotion at an upcoming International Book Publishers Association conference, so I threw my hands up in surrender and let Pinterest have its way with me — and I’m glad I did.
**What Exactly is Pinterest?**
Pinterest is a lifestyle brand that allows you to create a visual, online pinboard, organized around topics of your choice by category. For example: I’m a certified chocoholic, so I started a Pinterest board on dark chocolates I love that feature photos of said delicacies accompanied by mouthwatering descriptions.
**Who is Using Pinterest, and How are They Using it?**
At the time of this writing, Pinterest has over 10 million users and is the fastest-growing social media site in history. Beyond that, the various and sundry stats that are shaping Pinterest include:
– A review of Google Display Network Ad Planner, a free tool for building online media plans, shows that 72 percent of Pinterest users are female and that 66 percent of those are age 35 or older.
– A Pew Internet & American Life Project survey of U.S. adults found that nearly 20 percent of women using the Internet are on Pinterest.
– According to Experian, a global information services company, the average amount of time visitors spend surfing the Pinterest site is an hour.
If those statistics don’t make a small- business mind sit up and take notice, nothing will. And by following these simple tips, you too can leverage the power of Pinterest for the benefit of your business.
**Landscape Architects, Gardeners and Pond Professionals**
Pictures of beautiful outdoor spaces and gardens dominate the Pinscape, giving landscapers and gardeners a chance to make names for themselves on the site.
**Focus on Niche Lifestyle Boards**
Addison Landscapes and Maintenance Inc. (http://pinterest.com/addisonlm/) has 27 boards, each dedicated to a different aspect of their art. For example, their board “Color of Our Moment: Green” features all things landscape- and garden-related in various shades of green. Another, named “Fire Features,” shows pins of outdoor fireplaces.
**Make the Plants the Star**
Beyond the garden-variety rose, hydrangea and lantana bush lies a whole world of exotic yet practical plants. VODA Landscape + Planning (http:// pinterest.com/vodaplan/) has a colorful board titled “Plant of the Week,” which features unusual plants that most people have never considered planting in their yards.
**10 Top Ways to Win Using Pinterest for your Pond Business**
**1. Strategize First and Pin Second:** Consider your objectives before you pin. Are you trying to drive traffic to your website, boost your brand awareness, promote new products or services, educate your customer base, enhance customer understanding and enthusiasm, increase prospects and sales or improve customer service? Depending on your strategy, you will want to pick the images that best support your objective.
**2. Manage and Balance Your Percentages:** Create inviting boards by making 40 percent of your pins motivational and inspiring, 40 percent instructional and educational and only 20 percent about your brand — including products, services, sales items, profiles, specials and contests.
**3. Make Your Website Pin-Friendly:**
Install the Pin It Button on your website and give every page and blog post a featured image that can be pinned automatically. In addition, put a “Follow me on Pinterest” social media button on your homepage.
**4. Share With, Engage and Promote Others:** Build your brand by engaging with others through re-pinning, commenting on and liking other pins. You can also tag (using the @ tag) another pinner you are following in one of your pin descriptions. Engaging with others in these ways generates flow back to your Pinterest.
**5. Establish Your Expertise:** Craft keyword-rich pin and board titles and descriptions to boost your Google ranking and be found for your expertise. Use hashtags (#) to highlight key words and phrases your customers search for. In addition, emphasize pins with a focus on problems and solutions you specialize in.
**6. Integrate Pinterest With Your Other Social Media:** Connect with your other social media by creating a Pinterest tab on Facebook, Tweeting your pins and embedding pins in your blog posts.
**7. Organize Your Pinboard:**
Research shows that pins placed front and center receive the highest percentage of viewers and capture the most attention. So place your most important pins near the middle of the top or second row of the board.
**8. Give Away Value-Added Information:** According to Pinerly, a tool for tracking Pinterest analytics, pins that have a call to action see an 80 percent increase in engagement. Post pins that focus on free reports, e-books, videos and podcasts you offer. Be sure to add a live link to each of those pins’ descriptions. The more you entice pinners to take action, the more effective you’ll be.
**9. Leverage the Power of Multimedia:** Make your pinboards more interactive by sharing videos, webinars, teleclasses, screencasts and podcasts. Good multimedia pins include: presentations, expert tutorials, product demos, behind-the-scenes tours and excerpts from live recorded interviews, courses and trainings.
**10. Analyze Your Metrics:** Sign up for access to Pinterest Web Analytics via your settings page and pay attention to which of your pins generate the greatest response and interest. The info will help you see which of your pinning efforts are paying off and shape your future strategy.