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This chapter is from the book

Defining Your Customer

With Pinterest in particular, it is important to understand and define both your customers and your competition. Because of Pinterest’s unique social model, you have an opportunity to take direct advantage of your competition’s pins, promotions, or contests, while directly reaching customers.

Following your competition isn’t a new strategy, nor is it a devious one. There are so many great ideas about business, so it is a good idea to keep informed on all the newest trends and technologies. I’m sure you already have a dedicated file or area where you store information about your competitors.

If you don’t, we suggest setting up a Google Alert (http://www.google.com/alerts) to keep tabs on them. This helps you stay on top of what is going on. In addition, add a Pinterest account and boards to the file and stay aware of all that is happening (see Figure 4.5).

Figure 4.5

Figure 4.5. You can tailor your Google Alerts to whatever interests you or affects your business.

One of the most business-friendly features of Pinterest is the capability to check your competitor’s boards at any time. Some people feel uncomfortable following their competitors, but the point of Pinterest is to share. Although the focus will change in the coming years, Pinterest is a way for businesses to learn from one another and interact.

So, what are your competitors doing on Pinterest? I’ll bet you know what they are doing on Facebook and Twitter. Take the time to examine Pinterest by your industry and competition. Including this community in your research gives you a better grasp on both your business and your industry.

Understanding who uses Pinterest and how this correlates to your business draws a sound strategy of reaching your intended audience. And, although Pinterest might still be new in terms of viral reach, it still contains many unique tools to create a funnel for your business.

Think of Pinterest as your storefront. It is your window to your products. You can’t fill this window until you fully know and understand your product. And you can’t fully understand your product until you know your customer. In the same fashion that a proper homepage acts as a window into your company’s offerings, your Pinterest account gives customers a brief look at who you are and what you have to offer.

Who Is Pinning What?

As you research your competition, identify who your customers are and how to reach them. To define your customers, find out who is pinning content from your site and why. To do this, go to http://pinterest.com/source/domain.com/and replace domain.com with your domain.

This search identifies what images from your site are pinned. You can gain some serious knowledge about your users from simply seeing what they like and are pinning.

The second benefit of tracing pin activity from your site is the capability to thank those who have pinned your content. This is a touchy subject, because some people fear the invasion of social privacy, such as when a company goes out of its way to interact with others. But at the same time, this is a great opportunity to boost brand loyalty.

There are many ways to use this to your advantage. You can leverage the knowledge of your users into contests, promotions, and general politeness. Never overlook the power of a “Thank you.” Most people won’t shy away from gratitude toward your brand.

Using the term “Brand Ambassador” is old hat by this point, but the theory behind it is right on. Your followers appreciate your thoughtfulness, and a little fortitude goes a long way to create a pleasant social environment.

The third benefit from tracking the pins directly from your site is gaining exposure to public response to your products. Pinterest is a place where people can share images in a creative environment. Just because it has many positive attributes associated with it doesn’t mean that people aren’t going to pin images linked to complaints.

There are a number of boards on Pinterest that are related to products that aren’t good, or ones that are hated. Are your products on there? By using this method of tracking pins from your site, you can connect directly with customers that have a negative impression of your product. This way, you can keep track of how a certain product is doing, and maybe even find ways to improve it. This is an opportunity to win back lost customers by providing a level of service that goes above and beyond what is normally expected.

B2C Model

The majority of businesses currently using Pinterest are B2C companies, because the overall layout and function of Pinterest lends itself to a consumer-friendly atmosphere.

Some of the industries using Pinterest include:

  • Retail stores
  • Online retailers
  • Craft stores
  • Grocery stores
  • Restaurants
  • Hotels
  • Travel agencies
  • Resorts

Like other social networks, educating your audience is crucial. If a consumer wants to purchase an item from you, they will. No amount of social media can change that. The key is to educate, not sell or appear to be desperately convincing.

Showing your products is a good first step. Showing your products in use is a great second step. So why not educate your potential customers with all the ways your product is useful? Don’t shove it down their throats. Instead, inform them by sharing the knowledge your company has of its products. Treat your users as smart consumers capable of making decisions on their own.

Using this tactic gives you a great opportunity to increase your brand awareness. Exposure to your customers is always a plus. But remember to always be cautious about how you wield your Pinterest power. Don’t go overboard to either extreme. Engaging and educating your customers benefit you down the road.

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