With 10 million plus users and growing, Pinterest has become the social network everyone has been talking about. If your brand has amazing visual content, you have a lot to offer to this community. Some of the most popular brands that have embraced Pinterest include McDonalds, Oprah, Wholefoods, and more are being added all the time.

If you’re active on Pinterest for business, it is important to make sure all of your curation and creation doesn’t go untracked. This week, SWIX is unveiling our Pinterest pod that will track the size of your community (followers) and engagement metrics (following, likes) of Pinterest accounts.

If you’re a Pinterest ‘newb’ we’ve put together some quick info about how to use the platform, some examples of best practices from leading brands, as well as some emerging social media contests that have been run through Pinterest.

What is Pinterest?

Pinterest is a social bookmarking tool to help you curate and organize online visual content. You no longer need a million folders on your desktop to save images or a never ending bookmark list. Now there’s a place to help you create a collection of content that you can share with others, make comments and tag other users. You can also follow brands and other people’s pins, which are displayed in real time as they share them.

The LINGO

Pins

A pin is any image or video, that you as a user discover on the web or upload to Pinterest. Each pin has the option for a description, and is linked to a source.

Boards

Once you start pinning items, it’s easy to get addicted, so it’s great that you can organize your pins by theme, which are called boards. Each board acts as a hub for similar content.  Think of it as a category of images or video.

Following

The follow function for Pinterest is similar to Twitter, where you can follow anyone even if they aren’t following you back. When you follow someone, you are actually following their boards, rather then their entire account. You can select which boards you want to follow, or choose to follow them all. If you want to start connecting with your friend’s pins, you can sign up using Twitter or Facebook.

Repins

When you see something pinned that you want to share with your following, it is called a “repin”, sort of like the “retweet” of Pinterest. Each time you repin something you have the opportunity to categorize it by assigning it to a board and the option to write your own description. What’s great is that the source link that was originally pinned remains, no matter how many times something has been shared.

Likes

This function simply adds the pin to the “likes” on your profile, but doesn’t add the content to any of your boards. You can check out everything that you’ve “liked” in the past from your account.

How To Start Pinning

From the Web

Ok, so now you have the lingo down it’s time to get your pinnin’ on! You can add a “Pin it” bookmarklet to your browser, so you can add content to boards as you surf around. When you use the button, Pinterest automatically collects all the visual content from that page. Just select the picture you want to add, the board you want to attribute it to, and write a description, then repeat! Pinterest is smart and grabs the source link automatically.

From your own creative genius

Not all pins have been curated, you can also be a creator. To do that simply select “add” and then “upload pin”.

Brands that are doing a good job

Club Monaco

Club Monaco goes beyond just fashion, they have done an amazing job at curating a “culture” behind their brand. On their Pinterest page you’ll find content on trendy meals, places to go out, travel advice and more. They’ve also started curating pictures that followers pin wearing their brand, showing behind the scenes of their corporate office and more personal content than simply posting ads or lookbook pictures.

Thompson Hotels

If you have ever stayed at a Thompson hotel you know that the brand is synonymous with style. On their Pinterest page you can see a tour of each city where you’ll find one of their hotels, music suggestions, art & design inspirations as well as fashion and style advice.

Wholefoods

With a whopping 30,000+ following on Pinterest, Wholefoods has done a great job at posting some meaningful content. Ranging from recipe ideas and entertaining tips, Wholefoods has gone as far as featuring cooking gadgets, kitchen decorating, wine tips and other types of healthy living inspirations.

If you want to see some other big brands on Pinterest, Social Fresh put together an amazing list here: http://socialfresh.com/brands-on-pinterest/

Running a contest on Pinterest

Types of Contests:

Board-Off’s

This has been the most popular of contests we’ve come across on Pinterest. Simply set up guidelines for the creation of a board, and ask contestants submit their board’s link. The best board wins the contests based on judges from the company or by random draw.

Example: Barney’s New York

Barney’s hosted their contest on Facebook and asked participants to follow them on Pinterest and created a board that features their must have items for summer from their beauty department. The stipulation was that the board must have five selections from Barneys.com

As contest participants create boards, more “Barney’s branded” pins are shared throughout each of their networks. This helps the proliferation of Barney’s products as well as instigates more followers to the Barney’s Pinterest account.

Sweepstakes

Similar to Facebook contests that drive ‘Likes’, contests like these usually have two ways to enter; either following a brand on Pinterest or repinning a specific image. A random winner is drawn from the pool of entries.

Example: Club Monaco

For the past few weeks Club Monaco has been giving away items to those who Repin a certain product in their “Repin to Win” contest. By creating a unique image to be shared, the message become viral as those pinning the image show it to their Pinterest communities.

 Hashtags

With the great search functionality of Pinterest, some brands have asked their followers to pin a specific image and write a hashtag in the comments section as an entry.

Example: Tropik Media

During March Madness, Tropik Media asked their community to find their favourite game day recipe online and pin the recipe with the hashtag #MMTropik in the pin description.

Example: Canvas Pop

Canvas Pop also asked their community to repin any of their products featured on Canvas Pop with the hashtag #CanvasPopPins for the chance to win that product.

Tips for your Pinterest contest

1. Give your contest a home

It’s important that you establish some credibility for your contest. Make sure that you have a landing page, Facebook tab or entry form for people to learn more about your contest. You can post all the rules there and instructions on how to enter in more detail. Also, you can drive all of your promotion of the contest to one place.

2. Brand your contest

Create a repinnable image which will promote the contest on Pinterest. Make sure to include your contest name, your brand, the prize, rules or steps to enter and of course link this image back to the contest landing page.

3. Support through other channels

Make sure to share your contest on other platforms and channels, such as email, your blog, Facebook and Twitter to drive people to enter. Not everyone has Pinterest, so sharing on other networks where your community is active will drive people to take notice and action.

4. Track your success

Before you run any contest or campaign it is important to make sure you are able to measure its success. There are many ways to see how well your contest preformed, but it all depends on what you are asking people to “do” to enter. Make sure you keep track of engagement levels as well as the growth of your community during the contest to figure out what worked out so you can repeat your awesomeness.

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