In this economy, small businesses must take advantage of every possible avenue at their disposal to thrive. This includes using tools like social media for everything from marketing to sales. While it seems like sites such as Facebook and LinkedIn have been around forever, there are always new sites and ideas in the works. One relatively new site that businesses should pay attention to is Pinterest.

A recent study showed that nearly one in five consumers bought a product they saw on Pinterest from a small business rather than a retail giant or mass merchandiser (1). Considering that Pinterest is the third largest social networking site on the web, according to Forbes, that one in five consumers can create quite the rise in your sales.

Pinterest creates a digital bulletin board designed for people to gather ideas, interests and activities from all across the Internet into one site. This is called “pinning.” Pins are shared publicly on Pinterest for all to see, comment on and share (called re-pinning). “Pins” show up in the form of photos, which then lead to an external link somewhere else on the Internet. Some of the most common “pins” found on the Pinterest home page are pictures of food (linking to recipes), material goods (which can link to a store or supplier), fun pictures (linking to a related article) and inspirational sayings. To sign up for Pinterest, one must first “Request an Invite,” which they will receive via email.

Increase sales for your business with these Pinterest strategies.

Use recent studies as a marketing tool. Natural Healthcare Canada, a holistic/alternative healthcare information company, informs Pinterest users about a study, the results of the study and why it should matter to them. Pinterest users “re-pin” NHC’s pins across Pinterest, which results in NHC gaining more publicity. Discussing a recent study would be a great way to tie into a related new product that you may be selling.

Publicize new developments. Private Label Nutraceuticals, out of Atlanta, recently “pinned” their acquisition of an exclusive territory agreement in New Zealand. Customers interested in a company are impressed when they see company growth. Don’t just keep company developments contained to the executive board room. Show customers improvements to increase their trust in the products they are purchasing.

Promote your business’s events. Private Label Nutraceuticals “pinned” Natural Products Expo West 2012 to help gain publicity for it, knowing that more people attending the tradeshow could lead to more potential customers. Pinning a tradeshow or event you’ll be attending lets customers know you’re active and involved in the community. Also, pin pictures from your Web site of store events or products you’re promoting.

Offer your products as solutions. Marketers of the weight-loss product PGX, from Natural Factors, frequently “pin” in the “Weight Management” category on Pinterest. Their “pins” are commonly products they manufacture that can help interested consumers. Rather than just “pinning” a product and talking about its benefits, be sure to target an audience that would be interested in it. WF

1. H. Silver, C. Mitchell and E. Tan, For the Smaller Shop, Pinterest Brings Sales, from Online Consumer Pulse:, accessed July 30, 2012.

Published in WholeFoods Magazine, September 2012