This week, we hosted our first ever Pinterest for small business webinar.

It was a huge success and over 1,000 people signed up to learn more about a social network that’s already driving big results for businesses—big and small.

One of the best parts about the event was the conversation it sparked. With plenty of questions coming in before, during, and even after the event, we were given a snapshot of the hottest Pinterest questions facing small businesses today.

Here are the answers to 10 of these questions that will hopefully help your business get better results on Pinterest.

1. “What are the biggest differences between marketing on Pinterest and marketing on sites like Facebook or Twitter?”

The first thing you need to understand about Pinterest is that it’s not an entirely different world of social media marketing.

Pinterest uses a language that most social media users already know. Often, people are intimidated when they hear terms like “pin” or “repin,” but put them in the context of “tweet” or “retweet,” and finally they make sense. And when it comes to liking, commenting, and sharing—these are things you’re probably doing every day on other sites.

But there are certain features that make Pinterest completely unique from its social counterparts. Pinterest boards for example, allow users to organize content in a way that isn’t offered on any other site. Boards also let users self segment which content they want to receive. So, rather than seeing everything you share on Pinterest (like on Facebook or Twitter), your followers can choose to only see content that’s most relevant to their specific interest.

There’s also a major difference in how users approach Pinterest compared to sites like Facebook or Twitter. On Pinterest, the majority of people log on with a “shopping mentality.” In fact, 89% of Pinterest users have bought something they found on Pinterest.

That doesn’t mean every user is going to spend money, but they’ll approach your content with the intention of gathering or curating, which could lead to an eventual sale.

Pinterest Boards

2.  “I’m a service B2B and I don’t sell any products. Can Pinterest still work for my business?”

Right now, businesses from all types of industries are getting started on Pinterest.

At this week’s webinar, we received questions from businesses ranging from travel companies and hair salons to automotive repair shops and stock traders. We also saw a number of nonprofits and religious organizations who were interested in getting started.

The bottom line on Pinterest is this: If your business has a visual story to tell, Pinterest can work for your organization.

For a service B2B, Pinterest is a great way to humanize your brand. Use boards to showcase the people behind your business and give customers a look behind the curtain. It’s also a chance to use images to tell the stories of the people you serve.

You can also use Pinterest to showcase your expertise with different tips or tricks. This is something that works for us on the Constant Contact Pinterest Page. You can use tools like PicMonkey to superimpose helpful tips onto images and link that image back to a full blog post or a helpful article. You can also use infographics or graphs to link to more concrete pieces of advice.

3. “How much time do I need to invest in order to be successful on Pinterest?”

Unfortunately, there’s no set answer for how much time it takes to be successful on Pinterest. Like other networks, the amount of time you’ll need to dedicate will really depend on what it is you hope to achieve.

For some businesses, Pinterest will be the central piece to their online marketing efforts. Home decorating, arts and crafts, fashion, and food are among the most talked about topics on Pinterest. For businesses that work in industries relevant to those hot topics, Pinterest may be an everyday type of commitment.

If you’re still on the fence about whether or not Pinterest is right for your business, you may want to start by investing a small percentage of your time—like 10%— to test the waters without becoming overwhelmed. If you start to see some results, you’ll know it’s worth a more substantial investment.

Consider developing a weekly schedule around your social media efforts. Starting out, Pinterest may be something you do once or twice a week, while Facebook is something you do once or twice a day. Over time, that may change, but make sure to be patient before deciding to commit or move on.

4. “How can I get more exposure on Pinterest?”

There are a number of things you can do to get more exposure on Pinterest—most of which will fit in nicely with your other marketing efforts. Here are a few things to keep in mind:

Connect to other social networks: Pinterest makes it easy to share your activity on the site across your social networks. You can use Pinterest’s social sharing buttons to share pins with your other networks and the Pinterest “embed” code to add pins to your blog or Facebook Page.

Follow and interact with brands and Pinterest users: The best way to build your audience is by joining someone else’s. Use Pinterest’s “search” feature to find stuff that’s relevant to your industry or your brand. Start to follow other users and show them you like what they’re doing with a repin.

Send an email: Pinterest users love to hear that their favorite brands have started pinning. Let your readers know you’re on Pinterest and invite them to follow along!

Make your content searchable: Pinterest users are always searching for new ideas and inspiration. Think about what type of searches your target audience may be doing and name your boards and pins accordingly. When creating new boards, you’ll be asked to choose a “Category.” Choosing the appropriate category will improve the chances of getting noticed by your target audience.

Use Pinterest group boards: On Pinterest, you can actually invite other users to contribute to your boards. This will not only save you time and energy, but can also help open your content up to a whole new audience. (Here’s a great article from ClickZ about how to get more exposure from Pinterest group boards.)

Be active: Because Pinterest lets users self segment which type of content they want to receive, it’s difficult to spam followers on Pinterest. Being active on Pinterest can only help your marketing efforts and will open your content up to a much wider audience.

5. “How has Pinterest addressed the topic of copyrights and intellectual property rights?”

Early on, Pinterest faced a lot of questions about how it planned to protect the copyrights and whether or not pinning content from a business or organization’s website violated those rights.

Pinterest addresses this topic in its Terms of Service, which all Pinterest users agree to when creating an account on the site. According to Pinterest, as long as users are not misrepresenting the pin as your own work and as long as the content you share refers back to the source, you should be within the copyright guidelines.

As a brand, you always want to give credit where credit is due. If you’re sharing images of your products or services that link back to your site, make sure to use your pictures—not ones from other sites.

6. “I’m an artist and haven’t set up a website to showcase my work. Can I still use Pinterest?”

Pinterest has picked up a lot of attention for the amount of referral traffic it drives to brand websites. In fact, Pinterest drives even more referral traffic than some of its biggest social competitors, including Twitter.

But having a website is not a requirement for getting started on Pinterest. In addition to pinning content online and linking it back to its original source, you can also choose to upload content from your computer or mobile device.

When you upload pins, you are taking ownership of the content so make sure it’s actually your stuff. And, if you don’t have a site to link to, you’ll want to make sure to provide a clear description and any relevant contact information for users who may want to follow up.

A blog can also be a smart alternative if you don’t currently have a website. Most of the top blog providers, like WordPress, provide free platforms where new businesses can share content and customize it to suit their brand. That way, you at least have an owned source that you can link your pins to.

7. “What is the difference between a business Page and a personal Page on Pinterest?”

Pinterest offers business accounts for brands and organizations. As of right now, the biggest benefit of using a business page rather than a personal page is that it allows you the opportunity to verify your sites URL. This will allow you to show your audience you are in fact who you say you are and can boost your credibility as a trusted source.

Pinterest has not currently rolled out any other business-specific tools but this is something that most marketers expect to happen in the coming year. Making the switch to a business page is easy and is something that all businesses should do if they haven’t already.

If you plan to use Pinterest for personal stuff as well, it’s a good idea to set up a separate personal account so it doesn’t interfere with your marketing.

8. “What are some of the different ways that I can use boards on Pinterest?”

As mentioned before, Boards are one of the most unique features offered on Pinterest.

If you’re new to Pinterest, we recommend starting by creating at least three new boards:

A board about your products or services: This board can be a great way to start contributing to the Pinterest community and to showcase your business. Be careful not to be too promotional, even when you’re just starting off.

A board designed to help: A key to not being too promotional on Pinterest is creating boards that your customers can actually use. If you’re a clothing store or boutique, that could be a board about fashion tips for the upcoming season, or if you’re a marketing company, that could be a board with infographics or pictures that link to blog posts—anything that will showcase your expertise and get people involved.

A board that’s just fun: I know getting started can be a little stressful, but try to lighten up. The beauty of Pinterest is that you can showcase your business and have fun while doing it. Think of something you love and that your customers will find entertaining. Don’t be afraid to think outside the box.

As you start to develop your presence on Pinterest, pay attention to the audience of each of your boards. If product boards are attracting a lot of attention, try to think of different ways to group your products or present them in a way that solves a problem for your followers—like “Holiday Gift Ideas!”

And don’t overlook the importance of picking the right cover photo and title for each of your boards. Think of the cover photo as the cover of a book—make it catch your audience’s attention and give them insight into the content on the board. The title of each board should also be very descriptive. You can still be creative, but people also want to know why each board is relevant to them.

Creating boards with creative themes and unique goals is a good way to avoid being overly promotional on Pinterest.

Creating boards with creative themes and unique goals is a good way to avoid being overly promotional on Pinterest.

9. “Are there any best practices for how much text I should use in my descriptions?”

Pinterest gives users a 500 character limit for pin descriptions.

And while you don’t necessarily want to use all 500 for each of your pins, it is important to make sure your description is, well descriptive. While some pictures won’t need as much explaining, you do want to make sure people understand the context of each of your pins.

You also want to pay attention to keywords. Picking keywords that are relevant to your industry and your audience will help improve the likelihood of your content being found on Pinterest. Hashtags are also popular on Pinterest. Using them can help get you noticed when people are searching for specific topics or themes.

While Pinterest is definitely a visual medium, it’s also a powerful tool for driving traffic to text-heavy content. Use images on Pinterest to link to things like blog posts, newsletter articles, whitepapers, or guides.

Constant Contact uses images on Pinterest to link to blog posts and helpful articles.

Constant Contact uses images on Pinterest to link to blog posts and helpful articles.

10. “I’m worried about overwhelming my audience. How much is too much on Pinterest?”

Your audience will always tell you how much is too much. Whether it’s Pinterest, Facebook, or Twitter, the best way to tell if you’re going overboard is by paying attention to how your fans or followers are engaging.

If you’re posting five times a day, but you’re posting stuff your audience doesn’t want, then yes, it’s too much. But if you’re posting five times a day and followers are liking, commenting, and sharing your stuff, then you know you’re on the right track. Look for those cues from your unique audience.

Also keep in mind that Pinterest isn’t Facebook. The layout of the site and the functionality allowing users to follow specific boards, decreases the likelihood of spamming your target audience. If you’re posting new pictures of customers using your products on Facebook each day, your audience may be overwhelmed. But on Pinterest, users who choose to follow boards about what customers can do with your products will be delighted!

Download the free E-book

Couldn’t make it to this week’s Pinterest webinar? Don’t worry.

You can still download our free Pinterest eBook, How to Drive Social Visibility and New Business with Pinterest.

Still have questions about using Pinterest for your small business? Let us know in the comments.