A social media question I often hear from small business owners is, “What should I pin on Pinterest?”

Last week, while attending a tech event for women, I heard this question from one particular business owner who owns a shop that sells window blinds.

The business value of Pinterest didn’t seem clear for this particular owner, and getting started seemed daunting.

This is a common misconception I encounter when it comes to Pinterest; many business owners are either unsure of what to pin, or think of Pinterest as a place just to pin their products.

However, to successfully use Pinterest for a business, you need to think beyond pins that strictly showcase your product.

For this business owner, a board just with images of window blinds probably won’t be interesting to her audience. But how about pinning images that showcase her product in action — window treatments in particular rooms, various decors, or creative styling. These types of pins will catch the attention of her audience, and might even encourage them to re-pin a few.

You don’t have to have a physical product to make the most of Pinterest for your business, either.

Any business can be visually interesting to potential customers.

All you need is helpful content that offers solutions to your audience’s problems. Inspiration can come from the services you offer or your business’s core values.

Here are a few examples of situations that I’ve heard from business owners, regarding Pinterest, in the past:

I own a retail shop with limited or changing inventory, what should I pin?

Remember that you don’t have to limit your content on Pinterest to only the goods you sell.

The content you pin should reflect the vibe of your shop and include items you currently have, you had in the past, or are similar to something you’d see in your shop.

These boards will attract the type of customer that is interested in what you have to offer, and inspire them to shop with you when they’re ready to buy.

I own a retail shop but I don’t have an ecommerce site, what should I pin?

If you don’t have an ecommerce website, you can still use Pinterest for your business.

If you have images of your product, you can upload them from your desktop to create a pin.

Remember to make it clear how users can shop with your business. Include a link to your email signup page, blog, or contact information in the description of your channel, boards, and/or pins. If you don’t have images of your product, consider using Pinterest as a resource to direct customers to get more insight about your industry.

The pins within your board should help your customers solve a particular issue that is relevant to your industry.

I own a business to business company, what should I pin?

All you need is helpful content that offers solutions to your audience’s problems.

By pinning content from your blog, digital assets from your website (like guides and whitepapers), as well as quality information from across the web, you can use Pinterest to establish your brand as an expert in your field, and use Pinterest to build links to give your search ranking a boost.

I own a business but I don’t have any visual assets, what should I pin?

Do you have examples of work you’ve done for your clients?

Would your audience be interested in tips or tricks related to your industry that you could create or others have pinned?

Do you have a blog?  All of these things could make great content for pins!

I own a business but I have nothing to offer visually, what should I pin?

Any business can be visual!

Take an accountant for example. While you can’t showoff client examples or images of your work, you can turn practical finance best practices into image tips, pin interesting statistics, or infographics about managing money, etc. You can also create images for your customer testimonials, to show what other customers are saying about you.

I own a business and have already pinned content related to my industry that inspires or helps my audience, now what should I pin?

Do you have (or could you take) behind the scenes photos that would be interesting to your audience?

Does the season impact your business? Could you pin content that is relevant to the current season, a particular holiday, or current event?  You could use a concept from of one of your current boards and create a board specifically focused on something timely.

Do you often come across cartoons or other entertaining content related to your industry? Show the lighter side of your brand with a board that’s just for fun.

Ready to get started using Pinterest for your business?

Don’t forget, before you get started with any social network you need to decide what your goal is.

Do you want to drive traffic to your website or blog? Drive sales? Increase brand awareness? Improve your SEO? Your goal will help determine the content and how frequent you should pin on Pinterest.

As you brainstorm content ideas for your own business, keep in mind that like the examples above, each board you create should either: entertain, inspire, educate, or inform and map to your goal.

As you’re getting started pinning, pay attention to how people are responding, and make adjustments based on the engagement you see, and the feedback you receive.

Lastly, don’t forget to just have fun pinning!

Tell us how you use Pinterest to engage your customers and build stronger relationships in the comments below!