Beyond Facebook: How Small Businesses Can Use Visual Marketing to Build Brand

When many businesses think “social media marketing,” only two or three sites immediately come to mind. Facebook, the most popular, Twitter, the second most popular, and LinkedIn, which ranks third. But a new social media site has worked its way onto many “top social media sites” lists, even ranking higher than LinkedIn in a recent ranking reported on CNN.

Pinterest is a bulletin board site. Members communicate visually, by posting pictures of things that mean something to them. Those pictures are “pinned” to the member’s public bulletin board, visible to those members who are interested. Even though membership is by invitation only, the site has managed to amass more than 10.4 million members since its 2010 launch. Most of this use is personal, primarily because many businesses have yet to figure out how to utilize the site for marketing.

Anita Campbell tackled the subject of visual marketing in her book, Visual Marketing. While the book isn’t directly aimed at Pinterest as a medium, it focuses on the impact visual messages have on those receiving them. But the author points out that the site poses challenges for small businesses.

“We think it’s a fantastic tool for many businesses,” the author wrote on her blog. “But sometimes it’s trial and error. What will your customers respond to? Will you spend a lot of energy developing a profile, only to find it fall flat? Come to think of it, that’s the fact with any type of marketing.”

To be most successful at visual marketing using Pinterest, the author recommends allowing your personality to come through in your posts, as well as following up posts with personal interaction with customers. This makes consumers feel as though their voices are being heard, which brings them back to your Pinterest page again and again.

Campaigner, a Cloud-based e-mail marketing business, offers image editing tools that can help you locate and utilize the best visual imagery for your campaign. Those images, when posted on Pinterest, can lead to referrals to other Pinterest users, giving your brand exposure.

For instance, your interior design business crafts a unique sunroom that overlooks the beach. You pin this to your Pinterest board and it’s “repinned,” meaning users forward it on for other users to see. As people take an interest in your design, they might check into what other services your interior design business has to offer, leading you to pick up more customers.

Campaigner has a few recommendations for small businesses interested in using Pinterest for visual marketing:

  • Find the right audience. Each social media site has its own demographic. For Pinterest, that demographic is largely female. If your small business appeals to men, consider Gentlemint, Pinterest’s male counterpart.
  • Get the word out. Once you’re set up on Pinterest or Gentlemint, add a “follow us” button to all of your other websites so your most loyal customers can find you there.
  • Don’t forget your other social media pages. While it’s important to find new marketing avenues, your Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn profiles need regular attention, as well.
  • Learn from your efforts. One great way to track your success is by including a link back to your website in everything you post. These click-throughs will tell you if your campaign is successful.

Social media is no longer limited to one or two sites. By spreading your marketing efforts across multiple platforms, your small business can thrive in today’s competitive marketplace.


About Stephanie Faris

Stephanie is a freelance writer and young adult/middle grade novelist, who worked in information systems for more than a decade. Her first book, 30 Days of No Gossip, will be released by Simon and Schuster in spring 2014. She lives in Nashville with her husband.