Pinterest may be the neglected cousin in the social media family but its new BUY button and the fact that it can drive new and current consumers to your website may change its unloved status. What started out as a simple site for allowing users to bookmark sites and photos now boasts more than 100 million users, and its growth continues daily. Pinterest may not be as popular as Facebook, Instagram or Twitter, but in 2015, Pinterest boasted a respectable 400,000 users in Australia alone. It is predicted that by 2019, the US Pinterest audience will comprise 30% of US social networkers, with more than 50 million users.

So what’s this platform’s point of difference? Pinterest is visual marketing at its best – photos are centre stage and sharing these images is second nature to its audience. The user base of Pinterest is currently 80% female, with their top interests being fashion, home design, crafts and kids.

Along with helping to boost your website’s SEO, Pinterest can also provide a robust source of traffic. Pinterest does differ from other social media platforms, so it’s important to understand how to approach it to maximise potential growth of your brand.

If your brand has a story to tell, then visual content can help you tell this story. Think of Pinterest as another channel and don’t just re-publish content that’s appeared on other platforms and expect it to work. Consider your brand’s demographic and ascertain whether your website is easily updated with images and content that’s worth sharing.

Here are a few tips to maximise Pinterest for your brand.

1. Follow Quality Users

This may seem relatively obvious, but the first and most important step in Pinterest marketing campaign is to follow other users. Identify other core popular users within your industry or niche by conducting a search for relevant keywords. This strategy will grant you access to boards with relevant content.

2. Participate by Pinning and Repining

Pinning is the name of the game with Pinterest marketing. The goal is to interact with and engage others, and the best way to do that is by commenting on popular boards and pins or asking questions. Sharing content by repining is another way to demonstrate interest and get noticed. What sets pins from other social media platforms is that they feature a link back to the original source, which can lead to greater SEO power.

3. Leverage the Power of Cross Platforms

Pinterest marketing on its own can be incredibly powerful to promote your brand, but it works even better when you connect your Pinterest account to your brand’s other social media accounts and networks. If you are looking for a strategy to increase your number of followers quickly, this is it. By connecting your Pinterest account to Twitter, Facebook, and other social media accounts, you can be assured that anytime you share a pin, your followers on those pages will know that you are now active on Pinterest.

4. Joining Group Boards on Pinterest

Joining group boards is one of the easiest Pinterest marketing techniques to help your brand connect with users who share the same interests. This means you can contribute to boards and share your own boards, increasing your chances of attracting more followers. Categorise your boards to make your pins more discoverable.

5. Get Creative with Contests

Be creative by holding contests. Giveaways are now one of the hottest and most effective ways to go viral and quickly gain attention on social media. The clincher with the promotion strategy is that people need to follow you to qualify for the contest. Pinterest has just revised its contest rules, which now requires contests be easy to enter, spam-free and in alignment with Pinterest branding guidelines.

6. Time your Pins

Pinterest works 24/7 and pinning at different times will help your pins be seen by global audiences, rather than just a local crowd. Test and use your response data to check the best times to pin and use a tool like Pinterest Analytics to determine the best days and times. Also it can be highly effective to re-pin your old pins.

7. Get your Pins Noticed

When naming your pin, start with your business name and add a ‘descriptive’ keyword to the end of your business name to increase the chances of being found through a search. Include keywords in the titles of your Pinterest boards so they can easily be found through the boards search option. Also, include the keywords you want to be found in the description of your pin.

8. Buyable Pins

‘Buyable Pins’ are the new, simple and secure way to buy products on Pinterest in the US. More than 30 million pins on Pinterest are now for sale, including products from retailers such as Macy’s, Neiman Marcus and Nordstrom. The pins are now on Pinterest’s iPhone and iPad apps and will soon be available on additional platforms. It is anticipated more than two million different products will be sold on Pinterest annually?. How does it work? When you spot a pin with a blue price button, this means you can buy it. Fingers crossed this capability will be available in Australia in early 2016.

9. Website Traffic

The average Pinterest user follows nine brands and spends just over 15 minutes on the platform per visit. As Pinterest is built on the Interest Graph, not the Social Graph, it connects users with people who share passions and interests, not shared acquaintances. To drive traffic to your website, verify your website domain and include a link, plus link your Pinterest account to your Facebook, Instagram and Twitter accounts. If your brand has a Facebook fan base, Pinvolve is an application that installs on Facebook to display images from your Pinterest boards and there’s also plenty of other apps that allow you to integrate Pinterest with other platforms. Always include a call to action or a Click Here button on your products or services on your website. People can then pin items from your site or your blog.

10. Analysis

Pinterest has a free analytics tool available for all business pages. It hooks up the analytics to your sites so you can track pin activity, such as how many people are pinning from your website, whether your pins are being repined, how much traffic is being sent to your site and what your impressions are like. If you want more advanced analytics and the ability to analyse competitors, Tailwind is another way to measure. PinAlerts keeps you informed of items that are pinned onto your boards from your site and also tracks when images are pinned from your competitor’s websites.