What Happened When I Used Pinterest For A Local Business (Not Mine)

This is a long one, but it's worth it...I promise.

I've been writing about Pinterest recently because it's an interesting social media platform. Things that you pin today can be ignored until six months from now, then suddenly get a lot of attention. It also is a big source of traffic to my Etsy shop, and statistically it's one of the highest converting social media sites for sales. So while you're over on facebook posting away, your customers might be on Pinterest getting ready to spend money.

It doesn't hurt to be in both places, but you have to use it strategically, or you might as well be doing nothing. If you only sell locally, you want local people to follow you. Having half a million followers from thousands of miles away will do you no good.

I decided to do a little experiment, and Melisa of Sweet By Design Cakes in Wylie, TX agreed to give me access to her Pinterest account to do it. Melisa had the account set up but hadn't done much with it, so it was the perfect test case. Her goal (it's very important to set goals for what you want to accomplish before you start) was to expand her local cake business, and she wanted to start concentrating on wedding cakes more.

The Experiment Begins

I started working on the account on New Year's Eve, so use December 31st as day zero. At that point Melisa had 8 followers and 7 boards and was following 1 person. While we're at it, go follow her as a thank-you for letting me publish her stats publicly! www.pinterest.com/sweetbydesigntx

I went in and messed around a lot, and by the second day her views had gone up a lot.

Day 1, before I started--30 impressions and 23 viewers:

 Day 2, 1 day after, there were 547 impressions and 146 viewers:

So the increase in one day was notable. I'll mention that I spent a couple of hours messing around and looking for people to follow who were in her area. (I had also done a little survey with Melisa to guide me in that task, since I know nothing about her part of the country or her business specifics.)

In one week I had re-tooled her boards, followed a bunch of people using some very targeted strategies to reach people who were local to Melisa, and the stats for the week were up a pretty decent amount. The dip on the 4th was from me not pinning that day since I was doing an SEO review for someone else, so that tells me that active pinning is important.

More importantly, the clicks from Pinterest to her website had gone up a lot.  And so had engagement, which is clicks, likes and repins, but I'll spare you those charts. 

By the end of the second week average daily impressions and viewers were still going up. Note that the impressions on January 2nd, when I was pinning like crazy, were very high, but look how the graph almost matches that at the end of the two weeks when I wasn't pinning as much. By that time I'd reworked a lot of boards and was checking her Pinterest analytics to change things up, so views were naturally maintaining themselves.

Even better, the clicks through to her website were starting to maintain an increasing path too:

After 2 1/2 weeks I stopped the experiment for a good reason...before I say why, here's the beginning numbers for engagement and viewers:

And here are the ending numbers, with over double the daily viewers and over 3 times the daily engaged viewers. Not too shabby.

Here's the final front page. Melisa ended up with 38 followers and she was following 318 people. She had 16 boards that were created based on her goals:

Time To Stop...

Now, why would I stop so soon, you might be asking? Well, after  two and a half weeks I got an email from Melisa telling me that she had met with the director of a venue near her, and she had been chosen by the venue to be their preferred vendor for their wedding cakes. And the venue director had told her "I FOUND YOU ON PINTEREST." Oh, wow...

Melisa also said that on top of this, she had finalized a deal that she'd been working on to do the wedding cakes for a second venue's wedding package. She said that it was something she'd been talking to the venue about before the experiment started, but she thought that being seen on Pinterest had reminded the coordinator of that venue to call her to finish the deal.

So in order to not overwhelm Melisa with too much work (heh heh), I stopped doing what I'd been doing.

This experiment shows that you can definitely use Pinterest for local businesses, which is something that's hotly debated in social media circles. Most people say that you need to buy Pinterest ads to reach local customers. That's a good idea, but you can't drill down quite as much as I'd like to if you're trying to reach a really local market.

Just The Basics...

Some of the strategies I used for Melisa's account are:
-Follow people strategically, and follow individual boards, not whole accounts.
-Pin consistently and often, but not in a big clump. Space it out so that people's feeds aren't clogged with all of your pins.
-Name your boards using good SEO and your analytics to see what people want to see.
-Pin for your followers, not for yourself.
-Don't use hashtags, this isn't Instagram.
-If your boards are too "you"-heavy, consolidate and delete. 
-If you have pins that are old and haven't received any attention, delete them.
-Create boards that are relevant to your local business. Go look at Melisa's account to see what I mean.

Remember that personal and business accounts are NOT the same and you shouldn't pin the same things or the same way for both. Follow the tips above to get started, but follow me on Pinterest first: www.pinterest.com/acaketoremember

Kara Buntin owns A Cake To Remember LLC, custom wedding cakes in Richmond VA and online cake supplies at www.acaketoremember.biz and www.acaketoremember.etsy.com

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