Pinterest Challenging Google and Twitter for Small Business Bucks

Yahoo Contributor Network

COMMENTARY | It might be a relative social network fledgling, but the social media site Pinterest has experienced a digital real estate boom and now enjoys millions of visitor hits, according to Hitwise data collected in December.

New users now flock to the site, following their favorites and building their own collection of boards, pins and likes. It might also prove to be of particular interest for small business owners.

Shareholic.com reports "Pinterest drives more referral traffic than Google Plus, LinkedIn and YouTube combined." While it doesn't show nearly as much clout as Facebook for January (which pulled in 26.4 percent of referral traffic as compared to Pinterest's 3.6 percent), it's got the same numbers as Google and Twitter.

That makes Pinterest a major player in the social media field.

What it Means for Small Business Owners

Social media strategist Stevie Wilson of LA-Story.com notes there is a way for small business owners to take advantage of the opportunities the site provides. She says it's a good place to "test the waters" -- provided you utilize a strategy.

"I would think a narrow focus at first. Your best curated things that fit into your niche," Wilson told Yahoo! Contributor Network.

Pinterest demands a very precise focus, and, as Wilson points out, "The trick for the small business person is to find that missing segment, that gap in the chain or market ... fill that."

How it Works

Imagine a tool that cuts your favorite photos, recipes or image online and posts them in easy-to-navigate groups and pages, allowing users to organize, subscribe, collect and comment on anything that catches their eye. You might include photos of recipes to try, books on your must-read list, a sweet idea for your daughter's next birthday cake and a still-life composition that moves you. With Pinterest, users do the same thing and still keep their workspace tidy.

It's for this reason Wilson suggests small business owners get focused and prepare a concise, well-developed strategy that works for a largely unknown quantity like Pinterest.

"Make sure you attribute your source material and tell the reader where to find it," she said. "Make sure your photos are terrific -- videos even better -- and make sure whatever is it that you are selling is in stock at that time you put it up. Make sure you have authentic voice, photos, and most of all, some video that encourages connection."

The jury's still out about whether Pinterest will offer the consistency and staying power necessary to drive a major media effort. Still, the site's gaining a devoted following, and is worth watching.

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