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Businesses are finding exciting new ways to use Pinterest to reach customers and gain feedback and insights on their products or services. Entrepreneur Magazine posted an interesting article recently recommending several new approaches that I’d like to expand upon here.

1 .  Topics of interest to your target audience boards that speak to obvious themes that are important to clients and potential clients.

I’d add that creating boards that are relevant to the default categories available on Pinterest can be inspiring. Connecting your business and your services to categories that are already relevant to potential customers brings those pinners one step closer to the sale.

2.  Educational value – build a “how to” board with informational content relevant to your business industry.

My addition to this would be to follow and capture pins from industry leaders who are already putting out great content on Pinterest.

3.  Feedback for your business – create a board of images requesting feedback about potential product or service offerings, treating your Pinterest followers like a virtual focus group.

On top of that, ask customers for their opinions about your current products and services to improve upon the services you already offer and come up with new inspiration for what may be missing in your current lineup.

4.  Upcoming events – pin information about speakers, workshops, training sessions, and sponsors for upcoming business events to promote your current events with followers.

Promote events in your community and encourage followers to participate with your business at volunteer and networking events that strengthen your community to create and uphold a business that is closely linked with the town that it operates in.

5.  New products or services – rev up audience anticipation for new product launches by pinning information about the features and benefits and a countdown to product launch.

Give followers on Pinterest a first crack at a beta test or make a unique service offering as a “soft” launch that is exclusive to avid followers.

6.  Showcase your company culture and employees – give followers an inside peek to your business by telling the story about unique employee style, company culture, and interests.

Create a board that highlights your company branding in unique ways. For instance, if your predominant logo color is chartreuse:  dedicate a board to the color and collect pins across Pinterest that are predominantly chartreuse.

7.  Provide social proof – evidence that famous celebrities, your family members, people in your town or country are already enjoying your business offerings. May include customer testimonials, profiles of sales, or images of people using your branded services or products.

You can also create a shared board and invite fellow pinners to pin their own images and stories about your brand. For instance, a shared board of landscape maintenance customers where followers pin images of their beautifully landscaped yards throughout the seasons.

8.  Discussion groups – a Pinterest discussion board features a designated topic and invites other pinners to weigh in with responses in the description box.

Additionally, create a series of Pinterest boards based around loosely relevant topics to your business and invite engagement and pinning. Example:  a kitchen and bath remodeling company shares a Favorite Recipes board with current customers so that they can post their favorite things to prepare in their gorgeous new kitchens. Your business can comment on these pins to the shared board and say “I bet cooking this up in your new kitchen is a lot of fun!”.

Finally, participating on a regular basis and following proper business etiquette on Pinterest goes a long way to getting your business the kind of reach and engagement you really want on this unique social media platform.

Read Pinterest’s Business Pinning Principles here: http://business.pinterest.com/pinning-principles/

Read Entrepreneur Magazine’s original article here:  http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/226533

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This article was written by Eliece Hammond – Online Marketing Strategist at Dream Local Digital. Eliece is from the Pacific Northwest and has recently relocated to Silicon Valley with her new husband, Jim. Maine has a special draw for her and she is excited to work with the team and support local commerce. Eliece attended college at an early age in Illinois, earning a high school diploma and AA degree in Graphic Design in June of 1999. She later went on to complete a 4-year Business Administration degree from the University of Washington with concentrations in Marketing and Finance. Her focus has always been on entrepreneurship, with 14 years of experience developing business models and marketing plans. You can reach Eliece at eliece@dreamlocal.com or connect with her online at: http://about.me/eliece