The Do's and Don'ts for Marketing With Pinterest New to Pinterest? Most businesses are. Here are some guidelines to help make the most of it for your marketing.

By Susan Gunelius

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7 Dos and Donts for Marketing With Pinterest

Brands are piling into Pinterest, the wildly popular visual bookmarking tool. And plenty are making mistakes along the way as they try to figure out how to use the site for their marketing.

Pinterest, which launched in 2010, has grown to more than 10 million users. Every day, people use the website to "pin" images and videos to their personal pin boards so they can save and share the things they love. The site gets social when people follow each other and repin or comment on each other's pins.

The vast majority of Pinterest users are women between the ages of 25 and 34, so it's a natural place for small businesses to spend time if they want to connect with that target audience. Many brands have already jumped on the Pinterest bandwagon, and you can get creative inspiration by reviewing brand pinboards. I keep a pinboard filled with brands doing cool things on Pinterest, which you can explore to start your benchmarking research.

Although brands targeted at women like Better Homes and Gardens dominate Pinterest, companies like Advanced Micro Devices are also giving it a try. With that in mind, here are some Pinterest do's and don'ts to help you use the site to promote your small business.

Do tell stories and tap into emotions
Pinterest is a place for storytelling. Help consumers become emotionally connected to your brand by pinning content that reveals more about your brand personality than just your product line. Check out the pin boards from Birchbox to get some ideas. For example, the beauty-products subscription service features fun "unboxing videos" of people opening their purchases and sneak peaks into packages before they're sent to customers.

Related: Three Tips for Drawing Even More Traffic from Pinterest

Do get social and build relationships
Pinterest is a social destination, so get involved with its community. Find active Pinterest members and build relationships with them by following them, repinning their content and commenting on their pins. The commenting feature in Pinterest is still greatly underutilized, and you can stand out by using it frequently.

Do create group pinboards and crowdsource
You don't have to go it alone on Pinterest. Create group pinboards and invite other users to pin content to those boards. For example, ask customers to pin pictures of themselves using your products. You also could hold a contest to crowdsource pins. Ask customers to review your business or product on your website and pin a quote from their review to a special contest pinboard. You benefit from more reviews and a pinboard that's filled with testimonials.

Don't use pinterest for direct marketing
Pinterest states that the site should not be used for direct marketing, advertising or sales. Excessive and overt self-promotion is clearly unacceptable, so make sure you're pinning diverse content, not just pictures of your products. You need to get creative and use Pinterest for indirect marketing. For example, fill pin boards with seasonal items, color coordinated images, gift ideas and so on. For inspiration, Scholastic has a variety of creative pinboards that are excellent examples of indirect marketing.

Don't forget who the Pinterest audience is
Approximately three out of four Pinterest users are currently women. While the site is beginning to attract more male users, you shouldn't waste time pinning a lot of content that women are unlikely to be interested in.

Don't pin anything and everything
Cluttering your pinboards with everything you think people might like is a mistake. Just as people don't like to sift through clutter in search engine results and on websites, they don't want to be overwhelmed on Pinterest. Stay focused, but don't be afraid to pin interesting content that your target audience would enjoy and that's at least loosely connected to your business. Such content can help give your brand more personality.

Related: Five Steps for Using Pinterest for Business (Video)

Susan Gunelius

Marketing, Branding, Copywriting, Email and Social Media Expert

Susan Gunelius is CEO of KeySplash Creative Inc., a marketing communications and strategic branding company. She has authored a dozen books about marketing, branding, social media, copywriting and technology and is the founder and editor in chief of WomenOnBusiness.com, a blog for business women.

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