In less than three years, Pinterest has become a major player in the social-media arena. The question remains: Can this site play a role in marketing your financial services practice? In my opinion, it is going to take some time, but that doesn't mean that it can't take hold.
Simply put, Pinterest is the online version of tearing pictures out of a magazine and tacking them up on your bulletin board for education, inspiration and motivation.
Clients and prospects need these things, right? And they need to get to know their financial advisers.
Pinterest can help with this. But is it the right tool for you?
In deciding whether to adopt any social-media platform, start by asking yourself two questions.
First, is this a place that my target market frequents?
In the United States, Pinterest users are typically women, with the bulk of users in the 25-45 range. If this fits your target demographic, it could be a great place to build your brand.
Second, does it make sense to add this platform to my overall marketing and social-media strategy? Do you have the time and resources to participate in this medium?
If your answers lead you to jump on the Pinterest bandwagon, here are some tips to get started.
Create a complete profile. Most people using Pinterest miss these basic steps when setting up their profiles, creating a wealth of opportunity for those who take time to do it right.
• Add a profile picture. We recommend using a head shot, not a logo. If you don't have a good head shot, it is worth investing in.
• I, and the public at large, will thank you for not posting a picture in which your outstretched arm is a dead giveaway that you took the photo yourself. That, and photos where others have obviously been cropped out, are a dead giveaway that you aren't approaching this from the eyes of a professional.
• Write a brief introductory paragraph but avoid the dreaded industry jargon. Let people know what you do, but in layman's terms.
• Show your personality in the intro. Get creative. Be funny. To stand out in a sea of advisers, you must be authentic, transparent and, more importantly, yourself.
• Add links to your website, Facebook and Twitter.
Focus on boards and pins. According to its website, Pinterest's mission is to “connect everyone in the world through the things they find interesting.” Consumer goods, such as clothes, jewelry and automobiles, do well in pictures, with their pictures sparking a great deal of interest. By contrast, the inner workings of a municipal bond fund might not be as fascinating. To have an impact on Pinterest, keep things simple, educational and fun. Above all, try to connect. It is about lifestyle, not product.
• Come up with creative titles for your boards.
• Pin items and categories that fit the lifestyle of your client.
• Put captions or descriptions on your pins — use key words.
• Add a link to your photo — point followers to your website or blog.
• Re-pin posts from others (always credit the source).
Get engaged. Although it might look like one giant billboard, Pinterest remains a social-media site — with emphasis on the word “social.” Ensure that your strategy allows time to build relationships.
• Follow others in your field and help them share information (crediting them appropriately).
• Comment on others' pins.
• Notice who is following you and re-pinning your posts. Build relationships and engage in discussions.
Conduct research. One of the best uses of social media is as a research tool. (There are no compliance constraints limiting the use of these tools purely for research purposes.)
• Learn how other advisers are using Pinterest. Hint: There aren't yet many advisers making a big impact on Pinterest; why not lead the trend? As this platform grows and businesses continue learning how best to leverage its power, you will be considered a trendsetter.
• Use key-word searches to research your target market. Pinterest is a great way to learn more about people's personal interests.
• Follow your clients and prospects. This can help develop unique client loyalty ideas, ones geared directly to them. What do they pin on their “favorites” boards? Is there a favorite wine you can send? A favorite quote you can have framed?
Pinterest is certainly one of the more fun social-media sites, perhaps because it contains positive thoughts and dreams, as opposed to the “woe is me” often found on other sites.
Learning how to bring the financial services arena into the fold could prove to be a game changer for those brave enough to be early adopters.
Kristin Andree (kristin @andreemedia.com) is president of Andree Media & Consulting.