Is Pinterest right for your business?

Pinterest: Can it drive your business?Is EVERYONE a photographer?

Pinterest! It’s the latest shooting star in the social world, and if you don’t know, it’s a place to post and share photos. REALLY GOOD photos. It’s basically Twitter if you throw out 90% of the users and keep only the serious photogs, then instead of a stream of text, display a wall of pics.

There’s only one problem: Have you seen the web recently? There’s a lot of bad photography and worse Photoshop, and we’ve accepted it. I admit, my idea of photography is to make sure I carry a phone around so I can take a quick shot of something cool. I always figured a lot of people were like me, ready to post a quick image to Facebook or some other social site without worrying about F-Stop, framing, lighting, and other technical minutiae.

As I browse Facebook and other social platforms, I see pretty much the same type of stuff: Here are the kids at the ballgame. Here’s our company picnic. Here we are at the beach. Few of my friends are serious photogs. I assume most people have a camera that takes decent shots, and they treat it like a serious piece of equipment, but they don’t lug it around all the time.

Not so, Pinterest.

Pinterest looks like a bunch of serious photographers got together and said “Let’s show how seriously we take our craft, and see if we can raise the bar a little.” To open Pinterest is to step into a constantly-updated art gallery, where you can Like, Share (it’s called repinning) and comment on the artwork.

Apparently, it’s working. Pinterest now drives more referral traffic to e-commerce sites than Google+, YouTube and LinkedIn combined. A quick glance at the page shows that an awful lot of the images are of products, such as handbags, furniture, and clothes, or domestic services like hairstyles and food catering. Inspiration and Travel are also big, and a lot of users share stuff that looks like it comes right out of travel sites.

But it’s not all pretty pictures, is it?

Where does Pinterest come from? By now everyone knows it was founded by Ben Silbermann, a designer and entrepreneur with Google development chops, founder of ColdBrew Labs Paul Sciarra and Evan Sharp, formerly a product designer at Facebook.

There’s a lot more going on that is driven by the raw, non-visual world of e-commerce. For instance: Skimlinks is a web tracking solution used by e-commerce affiliates that splits revenues with Pinterest for every purchase derived from a Pinterest link. Further, the company’s primary investors are a who’s-who of leaders of e-commerce platforms like Milo, a local online shopping network, Behance, a platform for creative professionals, Yelp,  a localized review platform, and EventBrite, an event sharing network.

So Pinterest looks like a cool scrapbooking project appealing mainly to people (mainly women so far) who share their interests and desires, but it’s really a very powerful advertising and online shopping link driver. They know what they’re doing.

So how can your business use it?

If you’re an e-commerce retailer, media publisher, or small business owner, and know how to take a good photo, Pinterest is perfect for driving your business. Your account can host several different Pinboards, and if you post some great pics several times per day, other users will see them, repin them, and link through them to your site. There’s hardly a better call to action than a gorgeous photo of a cake, travel destination or shirt that screams “Click me!”.

Then you can increase your audience, add them to your email campaigns, and use email to drive people to your Pinterest pinboards. A well-designed email is a great way to appeal to your audience visually. It’s very easy to imagine a much better-looking social web and email inbox simply because Pinterest will drive people to use higher quality images.

Then people like me, who like to take a quick iPhone snap, will be out of luck!