Pinterest is a niche social network based on virtual pin boards. By January 2012, the site received 11.5 million unique visitors. With Pinterest rapidly becoming one of the most popular social media outlets, many hoteliers are wondering why and how they should take advantage of the visually driven network and start “pinning.”
To tackle this subject head on, I turned to two Pinterest experts at HeBS Digital, Madison Bey, Account Executive, and Victoria Hsia, New Media Marketing Coordinator. We discussed the various ways in which Pinterest can increase your web presence, generate buzz and build brand awareness.
How exactly can hoteliers get in on the Pinterest action?
Madison: Hotels set up a Pinterest profile, similar to Facebook or Twitter. There they can create themed pin boards and pin images from around the Internet as well as other users” pin boards.
Victoria: Right now, Pinterest is invite-only, so hotels can either request an invite or they can have a Pinterest user send them an invite. It takes just a day or two for acceptance into the site. Since Pinterest is not integrated with Facebook fan pages just yet, we advise that they sign up through their Twitter account.
Madison: Brands can also add a “Pin It” button to their website, allowing users to pin website images onto their own pin boards.
Can all types of hotels benefit from Pinterest?
Madison: It depends on what your goals are and who you are targeting. For hotels that have big wedding business or promote a lot of family travel, Pinterest is greatly beneficial. Also, Pinterest users are 80% female, so hotels looking to target women travelers should definitely look into this.
Victoria: The majority of their users are between the ages of 25 and 44. It”s a slightly older crowd than other social networks. And as far as weddings, Pinterest is great for highlighting venues and serving as a source of inspiration for food, dresses, flowers and more.
How does Pinterest provide SEO benefits?
Madison: When a Pinterest user pins an image from your website and includes a link back to your site in the pin description, this will enhance your inbound linking strategy. However, it should be noted that the links to the source that are automatically generated when you pin an image are marked as no-follow.
Victoria: Since pin descriptions are indexed by the search engines, adding links back to your website will then increase your Google PageRank. At HeBS Digital we include highly searched keywords in the Pinterest profile description and pin descriptions.
How exactly do hoteliers engage followers via Pinterest? And what are some best practices to maintain them?
Victoria: You can “like” a pin, similar to the Facebook “like.” You can repin a pin, which is similar to a retweet. This will add the image to one of your pin boards. You can mention a user in your comment, which develops communication with them. You can also follow relevant businesses and customer segments with the “Search” function.
Madison: There are a number of ways. You can comment on someone”s pin or even create contests that might engage them. You can also leave a comment on a pin and @message the user in your comment, or post infographics with questions.
Victoria: You can also find users who have pinned images of your hotel and reach out to past guests or potential guests who have shown an interest. And you can bring users back to your website by including a link in your comment.
How can a Pinterest profile be integrated with other social media networks like Facebook and Twitter?
Victoria: A hotel can ask a user to check out their Facebook page. But you can also post about your Pinterest activity on your Facebook or Twitter and gain followers. For Facebook, there”s an app that you can use to create a Pinterest tab. It”s basically Pinterest within your fan page so users can interact with your pins or follow you without leaving your fan page.
Madison: There are also Twitter and Facebook buttons next to each pin so users can easily share their pins on Pinterest.
What types of contests can hotels run on Pinterest?
Madison: Some types of contests include having the best pinboard, where users create a pin board under the contest guidelines and brands select the best one. There is also one for most likes/repins, where contest entrants create pin boards and specific images for users to like and/or repin and entrants win based on the amount of likes/repins they receive. Another idea is for sweepstakes entries.Random winners are drawn from a pool of entries. People can enter the sweepstakes by repinning an image and/or following a brand on Pinterest.
Some examples of contests are for the best board. The client chooses a theme and users create boards with images related to that theme. The best and most creative board wins. Or, the board that gets the most follows wins. There is also the “Your Stay at Hotel X Contest.” The client asks customers to post images of themselves when they stayed at the hotel and users ask their friends to “Like” their image. The image with the most “Likes” wins. Another fun one is the “Gift Idea Giveaway,” where the client creates a board related to an upcoming holiday and asks users to pin gift ideas and then chooses the most creative gift idea as the contest winner.
Victoria: You can also host a Pinterest sweepstakes where users are prompted to pin an image from your website for a chance to win a free stay. There are many ways for hotels to get creative and take advantage of the viral nature of Pinterest.
What does the HeBS Digital Pinterest Profile Set Up Package include?
Victoria: The standard package includes two pin boards with ten pins each, and a Pinterest quick tips guide. The premium package is three pin boards with ten pins each, and a half-hour workshop. We also set up the Pinterest profile with a username, description, links to the website and Twitter profile, location and branded profile picture.
Can you provide examples of some successful Pinterest profiles and “pin boards” in the hospitality space?
Madison: My favorite is Hotel Gansevoort. They have a great “Got it” theme and photos taken by guests pinned to their board.
Victoria: Four Seasons in Austin is a great one, with great family travel boards and area guides.