Pinterest, the social media site that lets you save images and links to pages in the form of searchable “pins,” is gaining new users every day. Experts predict that the site will have 50 million active users by 2016, and studies show that “pinners” are avid shoppers.

One study found that 93% of pinners had shopped online in the last 6 months. If you’re not using Pinterest to increase online and offline sales in your business, it’s time to reconsider.

Start increasing sales by taking full advantage of Pinterest for small business with these three simple tips

1. Promote a Contest

Everyone loves the idea of winning something, so it’s no surprise that Pinterest contest pins tend to be top performers for small businesses. Pinterest has strict rules regarding pin-based contests, but you can follow the guidelines by creating a contest that requires users to follow your Pinterest page, or pin some of their favorite in-store items onto the social site for a chance to win. You’ll gain new followers to market to and will have a chance to highlight your products beyond your brick and mortar location. For more advice on how to run a Pinterest contest without breaking the rules check out this article from online social media magazine, Social Media Examiner ®

pinterest guest pinner small business

2. Invite Guest Pinners

Your customers are your biggest advocates. If you don’t have the kind of marketing budget that allows you to collaborate with notable bloggers to promote your products to more potential buyers, try incentivizing loyal customers to create Pinterest boards or provide guest pins on some of your existing boards. For example, an online clothing store can set up guest pin boards and allow stylish customers to create curated collections of their products. To encourage customers to follow through and help spread the word about your products, you could sweeten the pot by offering them a special discount such as 30% off all items for a month upon completion.

One thing to remember when you’re marketing with Pinterest is that it can take time to see results. Research shows that it can take up to 3 months for pins to begin generating site traffic for online stores. Tracking in store performance is even harder. The key is to pin consistently and to focus on quality, not quantity to get results. You might want to also follow up with new customers to find out how they heard about you, to gauge whether or not it’s impacting in-store sales.

woman purchasing item on Pinterest

3. Keep an Eye Out for Buyable Pins

Pinterest recently announced buyable pins a new feature that will allow merchants to seize the moment and instantly convert pinners into buyers right on the social media site. This enhanced feature makes it possible for users to simply click on a “Buy It” button to purchase an item rather than just pinning it to purchase later. This feature is being rolled out in stages and is currently available only for large retailers and select small businesses, but it is sure to be a game changer for brick and mortar businesses with an online presence. If you’re already on Pinterest and want to get on the buyable pins waitlist, click here.

Yamarie Grullon

Yamarie Grullon has years of experience creating helpful & engaging content for small business owners. As Director of Content Strategy at ShopKeep, a leading iPad Point of Sale System, Yamarie provides merchants with practical advice on all things related to business or point of sale.