Pinteresting! But Will It Win New Members & Clients For Your Wellness Business?

Let’s look at Pinterest, the latest social media darling: what it is, how to use it, and where it fits in your wellness business marketing strategy.

What it is

Think of Pinterest as a virtual bulletin board. You can see our simple examples here. It reminds me of the way kids and teens decorate their bedrooms and school lockers, with pictures of stuff they’re into – celebrities, sports stars, fashion, South Padre spring break photos, and so on.

Each Pinterest poster creates a “pinboard” and fills it with a collection of images around a theme they choose. Pressing the “Pin It” button adds images from other websites complete with a link back to that website. You can also upload images from your computer. You can pin anything you want, within reason – but Pinterest etiquette discourages blatant self-promotion.

Anyone can view your boards. Other Pinterest users who want to know about any updates you post can “follow” either a specific board you’ve created, or they can “follow all” of your boards.

You can also add a Pinterest “follow me” button to your website, blog and other digital platforms, just like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn follow buttons.

Read the fine print

It’s always smart to know how “free” social media sites actually make money. Since this service is new and still changing quickly, pay attention to the small print.

For example, earlier this year, if you used an affiliate link to point to an actual product for sale – at Amazon, for example – Pinterest substituted its own affiliate code so that it got the commission for any purchase that someone clicking on that link made. This was an unwelcome surprise for some Pinterest users.

It’s quite likely that they’ll experiment with other monetization strategies as the service matures. Some of these might directly affect the business model for your wellness business, so keep an eye out.

Should we join?

For most health clubs, yoga studios, wellness centers and sole practitioners like personal trainers and nutritionists – nope, not right now.

Just like Google+, this is a new service. Early adoption is overrated. Why volunteer your business as a guinea pig? Wait to see how Pinterest changes as it grows up – and then decide whether it needs to be part of your strategy.

Moreover, despite the buzz, the total number of users is still very small. So the odds that the Pinterest community includes potential clients for your local health and wellness business is mathematically very small, too.

Plus, per Comscore, 80% of the users are women 25 – 44, half with kids, 70% with household incomes from $25K – $75K. Only 24% have college degrees.

If that’s not your target customer, don’t give Pinterest another thought for the foreseeable future. If you like the idea, but want to reach guys, check out Gentlemint – similar to Pinterest, but even smaller, so it’s even less likely to pay off.

The value of social media platforms builds slowly over time, as the community around each platform grows. Let other businesses with more resources do that spadework. And remember – even the huge Facebook and Twitter communities don’t do much for most of the businesses that market there.

The fact of the matter is that unsexy email marketing is still far and away the most effective online marketing tactic you can invest in.

That said, if your wellness business has an affinity for great images that really catch the eye, and you love the idea of Pinterest and have the time to invest in playing with it, these tips will get you off to a good start:

How to register

Part of the Pinterest hype is that it’s invitation-only. Want an invitation? Just email me and we’ll send you one. Or go to the Pinterest site and request one.

The registration process requires you to provide either a Facebook or Twitter login.

Businesses will usually find it easier to link to their Twitter accounts when creating their Pinterest login, since Pinterest allows linking to only Facebook’s personal pages – not Facebook’s business pages – during registration.

Once you’ve registered, you can delink your Pinterest account from Facebook or Twitter if you want to. However, the smart thing to do for most wellness businesses is to integrate both your Facebook and Twitter accounts with Pinterest as fully as possible so that cross-posting happens automatically.

When you register, use your business name as your username. Include a paragraph about your health and wellness interests, plus your website URL, in the About section on your profile. Use your keywords!

Tips on creating an effective Pinterest presence

When you create pinboards

  • Create several boards, not just one (it’s the opposite of your website strategy, where multiple websites is usually a bad idea) .
  • Give them enticing – but meaningful – names. Don’t get so clever that no one knows what the heck your Pinboard’s about.  Use keywords when possible.
  • Assign your new pinboard to a category. Right now, the only explicit health and wellness category for pinboards is “Fitness.”

When you post

  • Pinterest is all about eye-catching visuals. No one cares about another stock photo of a treadmill, or another picture of a 10% body-fat woman doing chest presses with ludicrously lightweight dumbbells. If you post text, it needs strong design elements, too. You can’t just type something up in Word and throw a screen capture up there.
  • Use keywords. This strategy is especially important because there aren’t many health and wellness categories so far.
  • Reference other Pinterest users by using “@username” in the description of the content you’re posting. It’s another way to build your network.
  • Don’t limit yourself to posting – commenting’s another good way to attract followers.
  • Repin images you find on other Pinboards (similar to “retweet” and “like” on Twitter and Facebook) – this is how you attract followers and build your network.
  • If you have actual products to sell, include a currency symbol and price ($25) in the description and your pin may show up in the Pinterest “Gifts” category.
  • Pin from multiple sites, not just your website. Pinterest is more about attracting people interested in a particular topic than it is about attracting people directly to your business.

We love it! Give us some ideas for how to use it!

  • Videos you’ve already posted on Youtube
  • Visually appealing health and wellness products with a very short “see it, like it, buy it” chain. Example: cute yoga outfits
  • High-value attention-grabbing content like infographics
  • Amazing pictures related to your wellness business or professional focus – for example, one of our clients has a very artistic and striking photo gallery of cancer survivors on their website, and it would be easy to pin related content from other sites, too
  • Early product designs, where you ask for feedback
  • Collections of coupons or other resources that would be useful to people leading healthy lifestyles
  • Motivational or funny or thought-provoking quotes and photos sourced from your clients and customers (gives them a reason to invite their friends to join, which gives you more visibility)
  • Content for specific classes or programs, like a Recipe Makeover pinboard where people post pictures linked to their before/after recipes
  • Seasonal, holiday or health observance pinboards
  • Photos from your clients’ corporate wellness challenges
  • Best of/worst of lists – top superfoods, best exercises for a particular purpose, top lifestyle tips, etc.
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Leslie Nolen, Radial's president, is the nationally-known expert on the art and science of selling health and wellness.

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