MM_IsPinterestRightSocial media can be an easy and budget-friendly way to market your small business – but not all social platforms are good fits for all businesses. You may wonder whether you should devote time to the latest craze, the social bookmarking site Pinterest. In short, it depends.

Here, we’ll take you through some questions to determine if Pinterest is right for you and your business.

Is your business visual? 

If you’re a florist, Pinterest is a natural fit for you. If you’re an electrician, maybe not. That said, don’t make a snap judgment on this. While photos of wiring may not garner much interest on Pinterest, photos of interesting lighting effects might. Your pins don’t have to be a literal representation of what you do – they only need to be related in some way.

Now if you’re a veterinarian or run an animal shelter, get on Pinterest pronto. Few photos perform better on Pinterest than ones of cute animals.

Do you have access to images?

To promote your own content on Pinterest, you need to have images to pin. These images could be professionally taken, taken by you, stock imagery or graphics you create. Professional imagery and graphics usually perform the best on Pinterest, but an iPhone with a filter app can definitely put you in the game.

Do you have a web presence that’s easy to update with images and content?

A blog is probably the most compatible platform for Pinterest — especially if you regularly update it with images and content. This will provide great fodder for your Pinterest boards. Ideally, your photos will appear alongside content that demonstrates you’re a knowledgeable expert. The content needn’t be lengthy, and if you’re short on time, the image and a short description may be enough.

Your website, on the other hand, can be a good place to start pinning, but unless you continuously update it, you’ll eventually run out of material to pin. Photo galleries on your website are an especially good resource for Pinterest.

Keep in mind that images cannot be pinned from Facebook.  I’ll go over a workaround for this in an upcoming article.

Is your primary demographic female?

If your clientele is primarily men over 50, Pinterest probably isn’t your best bet for marketing because  women are five times more likely to use Pinterest then men, and the site is used equally by those from the ages of 18 to 49 but trails off at 50 and over.1

If your target audience is female-centric, Pinterest is worth pursuing.

Do you find Pinterest useful to you personally?

You’re more likely to maintain a social presence if you find Pinterest useful, and if you find it useful, others are more likely to find your pins useful as well. So, if using Pinterest feels like a stretch, you may want to forgo it. But think about it in creative terms before you dismiss it. A nail salon could pin unusual nail designs they’d like to emulate – not all Pins have to be your own.  People may visit your nail salon simply because they like your selection of photographs. Pinterest is a great way to express a personal aesthetic.

If you’re on the fence about Pinterest, consider this: Pinterest users are 10 percent more likely2 to make a purchase than people who come over from other social networks.  If you decide Pinterest is for you or if you need more clarity on anything discussed here, check back with us for the next installment in this series on Pinterest basics for small businesses.

1 The Demographics of Social Media Users — 2012, Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project Post-Election Survey, Nov. 14 – Dec. 9, 2012
2 Pinterest Referrals Are 10 Percent More Likely to Make Purchases – Shopify, May 2012.