Business on Pinterest Flowchart by Stefan LeijonacIf you’ve only led a cursory existence in
social media circles lately, you’ve still probably heard about the newest kid on the block, Pinterest. And it’s no wonder. The meteoric rise of Pinterest in the first quarter of 2012 is enough to make any startup-wannabe jealous.

Pinterest takes the practicality and convenience of Remember The Milk and melds it with the human desire for pretty visuals. For those of us who discovered the addictive wunderkind in 2011, we’re not too surprised by Pinterest’s success, although we may be a bit put off by the social media “gurus” who want to tell us how we should be using it.

Or is that just me?

Yes, there are great ways to leverage your Pinterest account as a marketing tool for your business, but it’s interesting to see bloggers rush to explain the best way to use Pinterest and tell us all how it should be done. It seems the last 3 months has encouraged everyone with a keyboard and a town square to share advice on the art of pinning and winning clients.

The only problem with that is there is no best way. Pinterest is a new spin on an old concept: the vision board. And as amazing as they are for brainstorming and motivating, I think if the company vision board were the optimal technique for marketing your services and goods to the public, there would be no need for a list of do and don’ts for the newly addicted.

As I see Pinterest morphing more and more into separate enclaves of business and personal, it takes me back to my question regarding two Twitter accounts. Does the act of combining your personal interests with your professional image hinder your social media presence?

I joined Pinterest in the fall of 2011, before the massive gold rush. Out of my current 25 pinboards, I only utilize one for my business. And although my most popular board is dedicated to showcasing inspiring images within the natural hair community, my pinboard “Why You Should Hire Me” does get some attention.

But does “some attention” mean I’m not leveraging Pinterest correctly? Am I wasting its potential by not abandoning my humorous, uplifting or educational collections on this old-is-new concept? I don’t believe so.

My boards and online presence help my business in a number of ways, from sparking ideas for writing queries to providing links to websites that can help me boost my SEO rankings and Photoshop skills. I pin images that find their way into my blog posts (with attribution, of course) and I discover the wealth of blogs, websites and small businesses of other Pinterest users who repin, like and comment on my boards.

I make Pinterest work for me by simply letting this consuming form of procrastination unfold naturally. Yes, I occasionally deal with the dark side of pinning (spammers and comment-kerfuffles), but overall, not taking an all-business, all-the-time approach to a fun and engaging endeavor has worked in my favor.

Perhaps my outlook would be different if I sold a product with an Etsy account or I ran a brick-and-mortar business with merchandise to display. However, the notion that Pinterest is a one-size-fits-most tool for business marketing seems narrow-minded. There’s plenty of room to adapt this multimedia ingenue to your style, scope and business.

If you prefer a more aggressive approach to marketing your company, by all means, mold the format to your vision. But keep in mind, ROI can be measured in terms other than client referrals and website conversions. Long-term networking is a valuable commodity in any social media landscape. If cultivated with sincerity, respect and patience, you’ll never have to worry if you’re doing it wrong.

Do you run a service-oriented freelance business?
Do you use Pinterest as a marketing tool or a personal media wishlist?
Or both?