This post originally appeared on the Realtime Report. Author Tonia Ries kindly agreed to let me repost it here, ’cause it’s just that good. PediaStaff is not an association, however its target audience – pediatric therapists – are a classic example of the kind of target audience an association might have.
PediaStaff is a staffing firm that specializes in recruiting and placing pediatric therapists. The company’s VP of brand management and interactive content Heidi Kay, who is also a partner and co-founder, signed PediaStaff up for Pinterest in August of 2011. Today, the PediaStaff account on Pinterest has more than 12,000 followers. Many of its 120 boards have even more followers, and Pinterest has become the biggest traffic driver to the company’s web site, driving three times the traffic that Facebook does.
How did Pedia Staff build such a large and engaged following on Pinterest so quickly? Heidi Kay agreed to share some of her secrets.
How PediaStaff is using social media sites to drive its staffing business
Like most staffing firms, PediaStaff is very active on LinkedIn, using it to network and identify specific candidates. About 2 1/2 years ago, Heidi started a pediatric- and school-based therapy Group on LinkedIn, which quickly grew to now have 3,200 members. This is where PediaStaff first learned the value of content-sharing as a way of fostering and nurturing a community, and developing ongoing relationships with potential customers and job seekers.
If you’re focused on a specialized community such as pediatric therapists, it makes sense to use content as a way of being in touch with potential recruits on an ongoing basis–rather than having to search and identify prospects from scratch for every job listing. PediaStaff also has an active blogging strategy, and uses Twitter and Facebook to Retweet community members, and to broadcast information and call attention to its blog.
Why PediaStaff started using Pinterest
Working on the PediaStaff blog and newsletters, Heidi always had more content ideas than she could realistically share in that format. When Heidi was first introduced to Pinterest, she immediately realized that the site’s visual format and board-based structure would allow her to easily organize and share all of her content and ideas. More importantly, she spent some time looking around the Pinterest community and noticed that a lot of classroom teachers were using the service, and that it was spreading to other educators. She played with the Pinterest search function, found relevant content and people to follow, and started creating her own boards.
Pinterest is catching on so fast, Heidi says, because it is so easy to participate. That’s why a much larger percentage of the community is active on Pinterest than on other sites such as Twitter or LinkedIn, where it can be more daunting to start or comment on a discussion. She finds that Pinterest users are even willing to spend time with her content on the weekend, whereas LinkedIn is typically more active during the business week.
–> Pinterest makes sense for you as a business tool
1. if you have content to share, and
2. if your audience is there.
How PediaStaff finds and organizes content
The PediaStaff Pinterest account has more than 9,400 Pins on more than 120 Boards–and growing. Heidi has developed groups of boards around different aspects of the pediatric therapy profession: boards of images that therapists can use when working with children as well as boards with links to resources for therapists with different areas of expertise. About 60% of her content comes from web-searches that Heidi does to find new material, the other 40% comes from re-pinning content she finds on Pinterest.
9 tips for successfully using Pinterest for your business:
- Think about your links: Heidi links every pin back to the PediaStaff site–but she also always includes a link to the Pinterest home page, to encourage following and so that people can see how extensive her resources are.
- It doesn’t have to be visual. You can pin any link–even if the site doesn’t have an image. How? Just pin another image, then click edit and change the link and description.
- Ask your community for help: when Heidi asks her followers for input on what other content they wanted to see, she always learns about new resources that therapists find helpful.
- Promote your Pins. PediaStaff gained 3,000 new followers when it demo’d its Pinterest boards at a recent industry conference. Heidi includes links to relevant boards in her newsletter and blog posts, and even pins links to related boards on her Pinterest boards.
- Don’t self-promote. PediaStaff has created some
boards focused on its own services, but the key business goal is to build a relationship with its community by providing resources. ”I’m terrified of people shutting us out,” Heidi told me. She’d rather maintain an ongoing relationship than lose followers because they feel spammed.
- Explain what you’re doing. PediaStaff pins a lot of content. When Heidi goes on a pinning spree, she’ll sometimes include a “Getting buried by our pins?” pin that explains the avalanche of content in a humorous way.
- Show your followers around. At the top of PediaStaff’s Pinterest site is an announcement board, which includes information about PediaStaff, instructions on how followers can submit content, and a pin encouraging people to follow that particular board so that they can receive other announcements. There is also a board with information for new followers called New?? Please Start Here, with information about what new followers will find, tips on how to engage, and help for navigating the thousands of resources that PediaStaff shares on Pinterest.
- Make engagement your top priority. With more than 12,000 followers, there are a lot of notifications to keep up with. Heidi’s first priority is to respond to comments she receives on her pins.
- Start a discussion on Pinterest. Heidi has found a clever way to get her Pinterest community talking. She’s created dedicated Discussion boards for different types of pediatric therapists, such as this Social Occupational Therapist Discussion Group board. She then posts pins designed to get therapists to brainstorm and share ideas. In order to promote the boards and elicit ideas for new discussions, she creates dedicated Discussion Starter pins that followers can re-pin, asking for new discussion ideas–which she then converts into dedicated pins on her Discussion boards. She also promotes new discussions on her related resource boards–but tells people to “Click Here” rather than comment and then links back to the discussion pin. That way comments appear and are consolidated on the pin within the Discussion group board.
After only six months, Pinterest drives three times more traffic to the PediaStaff site than Facebook, and it has helped PediaStaff build a reputation as a real resource for pediatric therapists. She even knows of a university professor who is using the PediaStaff Pinterest site as an educational resources for students–who are potential PediaStaff customers down the line.
But being an early adopter of a relatively new service like Pinterest has its risks. As a superuser, Heidi is bumping up against some unexpected limitations with the site–which I will outline in a separate blog post.
Are you using Pinterest for your business? What tips would you add to this list?