Your local community is a natural place for your small business to start its marketing efforts. With the advent of social media and digital marketing, small businesses can expand their local reach more quickly and efficiently than with traditional print marketing alone. And an untapped resource for accessing local communities is Pinterest.

Pinterest is an interesting digital media forum. Many debate whether it actually qualifies as a social media platform and if it should be grouped with other social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram at all. However, regardless of its classification, I’m a firm believer that Pinterest holds an inherent digital marketing value and is a hidden resource for small businesses.

One way Pinterest earns its stripes as a social media marketing tool is through its capability to connect with local audiences. While other social media sites offer tailored audience targeting options, there are nuanced means of navigating Pinterest that enable businesses to expand their reach without spending a cent.

Here are seven ways small businesses can reach their local communities through Pinterest and boost their brand awareness.

1. Establish a Business Account

First and foremost, sign up for a Pinterest for Business account. This free option gives businesses access to audience insights, website traffic metrics, and enables them to display their contact information on their profile, so potential customers can contact the company with a click of a button. If data mining and metrics make your head spin, Pinterest has produced a short but helpful video series which breakd down its analytics offerings for business accounts.

By using hard data to inform marketing efforts and campaign ideas, a business can adjust its Pinterest strategy to reach its local market and keep up on location-specific trends. Signing up only takes a few minutes, and a step-by-step registration guide can be found here.

2. Include Location in Your Bio

Once your business account is up and running, then it’s time to complete your bio.

Incorporate your location into your biographical text to help your profile show up in relevant searches. It doesn’t need to be overly complicated; just include location-based keywords.

Becki Owens, a popular California-based interior designer, seamlessly integrated her location into her bio field without much fuss.

It gives enough information for a user to make an informed decision whether to view her boards or move on. Take note and find a way to weave your location into this searchable field.

(And worth noting, Pinterest has made significant improvements to localization which also helps uncover relevant local Pins)

3. Use Place Pins

Never heard of Place Pins?

Pinterest introduced them in 2013 as a way for people to categorize their boards by location – users can tag specific addresses, such as a business’s physical location or city, so the board then shows up in searches of that place.

Popular Place Pins are vacation destinations, but this doesn’t mean small businesses can’t use them to their advantage.

Plug in your exact address and add pins that showcase your products, services, and other unique parts of your business. Include as much information as possible, from hours of operation to phone number and email address, so it’s useful to potential customers and helps your boards pop up in local community searches.

The best part is creating Place Pins is simple. If you’re starting from scratch and building a new board, click “Add a map” to incorporate your business location. You can also adjust existing boards by editing the board and selecting “Add a map” from that view.

4. Add a Customer Favorites Board

This is a fantastic way to repurpose user-generated content and broaden your business’s reach on Pinterest – repin posts from your customer’s social accounts, and tag them to your “Customer Favorites” board.

Having a board dedicated to happy customers and their purchases is a way to show satisfaction and your products or services in use. Honest testimonials speak volumes and help solidify a brand’s sense of authenticity and integrity.

People love to have their posts picked up by their favorite brands, so make sure to tag your customers, where possible, and mention them in your caption. As mentioned before, incorporate location-based text into the caption to generate even more reach and search authority.

Goodwill goes a long way, and a customer highlights board is beneficial and fun for both your local audience and your business.

5. Create a Local Favorites Board

Just because your account is business-based, doesn’t mean you can’t include some lighthearted and non-product focused boards.

Build a board that highlights your business’s local favorites, such as coffee shops, restaurants, historical sites, and cultural spaces.

Tag specific locations and explain why these places are your local favorites.

A great example of a local favorites board is from WeWork Philadelphia. Their “Favorite Finds: Philadelphia” board showcases local businesses that are beloved in Philadelphia. Their pins include location-specific information and fun, informative captions. It’s a soft way to reinforce the local side of your business, and generate attention for other local businesses.

6. Follow Local Businesses

Following other local businesses is another way to expand your reach and get in front of your local audience.

Locate for your favorite local businesses on Pinterest and follow their accounts. Repin their pins and like their posts. When a small business genuinely compliments or recognizes another local business, they’re likely to reciprocate.

It’s an organic way to build business relationships, and share good, local content with your followers.

Beyond your favorite businesses, search for your local chamber of commerce, city council and other entities of that nature. Follow them, and engage in a natural way to access your local community. They won’t all be on Pinterest, but it can be beneficial to connect with those that are present.

7. Group Boards with Other Local Businesses

Group boards are a wonderful Pinterest feature. Your business can invite other local businesses to share and contribute to specific boards. With every business’s audience having visibility to the group board, your business’s viewership exponentially increases just by partnering on a Pinterest board. That’s a win-win.

Think about businesses you love and would make logical sense to collaborate with – connect with those business owners and explain your interest in working together in this capacity.

Pinterest doesn’t require monetary investment or even a ton of time to make an impact, which means getting other businesses on board is fairly simple. When speaking to other businesses, make the case for how a group board would benefit their business. The time/return ratio is in their favor, and will likely land you a local Pinterest partnership.

Through these seven tactics, your small business can effectively engage and broadcast its location-specific messages to the right audience. At any point in your business’s lifecycle, connecting with the local audience is a smart growth strategy. A strategic Pinterest plan not only yields higher social engagement and website traffic, but also illuminates new local sales potential. Who wouldn’t want that?

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