Today’s guest post is written by Jessica Lawlor.

You know a site has made it big when even the President of the United States is on board.

Seemingly everyone is using the wildly popular social network, Pinterest, and blog post after blog post touts the benefits of the latest social media darling.

Even though you’ve likely already read several articles about how to use Pinterest for business, hear me out.

I think I have a few ideas that might get you thinking about your Pinterest strategy in a different way.

At Visit Bucks County, the official tourism promotion agency for Bucks County, Pa., where I work as a marketing and communications coordinator, we recently joined a handful of other tourism organizations to use Pinterest in January.

We saw the site as the perfect outlet to show visitors all Bucks County has to offer, from an amusement park and wineries to great shopping and delicious dining. Plus, the website recently reported approximately 83 percent of the site’s users are female, and as women are usually the travel decision makers in the family, Pinterest is a great outlet for tourism organizations to directly reach those planning trips. 

After just a few weeks on Pinterest, we were amazed at how quickly the site grew, and how much our pins seemed to resonate with our followers.

We did a little brainstorming and came up with a plan to make a splash and take our Pinterest strategy to the next level. Below are three ideas with which we’ve found success. We think they might help you as well to increase your engagement and success on Pinterest.

  1. Host a contest. Last month, Visit Bucks County became one of the first tourism organizations to launch a contest on Pinterest. We created a dedicated contest pinboard and partnered with local attractions and businesses to compile a collection of nearly two dozen uniquely Bucks County experiences and prizes. Until May 1, Pinterest users are invited to simply repin the prizes they are interested in winning to one of their personal boards.We know as contest photos get repinned, the amplification increases as more and more people are exposed to the photos, helping us to reach our goal of raising awareness about Bucks County attractions and businesses. Just one week after the contest launched, our following grew by 50 and the contest pinboard had more than 400 followers and nearly 1,000 repins.
  2. Highlight earned media placements and share company news creatively. Let media placements take on new life by creating an “In The News” pinboard. Shortly after Visit Bucks County joined Pinterest, we began pinning articles that we landed through public relations efforts, and articles highlighting Bucks County tourism-focused businesses.Besides simply sharing our media placements, we recently used Pinterest as an added bonus to our “Top 12 Reasons to Visit Bucks County in 2012” press release. To grab the attention of the media, we created a pinboard specifically to highlight the 12 reasons outlined in our press release and directed the media to our Pinterest account to view our news release visually.
  3. Reach B2B markets in a new way. After seeing success using Pinterest to reach consumers, we decided to use the site to reach our B2B markets, including brides, and meeting and event planners. Our “Say ‘I Do’ In Bucks County” quickly gained popularity among those planning weddings (and those dreaming of planning a wedding!) as photos of gorgeous venues, beautiful centerpieces, and exquisitely decorated cakes began to be repinned.We also created a “Meet in Bucks County” pinboard, featuring photos of unique spaces to host meetings, company retreats, banquets, and events to give meeting and event planners a glimpse of the many great spaces in the county, along with a brief description and a link directly to that venue’s website.  
Curious about the results? It’s too soon to tie it to an increase in tourism, but we are pleased with our numbers on Pinterest: During the first week of February, we had a total following of 138 on the six boards. During the first week of March, we had 1,460 total following on the nine boards we had at that point. Now with the launch of the Repin It To Win It contest, we are up to more than 2,500 total following (this includes those who follow our account, as well as just follow specific boards).

How are you using Pinterest to reach your marketing goals? Have you tried any of the above tactics or do you have other ideas for little-known ways to use Pinterest?

Jessica Lawlor is the marketing and communications coordinator at Visit Bucks County, the official tourism promotion agency for Bucks County, Pa. Check out Visit Bucks Countys website and follow us on Facebook, Twitterand Pinterest for more information about things to see and do throughout the county.