Hopefully by now your business has joined one of the fastest-growing social networks, Pinterest. The holidays are swiftly approaching, and with them, one of the biggest consumer periods of the year! Follow these five simple steps to compete in this new arena for the holiday season! Get your slice of the Pinterest cake this holiday season. (Photo) # 1. Convert to a business account While they lagged behind on providing some key features for businesses, Pinterest recently made it possible to create an account as a business, not just an individual. Among the new features for businesses is the capability to register with your business name instead of a first and last name – which is great news if your business is only one word – and access to case studies that provide ideas for getting the most out of Pinterest. If you have an account already, it’s important that you switch your account over to the new format. If you don’t have a business account, what are you waiting for? Sign up for one now! # 2. Learn to monitor your brand Social media introduced a monumental new feature to marketing – the ability to monitor your brand in real time. If you want to get fancy, you can use a tool like Pinerly to track your click through rate to your website. However, even just with Pinterest’s search bar, you can track mentions of your brand by simply searching for your name. And Pinterest has a great, little-used tool called Source to see all the pins that link to your domain. Using Source is simple; just go to pinterest.com/source/yourdomain.com. Obviously, replace the last part of the url with your business website! For example, here are the Source results for Tweak Your Biz. # 3. Optimize your pins Because search engines have not yet advanced to being able to tell what an image is without some help, the likelihood of your pins appearing in search results depend entirely on whether you optimize their descriptions. It is important to strike a balance – don’t write too long a description, or people will see it as spammy and annoying, but if you don’t write anything at all, you’ll never be found! A good description is just a sentence or two long, including a few good keywords (if you sell construction software, you better mention construction software in your description!) and the price for any products you are pinning. (You’ll learn more about this later!) And remember – this step is important for images you re-pin too; a new customer could conceivably find you because they were searching for an image that you repinned! # 4. Blend in your products You’ve probably heard that it’s important to pin things beside your own products. Believe the hype! People follow others and others’ pinboards because they are legitimately interested in the things they are pinning. Unless you are some extraordinarily exceptional company with a loyal following, like Apple, your products probably don’t have such a following that anyone besides you and your employees would follow a board devoted to them. And that’s okay – you just need to mix it up a little. Create a few subject-specific boards that your products could relate to, pin some great images, and mix your stuff in now and then. By the way, blending in should also apply to your product imagery – though some white-background, clearly intended for your shopping cart photos are permissible, you may find greater success if you throw in a photo or two of your product being used or displayed in a beautiful environment. # 5. Get listed in Pinterest Gifts Remember how I said that including the price in your description is important? Here’s why. Any pins with a price in the description (note that you need to include a dollar, pound, or euro sign) are automatically listed in Pinterest’s Gifts section, which is divided by price range. As the holidays approach, now is the time to be there! Pro tip: if you are able to edit the description automatically attached to images visitors pin from your website, be sure to include the price there too – your team of loyal fans will do the marketing for you! If you jump into following these five steps, you are sure to be well-represented on Pinterest this holiday season. Have any other ideas? Be sure to comment and let us know! Did you like this article? Sign up for our RSS, join us on Facebook, on Twitter and on Google+ to get the latest Tweak Your Biz articles and updates.