What is Pinterest?

Pinterest is a social media site that is based on the collection and sharing ('repinning') of images ('pins'). Users create Boards, usually surrounding a certain topic or theme and pin images onto them. Users can search for pins using tags or categories. It is a highly visual medium, but it can also host a variety of content, as long as it has an image-based cover attached to it, sort of like a thumbnail.

Why should you use it?

As of October 2013, Pinterest has 70 million individual users, and with over 500,000 business accounts it could also be a great tool to use for B2B marketing.

Pinterest allows your followers to engage with you and your content, and vice versa. Pinterest could also be useful in re-purposing your existing content in a creative way. You can express your brand and company in many ways. You don't have to just pin products or blog articles. You could create boards that portray what its like to work for your business, events, promotions, or anything that reflects your brand.

If you don't want to create an account, you can still optimise your online content and images for use on Pinterest. To make sure your content gets shared on the platform, add 'Pin it' buttons to your content. Or if you do decide to create an account you could just use it to collect inspiration for your company or brand. Alternatively, you could actively use Pinterest to share your content as a marketing tool for your business.

Pinterest could be a new platform for lead generation, and also one that your competitors may not even be using yet. It has very high conversion rates, and could potentially drive a lot of traffic to your website, blog or products. This is because Pinterest users are often actively looking for something, rather than passively scrolling like they do while using Twitter or Facebook. And if something catches their eye, they will engage.

If you're there to sell, Pinterest generates 4x the revenue per click than Twitter and 27% more revenue per click than Facebook.

Tracking your performance

Pinterest also has a web analytics tool that allows you to track your Pinterest's activity and see how many people are not only looking at your pins but also clicking back to your website. In order to access the web analytics, you must have a verified business website linked to your profile. To view your analytics, simply click on the menu at the top right hand corner of your Pinterest page and select 'Analytics', you will then be taken to a page with 4 graphs that measure pins, repins, impressions and clicks. The analytics page is easy to use, allows you to change the date range of your graphs and also gives you tips on how to improve performance for each particular metric. You can also click on the 'export' button to download a csv file with all of the data from your site metrics page. This data is particularly useful for businesses on Pinterest as it gives you valuable data on what people liked the most about your pins and which pins compelled them to click through to your website. Once you have analysed your data, you can make changes to the way you pin in order to be more successful and get even more traffic back to your website.

Pinterest Best Practices

  • Make an effort on your Pinterest main page - Be sure to include a description of your company, with keywords. Add links to your Twitter, Facebook, website, or blog. Also note that search engines can now index your Pinterest pages, so include as many keywords in your captions, descriptions and tags and categorise your boards correctly.
  • Post non self-serving content - Posting things which only directly relate to selling your product or service can often feel like spam, so make sure to devote a few posts to relevant, but non self-serving content to break it up.
  • Pin what’s popular - Find out what people are talking about, interested in and what the new trends are. Then find a way to somehow relate your posts to those topics that are already popular.
  • Build and audience before you sell - Focus on building a significant following before you start promoting what you want to sell. Be sure to post each product only once to avoid over-promotion, and try to get as many initial likes, re-pins and comments on that post to provide social-proof of your product’s value.
  • Cross-promote, but don’t over-promote - Use your other platforms, such as Facebook, to promote your Pinterest. But choose only the most interesting or popular posts for this purpose, instead of sharing everything.
  • Engage with the community - Don’t just re-pin. Follow, comment and like posts to create a two-way conversation with other users and your audience.
  • Organize your boards to segment audiences - Pinterest allows users to follow just one board, as well as all boards of another Pinterest user. You can effectively segment your audience by creating different boards, related to different aspects of your business that may appeal to your audiences varying interests. Stick to one topic per board, and stay consistent.
  • Use Themes - Create boards to pin items under different themes. Use keywords in your descriptions, so search engines can pick up on your themes. Some suggestions could be holidays, seasons or colours.
  • Use Boards as lists - Make use of your Boards to organise your products. Best-Sellers lists, or Top Ten lists can work well to direct your audience to what you have to sell in an appealing way.
  • Credit your Sources - When re-pinning, or posting content that is not your own, be sure to include the source in the description to let your audience know where you got it.
  • Time your pins - Instead of pinning everything at once, post at regular intervals throughout the day. Research claims you should focus on posting during weekday evenings and on the weekends, specifically 2pm to 4pm and 8pm to 1am on weekdays. The best time to pin items on Pinterest is on Saturday morning. However, this largely depends on your audience, their geographic locations, work schedules, internet habits and so on. Once you have built up an audience, try to notice when they they are most active and when they strongly engage with your content, and establish the best time for you to pin.
  • Verify your pins – Specially when re-pinning, or pinning content that is not your own, make sure you know where the content is coming from. Check to see if it links back to the original website. This helps you come across as a reliable source to your audience.
  • Use your best high-quality visual content, or create some - Pinterest is a visual platform. Use only your best visual content, or make an effort to up your game in this arena, such as better quality pictures, or professional photography and photo-editing.
  • Make use of Pinterest’s Rich Pins - Currently Pinterest has developed the use of rich pins for recipes, movies and products. This provides a little bit more information than just a picture and a caption (e.g. ingredients, show times or prices). More information on how you can use rich-pins can be found here.
  • Use relevant labels – If you are encouraging people to pin images from your website or blog, be sure to pay special attention to their labels. These labels will come up automatically as the description when someone pins it.
  • Include text in your images – If you’re linking to a blog or article on your website. Use text that would appear in your description or the title of the post, in your image. This allows users to know exactly what they’re clicking on, and they don’t even have to rely on the description.
  • Add logos to your images – This way if your images are pinned or repinned, you do not have to rely on someone else to credit you. Everyone can tell where the image came from.
  • Show what inspires you - Instead of just showing off your products, show what was the inspiration behind the product. Create boards for the ideas, places, people and moods behind your brand.
  • Use Web Analytics to find what your Pinners really like - As mentioned earlier, Pinterest has a wonderful web analytics tool that allows you to track what pins are popular on your page and what pins caused someone to click through to your website. Use these analytics to make sure your Pinterest is reflecting what other Pinners really care about and link it as closely to your products as possible; tailor your pins to your potential customers.
  • Be authentic - Use your boards to reflect your brand's values, personality and taste. It's recommended to be creative on Pinterest, as it is such a visual medium. This is a fun way for customers to see the personality behind your brand and allows you to create more personal connections with potential customers.

How to get more Followers on Pinterest

  • Add the Pinterest Follow button to your website or blog to provide your audience with an easy way to find and follow you on Pinterest.
  • Add the Profile Widget. This is bigger than the Follow tab, and displays upto 30 of your recent pins and would entice more visitors to your Pinterest profile.
  • Post content often, and at regular intervals throughout the day to increase your chances of reaching the biggest audience.
  • Write meaningful comments on popular posts. This increases your exposure. And if someone likes your comment, this encourages them to check out your profile or follow you.
  • Mention other Pinterest users in your descriptions or captions. Try to include a compliment to try to encourage them to follow you. Make your mentions relevant. For example if you are re-pinning a blog post, tag the post’s author (if they have a Pinterest account) and include an admiring comment.
  • Connect your Pinterest account with other social networks. This provides you with an easy way to find people you are already connected with on other platforms, and increases your chances of them following you back.
  • Focus on promoting individual boards, rather than your whole profile. So you can better target an interested audience.
  • Invite users to contribute to your boards – This means more pins more often, more exposure, as well as exposure on their profiles as well. It also helps to build meaningful partnerships in the Pinterest community.
  • Contribute to another relevant and popular board. If your pins are of a high quality and well liked, the followers of the board will likely become your followers as well.
  • Follow people who have similar interests. A few of them will follow you back, because you have the same interests! Wait a few days, and then unfollow the ones who have not followed you back. Continue to follow those who followed you back. Repeat the process to build up your followers.
  • Keep the followers you have happy. Post relevant, well organised and high quality content. Post often, but be sure to space out your post time throughout the day.
  • Run a contest or giveaway. Have the rules to enter include repinning or following your boards or page. Include words like “giveaway”, “contest” and “enter to win” in the description. Adding a dollar value to the prize will let Pinterest include a banner displaying the prize money across the top of the image.
  • If you already have fans on Facebook, trying to move them on to following you on Pinterest could be easier than trying to get brand new ones. Promote your new Pins, Boards and Contests on Facebook as status updates. Create a Pinterest tab for your Facebook page, so people can browse your pins without having to leave the FB platform.

How to get more Repins

  • Post high-quality visual content that is in the correct format.
  • Vertical, taller images, with an aspect ratio between 2:3 and 4:5, do better than horizontal ones.
  • Ask for it – Including a caption such as “Feel free to pin” to your content should encourage users to do just that. This strategy is shown to work with retweeting and Facebook likes.
  • Keep your description between 200 and 300 characters – a study shows that with descriptions with 200 characters get the most repins.
  • The most repinnable words are about food. While the most pinned words are about design. But keep your descriptions relevant.
  • Aim to write content for ‘Likes’ rather than ‘Comments’. Research shows that the correlation between Likes and Repins are higher than with Comments and Repins.
  • Write good descriptions – Make them relevant, funny or relatable to make them more shareable.
  • A study to find the ‘perfect pinterest picture’ concluded that pictures with the following features did statistically better with repins and engagement – No human faces, little background, moderate lighting and colour, multiple colours, and more red and orange.