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What is Pinterest, and How Does it Work?

Jan 14, 2019, 08:37 AM | Published under Social Media by Andy Meng

I use Facebook a lot to stay in touch with friends and relatives. I'm perfectly content to share photos, status updates, check-ins, etc on FaceBook, but my lady friends and relatives kept jumping onto Pinterest to share their likes and interests. Not only do they pop in and out to share things, but they spend LOTS of time "pinning" and viewing "boards". I kept feeling left out. So I created a Pinterest account to see what all the hoopla was about.  Here are some of my thoughts and observations about Pinterest and how it might be used as a social media marketing tool.

So - what is Pinterest and how does it work? Pinterest is a social network that allows users to visually share, and discover new interests by posting (known as 'pinning' on 6 Simple Steps to Setting up your Pintrest AccountPinterest) images or videos to their own or others' boards (i.e. a collection of 'pins,' usually with a common theme) and browsing what other users have pinned. Using a visual orientation, the social network is very much focused on the concept of a person's lifestyle, allowing you to share your tastes and interests with others and discovering those of likeminded people. The social network's goal is to "connect everyone in the world through the 'things' they find interesting." Users can either upload images from their computer or pin things they find on the web using the Pinterest bookmarklet.

As with most other social networks, users can perform standard social networking functions such as following the boards of their friends, liking and commenting on other users' pins, re-pinning content to their own boards, sharing others' pins on Facebook and Twitter or via email, and even embedding individual pins on their website or blog.

Pinterest saw incredible growth in 2013 - for the first time ever, Pinterest surpassed email as a sharing medium, and even outpaced Facebook. According to the study, that’s all thanks to the ladies, especially in the Midwest,  because 80% of Pinterest users are women.  I'm not quite sure why - as far as I can tell, men like looking at photos as much as ladies, but I suspect it has to do with the fact that in the beginning Pinterest seemed to have been started with interests in the home arts like cooking, decorating, fashion, gardening, and other topics of interest to women. But, to my pleasant surprise, I just checked out Pinterest and there are boards for some of my decidedly, male-oriented interests like flyfishing, hunting and cigars, so I wouldn't be surprised to see the pinetrest statistics on male usage for Pinterest climbing.

Interestingly, Pinterest is now the fastest-growing platform for online content sharing, according to a new report from online content distribution service ShareThis. The report analyzed the millions of monthly shares made through ShareThis in the third quarter of 2013 across more than 120 social media channels and two million websites and discovered that content sharing on Pinterest jumped 19.2% in the latest quarter of 2013, and LinkedIn sharing grew 15.1%. Facebook saw content sharing rise 14.7%, while sharing on Twitter fell 7.6%. (see infographic below).

The new data offers a reminder that businesses should look beyond Facebook and Twitter when managing their social media outreach.  Says ShareThis CEO Kurt Abrahamson in a release: "The more advertisers understand how consumers are using all social channels — beyond Facebook and Twitter — the more effectively they can use social media to augment and improve campaigns,".

Small businesses can capitalize on the Pinterest surge to market their products and grow their consumer base. Pinterest, a highly visual medium, gives businesses a chance to engage consumers with compelling images and colorful infographics that promote deals and new products. Pinning pictures of employees could also help customers identify with the people who work at the company, putting a face to a name. Small business owners can also help facilitate conversations about their brands online by adding "share" buttons to their websites. These digital icons allow site visitors to easily click and share a piece of content through a specific Pinterest board.

All said, Pinterest like other social media channels, can help create brand awareness and possibly facilitate website leads, but we still believe that, for most businesses, search engines can provide better ROI and direct conversion of visitors into customers. Let's have the conversation though - contact us to discuss how we might be able to help your business with a solid marketing plan based on the marketing channels best suited to your business. Stay connected through our blog for information on Digital Marketing, SEO, Web Design, and more! 

Pinterest Market Share

Drop by the Infront Webworks Pintrest and other social media pages.

Making Pinterest Work for your Business

If you're on the hunt for a few surefire Pinterest brand marketing techniques, then you're in the right place. As many as 50% of people who see a promoted Pinterest pin, make a purchase! So, for business owners, this social media platform is well worth investing your time and effort into. Let's dive into these strategies!

1. Set Up a Pinterest Business Account

First things first, you want to set up a Pinterest Business account. Then, make sure your profile is optimized to reflect the tone of voice and aesthetic of your brand.

Top Tip: ensure your bio's filled with plenty of relevant keywords while reflecting your company's voice.
Branding Your Account

Branding Your Account

Add a board cover to your profile. These are amazing for making your Pinterest account more cohesive with your brand.
You'll also need to opt for SEO-friendly board titles. Try to keep them short and snappy. Then, you can utilize the board's description section to insert more keywords and hashtags.

Top Tip: These hashtags are clickable and fantastic for getting a better idea of what your target market is looking for on Pinterest. You can use this info to refine your marketing strategy.

2. Optimize Your Website Images

You need to make it as easy as possible for your website visitors to pin images from your web pages onto their Pinterest boards.

You can do this by installing Pinterest's 'Save Button' to allow users to save your images onto their Pinterest account, with just a few simple clicks.

Rich Pins

Utilize rich pins. This display pricing info makes them ideal if you're running an e-commerce store. Alternatively, if you're running a blog, 'article pins' are just the ticket for driving traffic.  

Top Tip: Use vertical images, and scale them, so they boast a 600-pixel width and an aspect ratio of either 2:3 or 1:3.5.
Handy Hack: If you're struggling to create Pinterest friendly images, use Canva. It's a free resource offering a ton of pre-made templates which are fabulous for Pinterest marketers.

If you want to take your product pins a step further, you can sync your online store with your Pinterest account. This way, when users save your pin, they can "Add to bag" and pay for your products without even leaving Pinterest - how awesome this that?!

Apply for Rich Pins

You can only use rich pins if you have a validated site. This validation process doesn't occur automatically. Instead, you'll have to apply by doing the following:

  • Add Pinterest's code to your site. You can use the Yoast SEO plugin to do that; this app allows you to add a Pinterest meta tag as well as the option of copying and pasting the necessary code from Pinterest. Once you've done this, you enable Pinterest to review the legitimacy of your site. 
  • Validate your site on Pinterest. To do this, head over to Pinterest's validation tool. Not only does this give you a preview of your pin, but it also gives you the opportunity to apply for rich pins. If the application is successful, you'll get an email from Pinterest telling you your Rich Pins have been enabled.

You should note: this can take as long as a week, so don't worry if you don't get an email immediately. It's a pretty simple process and it's well worth doing. You're sure to boost engagement when you start using rich pins.

3. Stay Active

Now you have everything up and running; you need to stay active on Pinterest.  You should continually add content to your profile and assess what users are searching for. This way you can provide the best possible content for your audience.

Top Tip: To make your brand memorable, aim to pin at least five times a day. You can make this easier by using a scheduling app like Buffer to plan what you want to pin and when.

Handy Hack:  You want to space out your pins. It's no good publishing ten pins all in one go. When you space out your content throughout the day, you're more likely to engage with your audience.
By staying 'active' on Pinterest, we also mean you should be continually analyzing the effectiveness of your current strategies. Use Pinterest's analytics to see what your most popular pins are. That way you'll know what kind of content to replicate.

4. Other Things You Can Do

There are a few other things you can do to maximize your Pinterest efforts:

  • Categorize your boards: When you do this, you make it easier for users to find your pins. Not only does this result in increased engagement, but you may even score a few loyal followers. 
  • Find popular group boards. You can use a resource like PinGroupie to identify these boards and contribute to these communities. This is fantastic for getting your brand out there.
  • Add your logo to the bottom of all your images. This helps to boost brand recognition.  
    All these ideas will undoubtedly help improve your Pinterest branding.

Did You Enjoy These Pinterest Brand Marketing Tips?

We hope these Pinterest brand marketing tips help boost your conversions! If you enjoyed this article, you'd love the other pieces published on our blog.

Learn everything from actionable SEO tips to how to improve your site speed. Or, if you have any questions about online marketing, please feel free to reach out and contact us.

About the Author

Andy co-founded Data Made Accessible, the predecessor to Infront Webworks, in 1994. DMA became Infront Webworks in 1999 and Andy presided over the business as his company grew for nearly two decades to become the premier online agency in Colorado Springs. Andy and Joan Meng sold Infront to Matt Palis in April 2011, and Andy remains as the “Director of Business Development” for Infront.

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