To explain “what is Pinterest” and how it can grow your web traffic, let me make a confession… There’s an old and tired looking pin board next to our kitchen backdoor. It’s a memento of a time when everyone used to pin up their favourite photos on a rectangular cork board.
Pictures of my son (when he was still smaller than me), catch my eye when I walk past. Images of a boy playing among the rocks at Fontainebleau are fading, with the paper curling up at the edges.
But what has this got to do with Pinterest?
This post contains affiliate links. This means I receive a commission if you make a purchase through my links, but this is no additional cost to you. Please read my disclaimer for more information.
Pinterest is like your old cork board on steroids. Family snapshots are hidden away on secret boards (heaven forbid anyone-else will see them). Instead, your public profile is full of make believe. Pin boards with the perfect recipes, the latest fashions and the best possible decor.
It’s a world of reinvention. Like a marketer’s dream come true…
Starting At The Beginning
Just in case you haven’t been swept up into the Pinterest bubble, this post sets out the basics. (And why you should be bothered). Think of it as a beginners guide…
- What is Pinterest?
- Why use Pinterest for Business?
- How does Pinterest work for Business?
- Why You Need To Take Pinterest Seriously.
- What Are Pinterest Pins And What Size Should They Be?
- What Are Boards?
What Is Pinterest?
In the words of the company “Pinterest inspires you to discover and do what you love”. Think of the platform as lots of different pin boards. You discover ideas (or Pins) on other people’s pin boards and repin these ideas to your own pin boards.
Your boards can be viewed by other pinners or kept secret, it’s up to you. You may chose to create boards that inspire other people or use boards for personal projects.
Your pins and boards are saved in your profile. Anyone can view your profile but your secret boards stay hidden from view.
Why Use Pinterest For Business?
At 250 Million Monthly Active Users (MAU’s), Pinterest has only a tenth of the users enjoyed by FaceBook. Yet, bigger isn’t always better. Pinterest users are predominantly female and represent all adult age groups. It’s become a huge community for Mom Bloggers and Etsy Creators.
Pinterest is basically a search engine and users are actively searching for ideas, products and solutions to their problems. This can make Pinterest an excellent source of traffic. As an extra plus it’s often overlooked by competitors. Pinterest is also a growing platform, especially outside the US.
Whereas people use FaceBook to connect with their friends, Pinners, (as users like to be called), are actively searching for products and solutions and are far more likely to engage with your material.
How Does Pinterest Work For Business?
There are two ways Pinterest can work for your business.
First, use rich pins on your blog or website.
What does this mean?
Having the little red Save It icon on your site images. If visitors to your website see something they like, they can pin the image to one of their Pinterest boards.
With rich pins, the pinned information picks up information from your website page. This can be anything from real time pricing and availability for products to a list of ingredients for recipes.
How do you get rich pins?
Yoast provides a quick and easy solution to validating rich pins…
Validate Your Rich Pins Using Yoast
Once you’ve signed up for a Business Account you need to validate your rich pins. Check the Pinterest instructions for setting up Rich Pins, but currently this neat trick makes the set up process so much easier.
- Open Yoast Social tab in your dashboard and check that Open Graph Meta Data is enabled.
- Open up the Rich Pin Validator in Pinterest.
- Enter a URL from one of your posts and hit validate. (I found it didn’t work entering my home page URL, I had to add the URL of a blog post). You just need to do this once.
Add Pinterest Save It Buttons To All Images
With my last business, I had a typical business approach to Pinterest. I didn’t really get it. But I did open a Pinterest Business Account and went through the process of setting up rich pins.
I doubt I ever got more than a hundred followers on Pinterest, yet visitors from Pinterest to my Outdoor clothing eCommerce site grew and grew.
I had Pinterest Save It buttons on all product images on my site which encouraged my customers to share their favourite products. And wow – they loved sharing. (I use Social Warfare Pro to add Save It buttons).
Become An Active Pinner
Secondly, you can use Pinterest to actively entice traffic to your site. My last business was already established when I started using Pinterest and using rich pins helped to rapidly boost my existing traffic.
If you have a brand new website with very little traffic, becoming an active pinner could be a great way to drive traffic to your site.
There are a few provisos…
- You have to take Pinterest seriously and pin regularly.
- It needs to be a good match for your website or blog.
- You need to create beautiful pins.
I use the scheduler Tailwind to save time and make sure I pin regularly throughout the day.
Why You Need To Take Pinterest Seriously.
A lot of businesses take my original approach to Pinterest with my 7 figure outdoor clothing website. They show up, create a profile, build a few boards, design some pins and expect the traffic to happen.
Pinterest doesn’t work that way.
They reward creators, people who add fresh content to Pinterest. Pinners who love Pinterest and use it daily.
Pinning your own content promotes your latest posts and products, but you can also boost your profile by sharing pins you’ve found browsing the internet. This is why I add a shareable pin to every post.
What Are Pinterest Pins And What Size Should They Be?
A pin is an image that links to a post or website page. The recommended pin image size is 600 by 900 pixels. This is also referred to as a 2:3 scale image . [UPDATE Pinterest are now recommending 1000 x 1500 which is still in the 2:3 scale. The good news is your 600 x 900 pins will still be fine.]
But there’s a lot of confusion about pin sizes, partly because Pinterest has changed it’s recommendations over the years. You used to be allowed longer pins, but now Pinterest will cut them off if they are longer than 1260 pixels.
If you have a longer pin, say 600 x 1200 pixels, it needs to pack more punch with greater engagement to make up for the extra space it’s occupying.
Try out different sizes and see what works best for you. There has been talk of moving towards square pins and I’ve been trying out 600 x 600 pixel pins but with limited success.
Pins can be just images or images with text. It depends on your niche. My pins all have text on them designed to hook customers. Niches such as fashion, food, interior design seem to work best sticking to just images.
All pins need a description and should link to a relevant post or page on your site. It’s important that the pin description matches the linked post . For best results make sure keywords used in the pin title match the keywords in your post.
What Do People Do With Pins?
Sometimes in life it’s best to think of things as a game. That’s certainly the case with Pinterest. This platform will reward pinners who:
- Create pins or pin images from websites and blogs they visit.
- Have engaged followers – people who repin their content.
What is repinning?
If someone visits your boards and sees a pin they like, they can pin it to their own board. This is called repinning. Confused?
- Pinning is creating your own content or sharing material you’ve found online.
- Repinning is sharing pins (to your own boards or group boards) you’ve discovered on Pinterest.
Unlike other types of social media, Pinterest isn’t about commenting and interacting, it’s all about the pinning. Instead think about Pinterest as a search engine. It’s not as sophisticated as Google but it’s still a search engine.
What Are Boards?
Okay, I’m guessing you’ve got the idea by now that Pinterest boards are virtual pin boards. It’s the old cork board by my kitchen backdoor with a digital face-lift.
You can create as many boards as you want. One for every topic. Plus you can pin away to each board as much as you want. (Pinterest does have an account limit of 200,000 pins but that’s a lot of pins).
It’s best for business to make sure your boards reflect your business niche. If you want to pin those must-have new shoes use a secret board. A secret board is only visible to you and it’s a good way to keep your personal and business pinning separate.
There are also group boards where pinners collaborate to share their pins. Group boards will be based on a certain topic and tend to attract a lot of followers. Joining group boards is a good way to increase your visibility on Pinterest.
My post on Pinterest SEO teaches you how to increase the visibility of your boards:
Does Pinterest Work For All Businesses?
I don’t think you can ever expect one social media channel to work for every business but Pinterest does cover a lot of niches.
It’s known as a platform for millennials, (1 out of 2 US millenials use Pinterest every month) and women dominate the platform. Yet the next biggest age group is 30 to 49-year-olds and usage amongst men is growing. (Two of the recent signups for my Hatch A Blog course are 70+ men and both surprisingly found me through Pinterest).
Pinterest has 36 categories. Aside from the catch all categories, Popular, Everything, Gifts and Videos, the categories cover just about every popular topic. The most popular categories are Food & Drink, DIY & Crafts, Home Decor & Women’s Fashion.
This doesn’t mean the other categories won’t drive significant traffic to your business. Even if your business doesn’t quite match a categories you can still benefit from using Pinterest. (I tend to stick my blogging boards in DIY & Crafts – it still works).
Here’s the full list of Pinterest Categories:
- Animals & Pets
- Cars and Motorcycles
- Celebrations & Events
- DIY & Crafts
- Food & Drink
- Hair & Beauty
- Fitness & Health
- Home Decor
- Illustrations & Posters
- Kids & Parenting
- Men’s Fashion
- Science & Nature
- Women’s Fashion
It’s quite a curious list. Don’t be put off if your topic isn’t an obvious match, it really won’t matter. Unless your niche is extremely obscure, you’ll still find interested people to follow you on Pinterest.
Pinterest should be on the radar for all types of businesses, both business to consumer (B2C) and business to business (B2B). There’s an extraordinary breadth of topics pinned on the platform and unlike other social media platforms, pinners are actively searching for products and solutions.
It takes time to learn how Pinterest works and build up a following. The key is consistency. It won’t work for your business if you just pin a few times then forget about it.
Using the scheduler Tailwind can be a big time saver allowing you to pin regularly throughout the day. Tailwind is an approved Pinterest scheduler and you have the added advantage of using Tailwind Tribes to boost your visibility.
When you’re using Pinterest for business, don’t link your pins directly to your products or affiliate marketing links. The types of pins that get viral traffic link to engaging posts. Aim to inform and engage before you start to sell!