Top Six Questions To Ask Before You Start Pinterest

The meteoric rise of Pinterest

The meteoric rise of Pinterest

There’s a new(ish) social network in town: Pinterest. The visual bookmarking site is fresh off an explosive 2011 – where it grew an astounding 4,000 percent!  Most traffic observers now think Pinterest is the third most popular social network, behind only Twitter and Facebook.

Plenty of marketers would like to tap into the firehose of traffic on Pinterest, but it’s disappointing to see that so few have made a genuine, wholehearted effort to contribute. It’s a shame to see lame, blatantly self-promotional pinboards. Pinterest may be new, but the principles of success here are the same as any other social network: in order to leverage the community, you must be prepared to contribute and add content of value.

Where does Pinterest fit in with your overall online strategy?

The most obvious way to utilize Pinterest is to compliment your brand’s existing image. Tightly-themed pinboards are a glance into another world. If a picture is worth 1,000 words, Pinterest might be the most valuable site on the internet. Home Depot uses Pinterest to help customers envision their products outside a sterile, warehouse environment. Boards like Woodgrain Finishes and DIY Wedding Inspiration are beautifully selected, energizing and unexpected. It’s a side of Home Depot many consumers haven’t gotten to know.

One of Bonnie Tsang's amazing pinboards

One of Bonnie Tsang's amazing pinboards

Another benefit to brands is the opportunity to put their pins in front of some very influential eyeballsBonnie Tsang is an LA-based photographer with an incredible online following. Currently, she has over a half-million Pinterest followers. She’s also a prolific re-pinner, with (at the moment) 7,000 images saved in her profile. Every time she adds a new one, be it a place or a product, not only does the image source gain exposure to every one of Bonnie’s followers, but also to Bonnie herself. It’s the kind of PR placement you simply can’t buy.

Other brands use Pinterest to spark engagement with their customers. Real Simple Magazine has a pinboard called Problem-Solving Products with 160,000 followers. Each new pin garners dozens of comments – real time feedback on the type of items Real Simple readers want to see featured. These discussions and individually pinned images also tend to have a much longer shelf life than single posts to Twitter or Facebook.

Best of all, Pinterest traffic is proven to drive sales. Pins on Pinterest have a very good chance to translate to e-commerce purchases. A recent case study by Boticca, a Pinterest early adopter, indictates that Pinterest users tend to spend twice as much money on their site as those refered by Facebook. It makes sense – Pinterest’s visual layout is centered around people, places and things. It’s an easier leap to buy an item (directly linked) on Pinterest than it is track down and consider buying something mentioned obliquely on Facebook.

Who is Pinterest right for?

Like any social networking site – Pinterest isn’t a good fit for every brand. A strong case can be made, however, that Pinterest is worthwhile for a very good percentage of brands on the net.

E-commerce sites are a natural match for Pinterest. One-third of online shoppers have made a purchase after seeing something on Pinterest, according to an Internet Retailer survey. Beyond the possibility of driving direct sales, e-commerce brands are popular on Pinterest because of users’ interest in products both aspirational and practical. The term “discoverability” has been tossed around to describe products on Pinterest – it’s a close as you’ll get to a level playing field for e-tailers small and large.

Pinterest's gifts section gets huge traffic

Pinterest's gifts section gets huge traffic

If you’re a blogger with a photogenic niche, you can’t afford not to be on Pinterest. It’s the perfect showcase for rich, attention-grabbing images: think foodies, photographers, travel bloggers, etc. If your blog is less image rich – say, for instance, a marketing blog – step up your GIS skills before adding a new post. On Pinterest, visual first impressions are everything.

One surprising brand KILLING it on Pinterest right now: GE. Why? Their pinboards showcase amazing projects most people probably don’t even know exist. Their board Badass Machines has personality and moxie not seen in GE elsewhere, and is breath-taking to behold.

GE's surprising, badass Pinterest presence

GE's surprising, badass Pinterest presence

Sites like Daily Candy already specialize in the “thrill of the find” – just like Pinterest. Its’ an online scavenger hunt with users competing to find the most unique content. Tapping into the community will deliver an audience well-suited to your demographics.

Finally, now is the time for video sites to dig in a foothold on Pinterest. You can’t pin a video just yet, but that functionality is on it’s way, and it’s always best to get on at the ground floor.

What types of content are most shareable?

While there are examples of popular Pinterest boards crossing all genres, there are a few niches more popular than others. Pins containing people, animals, fashion or home goods are the most likely to be re-pinned.If you think your site doesn’t fit in one of those categories, you may be surprised.

The U.S. Central Command, quite active on Pinterest, has created a board called Military Dogs. It’s a clever way to build content popular on Pinterest, while humanizing their organization and building goodwill.  Their board features very well-done captions, too!

Cute dogs, optimized captions

Cute dogs, optimized captions

How can you make your Site pinable?

It should go without saying that lush, colorful visuals are the most popular images on an image-sharing site, but it’s still worth repeating. Don’t head to Pinterest with small, drab, or worst of all, stock images. It’s also possible to embed Pinterest-only images in each of your URLs that will display only when tagged.

Make sure to add the Pin button to each URL in your site you’d like to see shared. Make it easy for Pinterest users with bold calls to action and clear placement.

Etsy makes it easy to add a pin from product pages

Etsy makes it easy to add a pin from product pages

Share URLs from within your site by using the link to where that URL is tagged on Pinterest. This trick was popular a couple years ago with Stumble Upon, and it works great on Pinterest, too. Even non-Pinners will be able to see your pin / link.

Be active on Pinterest with a branded profile. The best place to find pinners, of course, is on Pinterest itself. The more active your brand’s page is, the greater the exposure to your profile, and your site’s pins. Following other users also helps keep your ear to the ground an see what’s working firsthand.


What tips and tricks do the best brands use?

Start at the beginning: fill in your profile and don’t leave any of the default board names (ie, architecture, books, etc). Your Pinterest profile URL will build search equity and link juice strength over time, so use solid keywords and include good links.

If you sell a product online, you can show up in the Pinterest Gifts category simply by adding the price (and currency sign) in the pin description. Can it get any easier?

Every time you add a new pin, take the time to type out a full description. Use keywords. Use brand names. Add descriptive detail. The more you can describe a pin, the better the odds are that someone will find it. Like Twitter, Pinterest recognizes #hashtags. While they’re not as common as on Twitter, it’s still worth checking if your pin fits any popular tags already in use, such as #menswear.

GE shows us how it's done with this caption

GE shows us how it's done with this caption

Keep the ratio of self-promotional to non-shilling pins in check. I tell my clients to go by the rule of threes: One third of your posts should be original, one third can reference another source, and one third can be self-promotional.  It works on Twitter and Facebook, and it works on Pinterest too.

How can you measure results on Pinterest?

It’s always challenging to measure the ROI of social media, but before beginning a campaign on Pinterest it’s critical to identify metrics to gauge the impact of your efforts.

Followers: The number everybody sees first is your followers count – and for good reason. It’s the easiest way to estimate your impact and impressions.

Comments: Pinterest tends to trigger fewer comments than other SM sites, because it’s so easy to “like” or re-pin images without comment. This only makes other users’ remarks more valuable – when you get them, you know you’re doing something right.

Referral traffic: Make sure to set a report in your Google Analytics or other tracking tool to measure to traffic from your pins.

Pins from your site by other users: Pinterest has a very slick feature to help you track of users pinning content from any one site. Just go to the address: (replace the to see how many pins have been added from any domain.

Viewing pins from

Viewing pins from

Calculate your Pinpuff score: A newly developed web app to track Pinterest profiles, Pinpuff uses a proprietary algorithm to rank users’ influence. It’s not a perfect system, but it does give good relative grades to help gauge campaigns. They break down your score and give tips to help improve your profile, too.

Pinterest may seem to be a radical break from more established social networks, but there’s no secret to success unique to pinboards. Spend time following other users, learn the platform, and add posts of interest.  Once you get the hang of it, it’s a lot of fun.

Don’t forget… there are some out and out stunning images on Pinterest:

About jamesfacts

I’m a student at General Assembly entering the Web Dev Immersive program. My passion is exploring how the internet is working to reshape culture. Find me on Twitter or

18. May 2012 by jamesfacts
Categories: Social Media, Tutorials | Tags: , | Comments Off