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Grow Your Business Social Media

Pinterest for Business: Everything You Need to Know

pinterest, social media, marketing, tips
Credit: Bloomua/Shutterstock

Pinterest is a visual social media platform that's sort of like digital scrapbooking combined with an online wish list. If you're not using this platform to market your products or services, you're missing out. More than 87 percent of Pinterest users have bought a product because of the site.

Before you sign up and start pinning, here's everything out need to know about using Pinterest for your business.

On Pinterest, users share and save content to virtual collections called boards. Most of the 175 million active members in the U.S. on Pinterest are female (81 percent). Some 2 million of those save content to a shopping board on a daily basis. Millennials use the platform as often as they use Instagram, but the median age on the site is 40.

While you can find just about anything on Pinterest – the website's categories include everything from art to technology – the site is known as a hub for craft projects, recipes, fashion, home decor and health-related information.

For businesses, it's important you sign up for a business account. You can use the main sign-up page to create personal accounts. If you already have a personal account, you can switch over to business or just create a new account. Business accounts, which are free, give you access to features such as analytics that can help you strategize.

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  • Pins: This refers to all the content shared on Pinterest. Pins are ideas to inspire you. When you click on a pin, it links back to its original website. 
  • Pincodes: Sort of like QR codes, Pincodes are special codes you can create to unlock your business's curated boards and profile on Pinterest. Users can enter the code to be taken directly to your suggested boards.
  • Pinners: Pinners are people who use Pinterest.
  • Boards: Sort of like visual bookmarks or digital bulletin boards, boards are how you organize your pins. Pinterest recently added the ability to reorder your pins or boards.
  • Group boards: A group board is a collaborative board owned by one user. Owners can add other users to contribute to the board. While you can ask to join a group board, the board's owner has to send you an invite.
  • Archive boards: This feature allows you to clean up your profile and stop seeing certain suggestions. For example, you can opt out of seeing wedding dresses after the big day has passed.
  • Feed: Similar to a Facebook or Twitter feed, this is a group of pins from people you follow or what Pinterest thinks you'd be interested in.
  • Hashtags on Pinterest: Pinterest has a unique search system, so hashtags are not the most effective way to make your content searchable on this social network. They're more effective if you use your own brand-specific hashtags, and less effective if you were to share a pin with the hashtag #recipes, for example.
  • Lens: This feature of the app uses your smartphone’s camera to produce new pin suggestions related to things you snap pictures of.
  • Like: This is the equivalent of favoriting a tweet on Twitter or liking a post on Facebook. You can access your liked posts from your profile page.
  • Comments: You can add comments to other users' pins.
  • Sending pins: You can send pins to other users or non-Pinterest users in private messages.
  • Tagging users: You can tag users using the @ symbol.
  • Messages: You can send private messages to other Pinterest users.

While Pinterest does not give you many profile customization options, that doesn't mean you can't show off your brand. Pinterest allows you to upload a profile picture, use a custom username, and write a summary about you or your business. Be sure to turn on two-factor authentication in the security settings.

A great way to customize your profile is by naming your pinboards with clever phrases that are searchable and relatable to your brands. You can also add a short description of each board that explains what that board is about and how it aligns with your brand. You can choose cover photos for each board that relate back to your brand and are visually appealing.

To get started, click the Create Board button that's accessible from your profile or when you save a pin. Once you have created some boards, you can start uploading pins. You can do this in a few ways. The first is by going to the board you want to pin to and clicking Add a Pin. Then, follow the directions to create a pin. You can also access the Add a Pin button at the top of your feed with the + button, which is near the search bar. If you're using the Chrome browser, you can also get an extension that allows you to pin right from the website you're on.

As part of the Pinterest mobile app, you can now employ your camera to find ideas. You simply open the app and point the camera at just about anything. The app will return with suggestions for similar things you might want to pin. For now, the company says it's best at home decor ideas, things to wear and food.

In 2015, Pinterest introduced a way to separate a hat from a shirt from a pair of shoes when you take a picture of someone's fashion. Then it can send you related ideas based on the specific clothing item that interests you. Now the company also lets you buy that item directly on Pinterest. Brands that offer this option include CB2, Curalate, Macy's, Neiman Marcus, Olapic, Project September, Refinery29, ShopStyle, Target and Wayfair.

A great way to monitor your competitors is to follow them on Pinterest. You can look at what they're doing and promoting. You should also follow other people or brands who save ideas you're interested in. This way, your feed will reflect the things you like.

Knowing what's trending on Pinterest can help you decide what content to pin. For example, if you see a lot of DIY projects trending, that would be a good time to find and share DIY content that can relate back to your business, if that's relevant to your business. Anytime you can relate trending topics back to your brand, you make your business more discoverable on Pinterest.

Camilla Hallstrom, content marketing consultant at Influence With Content, suggests using trending keywords to determine what type of content to create. "Find relevant keywords by typing in a keyword in the search bar and checking the keyword suggestions you see right below the search bar. Then, include those keywords in your titles and descriptions."

For insights that may influence what you pin, see Pinterest's Pinsights for Business.  

Pinterest ads or Promoted Pins look like regular pins on Pinterest. The difference is you pay for your pins to be seen by more people. Some 73 percent of pinners say that content from brands makes the service more useful, and 61 percent say they have made a purchase after seeing a business's content.  

"You can use geographic targeting so your ad will only be shown to people in your specified area," said Marc Andre, owner of Vital Dollar. "Depending on the topic and keywords used, Pinterest advertising can be pretty affordable … Some users will see your ad and re-pin it, and you'll get that additional exposure from their re-pin without paying for it."

Promoted Pins can sometimes have a snowball effect that will drive more visibility to your pin than what you're paying for. It's important to make Promoted Pins look helpful and like a regular pin, said Andre. For more information, go to Pinterest's business page.

Pinterest Analytics can tell you a lot about who is viewing your page and pins. You can learn your audience demographics, what devices your page's visitors use, and what your most popular pins are.

You can also see data on your profile's average daily impressions and viewers, your average monthly viewers, and average monthly engagements. You can learn more about navigating and understanding your analytics data here.

Have you ever gone to a website, hovered over an image and seen a little red Pinterest button pop up? That's the Pin It button, and it allows Pinterest users to easily pin your content to their boards directly from your website. Adding the Pin It button to your website makes it simpler to share content from your website, meaning more people are likely to do just that.

There are many ways you can create fun and unique content while promoting your brand.

Create Pincodes for your physical business. To make a Pincode, click on the three dots above your board's name on the Pinterest desktop app and select Create Pincode. On the app, generate a board and tap its share button. Tap on your profile image to see ones you've created. Print out the code and place it in your store.

Create gift guides. Don't just pin your latest products to your boards. For holidays or other occasions, create a new board that can be used as a gift guide. Include your products as well as ones from other brands so that it doesn't look like one giant advertisement for your business. In the 2017 holiday season, Pinterest also rolled out a feature called Pinterest Secret Santa that allowed shoppers to look for lists of personalized gift ideas based on their friends' and families' boards.

Show off playlists. You're not limited to pinning images. Try pinning music videos from YouTube to create a playlist board. With a huge fitness community on Pinterest, for example, this could be a good way for fitness-related companies to stray from the norm of sharing workout guides and exercise gear.

Make a reading list. Save thoughtful articles and books related to your business with Pinterest by creating boards of all the good reads you think your visitors and customers would be interested in. You can also create secret boards with all the articles and books you're dying to read in your spare time so they don't get lost or forgotten in your bookmarks folder.

Do giveaways. If you're holding a contest or promotion, pin it to the relevant boards on your Pinterest page. 

Rich Pins are a special type of pin that make using the platform more straightforward and seamless. These pins include information beyond the image, click-thru link and pinner's description. Currently, there are four types of Rich Pins.

  • Article pins: Article pins make it so users can automatically see the article's headline, author and story description, making them much more searchable and distinguishing them from other content on the platform.
  • Product pins: Product pins make shopping on Pinterest a lot easier. They show where the product you're pinning can be purchased, the current price and a direct link to the product page. Product pins' prices update in real time.
  • Recipe pins: Unlike a regular pin, which would show an image and a description that the pinner manually enters, these recipe-specific Rich Pins show important information like the necessary ingredients and their amounts, cooking times and serving info.
  • App pins: Pinterest's newest addition to the Rich Pins family allows you to share and download apps directly from the platform.

You can find out more about applying for and enabling Rich Pins on Pinterest's developers page

A group board is a collaborative board owned by one person who can add others to contribute to it. This is a great resource if you're planning a big event or working on a project, because multiple people can look at the board and pin ideas. 

It's also an easy way to get your pins in front of a lot of people, because more people typically follow group boards. The board owner's audience sees the boards along with any of the other collaborators' followers.

"I write relevant blog posts with valuable content, create attractive pins with compelling headlines, and pin them to the relevant boards on my profile as well as larger group boards with tens of thousands of followers," said Kristin Marquet, founder and creative director of Creative Development Media and Fem Founder.


Saige Driver

Saige Driver graduated from Ball State University in 2015 with a degree in journalism. She started her career at a radio station in Indiana, and is currently the social media strategist at Business News Daily. She loves reading and her beagle mix, Millie. Reach her by email, or follow her on Twitter.