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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 much like a digital scrapbook combined with an online wish list. From inspiring boards to dinner recipes, Pinterest has many helpful and fun features – especially for businesses.

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. But before you sign up and start pinning, here's everything you 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 U.S. Pinterest members are female (81 percent). Some 2 million of those members save content to a shopping board on a daily basis.

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 to 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.

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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 a 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.
  • 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.
  • Archived boards: You can archive a board you no longer use but don't want to delete. Archived boards won't show up on your profile, and you'll stop seeing suggestions related to the board. 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: Hashtags on Pinterest work like they do on other social media platforms. They make it easy for other pinners to find your pins and relevant content.
  • Lens: This feature in the app uses your smartphone's camera to produce new pin suggestions related to things you snap pictures of. For example, if you snap a picture of an outfit, it'll show you similar outfits.
  • Comments: You can add comments to other users' pins.
  • Save: When you click on a pin, you have the option to save, send or hide. When you save, you pin it to one of your boards.
  • 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 offer many profile customization options, that doesn't mean you can't show off your brand. You can upload a profile picture, pick a custom username and write a summary of your business on your Pinterest profile.

Creative names or clever phrases for your pinboards is another great way to customize your profile. 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 a cover photo for each board that represents the board and your brand.

To get started, click the Create Board button that's accessible from your profile or when you save a pin. Once you have created a couple boards, you can start uploading pins 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 get an extension that allows you to pin right from the website you're on.

In the Pinterest mobile app, you can now use your camera to find ideas. You simply open the app and point the camera at anything you're interested in. 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, clothing and food.

Pinterest is, first and foremost, a website for sharing pictures and inspiring ideas. If you want to succeed on Pinterest, you need to create and share visually pleasing and engaging pins.

According to Pinterest, the most successful pins catch people's attention and make them want to learn more. Great pins are typically vertical and show how to use a product or service.

Knowing what's trending on Pinterest can help you decide what content to pin or what your next product should be. For example, if you see that DIY projects are trending, that would be a good time to find and share DIY content that relates back to your business, making your business more discoverable on Pinterest.

Camilla Hallstrom, content marketing consultant at Influence With Content, suggested 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," she said. "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. The only difference is that you're paying for your pins to be seen by more people.

"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 have a snowball effect that drives 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 gives you information about those viewing your page and pins. You can learn your audience demographics, the devices your 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 your content, 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 widgets. You can make a widget for each of your boards and promote them on your website. Just click on the three dots by your board's name on the Pinterest desktop app and select Create Widget. On the next page, you can decide if you want the widget to appear square, as a sidebar, header or create your own dimensions. Once you pick on a size, copy and paste the code on your website.

Create gift guides. 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 it doesn't look like one giant advertisement for your business. Take advantage of Pinterest's special features. For example, in the 2017 holiday season, Pinterest 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 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 special pins 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 such as ingredients, cooking times and serving sizes.
  • 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 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.

While Pinterest is a social media platform, it has a powerful search function. Many people go on the site to look for something in particular.

"When people are using Pinterest, they are often actively typing in searches to find what they're looking for," said Brian Wulfe, founder and CEO at Effective Spend. "On traditional social media, on the other hand, the audience is passively browsing the site."

Since Pinterest is similar to a search engine, it's important to properly label and categorize each pin and board.

Some source interviews were conducted for a previous version of this article.

Saige Driver

Saige received her Bachelor’s degree in Journalism and Telecommunications from Ball State University. She is the social media strategist for Business.com and Business News Daily. She also writes reviews and articles about social media. She loves reading and her beagle mix, Millie. Reach her by email, or follow her on Twitter.