using pinterest for business – social media marketing strategies

Everyone’s talking about using Pinterest for social media marketing, and why not? It’s one of the fastest growing social media sites. But don’t think you can just throw any content up there to sell your products and bring traffic to your website. Current statistics say that the majority of Pinterest users are women (although more men seem to be adding to the mix as time goes on). Plus Pinterest is all about visual appeal. Not all businesses have products and services which conform to visual imagery. So how should a business add Pinterest to their Social Media Marketing Plan?

Pinterest Marketing Presentation by Colby Almond

At the April 2012 Linklove conference in Boston, Colby Almond’s presentation “Going Viral on Pinterest: Huge Traffic and Big Opportunities” was not only highly entertaining, but provided many great ideas and tips on how to use Pinterest for marketing.

Colby pointed out why Pinterest was different from the usual social sharing sites, stating that “Pinterest is crack cocaine for women.” Users of Pinterest are looking for creative ideas and advice that they can pin, share, and repin. However, as with other social networks, cute kitten pictures do get shared quite a bit.

He states that “Sometimes graphic designs need to change to fit new social networks.”  From his experience, infographics typically don’t work on Pinterest. Why?  Because Pinterest users aren’t interested in dry, business content. They prefer finding ideas, graphics, and images that are visually appealing and will apply to their lives. Steps and instructions are a bigger hit than industry statistics. Colby invents the term “Instructographics” as a new way to present your content. His definition is “a vertical representation of creative ideas or steps that guides the user to make it themselves.”

Pinterest Images – Size Matters

Instructographics should be at least 500 pixels by 2,500 pixels but no longer than 5,000. The Repin, Like and Comment buttons are only at the top of the image, so if your image is too long and requires scrolling down, people may not want to bother scrolling all the way back up to the top to share it. The trick is that the graphic is big enough to attract attention, but small enough that some of the text cannot be read. That requires the user to click on it, which brings them to your site! If the graphic doesn’t work with those dimensions, create a graphic that acts like a button to appeal to users to click on it and get the rest of the information…on your site.

Screenshot of an example of pinterest marketing where a cute twitter bird stands out amongst the clutter and a social media marketing infographic title can be read but the text is too small to read.

Notice how the cute Twitter bird stands out amongst the clutter

For example, look above at the small section of a screen full of results I got from a Pinterest search on the term “marketing.” Whether or not it has to do with me being a woman who loves cute things, my eyes are immediately drawn to the cute little Twitter bird. That’s a button that will take me to an article about Twitter marketing tips. If it wasn’t so cute, perhaps just a plain Twitter logo, I wouldn’t have bothered to see if it was something that would interest me. See the chart for “The Science of Social Timing”?  Well, the timing of when is the best times to do social media marketing is a very interesting topic for me and I can read the title, but I can’t read the details because they’re too small. I’ll have to click on it, and I will be directed to the originator’s website. If I couldn’t read the title of that chart, I would have likely ignored it. But the title was a tease of more information to come if I clicked on it, so it was effective.

Pinning Time Matters

According to Colby, Pinterest is most active between 5am and 5pm Eastern time and Sunday nights around 8pm. I imagine Pinterest users are likely to check Pinterest before school and working hours and then they check once again when they get home and before dinner. So pin at those times so your followers are more likely to see your activity when they log in.

Content Matters

We should be pinning IDEAS, not products. Don’t fill the boards with just pictures of your products, use cool and interesting images that people would want to pin and share. If you’re an agency, create content for the users, not for your clients. But make the content relevant! Cute pictures may get repins but not traffic to your site. Don’t spam your followers. And monitor your images for theft. Look for your image and make sure it links back to your site.

Will Using Pinterest for Business Marketing Online Work for Me?

Colby believes that “if correctly planned, Pinterest can drive over 100,000+ visitors to your site.”  But even if you can drive 100,000+ visitors to your site, are they buying? For some businesses, finding appealing images that are relevant to their business may be obvious. If you sell pet supplies, you can have a field day with those adorable kitten and puppy images that seem to be so popular. But what if your business doesn’t lend itself to visual imagery, like business consultants or a law firm? How can Pinterest help you?  This is when it’s time to get the creative juices flowing.

I thought about some of my clients and the businesses I frequently use. What images could they use to attract me to go to their website that are appealing yet relevant to their business?

My favorite rock climbing store could post a picture of a nice new rope, or a shiny new ice axe that they’re selling. Yawn…  How about a stunning exciting photograph of a climber hanging off of a cliff with fantastic scenery?  Yeah! Would I share that with friends? Yeah! Would I pin that on my Pinterest board?  Yeah! Would other climbers want to share that? Yeah! Would I follow that business on Pinterest to see more of their stunning images? Yeah!  Would I check out their site? Would I see if they have any current sales? Sure!

How about a law firm? How about an image of a bunch of attorneys in suits poised in front of the court house? Yawn… What about an instructographic of steps you should do if you get hurt in an accident? That could be useful, and perhaps I’ll share it with a friend who was recently injured. How about a lawyer joke or cartoon? May not directly bring business, but if it goes viral, it will bring visibility to the firm’s name and then when someone does need a lawyer, they’ll remember it’s the non-stuffy law firm with the good sense of humor. Funny and humorous images do get attention. Take a look at the screenshot below, yet another search for the term “marketing”. The first thing that caught my eye was the photo of 3 urinals in a row. What does that have to do with marketing? That “WTF” moment caught my attention and made me click on it.

Screenshot of a Pinterest marketing search where the image of three urinals in a row stands out amongst the others.

What do urinals have to do with marketing?

Image I pinned on Pinterest showing shopping mall habits of men vs. women.

My most-shared pin wasn’t my content, it was Colby Almond’s.

Participate! Social Media Marketing is About Being Social

When I started writing this article, I was looking at Colby Almond’s blog, and found a funny graphic about men vs. women when shopping. So I pinned it onto my board. About one hour later, it had been repinned 79 times, liked 33 times, and people had started following my board of funny stuff and repinned and liked some of my other images. So it’s not only about posting your own images, it’s about sharing other Pinterest user images that work for your business. When you repin, like and comment on images from other Pinterest users, they may take a look at your images as well. Be part of the Pinterest community and participate!

Put some thought into how you can integrate Pinterest marketing into your social media process. Think from the point of view of the Pinterest user, what would catch their eye, what would help them in their lives? Consider what information would be useful to the customers you want to attract to your business, and then think about how to creatively present that information to them. Pin it, monitor it to see if anyone is stealing it, and use tools like for analytics to see which campaigns are working for you. Keep it fun and/or informative, and stay away from boring. Find out how much fun it is to use Pinterest for business!

Marketing in the Time of Coronavirus

We’re taking team building to a whole new level!

Andy Groller teaches B2B “fishing” at MarketingProf’s ABM Online Forum

Dragon360 Names New Partners and CEO