Pinterest best practices for brands and content marketers

Would you like to save what interests you? Were you one of those teenagers who had a vision board in their bedroom? Would you like a digital counterpart to this? Then you’ll really like Pinterest.

Founded in 2010, Pinterest is a visual discovery platform where users find, upload, and share multimedia content. It’s described less as a social network and more as a content discovery tool where users can organize and collect photos, GIFs, videos, and more. Part scrapbook, part vision and mood board, Pinterest is an incredibly popular and valuable platform, especially for e-commerce brands.

Often an underrated marketing platform, Pinterest is rapidly growing into a social network to be reckoned with. Here’s why:

  • Pinterest has 100 million users.
  • 31 percent of US adult internet users are on Pinterest; of those users, 44 percent of women online use the site, compared with 16 percent of men online according to Pew.
  • Men are the fastest growing group on Pinterest, as almost two-thirds (64 percent) of currently active male users have joined in the past year, according to Ahalogy.
  • Pinners are shoppers. Sixty-seven percent of active Pinners—and 86 percent of daily Pinners—have accessed Pinterest while shopping to buy something.
  • More than 75 percent of Pinterest usage takes place on a mobile device—smartphone or tablet.

Pinterest has a lot going for it. If your brand is thinking of adopting Pinterest into its marketing plans, here’s how to use these Pinterest best practices for your brand.

Pinterest terms to know

  • Pins are any image or video that people add to Pinterest directly from files, websites, or apps.
  • Boards are when Pins are organized into collections categorized by the user.
  • Pinner is a person who uses Pinterest.

Create original Pins often

Pins are the perfect promo tools for any of your evergreen blog posts, infographics, photos, or even products. Pins last forever (not an exaggeration), so when you create or repin them, they need to be timeless, compelling, and searchable.

Pinterest allows you to create original Pins in one of two ways: you can either Pin images and content from a website or upload a Pin from your computer. A Pin is comprised of an image, a description, and sometimes metadata (more on that below). Here’s what a good Pin entails:

  • Pinterest is a visual discovery platform and high-quality, well-composed images are necessities. According to this Curalate study, images on Pinterest without faces receive 23 percent more repins.
  • Unlike image dimension for other platforms, Pinterest images work better vertically. The standard dimension size for a pin is 735 x 1102 pixels.
  • Finally, a good Pin should look great not just in boards but in feeds. Understand that in feeds, Pins are squashed down or need to be expanded if it’s an infographic or a photo set. Think about including images of varying sizes or stick to four images or less.

A picture on Pinterest is worth a thousand repins, but it’s the description that can make or break how searchable your Pin is. The more specific you are when describing the distinct parts of your Pin, the better and more likely it is to appear at the top of Pinterest when people search for a term. Think like the person who is searching for your product or content. Instead of vague terms like “sweater” or “travel bag,” get specific by adding modifiers like “blue cashmere sweater” or “affordable travel bag.” Pairing keyword-heavy descriptions with very compelling images will do wonders for your Pins. You can use hashtags in Pin descriptions, but nowhere else—putting them in your username, bio, or board will not score you any brownie points.

Additionally, make sure the copy is evergreen. Unless the content is explicitly timely (about a particular holiday, for instance), you want to make sure you avoid using any timely language in your Pin’s copy.

Some of the best resources at a brand’s disposal in Pinterest are rich Pins, which display metadata right on the Pin itself. There are six types you can utilize:

  1. App Pins include an install button so Pinners can download your app on iOS devices without ever leaving Pinterest.
  2. Movie Pins include ratings, cast members, and reviews to help Pinners learn about new flicks.
  3. Recipe Pins include ingredients, cooking times, and serving info to inspire Pinterest chefs.
  4. Article Pins include headline, author, and story description, helping Pinners find and save stories that matter to them.
  5. Product Pins include real-time pricing, availability, and where to buy.
  6. Place Pins include a map, address, and phone number.

Any time information from your site is Pinned, the metadata automatically comes up on these pins. So if one of your product is Pinned, the price and availability of the product is clear, even if you change the price since the original pin. For any blog posts or articles you’re promoting on the blog, information like the headline, author, and description appears on the Pin. To make sure all of your original Pins are Rich Pins, you’ll need to work with your site’s developer to get them on your site. Pinterest tells you how here.

Boards are your new best friends

If you want to master Pinterest, boards need to become your new best friends. A board, as you recall, is just a collection of Pins in one place. Boards with clear names and descriptions are more likely to show up in Pinterest searches and a Pinner can exclusively follow your board (without ever having to follow you).

A good board has a cover Pin that gives people a sense for what’s on that board and a title description in 20 characters or less—otherwise it gets cut off. In your profile, you can organize the order of boards so that the most relevant or successful ones appear at the top.

One of the best surprises about boards is that you can make them private. They can become tools to help with your other marketing efforts; create mood boards and case studies or create one to plan your wedding before you’re even engaged. Secret boards are wonderful staging tools to make sure anything you create is ready for prime time before you make them public.

The best way to approach assembling a board is to think of it as a mood board. Think of visual consistency or relevancy. For example, a Pin of a patterned dress next to the place that inspired it is more compelling than just a product photo.

Pinterest etiquette and community rules

Community management 101 tells us that if you want to be on a platform, you have to be involved on it too. If you want to develop a strong Pinterest following, you will need to actively Pin, follow, like, comment, and understand the “unofficial rules” of the platform.

  1. Stay positive. Whereas Tumblr is a sacred place for weird stuff and Reddit is rife with conflict, Pinterest is a haven for people to get inspired. Inspiration doesn’t really work when there’s negativity around. Only Pin, like, and comment on what actually interests you.
  2. Don’t just Pin your own stuff. Pinning all types of Pins—from video to photos to articles—can help diversify your board. Plus, it’s pretty. No one wants to follow someone who only promotes their own product or content.
  3. Pin at least once a day and throughout the day. That way, your followers receive fresh content in their home feeds.
  4. Never delete another person’s source in the Pin and add your own. This is the golden rule of social media. Never try and take credit for something you didn’t do.
  5. Check the Pin source. Make sure your Pins link back to somewhere helpful. For example, if it’s a movie trailer, there should be a link to that trailer. Sometimes, Pins link out to spam. Check links before you repin or Pin and make sure to comment or report inappropriate or broken links in the comments or to Pinterest.
  6. Use judgment to add or change descriptions to Pins. Sometimes, people use the description as a personal diary. That’s fine, but if you’re repinning it to one of your boards, it may look odd. Feel free to add descriptions where there are none and change the description as long as you aren’t removing credit or trying to take claim of it yourself.
  7. Categorize your Pins correctly. No kale smoothies in your fashion board, please.
  8. Report inappropriate Pins. This is a safe space to relax in. Do your due diligence.
  9. Create group boards and invite people who love your brand to contribute. This is a cool feature from Pinterest—you can Pin with other people on one giant board. It’s a great way to create a mini community on a platform that’s not exactly chatty or too outspoken.

Make your site Pinterest ready

Pinterest and e-commerce are a match made in heaven. According to a 2013 study by Piqora, each Pin generates $0.78 in sales on average. Those aren’t game-changing numbers, but it is a sign that the platform is ready to embrace buying directly on the site. It’s a platform proven to convert into sales, something Pinterest is well aware of. Thanks to the addition of Product Pins and Buyable Pins (which are only available with a few brands, at the moment), Pinterest is now an e-commerce site as much as it is a visual discovery one.

Because of this, it’s imperative that your website be more than Pinterest-friendly; it needs to be integrated with Pinterest. The two main ways to do that are to use are the Pin It button and Product Pins.

The Pin It button needs to be prominent and easy to use on your site; that way, any user can easily Pin an article or product to Pinterest. Depending on how important Pinterest is to your brand, you may want to consider giving it more visibility over other social media icons. You can learn to customize widgets and buttons here.

Product Pins are a must for any retail brand. To be clear, Product Pins are different from Buyable Pins because “although they make information about your product readily available on Pinterest, they do not let a user buy the product directly from Pinterest.” Product Pins must link to the product landing page where you can actually purchase the product.

Pinterest Analytics

Want to see how well your pins are performing? Under a business Pinterest account, you can see which Pins are most popular with Pinners and which ones are driving the most traffic to your site with Pinterest Analytics. Here, you’ll have access to information about what people Pin other than your Pins and to see what boards your Pins appear on. It’s a pretty handy tool to measure your Pinterest marketing and strategy.

The end

As far as marketing platforms and social media networks go (and as far as we’re concerned), Pinterest is a fantastic, underrated tool for brands. Not only does it generate traffic, but it is a remarkable conversion and e-commerce tool.

Now excuse me, I have some Pinning to do.

Image: Twin Design/Shutterstock

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