How to use Pinterest to grow your business

Ecommerce and social media pros share 14 tips on using Pinterest to market your products.

pin it business

Pinterest, the popular social bookmarking site that takes a visual approach to sharing information, recently announced it had over 100 million active users. That’s over 100 million potential customers for your products or services. And while Pinterest initially was not so welcoming to business users, it now encourages brands and small businesses to use the site as a marketing platform. There’s even a Pinterest for Business section with helpful tips for companies looking to leverage Pinterest. And members can now buy items they see on the site with Buyable Pins.

But to be successful on Pinterest, you need more than a company page and a few boards showcasing your products. You have to determine who your target audience is and then actively engage them. The following 14 tips can help you do just that.

1. Make your products shareable on Pinterest. Be sure to include a “Pin it” option on your website and blog posts, so visitors can share your product photos to Pinterest with a simple click.

[ Related: 5 tips to create high-traffic Pinterest boards  ]

2. Create boards with themes that will appeal to your target audience. “Brands should take advantage of Pinterest’s curation environment by creating lifestyle boards,” says Elana Anderson, senior vice president, Worldwide Marketing, Demandware. “Retailers in particular [should] create specific lifestyle, themed boards, such as ‘Holiday Gift Ideas’ or ‘Travel Necessities,’ [which they can use to] promote product lines and collections.”

3. But don’t make your account & boards all about you. “A professional Pinterest account [should not] be comprised solely of your brand's products,” says Brock Murray, director of Web Marketing, seoplus+. “You need to curate a space that your ideal customer would want to browse and follow. This way when you do pin your own merchandise, it is seen [and liked and re-pinned] by your target audience.”

4. Include a link to your website and your location (if relevant).  Adding this information to your Pinterest homepage makes it easy for prospective customers to find you online and off.

5. Use high-quality photographs/photography – and vertical images. Pinterest is visual, as are its users. If your photographs aren’t professional – they are too dark or too light, too blurry or not interesting – people won’t like or share your pins. Indeed, according to research conducted by Curalate, brighter, more colorful images tended to get liked and re-pinned more often. Curalate data scientists [also] found [that] vertical images with an aspect ratio of 2:3 and 4:5 generate 60 percent more re-pins than long, skinny images,” says Matt Langie, CMO, Curalate.

6. Don’t forget about the copy. “Pinterest is a visual platform, so use simple, descriptive copy that adds value to the image,” says Danny Kourianos, senior vice president, Product, Rakuten Marketing. “Copy can be casual and creative and used to reinforce your brands’ style and personality.”

[ Related: Why your business needs a Pinterest presence ]

“Pinterest allows up to 500 characters per pin, allowing a pinner to go into some detail about that specific pin and what makes it special,” explains David “Lando” Landis, the founder of Rocker Rags. “For example, when we're pinning a t-shirt from a classic concert tour or album cover, the 500-character description allowance gives us the opportunity to not only describe what is on that pin but to also give some back story as to what makes that item unique.”

That said, sometimes, less is more when it comes to copy. “Your content is less likely to be re-pinned if you have too much copy – [especially if] it looks spammy,” says Mallory Greene, who has helped over 200 companies promote their brand on Pinterest and is community manager at Wealthsimple. So unless your image has an interesting back story or needs explaining, “keep [the copy] short, [just] one to two sentences,” she advises.

7. Keep in mind that SEO matters on Pinterest, too. “Just like any smart business has an SEO (search engine optimization) plan for its website, a business should have an SEO plan for their Pinterest account,” says Gretchen Lindow, who runs Pinterest Assistant. “Proper Pinterest SEO includes keyword targets for each and every board; incorporating that keyword into that board's title once [and] into the board's description two to three times; and incorporating keywords into the description of every single pin on that board at least once.”

8. Use rich pins. “Rich pins include pertinent information about the product or service on the pin itself, so it eliminates additional research on the consumer’s behalf,” explains Langie. “If you are selling a shirt, for example, your rich pin would include real-time pricing, availability and where to buy. This tool, which is available to businesses, ultimately makes it easier for consumers to shop.”

9. Encourage immediate, spontaneous purchases with buyable pins. “Go a step further by implementing buyable pins,” says Jen Scott, an applications engineer at LYONSCG, an ecommerce digital agency. “Buyable pins, distinguished with a blue price and blue buy button, enable users to purchase products directly from pins. Currently, buyable pins are only available in the U.S. via the iPhone and iPad Pinterest apps, but plans to roll them out across all of North America are in the works.”

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