How to use Pinterest for business

Pinterest logo

Heard all the buzz about Pinterest, but can’t figure out how to get started with it? In the second of a three-part article series, Nancy Georges looks at getting your business or brand acquainted with the newest online craze.

In the last month Pinterest has been heralded as the fastest growing social media site with more referrals than Google +, You Tube & LinkedIn combined. In July 2011 Pinterest was 0.17 percent of the referral traffic, in February 2012 it is 3 percent of the referral traffic – not far behind Twitter which is 3.1 percent. This is all great for users but it is even better news for businesses.

There are nearly 10 million users and the number is greatly increasing daily. I read a statistic that said that there are over 1.5 million unique visitors daily who spend on average 15 minutes on the site. Gauging my own and my friends’ activity I would have thought more! The thing with Pinterest is that you can lose track of time as you move through design, people, places and things…..

Using Pinterest for business and by business was quite minimal initially. Sharing our products online seems to be more common now and is probably the natural progression of a community site like this. However we have to do this in a very subtle strategic way.

This month there has been a flurry of interest in Pinterest as a retail and marketing tool, especially in light of its importance to website referral. The key for businesses using social media and building their online presence is to build their authority and connect with their customers. Pinterest makes this easy to do and share.

Pinterest easily integrates with Twitter and Facebook. For me integration is the key to any marketing activity. There is still the volume of members over at Twitter and Facebook, so they cannot be abandoned or forgotten (yet?) I think tools like this make ‘Social’ easier to integrate but also much more important to businesses than perhaps they are treating it now.

It is important to state that Pinterest is not suitable for every business. Remember there is already a community of creative people on Pinterest who are doing what comes naturally, you cannot ‘force’ or entice them to look at your products or services if there is not a good fit.

Some Tips for using Pinterest for business:

1. Define Your Objective For Using Pinterest

You can curate the web as you see it with Pinterest.  As with any use of marketing tools, be very clear about what you want to achieve with Pinterest to:

  • Show your creativity
  • Simply collect great pics
  • Connect with suppliers and customers
  • Share the way customers use your products
  • Share great innovations, ideas, products and events
  • Collect trends
  • Sell your services or products

2. Create Great Content For Your Site

One of the great things about Pinterest is that the original source of the image is preserved and therefore directs traffic to the original source. It’s the online Pied Piper!

This places a greater importance on exceptional, inspiration, unique and creative visual communication than ever before.

People pin pictures not text. On your site, add an image to every blog post, page and activity online.

3. Show Your Flair & Be Authentic

When pinning away, make sure your boards are interesting, whatever that means for you and your business. When somebody looks at your wall of boards or a particular board they need to be inspired and feel a common bond with you (based on common interests) – you want them to explore and repin.

If you are simply copying someone else, it will show and people will not connect (follow) you or stop following you. Authenticity is so important. Make sure you give credit where credit is due. I have many people following me who have not pinned or who are great in real life but not interesting on Pinterest (yet, this may change), so I don’t follow them.

If you are not naturally creative, spend time observing others similar to you and start slowly. Stick to a few boards and concentrate on that.

4. Make Your Board Names Interesting & Attention-Grabbing

Once you are more comfortable with using Pinterest, go though your  default boards and update their names. Be interesting and fun so that they are appealing and invite investigation. It is an extension of your creativity and flair.

5. Add The Pinterest Buttons To Your Site

Everything you need is in the Goodies section.

The Follow Me On Pinterest button is even customised for your page and will bring people straight to your boards. There are also ‘Pin It’ buttons so people can pin your content from your site.

Remember – MAKE IT EASY to connect and share from your site. Those who know me, know that I am constantly reminding businesses to bring all of their activity to their site and not do it all on their social media pages.

6. No Obvious Selling

Overtly selling will result in the ‘community’ turning off you and your boards. The community would not include you and this is the true power of social. As a customer, I expect to see interesting, creative pics on Pinterest showing more than just products with a link to the store – online and offline.

Interestingly, looking at Nordstrom’s boards a few weeks ago, it looked like their website, I don’t find it interesting or creative and unfollowed – very disappointing as I love the store. Last week I was using it as an example with a client and they have pinned NYC Fashion Week pics and some in-store shots. Far more interesting and appropriate.

7. Sell Within Pinterest’s Framework

By adding a price to the description, a price sash appears across the top left hand of the image.

The picture also gets added to the ‘Gift’ section of the site – which is perfect if you are selling products.

REMEMBER: competition in this section is rife so stand out.

8. Pin From Here, Pin From There, Pin From Everywhere

Don’t constantly Pin from the same source, mix it up – continually scout for new sources and inspiration that are connected to your business. Build the boards, connect with the relevant people, and share your products.

Pin pictures from:

  • Repin from Pinterest – use the search box to find relevant pics
  • Websites – yours and others
  • Pictures from client and supplier sites
  • Take pictures with your phone / tablet when you are out and about

Pin your content far less than any of the other sources.  Your activity should be in this order:

  1. Curator
  2. Connector
  3. Commenter
  4. Sales Person
  • Hi Nancy,

    Great article and thanks for sharing. Hotels are a great market segment to utilize Pinterest as a marketing tool and I’ve covered those opportunities on the iGroupAdvisor Hotel Consultants blog at

  • Before you jump in the deep end and join up with Pinterest, have a read of this – the terms and conditions will FRIGHTEN the life out of you. Definitely not worth it for any business that creates content, such as creatives. Here’s the link:

  • concerned retailer

    Brock, thanks for posting that link for readers.
    My experience of Nancy is that she jumps quickly onto the newest shiny object and adds it to her kit bag with little due diligence… and is not receptive to feedback from possibly more experienced operators who only want to help.

  • Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

    I’m looking to join the Pinterest revolution next week and have a seen a LOT of hype on Twitter about it, so I can share my experiences too.