How to Pinterest

Pinterest is one of our favorite social media platforms! With this blog, we introduce you to Pinterest: the basics of the platform, advertising, and some neat features. Whether you’ve never seen Pinterest or are a seasoned user, this blog should give you a few insights into the platform and knowledge of features you may want to take advantage of.

The Basics

Let’s start with the basics. As with most social media platforms, you can create either a personal profile or a business page to join the platform. Users can follow other people or pages. Users can upload images or videos (called “pins”) or source them from an external website. Other users can save, comment on, send, embed, or repin the pin. (There is also the ability for users to report inappropriate pins).

  • Saves - Saving a pin downloads the image to the user’s computer or mobile device.
  • Comments - Commenting leaves text on a pin for other users to see. A user can also reply to a pin with a photo or video attachment.
  • Sends - A user can send a pin in several ways: by sending a message to another user through Pinterest’s direct messaging feature, by copying and pasting the link, or through an external platform such as Facebook, email, mobile message, and messaging applications.
  • Embeds – Embed gives the opportunity to add widgets to a website or application. For example, if you have ever scrolled through a website and saw the option to pin an image or video from the site on Pinterest, the web developer used the Pinterest Embed tool.
  • Repins - Repinning means saving another user’s pin to your profile or page.

On a user’s profile or page, the user can sort the pins they have created and those they have repinned into categories (called “boards”). Pinterest members typically sort their boards by common broad categories, such as cooking, home décor, and fashion, but since the board names are user-created, a board could be about essentially anything, obscure indie artists to different types of lipstick to professional interview tips. Boards are only as organized and logical as their owners make them. Boards, like pages and profiles, can be followed. This means that our people on Pinterest can choose to not follow your profile but follow one or more of the boards on your profile.

Each user’s home feed features pins suggested for them and pins either created or repined by other users they follow. Anyone can also use the search bar feature to find new pins. When a pin is clicked on, the pin will open in a larger format on the user’s screen (if the user clicks on the same pin a second time, they are redirected to the associated external page). After selecting a pin, scrolling down allows the person to see “More like this,” a section of pins like the one viewed. For example, if the person was looking at a pin with a pug puppy, the “More like this” section may show other images of pugs, similar dog breeds, fashion items with pictures of pugs on them, and other related content. Let’s say the user selects another pug pin to look at from the “More like this” section. A new “More like this” section will appear for that selected pin and any other selected pin from there.

Where Pinterest Gets Smart

Pinterest is smart. So, the more a user clicks on pug-related pins, the more pug-related pins will be suggested in the user’s home feed. It’s a slippery slope to a pug-filled Pinterest (or anything you repeatedly engage with for that matter). Pinterest is also smart about searches. The Pinterest search bar will suggest searches based on your pin activity and things trending on their platform overall (for example, in late January to early February, you may see the suggestion to search Valentine’s Day gifts). Pinterest is always surfacing content that is tailored to you, the user.

Where Pinterest Gets Profitable

Businesses can pay for advertising on Pinterest. Paid ads look almost identical to pins, but when a user selects one, they are directed straight to the business’ external page instead of to see the pin larger on their screen. This is great for businesses because 1) the advertising looks like content, which alleviates some of the tension and avoidance of advertising-adverse individuals, and 2) only one click takes the user right to where the business wants them, which makes gaining conversions that much easier.

Ads take the shape of one of four formats: static, video, carousel, or max video.

  • Static – This essentially looks like any other image pin in a user’s feed or search.
  • Video – This essentially looks like any other video pin in a user’s feed or search.
  • Carousel – This allows multiple pieces of content to be shared in one pin. Users can navigate right to left to view all the items. These pins have small dots at the bottom.
  • Max video – These videos take up the width of a screen, breaking the mold of all pins falling into perfect columns. Long story short, max video is a larger version of its video counterpart.

Paid advertisement pins can be made from already-created pins or, a new pin can be created specifically for the ad. As with all marketing, these advertisements can and should be targeted to a specific group or groups of people. This is where you’ll want to work closely with your marketing manager to establish exactly who is your target market.

Where Pinterest Gets Fancy

In addition to all the amazing features listed above, Pinterest made some developments last year focused on shopping [1]. Here are a few notable updates worth trying:

  • Catalogs – Businesses can create pins of their products that users can purchase directly from [1]. Product lists can be uploaded to the platform and Pinterest creates paid and organic pins based on the upload, sharing information such as the quantity in stock and price with Pinterest customers. What makes this tool invaluable to businesses is that Pinterest automatically updates the information, saving executives from repeatedly sharing product updates [1].
  • Shop a brand – Let’s say you own a shoe business and a user clicks on one of your heels. You probably want them to see other heels or other types of shoes that you sell so that the customer can purchase more from your store. Shop the brand allows users to see more products from the same business right under the pin [1].
  • Shop the look – Shop the look puts small circles on certain areas of a pin to show users where they may purchase items shown in the pin [1]. For example, a pin could show a woman taking a picture of herself in the mirror. In the picture, you see dots on her blouse, pants, shoes, and hat. If you select one, you will be guided to a website where you can purchase that item, for example, the hat [1].

This blog should give you the entry-level knowledge you need to start pinning! But, don’t rest on your laurels. Pinterest takes some practice and, especially when it comes to paid advertising, a LOT of experimentation [2]. So be clear with your marketing manager about your goals, test different strategies, and don’t be afraid to fail. Happy pinning!




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