Marketing Your Business With Pinterest

By: Mike Tuttle - February 12, 2012

Pinterest was actually founded in 2008. However, since Pinterest” target=”_blank”>Pinterest opened up its beta to invitations in 2010, the steady crawl of interest has been rolling. In August 2011, Time Magazine listed Pinterest in its “50 Best Websites of 2011“.

However, even though Pinterest is just now starting to become popular with teens, women and average people, most marketers have not yet embraced it as noted in this tweet:

Many social media experts missed rise of Pinterest“>@Pinterest because not discovered / predicted by usual tech crowd, old boys network. 1 hour ago via web ·  Reply ·  Retweet ·  Favorite · powered by @socialditto

>>> How do you or people you know use Pinterest? Let us know.

In what could be a potential hiccup with Pinterest is the large potential for copyright violations by its users. Richard Rosenblatt, the CEO of Demand Media tweeted about this problem this afternoon:

Copyright issues with Pinterest are real and will require time and focus to be solved; @pinterest address them early and now 1 hour ago via TweetDeck ·  Reply ·  Retweet ·  Favorite · powered by @socialditto

So what is Pinterest? Who is on it? How can businesses use it? Why should they?

1) What is Pinterest?

Let’s get it straight from the horse’s mouth.

Pinterest is a virtual pinboard. Pinterest allows you to organize and share all the beautiful things you find on the web. You can browse pinboards created by other people to discover new things and get inspiration from people who share your interests.

People use pinboards to plan their weddings, decorate their homes, and share their favorite recipes.”

A “virtual pinboard”, is the answer you get in most places. Imagine a large bulletin or “cork board”. You can put pictures up there for any reason. They could be wedding dress ideas, pictures on recipe cards, vacation destination possibilities, redecorating ideas, etc. Now, you do that in Pinterest. The ability to share those images and even collaborate with someone anywhere in the world on building that board is tremendous.

But, it’s not just one board. You can make as many “boards” as you like. Give them different themes. Share them with different people. One for clothes you’d like to have. One for mixed drink recipes you want to try. One for birthday party ideas, including recipes, cake themes, decorations, gifts, locations, etc. One for games for your kids. Anything you can find online, you can “pin” to a board and organize it however you like.

2) Who is on Pinterest?

Simply put, women. 80% of Pinterest users are women. Men are finding that there is plenty to be excited about on Pinterest, and certainly there is no reason whatsoever that it be a “girl’s thing”. But, the initial promotion of Pinterest was female-focused. Notice that description, above, again.

People use pinboards to plan their weddings, decorate their homes, and share their favorite recipes.

Pinterest – 2 Million Daily Facebook Users, 97% Of Fans Are Women #pinterest #socialmedia @martinjonesaz 1 hour ago via Buffer ·  Reply ·  Retweet ·  Favorite · powered by @socialditto

However, there are lots of male-centric things being shared on Pinterest. Even some of the stock categories on Pinterest trend “male”:

  • Cars and Motorcycles
  • Geek
  • Men’s Apparel
  • Sports, and…
  • Technology
  • But, of course, any of the standard categories could be chock full of men’s materials, including:

  • Architecture
  • DIY & Crafts
  • Film, Music & Books
  • History
  • Humor
  • Outdoors
  • Print & Posters
  • Travel & Places
  • 3) How can businesses use Pinterest?

    Obviously, it depends on what kind of business you have. But, the sheer numbers that Pinterest is posting should be quite the convincer that it is worth looking into. As social sites go, it is different from the usual suspects like Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, etc. There is no real messaging element built into Pinterest. No statuses. No fast-moving commenting. There are comments, sure. But, not like the conversation-focused layouts of Facebook and Twitter.

    One important thing to remember about Pinterest is that it is image-driven. I cannot emphasize this enough. Your “pin” will be posted on a long page of many others. Your graphic has to be the thing that catches the eye of the browsing user. It has to translate to the pin sizes Pinterest uses on that front page (max width 222 pixels, lengths can vary greatly). Text is a possibility, but only as a graphic.

    Thus, some of the most obvious benefactors from Pinterest right out of the box are businesses that already deal in graphics as their stock-in-trade: photographers, designers, architects, retailers that already use catalogs or web images.

    I dug into an example of how a photographer might use Pinterest in this article.

    But really, any business that can express itself in a graphical manner can benefit from the notice they get on Pinterest. How that notice is converted to sales depends on the business. Is there a direct purchase possibility on your website? Or does the potential customer have to pick up a phone or some other contact method? Typical marketing rules begin to apply here. The main idea is to get traffic to you. What you do with it from there is up to you. And, Pinterest is amassing a great record for getting them to your door/site.

    AMC Theaters is currently running a sponsored ad on Twitter promoting a contest that uses Pinterest to promote the AMC Best Picture Showcase. Now that’s an interesting way for a business to promote itself via Pinterest:

    Use Pinterest“>@Pinterest? Want to win tickets to our Best Picture Showcase? Click to find out how! #AMCBPS 4 days ago via ExpionDev ·  Reply ·  Retweet ·  Favorite · powered by @socialditto

    The New York Daily News used Pinterest to pay tribute to Whitney Houston following her death yesterday afternoon:

    NYC’s Apollo Theater paid tribute to Whitney Houston on the evening of her death. Photo by James Keivom: via @pinterest 37 minutes ago via Tweet Button ·  Reply ·  Retweet ·  Favorite · powered by @socialditto

    The National Guard even used Pinterest to welcome home infantry from Afganistan:

    Welcome home! 40 members of the Oklahoma #NationalGuard ‘s 45th Infantry return from #Afghanistan: via Pinterest“>@Pinterest 1 hour ago via HootSuite ·  Reply ·  Retweet ·  Favorite · powered by @socialditto

    Other types of businesses that are using Pinterest include journalists, news agencies, schools, health and beauty product sales, gadget companies, and many more.

    Another key thing about Pinterest is that it has already established itself as not having ads, sponsored links (per se) and other “you’re being sold to” materials. Even a Pinterest” target=”_blank”>recent dust-up over affiliate links was a minor scandal. Keep that in mind. No one comes here to shop. They come here to find things they like. Respectfully converting that sale is key.

    Like other social media sites it is important that you participate in the Pinterest community. Shortly after creating a “Board” and uploading some “Pins” and creating some categories of your images, click the “Invite Friends” button. It will open up a window allowing you to email some of your friends who are likely not yet on Pinterest. These friends will follow you back to get you started on gaining followers.

    The second task you should do is to mouse over your name and picture and click the “Find Friends” link. You will need to “connect” to Facebook inside of Pinterest and a list will appear with all of your Facebook friends that are on Pinterest. I recommend clicking the “Follow All” link. Like Twitter and other social media sites, following others will gain you followers back. This is the best way to get your community of Pinterest friends going!

    Add Pins everyday, add new categories regularly, follow others and their pins on an ongoing basis and before you know it you will see Pinterest traffic flowing to your website.

    Does your business already use Pinterest? Tell us about it.

    4) Why should businesses use Pinterest?

    Frankly, because it is the hottest thing coming. A few quick facts.

  • Between November and December, 2011, Pinterest‘s unique visitor count increased from 4,855,000 to 7,516,000 – a 55% increase. Then, in January it jumped to 11,716,000. That crossed the 10 million mark faster than any standalone site in history.
  • Pinterest now generates more referrals to retail sites than Google Plus, Reddit and YouTube combined.
  • Pinterest is Pinterest API coming soon” target=”_blank”>about to release an API, allowing developers to tap into the great base that is there with further creative ways to apply it.
  • Pinterest allows for affiliate ID embeds on pins. In fact, if it could have an affiliate ID and does not, Pinterest affiliate links” target=”_blank”>Pinterest controversially inserts their own.
  • People has a reputation as a time sink. The average user spends 98 minutes per month on the site.
  • The best thing you can do is head over to Pinterest and get signed up. You almost certainly have a friend who is already on Pinterest, probably a female. Ask for an invite from her. It will get you in much faster than waiting for Pinterest to send you one. Then poke around a bit. Make a few boards, pin some items, follow some people. Nothing will blow up on you. When you first land on the front page, you will think you walked into a wedding planner’s boutique. Explore the categories and soon you will realize that there is much more to the site than that.

    There’s probably someone already on there in your line of business. Go have a look.

    >>> What features would you like to see Pinterest offer? Is Pinterest the next big thing in social media? Tell us.

    Pinterest Infographic” class=”alignnone” width=”616″ height=”1660″ />

    >>> What is your opinion of Pinterest? Add your comments here…

    Mike Tuttle

    About the Author

    Mike TuttleWriter. Google+ Writer for WebProNews.

    View all posts by Mike Tuttle
    • Ryan

      It’s proving quite difficult for me to think of a niche that couldn’t benefit from having a presence on Pinterest. It’s so much more than just creative wedding cakes and funky shoes.

      We hope to curate the best of Pinterest with – but even more so, we want to emphasize to individuals and companies who are using Pinterest that is another channel to promote their best Pinterest material – and also getting non-Pinterest users looking at their stuff (and then eventually discovering Pinterest and getting addicted like the rest of us!)

    • Whitney Pannell

      Pinterest is my favorite site. I have gotten such wonderful ideas from the site!

    • Rika Susan

      I recently discovered Pinterest. I love the site! Still learning to find my way around it, but it is a wonderful concept. Thanks for this clarifying explanation, Mike!

    • Gardening Jones

      I love pinterest and it is driving a lot of traffic to my blog. I would like to see a few more categories, at times I have to choose between two when neither really fits. I’d also not like to be added to a board without my permission first, similar to facebook groups. Otherwise, it’s wonderful- I am learning and sharing so much!

    • celia MIlton

      I use it in several ways. I am an independent wedding officiant, and I invite all my clients to follow my boards there, which are largely wedding ideas, ceremony decor, food, and quotes. I think that it gives them a real insight into my taste and the ideas that I might incorporate into their ceremony. By following them, I get to see their inspirations and thoughts about their ceremony, which can lead to a much more distinctive script for them, which is always my goal. (We don’t do, “Dearly beloved, welcome to the wedding of who is this again?”)

      I like the fact that a product or cake or photographer can be accessed through the link backs, without me necessarily finding that person and getting permission (we’re big on credit where credit is due).

      I think the interesting thing will be to see just how the posts are indexed; will google actually find them? I’d love to think so, but I don’t have any proof yet. Still, in my industry, this is the most talked about invention since cupcake wedding cakes.

      Celia Milton, Celebrant

      • Ana McDaniel

        I recently discovered Pinterest. I loved this site too! I can see using it to promote my business and also like you to follow the bridal industry and see the color and changes that are happening. As you can see my business focus is on the bridal industry. I design custom whimsical place cards and interactive PDF-files favor box templates for the do-it-yourself brides (DIY). Can you please send me an invitation to Pinterest I will love to join them?

        Ana McDaniel – A Sweet Bridal Gift

    • des bate

      I am certainly using pinterest at the moment and that will expand. Having an overall interest in both design and marketing, as well as social media content creation this is ideal for me

    • Ros

      The ever-changing world of the internet! Looks like us marketers will be spending many hours on these social networking type sites to get traffic, plus blogging, videos, etc. It’s a constant challenge but I love it!

    • Wendy Guerin

      We havea vintage and used cookbook store online. It launched recently and Pinterest share was a key requirement. We had one sale that happened seconds after a pin. Twitter has not been effective as it’s difficult to break through the clutter of Tweets. Pinterst being so visual, evens the playing field and allows smaller businesses’ products to shine. Brand barriers fade. Your pin or item (in the case of retail) gets seen on its own merits. It’s not about how much Adwords budget you have or “Klout.” It goes back to basics…visual display.

    • photobug

      Pinterest makes money off other people’s work by assuming control over copyrighted work. For Example: In their Terms of Service they state the following:

      “By making available any Member Content through the Site, Application or Services, you hereby grant to Cold Brew Labs a worldwide, irrevocable, perpetual, non-exclusive, transferable,royalty-free license, with the right to sublicense, to use, copy,adapt, modify, distribute, license, sell, transfer, publicly display,publicly perform, transmit, stream, broadcast, access, view, and otherwise exploit such Member Content only on, through or by means of the Site, Application or Services”

      As a photographer, who has found numerous works of mine on Pinterest, I am appalled that any site feels they have the right to use my work for their profit, just because someone liked it and decided to pin it. Pinterest claims an automatic license and the right to “exploit” my work, and the work of others, for their benefit. To add insult to injury, viewers of Pinterest think everything displayed there is in the public domain.

      I am also very disappointed that WebProNews would publicize this site without reading the fine print.

      I and several other photographers I know have tried contacting them. One did get a response,

      “When an image is added to Pinterest, we have the right to distribute the image on the site. We display the image and auto-resized thumbnails. This does not give the right to others/other sites to distribute the image. All shared and linked works are considered member content in our TOS.”

      There are many other people being victimized by Pinterest including web designers, graphic artists, artists, writers, and more ..the list goes on. In reality they are just another scraper site only they figured if they let their members do the scraping for them, they would be “innocent” and make a lot of money. They don’t stop with shared work… If someone just shares a link, they claim the work at the destination of the link.

      There are whole forums discussing what Pinterest is doing and how they are harvesting hard working people’s work. I wouldn’t be surprised to see a class action law suit before long to force a change in their TOS. All kinds of affiliate links are shared, including Cafe Press, Zazzle, Fine Art America, and others and Pinterest claims the rights of ownership of the links. Even though they state you must own the material you “pin”… take a look at Pinterest… You see everything but work owned by its members.

      I would advise anyone to READ the TERMS OF SERVICE of any site you consider using, and do a search online to see what current and former users are saying about them.

      • Andrea

        They have to say that so they can distribute the image to people accessing their site around the world. It’s no different the TOS on Facebook or Twitter.

    • James

      Consumerland is a million times better than pinterest. Consumerland is also a much better way to advertise products.

    • Rudy Hiebert

      I can’t believe that I haven’t seen this sooner; usually I get on these type of things while there still at least warm off the “press”. My niche is of interest to mostly men but the lady of the house loves how it keeps her vehicle out of the service department and us out of the waiting room.

    • John Ducey

      I use it to share my photography. I like it better than Flickr

    • HighPoint SEO

      We are experimenting with Pinterest to promote our clients. Thus far, it works well for our photography clients, and we see potential for using it with Infographics about any industry. Still early on, but the growth rate makes it essential for marketers to explore.

      • photobug

        Have you read their Terms of Service?

    • Ryan

      Contests are going to be huge on Pinterest – due to the fact that it’s so easy to run and enter one (although hopefully future API release will allow for apps to be developed which will make it easier to track).

      For instance, is giving away a Keurig Elite brewing system, and we’re able to put all the directions in the pin:

      So while that’s a cool contest, think about what kind of viral exposure a large company could generate by giving away, say, a new car. They could REALLY get some major reach out of a big contest as well as draw in more male users.

    • Retirement Media

      We have used Pinterest to showcase Retirement related images from our web sites like Retirement Communities, Places to Live, Baby Boomers, etc. It has been fun and getting a lot of followers in a short time.

    • JK

      I absolutely love Pinterest. I can find the most interesting items in just a few seconds. I started on Pinterest to promote my own vintage handbag site,, but quickly fell in love with the instant availability of so many items on the web. I have to be careful of my time because I can easily spend hours exploring and posting on this site. I will continue to visit it daily.

    • Captain Cyberzone

      I too, just love, love, love, love, love, love … whatever.

    • jimbo

      we just started with it. great article to describes its angle and attributes. like anything it is what you make of it. perfect for me since i am an online retailer. plus it’s fun. and, i am a back-link freak right now so it helps with that too. eventually we could build enough referral traffic form Pinterest to have a positive impact on the bottom line. i am betting it to be high quality and targeted traffic since it is sooo visual…people can see exactly what they are shopping or browsing;)
      I will continue to make this part of our strategy- in part due to this article.

      thanks again.

      5042 Wilshire Blvd. # 18746
      Los Angeles, CA 90036
      (818) 835-0120

    • webbeetle

      May be it’s about time to re-write the COPYRIGHT LAWS and introduce and second level, something like an |SC| for “copyrighted, social shares with reference to source permitted”. For many companies it would be in their interest to have material shared on social networks, to increase visibility, but not have their files re-used on other commercial (or private) sites without a clear reference. The law is certainly behind the current practice!
      This could be expanded to the use of (c)-music as background for non-commercial videos on Youtube, Vimeo, etc.: credit link to the distributor’s page avoids removal of the sound track.

    • Kristen

      Thanks for the tips! I had just signed up for an invite through Pinterest when I saw your article. I was accepted rather quickly…perhaps it’s that I am a woman? :)

    • Jeunesse

      Pinterest, what a wonderful tool. Each pinned image leads to a thread, and also linked to an external URL. I’m still trying to get the hang of it, but its definitely a Great way for businesses to showcase their prodserve in social media!

    • Prepaidplansl

      Very comprehensive article. I only signed up over the weekend so it was well timed. Great concept and I can certainly see how it can make a big difference for some businesses.

    • DLT

      Huge exposure to companies using copyrighted material to promote their businesses. We just filed our first DMCA with pinterest to test how they will process them.

    • AJ

      First came across pinterest when squidoo added ito their lenses. Now I hear about it every day. Definitely gaining wider exposure and momentum of late.

    • Donna Niemann

      I love Pinterest. I just joined about 6 wks. ago. I have found many neat & new things that I can’t wait to try. I also have the mobile app. for my phone & my tablet. I only wish that when I repin something, the site wouldn’t send me back to the very beginning of the page. I just want to be able to continue browsing the site. I look forward to more article’s about how to better navigate the site. Donna

    • Charles Clark

      Pinterest has been great for my website. I own a remodeling company and I pin pictures of our completed jobs on to my boards. The traffic I get from that is huge. Last year I had 11826 visitors and since I joined Pinterest in January I have already had 3484 visitors. Traffic from pinterest is 6 times more than traffic from google. I will continue to pin as much as I can.

    • Heidi Miller

      I’m using Pinterest to store infographics for future blog posts and wise sayings/interesting photos for upcoming presentations. Also tracking how brands are using Pinterest and recommending it to my small biz, e-commerce clients.

    • Tom Aikins

      It’s great for women who like to shop. That’s certainly an interesting demographic but that’s about all this site is. It’s also great for looking at nail polish.

    • Danica

      I wish they were a bit quicker with the category updates. What’s weird is there’s no “health” category, just “fitness”.

      I’m quite enjoying randomly discovering new sites based on what someone else found appealing. Perhaps the novelty will wear off at some point, but it’s still interesting now.

      I’m surprised men haven’t picked up on it more since they’re supposed to be the “visual” sex.

    • Chris Horton

      Thanks for the summary. I’ve been looking for one article that summarizes everything a business needs to know about Pinterest, and I’ve just found one! Appreciate the insight.

    • Alec Deacon

      I just joined the Pinterest community and frankly I don’t see what’s all this fuss about. I saw lots of women posing semi-nude…hmmm. Maybe I was in the wrong section…and some guy selling a gun. What’s it good for?