Depending on which study you read, you may discover that Pinterest drives more sales than any other social channel – far outstripping Facebook and it’s quillion users.
You may also discover that Pinterest drives more referral traffic than Google+, LinkedIn and YouTube combined.
Or that users referred to your site via Pinterest are 10% more likely to make a purchase than those who got to your site another way.
On the flip side, you may learn to your consternation that when it comes to making sales, Pinterest has the lowest conversion rate and the lowest average order size of all the social channels and search engines.
Rather than throw the data out with the bathwater, I think there’s a lesson in there somewhere, and it’s not just “Don’t believe the hype.”
It’s “Don’t believe everything you hear until you’ve had a chance to try it out for yourself.”
The truth is, Pinterest can drive substantial sales. For some businesses.
For others, it may be just another interesting but unprofitable diversion.
Whether Pinterest is right for your business is something to consider before you pin, so assuming you’ve already done your homework and decided to give it a shot, here’s how you can get started using Pinterest for business and make the most of this popular and highly visual medium.
Know Your Sizes
If you’re known for blurry Twitter avatars and quick cell-phone-camera shots shoved onto your Facebook timeline, its’ time to change your mindset.
Pinterest is all about the pictures. If you’re going to post photos that are squished, stretched, mis-sized, blurry, fuzzy or anything otherwise unattractive, this may not be the social medium for you!
But even the best of photos can turn into a disappointing mess if they’re not sized appropriately. You can do your visual image a huge favor by keeping some dimensions in mind as you create and plan your Pinterest presence.
- Your profile photo – or logo – is 160 pixels x 165 pixels. Optimize your image for those dimensions – or scale it appropriately – and you’ll have a crisp, clean, attractive profile.
- Board cover photos are 222px x 150px. That’s distinctly rectangular! Your photos will be scaled to fit, so depending on how carefully you scale yours, they may be cropped strangely or have white space on the sides.
It’s not practical to scale every photo to fit your Pinterest boards, but what you can do is choose a board cover photo that does look good, and represents your board well.
It’s as easy to do as hovering your mouse over the board and clicking the little popup bubble that says “edit board cover”. Choose one that’s attractive and interesting.
The largest photo you can use is 600 pixels wide by any height. That means that if you can, take advantage of the full 600 pixels in width to truly showcase your photos. Pinterest will scale them to various dimensions for previews, thumbnails and pins, so don’t sweat too much about those. If your boards are represented well and your pins and big and bold, you’re in a good place.
Claim Your Business Account
Pinterest Business Pages are relatively new, so if you’ve set up an account already you can convert it to a business account now. It’s quite simple and involves the click of a button.
You’ll be asked to choose a category for your business, enter some contact info and accept the terms of service.
Enter your profile information carefully! You can always go back and change it, but why not start out on the right pin and make it worthwhile from the start?
- Choose a username that matches your business. Ideally, you’d want to use your company name but considering that it can’t be more than 15 characters and that there’s probably some competition out there, you may have to get creative.
- Upload a photo that represents your business. A nice, clean logo would work well. Remember, this is going to represent your business! You don’t want something blurry, tiny or obscure.
- Enter a bio about your company. You’re limited to 200 characters so again, be creative. State what you do clearly so that a perfect stranger stumbling on your page would understand what your business is about.
- If you’re a local business, enter your location. Just as with any social channel, you won’t necessarily benefit from followers half a country away if you service a single small town.
- Enter your website. Other than choosing a category for your business, this is about the only other perk you’re going to get out of a business page right now, so take advantage of it. You can verify your website so that you create a legitimate identity for your business. This will help you build trust with your followers.
- Finally, and by all means, make sure that search engines can find and index your profile! It’s one small button, but it’s easy to miss or check off the wrong way if you’re not paying attention.
Get On Board!
One of the great things about Pinterest is how simple it is to use. Just pretend you’re in kindergarten again, but instead of your mom’s old magazines, you’ve got the entire internet at your fingertips… and instead of scissors and glue you’ve got a “pin it” button.
Think of each board you create as a giant blank piece of paper, and you get to fill it with all the wonderful things you can find.
Back in kindergarten, we had collections called “pets” and “toys”.
These days we’ve got to be a bit more strategic about how we group our pretty pictures, and that’s where naming your boards comes in.
Before you create one, spend some time thinking about the types of collections that would benefit your business and your followers.
Remember, this is a social channel at its heart, so it pays to consider what other people want to see on your boards… not just what you want to put there.
Here are just some ideas for boards you can create. Use your imagination to make a list of things that would be fun, useful or interesting (while remaining relevant to your business) so people will be inspired to follow you.
- Your products. Create one board for each category of products you sell. Do you sell rugs? How about a category each for round, square and oval? Or how about by color: blues, reds and greens? Maybe even by room: living room, bedroom, hallway. A bit of strategic thinking about your products will help here.
- Your services. A little tougher to represent in pictures, perhaps, but you can do it! Many service businesses are still visual. If you’re a caterer… or a designer… or a landscaper… there are plenty of ways to use photos of your services-in-action.
- People. Social marketing means people marketing. Everyone loves a glimpse into “a day in the life” so get some photos on there of your staff, your office, your events and the office dog.
- Videos. Yes, you can even pin videos! Repurpose anything you’ve put on YouTube and create a visual library of related videos.
- Your blog. This means paying a little extra attention to the photos you use on your blog, so they’re interesting and compelling. But it’s a great way to create content once and use it many times across multiple channels.
- Other people’s blogs. Part of social marketing is about promoting other people. Create a collection (board) of posts that would suit your audience.
- Other people’s products. Non-competitive, of course. If you sell dinnerware and find another retailer that sells table linens, then give your followers a one-stop resource for a beautiful Sunday dinner.
- Inspiration. Post photos of beautiful things, motivational quotes or humor. Part of marketing is to entertain, so don’t be afraid to show some personality.
- Events. If you’re hosting or attending an event – whether it’s catering a wedding or speaking at a national conference – use a board to post information about the venue, the menu, the speakers, or whatever else is relevant.
- Books. Just about any industry has its share of books, whether bestsellers or relatively unknown publications. Create a collection of your best recommendations so people can look to you as a reliable source of information.
- Infographics. No need to create them, just collect them! There are bound to be a few related to your business so do a little research and pin the best you can find. Or sure, go ahead and create your own.
- Sales and promotions. If you’ve got a coupon or special offer, turn it into a graphic and pin it.
- Customer images. Get social for real by inviting your customers to submit photos of your products in action. A short testimonial wouldn’t hurt, either, as you can always turn their words into a quote graphic that can also be pinned on your board.
You can add pins to your boards in one of two ways.
You can “upload a pin” which means you can upload an image directly from your computer, or you can “add a pin” which means you can enter the URL of a page where the image appears and Pinterest will “grab” the image for you.
Why would you do one or the other?
Well, when you enter a URL, the image then becomes clickable to that URL. So if you post a product shot from your website, a blog post or the registration form for your next event, someone can visit that page on your site by clicking your image.
If you want your images to drive traffic back to your website or blog, your best bet is to add an image by URL.
The same is true for images you post via URL from other people’s sites and blogs. If you’re showcasing those table linens, for example, the image you grab via URL will direct people back to that other person’s website.
Since driving people back to your site or blog (or to someone else’s as you cross-promote) is probably what you want, your best bet is to use the “add a pin” option.
If you’re posting images simply for inspiration, information or, say, as a testimonial, and you don’t want or need to direct people anywhere else, you can upload the image directly.
What I suggest you don’t do is download other people’s images and then upload them from your computer. That will remove the referring URL and is not only bad etiquette but can also be considered copyright infringement.
At The Intersection Of Pinterest and SEO
If you’ve set your boards to be searchable then give them an extra helping hand by making them search-friendly.
All it takes is a bit of consideration for how people might find you.
If you know the keywords people are using to find your website or blog, use those to attract them to your Pinterest account.
- Start at your website. If you’re directing people back to your blog or website, it’s a good idea to start with image optimization at the source. That means relevant file names (with keywords where possible) and ALT tags that describe the photo.
- Name your boards with keywords. Whether that’s a product name, service or even a common question, keep it short, sweet and relevant.
- Use keywords in your pin descriptions. When you add images, you can also add a description. Remember, Pinterest is visual, so try to stay away from multi-paragraph diatribes, but do try to use relevant keywords to describe your images.
If you’re just getting started with Pinterest it can seem a bit overwhelming and like yet another social network to figure out. But remember, you’ve got to try something to see what works. Start simply, start small and grow from there. You might just rediscover your inner five year old, and make money doing it!
Oh, and if you want to become a power pinner? I’ve got you covered in my next Pinterest post. Stay tuned!
Over to you… can you think of ONE board that you can use to get started on Pinterest today? Tell me what it is! Or, if you need help brainstorming, tell me what you do and let’s come up with some boards together.
Join the discussion 12 Comments
Well this is a great step-by-step guide for using Pinterest.
I am on this site but I admit I’m not really doing anything with it. I am getting traffic from it so I have set up boards, etc. I just don’t really use it like I do the other social sites. I keep telling myself I need to get going with it but it’s like what they always say. Pick what you enjoy doing the most and stick with that. The rest aren’t that important.
I do have a business page though, I learned about that about two months ago now. I really need to use it though so thanks for this tutorial guide. Great job!
Thanks Adrienne, I haven’t used it much myself but I know plenty of people who love it. And like you said, it drives some traffic so it’s worth a little bit of attention. People who have products, like clothing, jewelry, furniture and art have a great way to showcase their stuff. Anyone with an Etsy store can also use Pinterest! As for us, it’s good to have a small presence that grabs a few people. Every little bit helps.
Hi Carol. I’m one of those people who although I’ve written a blog about Pinterest and know the value in it, it just does not interest me to pin pictures. I know many people love it and use it, especially now for business, but there is so many social media venues out there that I can hardly keep up. I have yet to get the Pinterest bug? 🙂 Now with all that said, I’m glad you provided a step by step. Maybe I’ll take another look. Maybe I’ll get the hang of it if I follow your steps. I have to admit you’ve got me more curious than I’ve ever been before. Thanks for that.
Pinterest isn’t for everyone, that’s for sure! I use it a bit but not as much as others, especially people in certain very “visual” businesses like fashion, art and things like that. But it brings in some traffic for me so I do pin photos from blogs. Give it a shot, you never know!
Wow, another great tutorial on Pinterest that just reminded me that I’d better go there and see all that I’m missing. I didn’t even know that you could do half of the things you’ve mentioned here.
I do post the picture of each of my posts each week, but that’s about it. I guess I have to start to be more active. I do get following doing nothing though and I like that!
You sound like me – I post photos from my posts but not a lot else. For me that’s enough. it brings in some traffic without too much effort. People with products will have a lot more fun, I think!
Great write-up on Pinterest, Carol–very thorough. Now that Pinterest offers accounts specifically for businesses, every small business should take advantage. Awesome job sharing these step-by-steps tips, so thanks.
Thanks David – you never know what they’ll have in store down the line, so it’s worth setting up a business account now. Plus it lets you verify your site which is nice.
Very Nice Carol. I’m sure a LOT of work went into what you dismissed as a “You guys already know this” post. NOT. You are further down the road than most. The fact that some are ahead of you is irrelevant. You are ahead of me and to me that is ALL that counts. I book marked it and will come back when I’m ready to Pin. Thanks Oh Hale Yes!
Thanks Hale, I’m glad to hear that you found value in this. I’ve found that Pinterest drives traffic to my blog without a much effort so for me it’s worth the few minutes to try some things out. I hope you find that it works for you too. Come back for my power pinning post!
As usual girl you always write great thorough posts. I just created a new biz and this advice was perfect timing. I didn’t know about the option for business listings and I promptly grabbed mine, but the marketing advice after was priceless. I try and stick the basics for marketing my boards for my blog, but for my business, I have to take a serious approach to maximizing results on my website.
I do see some business create themes tailored to their brand or do fun stuff in how they name their boards. I figure as long as it works for them go for it, but I still have to find what works for me. Thanks for this post because I love Pinterest.
You also wrote a great post about Pinterest recently! If you’re into it, you can definitely have fun with it. There are some good examples out there to learn from, with all kinds of fun boards.
I’ve only used it a little bit myself for business but plan to do more with it in the coming months. See you there!