The four most popular social media sites in America are Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Pinterest. The first two are often thought of as mandatory. If you want to have a successful business, you obviously need to establish Facebook and Twitter accounts, you need to update them regularly and you need to find and hold onto community support. These are facts that many in the business community now take for granted. As for LinkedIn, that’s a no-brainer. It already revolves around business, allowing professionals to make connections within their field, share experiences and build relationships with those who have similar ambitions. Clearly, the odd one out in this key group is Pinterest. Unlike other social media sites, which revolve primarily around words, Pinterest is image-based. Because it is different, and perhaps a bit odd, it is a far less popular site for business promotion than Twitter or Facebook or even Google+. That being said, Pinterest does have a great deal of potential as a promotional platform. It’s a new type of social media experience, so new strategies will have to be created to utilize it properly. You can’t advertise on Pinterest using most of the methods you learned on Facebook for example. That being said, if you take a bit of time to think about it, you’ll soon see that Pinterest is almost as viable.

Tablet with Pinterest homepage

So what is Pinterest? Basically, it’s a site where users post images of things they enjoy. These images are organized into groups. You might have a collection of photographs illustrating the actors one likes, the kind of food they like to eat, what kind of hats they enjoy and so on. 72% of the sites users are female, and it has even been said that mothers are 61% more likely to stop by than the average American. The site receives 85,500,000 unique visitors every month and 25 million registered users. And, in fact, the site is already moving plenty of merchandise, though the stats concerning how it’s doing so are quite fascinating. Earlier this year, Sephora revealed that its Pinterest followers had spent 15 times more on their products than their Facebook users. Admittedly, Sephora is doing some of the work to make those sales possible, but honestly they don’t have to do much. Simply including the price of the item in the image you’ve chosen to display will net you 36% more likes on Pinterest.


The site’s users aren’t naïve. You’re looking to sell, and they’re looking to buy. It’s not just about trading pretty pictures, it’s about gathering recommendations and learning about new products. In fact, if you don’t advertise on Pinterest the site’s users will basically do it for you, provided they already like your product. 70% of brand engagement on the site is instigated by users, most of them following as many as ten brands or retailers specifically. And here’s perhaps the most promising statistic of all: more than 80% of online consumers living in the United States trust Pinterest and the data it contains. They fully believe that the information on the site is genuine and truthful. On the other hand, as many as 70% of Facebook’s users don’t trust the site. So, to recap, Pinterest users spend more than Facebook and Twitter users, they do most of the advertising on the site themselves and they trust the data presented on the site completely. The advertising potential is obvious.

But even if these users are ideal candidates for the purposes of marketing, how do you reach them? Well, you’ll have to consider your environment. As I previously stated, Pinterest isn’t about words, it’s about images. The more you can get across using said images the better. You must show your product, illustrate what it does and make clear how it might benefit the lives of the users who come across it, all with one simple image. Here are a few ways you can utilize Pinterest as a marketing platform today:

  • Be obvious, but not pushy. You might think that some Pinterest users might be turned off if they feel you’re actively trying to market to them, but this is actually not the case. As we saw in the Sephora example, users don’t mind engaging with brands directly. They want to see brand names, and they want to see prices. So take them up on their offer and include those items. Make sure every image you post features the name of your business (with, perhaps, your website’s URL) and the price of the service illustrated. That’s really all you have to do. Don’t market aggressively on Pinterest. Don’t include a lot of exclamation points or big red letters advertising your motives. Simply give the site’s users the data they’re looking for and walk away. If they like what they see, they’ll do the rest.
  • Have a personality. This is important on every social media site, but it’s especially significant on Pinterest. More than any other, this is a site that revolves almost entirely around personal opinions and experiences. There’s nothing more human than wanting something. The desire to have more, which Pinterest really is based around, is something that all of us share. So be a human as well. Share images which have nothing to do with marketing. Share personal photos, images that really mean something to you, or just items that you really enjoy. Show your individual nature and Pinterest users will trust you more. They’ll also be more interested in what you have to show.
  • Engage With the Community: When it comes to any social media site, the last thing you want to be is passive. Engage with your customers. Take the time to look at what they’ve pinned and perhaps even comment on it and repin it yourself. Show the users that it’s not all about you. In fact, show them that it’s about them. Those on the site don’t want to be used, but they’ll certainly help you while they’re helping themselves, so keep the focus on them, not on yourself. Keep them engaged, prove your worth and they’ll do the rest.
  • Illustrate your value. This is absolutely key, and how one can go about it largely depends on the type of business you’re trying to market. If you’re making clothing or furniture your work is basically done. Those are items with obvious worth, and seeing them produces an immediate response. From the first second, you know how you’d be able to use them and why you might need to. That being said, any item is easier to sell if you put it in the vicinity of an attractive person, so you might want to consider including one just to be safe. If you sell food, why not post a good looking recipe, something to show customers what they can create with your help. If you’re a contractor, post images of jobs you’ve completed, with a short description of the task that was performed. Every business can use the site to prove their worth in a subtly different way, but in the end it really comes down to this: if you don’t make your value and worth clear, users will have a more difficult time connecting with your product.

The examples included here are just a few of the many steps you can take to utilize Pinterest as a marketing platform. The good news is that if the site’s users appreciate you they’ll do most of the work, essentially marketing your product for you. That being said, it’s not easy to arrive at that place. It takes tireless work. You must endear yourself to the users, make your value clear and make your product seem as irresistible as possible. You must give the users clear motivation to purchase your wares, yet you can’t be obvious about it or you’ll leave you potential customers feeling used. It’s a delicate balance to strike. One thing is certain, Pinterest has become too popular to ignore. It’s a fantastic marketing platform, as the people on the site come there looking to consume, to find new products they want and new brands to follow. They’re out there waiting. Making the connection is up to you.