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Pinterest: What, Why and How

Pinterest is essentially a digital scrapbook or corkboard that allows you to collect all the things you like in one place. It’s a lot of fun but don’t dismiss it as a time waster with no business value.  It is a social network and it is growing at an impressive rate.

For those not yet using Pinterest, let’s break it down…

Pinterest’s About page tells us it is:

a virtual pinboard — a place where you can create collections of things you love and “follow” collections created by people with great taste. People use Pinterest to collect and share all sorts of things — wedding inspiration, favorite T-shirts, DJ equipment. You name it, people are pinning it.

Getting Started…

First things first, you’ll start by setting up your profile page.  Your profile shows your display name, a profile picture, a bio/description, and how many followers you have as well as how many you are following.

Important Note: There is an option that says “Hide your Pinterest profile from search engines”.  Be sure this is OFFor else the engines won’t be able to spider your material and you’ll miss out on some exposure.

You can join as an Individual or a Business.  If you accidentally join as a business, you can convert your account to a Business account (just click For Businesses in the dropdown under About)

When you open a new Pinterest account, you will be given five named boards to get you started.  You can keep these five boards to get started or you can change them. On each of the boards there is an “edit” button. Click on this and you can name/rename a board, write a description for that board, choose a category and determine if you are the only one who can pin or if it’s a shared board, or just delete the board altogether.

NOTE: Don’t forget to click on Save Board Settings when you are done!

At the top of your profile page, in the right-hand part of the screen, you’ll see various drop-down menus to help you navigate your own settings and boards as well as discover others on Pinterest.

If you are logged into Pinterest, you can hit the Pinterest icon in the top left-hand corner of your screen to go to your Pinterest home.  Just like going to your home page in Facebook or Twitter, this will show you your feed. Here you will see all of the recent pins of the people you follow.

Remember that everyone who follows you will see everything that you pin in their feed (unless they are only following certain boards and then they will only see everything pinned to that specific board).  The only exception is the 3 new secret boards that Pinterest recently added.  Those are for things like party planning, wedding planning etc, that you may want to share with on invited guests and not the general public.  You could also use those to share pictures with clients only and not the general public.

Beginners Tip:  Start by just poking around to see what others are doing. This will help you to see what kinds of things people are pinning, what kinds of boards others have created, and just give you a general feel for what Pinterest is about.

When you are done that, it’s time to start building your Boards and then you can work on building followers.  Much like a new Blog, you don’t want to drive people there before you have something for them to see.  So build some boards that have interesting pins (take note of which pin you choose to be the cover of a board – people decide at first glance if they are interested in delving further and having an interesting cover will encourage them to click and see all the pins on that board).


You can use the “Pin This” bookmarklet  to pin things or you can upload from your hard drive (see the Pin This tool plus other topics here:

NOTE: There has been talk from IE users that it’s difficult to use the Pin This bookmark in Explorer.

OK great, now what??

There is etiquette to be followed and one of the leading guidelines is not to be too blatantly self-promotional. That ruins it for everyone.

Remember the name Pinterest comes from pinning about Interests.  So you can use Pinterest to create a personality and connection for your company that potential customers and clients can relate to.

You can share things of interest to your target audience – things that show how your product or service is used in their lifestyle.  Pin ytings they can relate to, things they will find interesting.  That will pay off – it’ll help them see you as a resource and a source of interest in their life.

You can post pictures of your products sparingly and creatively – using a balanced approach.  You could have a product catalog board, as long as you have other interesting and helpful boards as well.  Or sprinkle product photos within other boards.

Here are some examples of integrating lifestyle imagery into your pins:

If you sell shoes, post pics of the shoes and then pics of the types of places people would wear those in everyday life.  Show beautiful hiking trails for hiking boots.  Show cocktail parties and great outfits that go with fancy heels.  Take what you sell and create imagery of that product being used in life.  You can also post images along with text in the descriptions on how to care for the shoes etc.

If you sell baby blankets, show pics of babies in beds and playing on the floor.  Show baby showers and gift giving to plant the seed.  Show your products.  Show all things baby related.  Moms or friends and family members of Moms are more likely to become interested in your products if they see your board as an interesting or fun resource.

TIP: You can pin items from your Blog or site. Pinterest now has a Pin It! button you can use for blog posts or product pages.


When you begin, Pinterest will help you find friends on Pinterest using your email, Twitter, or Facebook. That’s a great place to start.

You have the choice to follow allof someone’s boards or follow individual boards they have created.If you follow all, that means that you will follow every board they have at present AND all future boards they will create.

It’s easy to unfollow.  Simply click on whatever board you don’t want to follow (from your feed) then click the Unfollow button from the top right-hand corner of that board.  Easy!  Now that board will no longer appear in your feed.

Why should YOU be on Pinterest?

The growth of Pinterest has been amazing and many compare it to Facebook in its early days.  Most compelling, the primary demographic of Pinterest users is composed of women, a hard-to-reach online demographic.

Ideas For Pins

  • Use any visual content and images you already have
  • Create new ones – either design images in Photoshop or go on a camera spree in the office one day and catch some great candid shots
  • Look at Blog posts and see what visuals you can pull from there
  • Create or use infographics and charts
  • Use covers or ebooks or books
  • Show product photos
  • Show photos of happy customers
  • Allow users to pin to your pinboards

Helpful Pinterest Tips:

  • If you have an off-line event, create a Pinboard to share images from the event and use that to promote future similar events.
  • You can also create video galleries.
  • You can follow a user, which means you will be notified of anything they pin on any Boards or you can follow just one board to be updated on the pins to that Board only.

You will have the option to share pins via through Facebook and Twitter.

  • For every pin, there is a space for a description. You’ll see everything from “want this” to “love this” but you can also go into more detail.  It’s a great place to include a link back to your site/Blog/landing page etc. Note that when repinning, the description from the person who pinned it before you appears in that space by default.  This is also a great area to use hashtags.
  • Choose to receive email notifications from your Preferences. This will alert you to new followers, new repins, @ mentions, and likes.
  • “Like” is a wonderful and helpful feature on Pinterest. If you come across something that you like but don’t necessarily want/need to pin, you can simply Like it. This won’t show up in the feed of those who follow you, but you can click on Likes from your profile to see a list of everything you have Liked on Pinterest.
  • To tag another Pinterest user when you pin something, use @ just like on Twitter or Facebook.
  • If you are in the fashion, food, crafts/handmade, art, photography, décor, Mommy interests, sports area– you might find Pinterest to be a really great tool for you.  It’s designed for just those kinds of things (although with a little creativity you can make it work for any business)

You can even create something specifically for the purpose of pinning. If you are on Facebook you’ll see that the hottest trend is taking inspirational or motivational quotes and creating an image to post. You can do that with quotes related to your industry and pin those.  They spread like wildfire – especially if you pair an incredible image with a great quote.

Ideas for creating some pinteresting buzz….

Try hosting a contest.  Ask people to create a board on their own account that shows why they love your product and/or service.  Ask them to show pics of then doing fun/crazy/interesting things with your products.  The coolest board wins a prize OR you can ask them to re-pin their board to your profile and get people to vote on the one they like best.

Promote your boards via email, your site and Blog and all your other social media profiles

Engage with other users – like and comment on their work.  Much like on Twitter if you are active with them, they are likely to reciprocate.

Be focused on specific topics on your Boards – that allows you to create a strong area of interest for people passionate about the topic.

Remember the key here is thinking about your target audience and how your products/services fit into their lifestyles.  Capture imagery they can relate to and will respond emotionally to.

Let’s look at a few more samples:

If you sell baby blankets, in addition to images from baby showers and adorable baby pics and product photos, you can also get creative and look for images of kids using blankets in play (as a cape, as a fort, to drag their sibling around, as a bag of their stuff when they threaten to “run away” etc.

If you sell kitchenware, pin images of great recipes (share the recipe under the photo), show pics of moms & kids cooking together (they are always funny and cute), create images of great quotes from famous chefs (like Julia Child etc).

If you sell accounting software, show images of people saving money, show images of paperwork and frustrated people, show screenshots of your software with smiling people.  Show image of tax and financial tips (remember it could be just words designed a graphic, that is so popular on Facebook right now).  Create an infographic that shows common tax issues, or deductions people often miss.

Get creative and have some fun.  As with all social media, this will take more time to get up and running and then once you are in a groove, it’ll get easier.


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8 Responses

  1. Wow! This is a comprehensive writing Jennifer. The tips are very informative and can be good guidelines especially for the beginners as you mentioned also. Though its a long articles still I enjoyed reading and got useful ideas. Thanks for sharing.

  2. I need HELP..I inadvertantly converted my personal pinterest account into a business account.
    Is there a way to change it back?
    Dori Voss

  3. Great article! Pinterest is growing and growing over time. It’s demographic actually has a higher spend rate online than any other social media outlet. Pinterest has turned out to be a real force in the social media world, and has taken on a life of it’s own. The site gives users the ability to search, discover and engage visually with content. This content could be something you create or share, or you can even open your account to your fans and customers and let them participate as well for even more engagement.

  4. I am an active Pinterest user. Obviously, this is another venue for sharing your blog content. Pinterest is especially favorable for blogs with high quality imagery and graphics. So if you are creating and posting infographics and videos, or run a blog that is very visual, like a travel, cooking or fashion blog, then Pinterest is a custom made sharing platform for you.

    Great post Jennifer!

  5. I’ve been using Pinterest for last 3 months, I usually use it for collecting appealing images in all categories. I haven’t tried it for marketing purpose because I wasn’t sure how to do marketing on Pinterest especially using images. But you’ve mentioned some good points for promoting your website. I would love to give them a try.

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