How to Use Pinterest For Business

by Eric Melin on February 17, 2012

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By now you’ve heard of Pinterest and you’re wondering what it can do for your company. How exactly can you leverage this fast-growing social network for your brand?

Well, if your company sells products that are visually exciting (or that are used to create something visually exciting), you are in luck. Everyone else will have to get a bit creative. First: A quick rundown, then we’ll dive into practical business uses.

Just the Facts

Pinterest Boiled Down To Its Essentials

The reason the image-based social network is so addictive is because you can see 100 interesting things on the screen at one time and share them in an instant. And when you something interesting outside of Pinterest, just use the bookmarklet that you’ve already installed in your browser to “pin” the image and share it. You can than drop it into whatever custom category you choose, and that reflects your personality.

It’s a social bookmarking site and electronic bulletin board all rolled into one that takes seconds to find and share things. Follow people (or specific boards) with similar tastes and they can follow you back!

Posting Images of Your Product …

In Entrepreneur magazine, Jason Falls says product-centric companies are getting the most out of Pinterest:

Perhaps the most powerful business application is the ability to post images of your company’s products on your Pinterest board and link them back to your website. It works as a sort of virtual store catalog.¬†But remember that this is social media. If you simply display images of your products without contributing other content or sharing other users’ pins, you’ll likely find that people don’t pay much attention. After all, no one likes a self-absorbed blowhard.

If you are posting pictures of your products and you’re adding prices in yourdescriptions, don’t forget to use the “$.” The website generates a price label on the image if you do that.

… Is Easier Than Images Of Your Service

Those businesses that don’t have visually-stimulating products or companies that revolve around services may have to get a little more creative. AMC Theatres is caught somewhere in the middle. Movie tickets and concessions are where they make their money, but the studios produce all kinds of videos and images that AMC can repurpose and separate into interesting boards.

They have boards called Coming Soon, Movie News, Cool Movie Stuff, and AMC Style, as well as timely stuff like Award Shows, their Best Picture Showcase, and a Repin to Win contest. That last one brings us to the next category of Pinterest uses for business.

Another suggestion from Falls is to create images that feature coupons and/or special deals for Pinterest users. People love exclusive deals for being tech-savvy, and think of how quickly your coupon would spread!

Content Marketing on Pinterest

Pinterest is practically built for quality content curation. If you want to build up authority on a topic, a great way to do that is to create some boards that somehow relate to your industry and make visual lists. SocialMouths had a great suggestion about sharing the content you already have:

If you are a heavy user of any of the other networks, chances are you already curate content at some level. Do a test and bring some of that content you already share on Twitter or Google+ and start dumping it into a board.

People are Already Tricking Out Pinterest and Pushing the Boundaries

Pinterest user Nick McGlynn has already figured out a way to hack his boards to make the nine up-front images appear as one. Mashable has a post on how you can trick out your board as well.

Olivier Blanchard discovered that a Pinterest user was using a fake Mitt Romney account to spoof the GOP candidates’ “utter tone-deafness when it comes to matters of privilege and class inequality.”

While the idea of a satirical political account is an inspired use of the platform, Blanchard was impressed by Pinterest’s spot-on handling of the account after getting a complaint from the Romney campaign.

What Have You Liked So Far?

Clearly Pinterest is still in its infancy, but what are some ways that you’ve seen businesses use it creatively to reinforce brand, build loyalty, or drive purchases/web traffic?

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Jo-Ann with Fine Frostings March 25, 2012 at 4:28 pm

Hi Eric. I have a question that I have been struggling with. I have a dessert catering company. I create dessert tables and they are all themed. When I put photos on my website I can put them into groups of galleries. Same as Pinterest.

I also have pin boards that I have for business as inspiration.

I am wondering how I make a distinction between the two for my clients? Should I title my business boards with my company name and then use split them from there into categories? Also what is the proper way to link back to your website/blog from your pins?

Great article!


Eric Melin March 26, 2012 at 2:03 pm

Jo-Ann- To answer your last question, when you pin a web page, it brings back all the images on the page and allows you to choose one as a representative image. I think you should probably have product boards and inspiration boards right next to each other–after all, you don’t want to just promote your things because you will run out of things to pin at a good clip and therefore not really be participating much in the social aspect of the site. Things you find interesting enough to pin will hopefully bring people into your page where they’ll see your products!


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