As a small business owner, you may be wondering if Pinterest is a social media platform or a visual search engine. In 2021, the answer is “both”. Understanding this duality allows you to promote your business more effectively. If you’re looking tips for Pinterest marketing for beginners, this guide will help you get started.

Search Engine and Social Media Platform

Although Pinterest connects people like a social media platform, the tools within Pinterest use principles of search engines. Ben Silbermann, CEO of Pinterest, explains how their platform has grown from a catalog of ideas to a valuable, visual search engine. 

In an interview with Business Insider he explained, “…we’ve had to invest a lot more into personalization in search. Over the past few years we’ve built a really extraordinary engineering team. Their whole job is to show everybody the right pin for them at the right time.”

More recently, Silbermann expanded on that vision by explaining how artificial intelligence (AI) has influenced the platform. 

“One is to help you get personal recommendations that align with your taste. And the challenge there is that a lot of times people know what they like when they see it but they might not know how to communicate that in words. So we work really hard to try to understand your taste even if you can’t quite describe it and show you things that are similar,” explains Silbermann.

He continues by discussing computer vision, saying, “We really think that in the future the camera is going to be the next keyboard. It’s going to be a fundamental way that you learn about the world around you.”

Understanding Visual Search

As part of a larger marketing plan, Pinterest growth expands your reach within your target audience. So, you can grow Pinterest following increase your influence over your target market.

  • Pinterest increases brand awareness. Most adults use social media daily. Many of them use Pinterest frequently. If you build a solid brand on Pinterest, your awareness increases. 
  • Pinterest reaches customers early in the decision-making cycle. To generate sales, you must engage your prospective customers before they have selected a final option. Typically, this means that they know your brand before or near the time their need arises. Pinterest excels at putting products in front of consumers to generate desire. 
  • Pinterest drives website traffic. If you want to increase your website traffic then, Pinterest can expose your content to a fresh audience. Adding links to pins allows users to click through to more content. With options like Rich Pins, pinners often explore the source of their favorite pin.
  • Pinterest engages current customers. To stay top-of-mind with your current customers, you must engage them constantly. However, most people prefer helpful content over a hard sell. Pinterest allows you to reveal new tips and ideas for your products in a format that your customers enjoy.
  • Pinterest facilitates online sales. Because pins link back to your website, Pinterest facilitates online sales. In fact, pinners are more likely to buy than users of any other social media platform. Many people use the boards to build wishlists for future purchases. This behavior benefits businesses who can turn that interest into a future sale.

Why You should Grow Your Pinterest Following

Your Pinterest following directly impacts sales. Recently, Shopify and Pinterest compared their data. Through that process, they discovered several key connections between Pinterest and online shopping.

  • Two million people save product pins each day.
  • 93% of users plan their purchases using Pinterest
  • At an average of $50, sales coming from Pinterest are higher than any other social media channel.

Shopify further explains “How Pinterest Drives Online Commerce” in their infographic. It’s helpful to understanding Pinterest marketing for beginners. Based on this information, smalls businesses should prioritize Pinterest follower growth. 

Tactics to Generate Followers

Generating followers requires a focus on three key areas. First, your profile can attract more followers. Second, your pins can expand your reach. Third, marketing activities create more buzz around your brand. By optimizing each of these areas, you can increase your number of followers over both the short and long term.

Your Profile

To begin, your profile shows users who you are at a glance. Pinterest keeps the area very streamlined. So, you need to create a branded profile with immediate impact. 

1. Write a Memorable Bio

The biography section remains fairly short. This forces you to really consider how you want to brand your business. Start by including your tagline and a brief description. A funny, positive, or personal tone works best.

If you struggle to decide what to put in this section, consult two key areas. First, check to see what your competitors are doing. They likely included popular keywords to attract their following. Second, review your own brand. That should inspire a memorable message.

2. Claim your Website

By claiming your website, you make your account more credible to prospective followers. Additionally, this allows you to connect your website to analytics. Then, you can see which content from your website resonates most with your followers. This better positions you to attract new followers.

The process requires validating the URL and adding code to the website. Most users can execute this task without a developer. Look under the “Settings” section of your profile.

Three Ways to Claim
  • Update the meta tag on your site
  • Upload an HTML file
  • Add verification through a host.

Depending on your website, you may use one of these options. 

3. Connect Your Other Social Media Profiles

Connecting your other social media profiles with your Pinterest account helps you migrate followers from other platforms. This will help you get new followers on Pinterest. 

You will find it under the “Settings” section of your profile. Once you add each platform, Pinterest will ask for permission to access your account. Then, you can ask the imported followers to connect with your Pinterest account. 

4. Stack Your Best Boards at the Top

As you create boards, the order defaults to place the newest boards last. However, you can drag and drop boards into any chosen order. 

Putting the most popular boards at the top highlights your best content. Within those boards, you can organize your content to maximize the experience. Users will be drawn to these popular, organized boards and more likely to follow your profile.

5. Focus on your Niche Boards

Your boards should focus on your business’s niche. Then, you will attract customers who are most likely to buy. In the video “The Art of Making Boards,” Kevin Knight lists three activities that create excellent pin boards. 

  • Create a Discovery Experience
  • Appeal to Your Audience’s Interests
  • Showcase a Variety of Pins

Knight explains, “There are certain topics that are especially popular on Pinterest, like food or fashion. But don’t just pin those things because they’re popular. Pin the stuff that’s right for your business and aligns with your customer’s interests.”

So, your boards should mix interesting repins from your niche with original content from your business. 

Your Pins

Next, you need to understand that certain pins perform better than others. Factors like image size and description play a huge role in whether your pins get exposure, or even go viral. Recently, Pinterest reported an increase in visual searches. So, creating attractive, searchable pins increases your chance of catching the eye of a new follower. 

6. Optimize Images

In general, pinners prefer vertical images. They display well on both the feed and boards. When you optimize your images, they are more likely to be shared. This increases your reach and expands your audience.

You should optimize every image that you post by following these tested tips. 

  • Add the right keywords in the file name.
  • Limit your image width to 554 pixels
  • Cut the length of your pin to 5000 pixels

7. Write Solid Descriptions

Descriptions serve two purposes. First, they explain the pin to the user. It can talk about the source of the image, why it was pinned and how it fits with the board. Second, it signals Pinterest’s search to categorize the image correctly. Although the tool can identify features of an image, it misses other factors. 

For example, visual search can identify that a picture is a tree. However, it cannot identify what photographer took the photo just from scanning the image. But, that information may interest a pinner and attract them to your pin. Adding this valuable information enriches your pins.

Similar to other social media platforms, Pinterest encourages hashtags. In contrast to keywords, hashtags capitalize on trends within a topic or industry. While they don’t have a “trending” section like Twitter, users can enter hashtags in the search bar. Also, they are clickable in the pin description. So, users can jump from a single pin to a hashtag if they like the content. 

In general, you should choose a few powerful hashtags and avoid loading the 500 word description with too many. Otherwise, your pins will look spammy.

Similar to hashtags, keywords signal searches. However, keywords fit more naturally into the text of your description and require variations in phrasing. Pinterest uses the words in the description to respond to queries. As you write the description, try to include core keywords for your brand. You can use a similar strategy to your website’s search engine optimization (SEO) initiatives. 

8. Pin from the Source

Because 80% of pins are repins, pinning from the source stands out. Mix up your pins by searching websites for fresh images. This will require you to search out great websites with amazing graphics. However, it expose you to new prospective followers who are looking for fresh content.

How to Pin Things You Find Around the Web

9. Mention Others

Mentioning others creates a dialogue. This meaningful engagement works best when you know person or brand you are tagging. Often, you can link to popular accounts or thought leaders to expand your audience. Just make sure the mention seems natural. 

In addition to building a great profile and creating excellent pins, several marketing activities encourage growth on your account. These go beyond the fundamentals of setting up a profile. Instead, they are daily and weekly tasks to expand your following over time. 

10. Mass Follow Accounts

While mass following accounts is time-consuming, the process will generate traffic to your profile over time. If those visitors like your profile, they may follow.

To mass follow, type a keyword related to your business in the search bar. This provides a list of boards, pins and pinners that use your keyword. Filter to pinners. 

As you go through the list, follow a few hundred pinners at a time. Repeat this process for several weeks until you are following everyone on that list. 

After you finish, go back through the people you followed. If they didn’t follow you after a few days, unfollow them. 

Continue this process for other keywords until you build up your desired following. It will take some time. However, you can connect with people who share the same pins as your business.

11. Add the Follow Button and Profile Widget

Adding the “Follow” button to your website encourages traffic to migrate to your Pinterest account. If someone already enjoys your website, they will definitely like your pins. 

Setting this up is simple. Pinterest helps you generate the code. Then, you can copy over to your website. You can find it at the Pinterest Widget Builder.

Similarly, adding the Profile Widget to your website encourages visitors to check out your Pinterest account. Similar to the follow button, this helps your target audience move over to your profile. 

Create a profile widget using the Pinterest Widget Builder.

12. Join Group Boards

Joining Group Boards allows you to pin to another person’s profile. Most of these boards have rules for pinning. So, you need to read them carefully before joining. 

If you find a great group board, you can ask to join. Similarly, you should create a few group boards of your own. Then, you can reciprocate and invite others. 

This helps expand the audience for your pins. This wider audience increases your likelihood of attracting more followers.  

13. Keep a Pinning Schedule

Scheduling your pins helps avoid two common issues, posting too much and posting too little. Sometimes, businesses post too many pins at the same time. This fills up the feed fast and can appear annoying. By contrast, some businesses forget to post regularly. Then, they lack exposure. 

A predetermined pinning schedule can help you find the right balance. Some pinners choose to use paid services that help them schedule pins. Also, you can create a schedule to check in at intervals. Regardless of the method you choose, a schedule will help you reach the right audience at the right time.

14. Share Original Content

Most of the sharing on Pinterest comes from repins. So, original content really stands out. People on the platform crave fresh content. Anytime you post something new, it has a higher chance of going viral. These coveted viral pins reach a wide audience. From that wide audience, you will gain mass exposure and more followers.

15. Use Analytics

To find your top pins, boards and topics, check out the analytics on your Pinterest account. You can access it easily at the top of your business profile. Inside, you can filter see more details about traffic, audience and content.

With this information, you can create a stronger content plan. Focus on the top-performing boards and pins. Then, add more of the same. Your audience will love it and share it.

16. Track Popular Content

Topics and styles trend constantly in every category. Pinterest actually tracks this information and releases it regularly on their blog. When your business follows these trends, you can capitalize on your audience’s interests. 

To gather niche information, recreate your target audience’s habits using guided search. The most popular content will appear at the top. Then, you can use the information to augment your own content strategy. 

How to Use Guided Search on Web

Pinterest actually allows you to peek behind the curtain and learn a little about recent trends. They refer to these as Pinsights

You can sort by category and year to find the top content. This actually changes from week to week. So, you can strategize accordingly. 

17. Create Actionable Pins

Adding a call-to-action to your pins encourages users to follow up on the pin. For example, a do it yourself (DIY) pin can link to full instructions. Also, an article or blog post preview encourages users to click through. Then, when a pinner engages with the linked content, they can come back and use the “Tried It” button. This gives your pin more exposure and expands your reach to new followers.

18. Comment on Pins

Commenting on pins engages other pinners and makes them more interested in your account. Your comment can be simple. Just let them know why the pin interests you. If you have a helpful tip to add, the comment shows that you care.

When pinners see this, they will get to know your brand personality better.

19. Embed Boards and Pins into Blog Posts

Although this tip will not work for every blog post, embedding boards and pins can encourage readers to follow your account. Just make sure the post topic and the board fit very well together. Then, the call-to-action is natural. 

Embedding varies by website. However, most types can support code from the widget builder.

20. Run a Contest

As part of your Pinterest contest, you can require following your account. Use this as part of your entry process in addition to repinning your contest ad. As your contest progresses, your following will grow exponentially. 

Before creating your content, check the Pinterest rules to ensure compliance.

21. Promote Pins

Promoting pins increases your exposure to a new audience. You can target people through the Pinterest ad account and the process is similar to other social media ad campaigns. When you hover on a saved pin, simply click “Promote.”

From there, instructions will guide you to create your ad. Additionally, Pinterest offers several tips to improve your ads. This includes several tools to target keywords, bulk edit, and exclude negative keywords.

Additionally, they encourage advertisers to understand the Taste Graph. Previously, Pinterest used this internal information to track and recommend content. 

Now, they’re using that information to serve up promoted pins to the right audience.

22. Create Rich Pins

Rich pins have become a popular option since their release. They fall into four categories: app, product, recipe and article. Each type offers extra content areas. For example, recipe rich pins list the ingredients above the pin description. 

Pinners love and repin these often. They capitalize on the natural habits of users. 

To add this option to your account, you need to apply. From there, adding rich pins allows you to create helpful, actionable content.

23. Utilize Repins

Most accounts repin more than they share original content. To keep up with your content schedule, try to use the best repins. 

Typically these fall into two categories. First, popular pins can help drive traffic to your account. They ate good posts and easily attract an audience. Second, niche pins appeal to your target customers. They might not be as generally popular. However, they align best with your business.

24. Run Exclusive Offers

Create offers or discounts that you only promote on Pinterest. By narrowing your message to a single platform, you can encourage people to follow you on the platform. With time, you’ll get a reputation for running special offers on Pinterest. Then, your following will grow.

Frequently Asked Questions

Finally, I’m reviewing some of the most common questions that people have about running an effective Pinterest account.

How Many Boards Should You Create?

While you can have up to 500 boards, the best accounts plan their boards based on quality. On desktop, they display four to five boards across. On mobile, one board fills the width. 

Successful accounts recommend creating the amount of boards that you can best maintain. For most people, this is between 20 – 40 boards.

How Often Should You Post?

You can figure out your ideal pinning schedule by tracking a few key metrics. These include the number of pins per day, the best days and times, and the top topics by day. There are certain general trends for the entire population such as, Travel on Saturdays. 

You can also check your own account’s analytics to see your follower’s habits

How Much Time Should You Spend?

According to Statista, the average marketer spends between one to five hours per week on social media marketing

Use this to set a benchmark for your own activity. If you plan to spend a few hours each week planning and scheduling posts, you will be able to keep up with your competition. 

Where Can You Learn More?

Pinterest actually provides additional training to business accounts. Currently, they are hosting Performance Webinar Series: Get More Out of Your Campaigns. Consider participating in one of their upcoming sessions to learn more about all of their tools for business.

Pinterest Marketing for Beginners

Generating followers for your Pinterest account requires an understanding of the platform as both a social media platform and a visual search tool. You can build a strategy around your niche to engage more prospective customers. If you use the 25 tactics above, your following will increase over time. You can learn Pinterest marketing for beginners!